A Harsh Wake Up Call

Maybe you are incarcerated like Don was, maybe you have some form of addiction, or are one of the 22+ a day Veterans and Military personnel contemplating suicide.  Whatever you are experiencing NO self-help book is going to work but as Don (and I) realized the transforming power of Christ can change your life forever.  PLEASE, I beg you to reach out to one of the contacts at the bottom of the page today. – Mike

 

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INSPIRING HOPE THROUGH TRANSFORMATION

Don Caballero

"God spoke to me, and He was very clear. He said, 'If you were to die today, where would you go?'"—Don

At one point in Don Caballero’s life, he seemed to be on the fast track to becoming a “career criminal.” After his parents divorced when he was in middle school, Don struggled with addiction, insecurities, and academic issues. First incarcerated at age 18, he spent years in and out of jails and recovery programs, homeless and running the streets. He was in custody in Fresno, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland.

“There was a point in my life where I honestly didn’t think I was going to see the age of 21,” recalls Don, “and there were some days, honestly, where I wish that I didn’t, because it felt so bad.”

The police would arrest him, he’d be released, and then he’d commit more crimes.

READ MORE > >

Support for Friends and Family of Prisoners

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Alcohol or Drug Abuse Hotline Call (866) 916-4450

Suicide Prevention & Awareness Training Video

#SuicidePrevention Lifeline for confidential help at 1-800-273-8255

Devotional Thought for Today – 11/16/2020

 

God, Our Refuge | Bethel Christian Reformed Church, DunnvillePSALM 46

CONTEXT: Some think this psalm was occasioned by the victories which David obtained over the Ammonites and Moabites, and other neighboring countries; and others are of opinion that it was penned on account of the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib being raised, in the times of Hezekiah: but it seems rather to be a prophecy of the church in Gospel times, and is applicable to any time of confusion and distress the nations of the world may be in through any kind of calamity, when those that trust in the Lord have no reason in the least to be afraid. Kimchi says this psalm belongs to future times; either to the gathering of the captives, or to the war of Gog and Magog; to which also R. Obadiah refers it, and Jarchi interprets it of time to come; according to the Targum it was written by the sons of Korah, when their father was hid from them, and they were delivered. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Whatever the actual cause for this psalm to be penned, it has blessed countless saints for centuries. The tone is set forth in verse one:

God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], A very present and well-proved help in trouble. – Who is it we (saints) turn to in times of trouble, Christ our Savior. Think on this a moment it only makes sense, if you are acknowledging Christ as savior of your eternal soul, would you not trust Him with lesser issues? 

Verses like Psalm 55:22, Matthew 11:28-30, Philippians 4:6-7, make it clear that God expects us to cast our burdens upon Him through prayer and supplication. He is greater and stronger than any of our problems.  Yet sometimes we get so caught up in our problems we fail to hear the Holy Spirit urging us to just slow down, calm down, and fellowship with God. to seek His peace and understanding. That is why verse 10 was written I believe: 

“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth –   I do not know if you have ever seen a chicken with its head freshly cut off, it runs around for a minute or two in total panic mode. That is a prime example of a “Christian” who is trying to go it alone, in times of trouble without God.  Folks look at that chicken all kinds of funny without any thought but to consume it. How do you think the world looks at us when we are acting like that chicken?

What ever problem or troubles you are having today, know this God is your Refuge. All you need do is Be still and know that He is there for you. By calmly trusting in God’s providence and sovereignty you will bring Glory to God and find peace.   

“Don’t Give Up”

Some veterans live “normal” lives post deployment or separation for years, some never adjust. For others the stain of service  comes out years later. Here is the story of one such member and her son along with their message “Don’t Give Up.”  REMEMBER there are many resources and fellow prior service members (like me) you can lean on. 

Logo for Make the Connection

Don’t Give Up

APRIL 23, 2020

Andrew has seen the changes in his mom.

At first, they were concerning. When his mother, Agatha, returned from her deployment, she isolated herself. She would shut herself off in a small closet and drink. To her son, she gave off a “fearful vibe.”

“[She] was not someone I thought I recognized at first,” Andrew says. “You couldn’t approach her for anything. I would ask her what’s wrong, and she would say, ‘It’s nothing. I can’t talk to you about it.’ And I would get frustrated, because I wanted to help, and I didn’t know how to.”

But he didn’t give up. And the changes, eventually, turned into the positive kind.

Their story mirrors the advice of countless family members who have supported a Veteran facing mental health challenges.

Don’t quit.

Keep going.

Keep showing up and showing your support.

“Don’t give up, even though it may seem challenging,” Andrew says. “Just keep on talking to the person. Keep on showing support. Don’t give up.”

Don’t give up, even though it may seem challenging.Andrew

It wasn’t easy. “I felt angry. I felt depressed,” Andrew remembers. Finally, it all came to a head.

“You can’t keep sheltering me out like this. You can’t keep things inside, because eventually it will explode,” he remembers telling his mother. “So, I gave her an ultimatum. I said, ‘Either you talk to me, or you find somebody else that you can talk to, or there’s nothing I can really do for you.’”

Agatha describes the moment as a turning point. “My son is the one who had to snap me into reality,” she says. “He was like, ‘You realize that you do things and say things that are not my mom.’ He grabbed me and he said, ‘If you don’t fix yourself, I’m going to leave you.’”

The moment pushed Agatha to seek counseling, to begin to address the anxiety she felt since leaving the service.

“Women don’t talk about these things,” she says. “I have to come back and be somebody’s mother, somebody’s sister, somebody’s daughter. I went in trying to protect, being this feminist person and thinking that I could do it, and then came back home and I was broken.”

From her counseling, Agatha learned to do positive things — writing poetry, reading the Bible, taking a moment to cry but then picking herself right back up again. She found tools for coping.

“First it was challenging, because she would get stubborn. She was like, ‘Don’t help me. I got this. I don’t need your help,’” Andrew says, with a smile. “And then later on, as years go by, she’s like, ‘Andrew, can you help me with this? I need help with this.’ And I’m like, ‘Sure, no problem.’ When she has appointments, I take her to the doctors. Wherever she wants to go, I give her a ride — whether it’s groceries or a walk in the park.”

Agatha, too, has helped pick people up — literally. She’s become involved with her local VA facility and community service. She serves as a chaplain. “That helps me heal,” she says. “I like the fact that I’m listening to a Veteran. … I feel better when I know that I’ve helped someone else get better.

“You’ve got to let it out. You’ve got to talk with someone. Don’t suppress that anymore. It’s part of healing.”

FIND LOCAL SUPPORT – 
No matter what you are experiencing, no matter what life is throwing at you, find support to help get things back on track. 

Overwhelmed by God

The Master's Seminary Blog

Overwhelmed by God

Jeremy Peters | 

Overwhelmed is a strong word that many of us can resonate with. Written into this word is imagery of capture—of being crushed. The word overwhelmed itself paints the picture of a boat being careened by a wave of water: completely submerged, buried, and smothered in drowning and disorientation.

But the sense of this word has expanded beyond waves and boats. Armies are said to have won an overwhelming victory when they overpower a weaker opponent. A man who loses his wife to cancer can rightly be said to be overwhelmed with grief. A small child surrounded by strangers in a crowded terminal can be overwhelmed with fear. Whatever the context, this word creates a sense of going under, of losing control, and of being subdued beneath something or someone stronger and bigger.

But does being overwhelmed have to be negative? Can you be overwhelmed by positive emotions, thoughts, or affections?

Anyone who has been on the water knows that a boat’s stability depends primarily upon where its bow is facing. In the same way, what you are overwhelmed by is primarily determined by what you are focused upon. It’s a matter of perspective. Of course, when you are focused on the troubles in front of and around you, feelings of despair can begin to overwhelm. But if you are able to set your mind on things above, the nature and character of God may begin to overwhelm you.

Set Your Eyes on Him, Not Your Trouble

David was a man of many troubles. As a shepherd, wild animals and the elements pursued him. A Philistine giant laughed in his face, eager to make David into an example. The paranoid and jealous Saul relentlessly sought his life. And his was the daunting task of leading Israel into battle against her restless enemies.

While the exact situation that led David to write Psalm 144 is a mystery, the psalm clearly speaks of trouble. In verses 7 and 11, David pleaded with God to rescue and deliver him. He described his surroundings as great waters and the hands of hostile nations surrounding him. In verse 8, he complained about the lies and deceptions his enemies employed against him. But despite the troubles surrounding David, he resolved not to be overwhelmed. He chose to look elsewhere—to gaze upward. And as a result, he was overwhelmed in a different way.

David begins this psalm amidst his troubles with a declaration of praise and worship to God: “Blessed be Yahweh!” In the midst of his trials, David bowed before God in humble recognition that God is the great I AM. He is the eternal, unchanging, self-sufficient God. He simply IS. He depends on nothing and no one. He has no lack and requires no help. He is the source of all other beings and existence. By Him, through Him, and to Him all things were created. He is Yahweh.

He Is Nearer and Greater

Then, with his eyes turned heavenward, David burst forth in what he knew to be true of God. David fills his praise with “My…my…my” to express the personal nearness in which he knew God. Yahweh was a present help in David’s trouble (Ps. 46:1). While the great waters of danger encompassed him (v. 7), God surrounded him even closer. Though his enemies’ hands swarmed him like the mob, God held him even tighter. God had set upon him a steadfast, uncompromising lovingkindness—His covenantal, unconditional love. This was a love not even David deserved.


In the midst of his turmoil and inadequacy,
David experienced an overwhelming nearness to God 


David also paints an overwhelming picture of God’s greatness. He describes God as an immovable security, a towering shelter. In the midst of trouble, David remembers that God is a place of hiding and safety from all the impending attacks. When David had hidden from Saul in rocky caves (1 Sam. 22:1), he knew his true Rock was Yahweh. God was his secret escape—like a fortress or stronghold nestled in the mountains. He was a harbor of protection amidst the wind and waves. As David’s closest companion in battle, God was his shield. It was God who taught David’s hands and fingers to wage his wars and fight his battles. Though David was king of Israel, Yahweh was his sovereign.

In summary, David saw God as his Deliverer—his Protector and Rescuer. Yahweh is a great God!

Be Surprisingly Overwhelmed

What depth of truth! What wonderful declarations of God! Note how David responds in verse 3–4: “O Yahweh, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” David wasn’t overwhelmed by the troubles around him. He wasn’t paralyzed by the great waters nor the mob of enemy hands pressing in around him. He was overwhelmed by the splendor and glory of God.

As David turned his eyes upward in the midst of his troubles, his enemies suddenly seemed less daunting when juxtaposed with the greatness of God. He was brought to a place of focusing on the grace and greatness of the One by whom he was known. David was humbled that he would even be considered by such Majesty.

Instead of the normal paralysis that results from troubles, being overwhelmed by God moved David. It moved him to dependent, confident, even bold prayer. He prayed to God as the only One who could rescue him (vv. 5–8, 11). He prayed with a new song in his soul, believing God would be God in his trouble (vv. 9–10). And he approached the throne of grace with boldness, pleading for blessings on Yahweh’s people (vv. 12–15).


Being overwhelmed by God brought David
to his knees—not in paralysis, but desperate boldness 


He was moved to do the one thing that could acquire all that he needed: he prayed.

It is unlikely that anyone reading this has the task of ruling Israel. Nor is it probable that you are being threatened by a hostile army closing in around you. But the principles David demonstrates in this psalm remain applicable even today. When we face troubles, we can begin by turning our eyes to God. We can choose to praise Him amidst the storms of life. Then, the truth of His character can flood our thoughts and remind us that God is nearer and greater than any trouble we might face.

 

PTSD IN MILITARY VETERANS

Here is a decent article that came across my “spam” box. You never know where you will find help and although they push their own agenda (coins) near the end the info is still good.- Mike 

UNDERSTANDING PTSD IN MILITARY VETERANS

Understanding PTSD in Military Veterans

Serving in the military is an honorable choice; not only do you impact your country and community, but your service can also lead to a fulfilling career and unique opportunities once your time in the armed forces has ended. However, military service doesn’t come without risks, especially when it comes to your mental health. You must be aware of the effects that your time in the service can have on your mental health — even more so if you were in combat, experienced trauma, or underwent any sort of traumatic or life-threatening experience while in the military.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an area of particular concern for all military veterans. While about 7 or 8% of adults in the US will have PTSD at some time in their lives, this condition is significantly more prevalent among veterans. Though the number of veterans with PTSD varies greatly depending on their time of service, according to the National Center for PTSD, this group still experiences PTSD at higher rates than the general population:

    • Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom: Anywhere from 11 to 20% of veterans in a given year;
    • Gulf War: 12% of veterans in a given year
    • Vietnam War: 15% of veterans were diagnosed at the time of the last study in the 1980s, and as many as 30% of veterans from this war have had PTSD at some point in their lives.

 

If you or a loved one is a veteran, you need to know what PTSD is, what causes it, and what you can do to treat this condition. Further, if you’re still on active duty, you may not even realize that you have this condition. If left untreated, PTSD can be debilitating or even deadly. As a member of the military, you are at a greater risk of developing PTSD at some point in your life, and in order to properly take care of your mental health, it’s vital for you to understand PTSD in military veterans and active service members.

WHAT IS PTSD?

The National Institute of Mental Health defines post-traumatic stress disorder as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” Anyone who has witnessed, been affected by, or personally experienced any kind of traumatic event can develop PTSD. Coping with a traumatic event can be hard, and it is perfectly natural to have difficulties dealing with it. Many people are able to recover naturally or on their own, though, after some time passes. If these difficulties and symptoms continue to occur months or years after the event, get worse as time goes on, or interfere with daily life, you may have developed PTSD.

Unfortunately, like many other mental health conditions, there is a stigma surrounding PTSD. Misinformation, myths, and false stereotypes are all contributing factors, and this stigma can have an incredibly negative effect on people who are dealing with PTSD. Because of this view, veterans even self-stigmatize their PTSD, which can exacerbate their symptoms, as well as those of any comorbid conditions.

Raising awareness of the issue of PTSD with accurate, factual information is a huge step in ending the stigma associated with this mental illness and allowing everyone to get the help they need. This cause is in need of as much support as possible, as it has the power to help save lives. In addition to actively raising awareness for this cause with custom coins and promotional materials, it’s important to provide people with the knowledge they need to understand this condition and encourage people (and especially service members and veterans) to reach out for help to truly put an end to the stigma surrounding PTSD.

TYPES

Though PTSD is a unique experience for each individual who has it, there are several general types of this condition, each with different symptoms, causes, and treatments:

  • Normal Stress Response: Many adults will experience some kind of trauma throughout the course of their lives, and if they undergo a single event in adulthood, it could result in the normal stress response. You may have bad memories, emotional numbness, physical symptoms or distress, and feel isolated or cut off from people you’re close to. Recovery often only takes a few weeks and symptoms may subside naturally, although group debriefing sessions to discuss the trauma may be helpful for treatment.
  • Acute Stress Disorder: This is similar to the normal stress response, but it is more severe and typically the result of an enduring, lasting, or large-scale trauma. You may have panic attacks, dissociative episodes, insomnia, and may experience difficulty or inability to perform basic tasks in your daily life. Leaving the scene or area of the trauma, taking medication for anxiety and/or insomnia, and attending psychotherapy are all common treatments for acute stress disorder.
  • Uncomplicated PTSD: Uncomplicated PTSD typically stems from a single traumatic event, rather than multiple events or long-term trauma. You may continually re-experience the trauma, avoid anything that reminds you of it, feel emotionally numb, and lose feelings of safety and comfort. As the name may indicate, this form of PTSD is the easiest to treat, often with cognitive or behavioral therapy, medication, group therapy, or some combination of the above approaches.
  • Comorbid PTSD: This type of PTSD presents itself in conjunction with other major psychiatric disorders, such as depression, substance use disorder, panic disorder, or anxiety disorders. All of your conditions should be treated simultaneously, rather than one at a time. Many of the treatment options for comorbid PTSD are the same as uncomplicated PTSD, in addition to whatever treatment is appropriate for any other condition.
  • Complex PTSD: Also called complicated PTSD, this is the result of prolonged or multiple traumas, particularly in childhood, although all of the traumatic events can have happened in adulthood as well. On top of the symptoms of uncomplicated PTSD, you may experience destructive or impulsive behavioral tendencies, extreme emotions, or amnesia. Treatment for complex PTSD is also similar to uncomplicated PTSD, but often takes longer and patients typically have slower recoveries.

CAUSES

There is no single cause of PTSD. Witnessing, being affected by, or personally experiencing any kind of traumatic event can cause you to develop PTSD. Traumatic events typically include situations involving death, violence, serious injury or illness, or sexual violations. Some common traumas that lead to PTSD include:

  • Serious accidents;
  • Natural disasters;
  • Terrorist attacks;
  • Physical assault;
  • Sexual assault or rape;
  • Abuse of all kinds, including childhood and domestic abuse;
  • Combat and warfare;
  • Serious health issues, such as extreme illness or injury;
  • Loss of a loved one;
  • Torture.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of traumas that can cause PTSD, and not everyone experiences and copes with trauma in the same way. You can experience the same traumatic event as another individual, and you may develop PTSD, but they may not. It isn’t always clear why some people develop PTSD but others do not, as genetic and personality factors may also play a role.

SYMPTOMS

There are many different symptoms associated with PTSD, and they can vary depending on the type of PTSD you have. Symptoms generally fall into four different categories: re-experiencing, avoidance, arousal and reactivity, and cognition and mood.

Re-experiencing Symptoms:

  • Flashbacks in which you relive the traumatic event;
  • Bad dreams or nightmares;
  • Terrifying or scary thoughts related to the experience;
  • Unwanted or upsetting memories of the event;
  • Feelings of distress or tension when reminded of the event;
  • Accompanying physical symptoms when thinking about or reliving the event, such as increased heart rate or sweating.

Avoidance Symptoms:

  • Avoiding all thoughts, feelings, and memories related to the event;
  • Staying away from people, places, situations, and experiences that remind you of the event;
  • Refusing to discuss the trauma with other people;
  • Keeping yourself busy and distracted to avoid thinking about the traumatic event.

Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms:

  • Having trouble sleeping or experiencing insomnia;
  • Feeling anxious, tense, or edgy;
  • Having angry outbursts or feeling irritable;
  • Feeling hypersensitive or anxious about potential dangers or risks;
  • Being jumpy or easily startled;
  • Being unable to focus or concentrate.

Cognition and Mood Symptoms:

  • Being unable to remember key aspects of the traumatic event;
  • Losing interest in activities and hobbies you previously enjoyed;
  • Feeling disconnected, cut off, or distant from other people, even if you’re close to them;
  • Feeling emotionally numb or an inability to feel happy or positive;
  • Blaming yourself or feeling guilty or responsible for the event.

You may not experience any symptoms until weeks, months, or even years after the traumatic event, though many people are affected shortly after it. To be diagnosed with PTSD, you generally must have at least one or two symptoms from each category for at least a month, and they must be severe enough to interfere with your relationships, work, or life. For some people, symptoms last only a few months, but for others, PTSD can become a chronic or lifelong condition. You may not experience any symptoms until weeks, months, or even years after the traumatic event.

COMMON REACTIONS

People react to PTSD and respond to its associated symptoms in different ways. How you respond depends heavily on the type of trauma you experienced, what type of PTSD you’ve developed, and other personal and behavioral factors. Common reactions to PTSD include:

  • Having issues with work, school, or other obligations;
  • Behaving recklessly or impulsively;
  • Smoking or using alcohol and drugs more frequently;
  • Experiencing intense and sudden mood swings;
  • Feeling nervous, fearful, and anxious, but unable to feel positivity, love, or joy;
  • Experiencing physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches, particularly when thinking of the trauma;
  • Becoming withdrawn or isolated from friends and family.

These are just a few common reactions that people may have when developing or coping with PTSD, but everyone responds to these situations differently. Be aware of what constitutes normal behavior and feelings for you, and take note if you see any sudden shifts after experiencing a traumatic event.

RELATED PROBLEMS

Researchers have found that roughly 80% of individuals who are diagnosed with PTSD have comorbid mental health conditions. In some cases, it’s not always clear if these conditions were present before the PTSD or occurring because of it, which can complicate treatment plans. In fact, you may not even be aware you’re dealing with two conditions, but if you have been diagnosed with PTSD, it’s important to understand what other conditions could be affecting you. Some related conditions that are frequently comorbid with PTSD include:

  • Adjustment Disorder: Also called “Stress Response Syndrome,” this is a short-term condition that you may experience when having difficulties dealing with a major source of stress. Common events that can cause this response are the end of a relationship, losing a job, losing a loved one, or undergoing a major life event. Some symptoms of this disorder overlap with that of PTSD. Treatment typically involves talk therapy, but medication may also be helpful in some cases.
  • Anxiety Disorders: There are a number of anxiety disorders — such as generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder — that can occur at the same time as PTSD. One study actually found that 40% of veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD were also diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder. Stress management techniques, talk therapy, and medication are all common treatments for anxiety disorders.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder: This mental disorder is characterized by a pattern of shifts in behavior, mood, and emotional functioning. You may be prone to impulsivity, intense shows of anger or sadness, and anxiety. Though BPD and PTSD are two distinct disorders, the symptoms of one can exacerbate symptoms of the other, which can present additional treatment challenges. Luckily, getting treatment for one disorder can also be helpful in treating the other.
  • Major Depressive Disorder: Clinical depression is a mood disorder that seriously affects your ability to function in your daily life, often involving feelings of sadness or hopelessness, insomnia, anxiety, and even thoughts of death or suicide. It’s one of the most common mental health conditions and occurs frequently with PTSD; research indicates that about half of people who have been diagnosed with PTSD have also been diagnosed with depression. Because the symptoms of these conditions frequently overlap, depression and PTSD can be treated simultaneously in many cases.
  • Neurocognitive Disorders: This umbrella term refers to any condition that affects your cognitive function — such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and neurocognitive disorder (NCD) — and many of these conditions can exist comorbidly with PTSD. Together, these issues can have a huge impact on your memory and mood, and can cause physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or vision problems. In this case, it’s important to discuss treatment options with both your primary care physician and a mental health professional.
  • Substance Use Disorders: Whether it’s prescription drugs or alcohol, substance abuse occurs when your drug use or alcohol consumption causes a decrease in functionality or disrupts your daily life. Substance use disorders are often comorbid with PTSD, as substance use is a risk factor for developing PTSD and vice versa. Because they are so closely linked, treating both conditions at the same time can be highly effective. Treatment often involves therapy, but may also include medication or a sobriety support group.

HOW CAN SERVICE MEMBERS FIND HELPHelp?

As an active duty service member, PTSD can be hard to identify on your own and you may not realize that you have it, even if you’ve experienced a traumatic event. If you’re experiencing any symptoms associated with PTSD or you notice sudden or large shifts in your mood and behavior, you should seek help from a medical or mental health professional. PTSD can be difficult, if not impossible, to manage without help, but with a treatment plan, you can overcome this condition.

Being diagnosed with PTSD does not mean that your time in the military is over, but letting your mental health issues go untreated can have an extremely negative impact on your career. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes that “97% of personnel who sought mental health treatment did not experience any negative career impact.” Even though you are not required to disclose any of your mental health issues, including PTSD, to your chain of command, it may be advantageous to both you and your fellow service members to do so. Not only can you get the help you need, a formal diagnosis may help you obtain benefits during and after your time in the service.

Further, if you do choose to disclose your diagnosis with your chain of command and fellow service members, you will have even more support and treatment resources open to you. Whether you’re exploring what treatment options are available or looking to get a formal diagnosis, here are a few ways you can get help with PTSD as an active duty service member:

TALKING TO A COUNSELOR

Counselors, therapists, and other licensed mental health professionals are a great starting point for getting help with PTSD, especially if you’re not sure what type of help you need. They are also able to help with any comorbid conditions you may have. Confidential counselors are readily available for active duty service members through Military One Source by calling 1-800-342-9647.

TALKING TO A PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER

Primary care providers are another good choice if you aren’t sure what type of treatment you need or what type of condition you’re experiencing. In addition, they can diagnose and treat other health issues, such as a traumatic brain injury or cognitive disorder, that often accompany PTSD. There are several different ways to find care while on active duty, depending on where you’re stationed and what healthcare facilities are available in your area.

TALKING TO BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

Finally, you can always reach out to a behavioral health care provider, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, for help with PTSD. They frequently work at primary care clinics on military bases, so you can easily seek out a specialist’s advice and insight. Some bases may even have Embedded Behavioral Health teams that are distinct from the main medical facilities.

HOW CAN VETERANS FIND HELP?

There are a number of ways that you can find help for PTSD and other mental health conditions once you’re out of the service. You may find it more difficult as a veteran, since you’re no longer in the middle of daily military life and may feel survivor’s guilt. Further, a stigma still surrounds mental health and PTSD in the civilian world, especially among vets who are transitioning out of military life. A study recently found that combat veterans put off or avoid treatment entirely so they aren’t labeled as “mentally ill.” The same study also found that other veterans best understood each others’ experiences. You should never delay PTSD treatment out of fear or due to the stigma, but it can be incredibly difficult to do so without proper support and community.

As you begin to disclose your PTSD to your loved ones, look into treatment options, and find support groups, be sure to turn to your fellow veterans for help. Whether or not you personally knew each other in the service, your time in the military can help create a sort of automatic kinship between veterans. You can use the tradition of military challenge coins, by doing a coin check or simply sharing your story, to start a conversation about PTSD or getting treatment with other veterans. Using your challenge coin, in particular, automatically highlights what you have in common with other veterans and provides the perfect opportunity to ask about their experience with PTSD and how you can get help.

Your fellow veterans play an important role in deciding to get help, as well as throughout the entire treatment process. Ultimately, It’s up to you to make the decision to do so, and to take an active approach to recovery. Simply deciding to find help is a vital step, and once you do, you’ll find that there’s a world of assistance waiting for you.

TALKING TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Receiving adequate social support is hugely important for decreasing your risk of developing PTSD, treating it effectively, and coping with any comorbid conditions. Discussing your diagnosis with your loved ones and asking for the support you need can be difficult, but it will be much-needed for your treatment and recovery. You don’t need to tell everyone you know about your PTSD, and of the people you do choose to tell, you don’t have to share all the details of your trauma or recovery. Only share what you feel comfortable with, and emphasize the importance of receiving love and support from your friends and family members as you undergo treatment.

ACCESSING VA PROGRAMS

As a veteran, you are free to access any available Veterans Affairs (VA) programs. All VA medical centers provide PTSD treatment, even if there isn’t a specialized program, though you can search to find one that specifically offers this service. Through VA PTSD programs, you can access mental health assessments, receive any needed medications, go to therapy, and attend group therapy sessions. If you have a disability, you can even find rides to VA medical centers via the Veterans Transportation Program.

GOING TO SUPPORT GROUPS

Support groups are another way to get social support as you deal with PTSD. These groups are made up of other people who have also gone through trauma and provide a safe environment for everyone to discuss their experiences. Though support groups are not known to alleviate PTSD symptoms, they do allow you to connect with other people who understand what you’re going through, learn their coping tips, and help you understand that you don’t have to deal with PTSD alone. Some groups may even use customized challenge coins or other meaningful symbols to bring everyone together and remind you that you always have support, even when you aren’t physically together. Support groups aren’t a replacement for PTSD treatment, but they are a great addition to your recovery regimen. You can find support groups that are either in-person or online.

USING DIGITAL RESOURCES AND HOTLINES

If it’s difficult or impossible for you to get help in-person, you can also find help for PTSD online. There are myriad resources, mobile apps, and hotlines that you can use to find additional information or reach out. Always reach out as soon as you think you might need help. You don’t have to hit rock bottom or feel horrible to get treatment; use what resources you have to feel better now.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR PTSD?

Today, there are a number of different PTSD treatment options available to you. Which form of treatment is best for your needs will depend on what type of PTSD you’ve been diagnosed with, what symptoms you’re experiencing, and if you have any comorbid conditions that need treatment.

Generally, psychotherapy — and more specifically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — is the primary method used to treat PTSD. In some cases, a psychiatrist or primary care physician may prescribe medication to help relieve some of your symptoms. For instance, if you’ve been having panic attacks, you may be prescribed an anti-anxiety medication to help you keep calm while you work through the cause of the attacks in therapy. It simply depends on what you need and what your physician or psychiatrist thinks will work best for you. Other PTSD treatments include:

COGNITIVE PROCESSING THERAPY (CPT)

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a form of CBT that is used to modify unhealthy beliefs related to a traumatic event, which works to reduce PTSD symptoms and develop a new understanding of the event itself. Taking place over 12 sessions, CPT begins with you writing down a detailed account of how the trauma occurred, how you currently view it, and how it impacts your beliefs. Your therapist will then use Socratic questioning to challenge your views and unhelpful thoughts related to the event. Your therapist then helps you develop coping strategies that you can use outside of treatment to improve your daily functioning.

PROLONGED EXPOSURE (PE)

Prolonged exposure therapy (PE) addresses the trauma through “imaginal” exposure, allowing you to gradually approach the memory and your feelings about it in a safe environment. You also deal with the trauma through “in vivo” or real-life exposure to the situations and activities you have avoided due to the trauma. PE is supposed to teach you that avoidance isn’t an effective coping mechanisms, as it only serves to reinforce your fear of the event. With PE, you can stop avoiding the trauma and improve your overall quality and enjoyment of your life.

EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a new, nontraditional form of psychotherapy that is often used as a treatment for PTSD. Rather than focusing on the traumatic memory itself, you’ll talk about the negative thoughts, feelings, and symptoms you’ve experienced because of the event. Your therapist then uses a back-and-forth hand motion, similar to a swinging pendulum, to stimulate your eye movement while you speak. This helps to desensitize the memory so you can process it and think about it without experiencing any negative emotions or reduced quality of life.

MEDICATIONS

Medication can be a highly effective way to treat and manage PTSD, especially for veterans or individuals who have seen combat. As with treating other mental health conditions, medication is almost always used in conjunction with therapy, and is not necessarily an effective PTSD treatment in and of itself. There are only two FDA-approved drugs that can be used to treat PTSD: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Zoloft and Paxil. SSRIs work to restore the balance of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood, appetite, sleep, and anxiety, and is often linked to happiness and wellbeing. In certain cases, atypical antipsychotic agents such as Seroquel or Risperdal have also been helpful for reducing psychotic symptoms in individuals with PTSD, but they are not used as frequently as SSRIs.

WHAT ARE SOME TIPS FOR LIVING WITH PTSD?

If you have PTSD, you will need the help of a physician or mental health professional for treatment, but that’s not the only way you can overcome this condition. In fact, taking strides in your daily life to take care of your mental health is a positive, proactive, and healthy way to cope with your PTSD.

MAINTAIN CONSISTENCY

Do your best to maintain a regular and consistent daily routine. It may be tempting to avoid the outside world, close yourself off from others, and avoid things that remind you of your trauma, but it’s often better to face situations that may evoke negative or distressing feelings. You can then take your reactions and thoughts to your therapist and talk through them. You can’t avoid your PTSD forever, and going about your normal activities will make bad days that much easier to deal with.

PREPARE YOURSELF TO COPE WITH SETBACKS

Speaking of bad days, it’s important to understand that you likely will have them as you go through PTSD treatment. Recovery is not linear; it’s a gradual process that takes time, energy, and effort. You can’t expect to recover immediately or right after you begin treatment. Take it easy on yourself and give yourself the time you need to heal completely.

REMEMBER WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED

As you begin therapy and other forms of treatment, you’ll have myriad coping strategies to use when you need them. However, try to remember what you’ve learned and keep it present in your mind. Writing them down, taking an audio recording of them, or giving yourself a briefing at the beginning and end of your day are all great ways to keep track of everything you’ve learned during your recovery. Similar to a coin or chip from a sobriety support group, keeping a challenge coin on your person, whether it’s one from your service or one that honors your recovery, is a simple way to carry a physical symbol of your progress with you wherever you go.

SPEND TIME IN NATURE

Make an active effort to go outside and spend time in nature. It doesn’t matter whether you bike, hike, or simply relax and admire your surroundings; the simple act of being outdoors in a natural environment is thought to have a positive effect on PTSD. One study reported a 29% decrease in PTSD symptoms after a week-long river-rafting trip, and another study has found that nature-based therapy may be another effective treatment option for veterans with PTSD.

CONNECT WITH OTHER VETERANS

Whether you’re still enlisted or a veteran, it helps to talk to other veterans about what you’ve gone through. You can create a supportive network of individuals who are linked through your shared experiences and service to this country. Be proud of your contributions and build up a community of veterans and service members who you can rely on. You can do activities together, attend peer sessions, or even create a commemorative challenge coin to honor your recovery and build up a sense of camaraderie. This is a simple, but highly effective, way to connect with others, as challenge coins are of special importance to veterans and service members.

PTSD is a difficult condition to develop and overcome, but it isn’t impossible to do so. As someone who is either currently or used to be in the military, you need to be aware of the risks that face you and what you can do to cope with them. PTSD doesn’t define you, and you don’t ever have to go through it alone.

PTSD RESOURCES

For additional information, further reading, and more help with PTSD, see the following resources and organizations:

  • 23rd Veteran: This nonprofit organization provides informational seminars and reconditioning programs to help veterans with trauma live happier, healthier lives.
  • DAV: This charity organization assists veterans and their family members by offering transportation, helping with employment, and assisting them with benefit claims.
  • Family of a Vet: This nonprofit group works to inform and educate veterans and their family members about the risks of PTSD and TBIs so they can thrive after seeing combat.
  • Government Benefits for Vets with PTSD: This webpage provides a brief guide to the government benefits available to veterans with PTSD.
  • Lifeline for Vets: This hotline connects active duty service members who are struggling with their mental health with veterans who are there to help and offer support over the phone.
  • Make The Connection: This online resource website was created to help veterans, their friends, and their family members find the information they need to live healthy lives after their time in the service.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: This hotline is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, to offer confidential support to anyone who is experiencing a crisis.
  • Objective Zero: This nonprofit organization and its mobile app work to combat the issue of suicide among veterans and active duty service members by connecting them to peer support and mental health resources.
  • PTSD Foundation of America: This organization is working to help veterans who have personally seen or experienced combat to overcome the affects of PTSD and heal “the invisible wounds of war.”
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: This free, 24/7 hotline is available to help anyone who is coping with mental health problems or substance abuse issues.
  • Veteran Restore Program: This program helps people dealing with PTSD reclaim their lives with CPT, resilient yoga, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and resilience training.
  • Veteran’s Crisis Line: This hotline connects veterans or their concerned loved ones with qualified responders from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Veteran’s Stress Project: This website offers low-cost online therapy sessions to veterans who are dealing with PTSD.
  • We Honor Veterans: This organization provides educational tools and resources to better serve veterans and increase their access to supportive services.
  • XSports4Vets: This organization helps veterans overcome their physical and mental war wounds by creating a community that does extreme or intense sports together.

God is Our…

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Whom is it that you turn to in times of trouble? Is it a friend, spouse or maybe a pastor? David understood that none of these were good enough, our only true refuge and strength comes from God. While we can lean on others for support it is God we depend on to get us through those tough times and we must not forget to praise Him in the good times too. – Mike

The Treasury of David

EXPOSITION

Verse 1. God is our refuge and strength. Not our armies, or our fortresses. Israel’s boast is in Jehovah, the only living and true God. Others vaunt their impregnable castles, placed on inaccessible rocks, and secured with gates of iron, but God is a far better refuge from distress than all these: and when the time comes to carry the war into the enemy’s territories, the Lord stands his people in better stead than all the valour of legions or the boasted strength of chariot and horse. Soldiers of the cross, remember this, and count yourselves safe, and make yourselves strong in God. Forget not the personal possessive word our; make sure each one of your portion in God, that you may say, “He is my refuge and strength.” Neither forget the fact that God is our refuge just now, in the immediate present, as truly as when David penned the word. God alone is our all in all. All other refuges are refuges of lies, all other strength is weakness, for power belongeth unto God: but as God is all sufficient, our defence and might are equal to all emergencies. A very present help in trouble, or in distress he has so been found, he has been tried and proved by his people. He never withdraws himself from his afflicted. He is their help, truly, effectually, constantly; he is present or near them, close at their side and ready for their succour, and this is emphasized by the word very in our version, he is more present than friend or relative can be, yea, more nearly present than even the trouble itself. To all this comfortable truth is added the consideration that his assistance comes at the needed time. He is not as the swallows that leave us in the winter; he is a friend in need and a friend indeed. When it is very dark with us, let brave spirits say, “Come, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm.”

“A fortress firm, and steadfast rock,
Is God in time of danger;
A shield and sword in every shock,
From foe well known or stranger.”

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

We sing this Psalm to the praise of God, because God is with us, and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends his church and his word, against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the implacable hatred of the devil, and against all the assaults of the world, the flesh and sin. Martin Luther.

HOUSTON – A Widow In Need – James 1:27

HELP WANTED

During my recent trip to Houston one of the houses that we “mudded out” (the term we use for gutting a house of all the wet furniture, appliances, possessions, drywall, flooring etc. of the homeowners) belonged to a widowed Hispanic woman named Mara.

Upon arriving at her home the first day I greeted Senora Mara with a very traditional greeting of Bendicio Senora Mara, como esta? Blessing to you Mrs. Mara how are you? she immediately began to cry and I thought I had said it wrong, but no those were tears of relief.

You see Senora Mara had felt (like so many others) completely isolated and alone since the flooding. She has family but they do not speak to her and her local church is small and without means it too was essentially wiped out by Hurricane Harvey. So we talked me in my badly broken Spanish and she in her quite understandable English. The highlight came when she and my wife (who is Puerto Rican) talked for nearly 30 minutes on the phone.

Unless you have experienced the loss of nearly all your life’s possessions it is hard to imagine or describe how Senora Mara felt as we systematically took piece after piece of her home apart and tossed it to the curb for the trash trucks to dispose of. All the while with no place to go she had to stay living in the home.  Senora Mara turned out to be quite the trooper as she worked side by side with our team for 3 days as we ripped her house apart.

Like so many others she had no flood insurance, why you may ask, well she was not in a flood zone and not eligible. The area she lived in had never flooded so FEMA had not designated it a flood zone. Of course FEMA came to her Aid, NOT!! They sent her a letter saying she could get a low interest loan, really, how does a widow living on Social Security of under $700.00 qualify or afford that?

Senora Mara at diner and church with us one night after we finished her house.

HELP WANTED

So here is the deal I am trying to organize team(s) of volunteers to go back to Houston preferably before the New Year, to work on putting Senora Mara’s house back together.  If you are available please email me and let me know, we will need to raise funds for materials, and food but I think I can secure us a place to bunk. 

 

 

 

Sometimes we need a boost

May 13

Psalms 61:2 
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Eric ran back and forth behind the crowd. The parade was coming, and he really wanted to have a good spot to watch it from. Everyone was so much taller than he was. Wherever he went, somebody was standing in front of him. In frustration, he began to cry. Suddenly, two strong hands lifted Eric up and placed him on shoulders high up above the mass of people. From the vantage point of the stranger’s shoulders, the entire parade was easy to see.

Sometimes we need a boost. Problems loom too large, and we can’t see our way around them. Pressures build up, and we don’t feel big enough to cope with them. God sees all that and He is ready to lift us up; to give us a new vantage point. Reach up to the Lord, and He will lead you to Himself, a rock which is higher than any problem we might have.

Prayer: Pick me up, Lord, and hold me in Your loving arms. Protect me from the pressures of the day, and remove the heaviness from my heart. Inspire me with the knowledge that You and I together can handle anything. Amen.

My Help and My Deliverer

April 12

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. – Psalms 40:2

Gina held onto the branch for dear life. The floodwaters swirled around her, pulling at her, threatening to carry her off in the raging torrent. The pouring rain blinded her, and large clumps of mud kept bumping into her. Her arms ached and throbbed. The last of her strength gave out, but as she let the branch slip through her fingers, a strong hand gripped her wrist. Gina felt herself slide up onto the bank of the swollen river, and she spread herself out to feel the firm ground beneath her.

There are days that feel like a struggle for life. How wonderful it would be to have someone come along and lift us up out of the struggle. God can do that. His Spirit renews and strengthens us. Through the loving power of God, we are pulled out of the darkest pit and set upon solid ground.

Prayer:  Lord, hear me as I call out to You. Whether my problems are huge or tiny, I find I need Your help to get me through. Pull me up into Your loving arms, and surround me in Your love. Amen.

 

Rebuilding a Future Nehemiah Part XVI

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Published on 16/Jun/2015Author directorfsm@gmail.com

And next to him the men of Jericho built. And next to them Zaccur the son of Imri built. 3 The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 4 And next to them Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired. And next to them Meshullam the son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel repaired. And next to them Zadok the son of Baana repaired. 5 And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord. 6 Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 7 And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of the governor of the province Beyond the River. 8 Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. 10 Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. 11 Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters. 13 Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate. 14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. 15 And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David. 16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. 18 After him their brothers repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. 19 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress. 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired another section from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. 22 After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, repaired. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house. 24 After him Binnui the son of enadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress 25 and to the corner. Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. 27 After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel. 28 Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber. 31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate, and to the upper chamber of the corner. 32 And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants repaired.

– – – – Nehemiah 3:2-32 (ESV)

 

Last week we looked at just the first verse of chapter three and its theme of dedicating oneself unto the Lord. This week we can cover the remaining 31 verses again in one major theme. This time the theme is the need to Never try and go it alone.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

― Michael Jordan

             While it might seem strange to start a sermon with a quote from Michael Jordon, yet for all his immense talent Mr. Jordon understood the concept that he was not a one man team. During their two 3 year championship runs the Chicago Bulls had Michael, Scotty Pippen and two sets of core individuals (teammates) in which to depend upon. We too if we are to obtain any amount of success the rebuilding of our lives MUST have a core of individuals (teammates) we can depend upon. We can “Never try and go it Alone”.

The biblical importance of partnership, fellowship, unity etc. is repeated throughout the bible. I want to look at a few areas today that touch on this. First is in the design of creation, in the beginning God created a helper for Adam. Second is in the design of our own bodies many parts functioning as a whole. Next is the area of Christian fellowship. Concluding with a look at this is only possible because of God.

First we it is crucial to establish were not designed to function alone. In the beginning God recognized the need for man to have help and so created a help meet (KJV) for Adam (Gen 2:18).

This idea is carried throughout the Old Testament; we can see it in verses such as:

Proverbs 18:1 ESV Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Very few people would consider someone who keeps to themselves as selfish but God does. He says it is because they seek their own, not God’s desires. Compare this with Ps 34:5?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

My wife’s Harley (I’m the chaufferJ) is around 900 lbs. Trust me at 172 soaking wet I need help getting that thing up if its ever laid down. Two is a must.

Trust me I have heard it all before. Those who feel put down can come up with some very creative excuses why they can’t get help and got to do things alone.   I have no one. No one cares for me, no one will write me. I have no stamps. Not one of them is valid.

Listen if we spent half as much effort on doing things to rebuild our lives in preparation for getting out as we did to get in jail all them there excuses would just disappear. Take it from me I had no Christian support on the outside. I knew I need a solid Bible church if I was going to stay out. I wrote 12 churches in the community I planned on going to 18 months before my expected release. One, just one church wrote me back. Guess where I went when I got out. Guess which church my wife and I got married in. Guess which church sent us to Mississippi as domestic missionaries. You cannot make it if you make excuses, you can make because you are not alone God is with you. There is no excuse.

Okay now that I have vented let get off my soap box and continue when we look at ourselves do we think of us as individuals or as the biblical model of many parts working in unison? Look at the following verses with me:

1 Corinthians 12:20-25 ESV As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,

Ephesians 4:16 ESV 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.

Do you see it, God has constructed us in such a manner that each part of the body is formed of many parts all working together. The balance God put into effect is amazing On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor… Yes I know technology has made it so some parts are replaceable. But that again is God. Who do you think put the brain cells in these men and women that develop all these things? Some cosmic accidental explosion y’all cannot be that naive.

Today we are taught that it’s all about self, you are beautiful just the way you are and its ok for you to be this or that no matter how you was born. Truth is what you make it because absolute truth cannot be known, and doubting is the mature approach to life. We are fed a bunch of lies when the truth is in front of us. God and God alone is the authority on man, why because He created man. And He created us to function in a manner that was dependent upon God and fellow man.

Are we truly dependent upon our fellow man? I mean, why I need anyone else I am smart I can get along just fine on my own. If you call yourself a Christian you need to rethink this attitude. Again let us turn to the word of God for some answers:

Proverbs 27:17 ESV Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

            Pretty hard to sharpen yourself against your fellow man LONER!

Hebrews 10:25 (ESV) Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

We are commanded to join together in fellowship to worship God. Note this is not some optional club meeting. This is God commanding us to fellowship, keep reading to find out why.

 1 Peter 4:10 ESV As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

If you go about serving yourself, well that would just get you a trip to the checkup from the neck up doctorJ.

1 John 1:1-4 ESV That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

I know I have used this before (It is a favorite) but verses 3 & 4 are crucial. Do you know anyone who does not want JOY in their life? If you want joy you might as well want fullness of JOY right? To get it you MUST (can’t void it, work around it, shy away from it, make excuses to get out of it) have fellowship with God and other Christians

“When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles; When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs; When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy.” Corrie Ten Boom

            Can you think of any instances of fellowship (teamwork) in the bible? How about:

Noah and his Sons, one man did not build that big ole boat

Mosses and Aaron

Naomi and Ruth

Priscilla and Aquila

Paul and Silas

Ok who missed it? Of course, Nehemiah today’s text; we won’t read it again but the whole of Chapter three except for verse one describes groups of men (teams) working together to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem.

In closing tonight I want to try and come full circle as it were. We as believer’s can only enjoy this fellowship with others and God because of God. Like everything else that comes our way it is not by our works but buy His grace. His word tells us:

1 Corinthians 1:9 (ESV) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

John Gill in his commentary says: unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; to partake of his grace, and to be heirs of glory with him; to enjoy communion with him in private and public exercises of religion, which is an evidence of being in him, and of union to him; for it is not merely into the fellowship of his saints or churches, but into the fellowship of his Son they are said to be called; and such are members of Christ, of his body, of his flesh, and of his bone; and shall never be lost and perish, but shall be confirmed to the end; be preserved in him blameless, and presented to him faultless, and have everlasting life.

             Think on that for a moment with me, “heirs of Glory with Him”. When God adopts you it not like being the proverbial redheaded step child. No we are given the keys to the kingdom. Can you even imagine “enjoy communion with hit [Jesus] in private” please do not take this as being flippant but think of asking Him to sit and just talk about whatever.

 I love John Wesley quote “I want the whole Christ for my Saviour, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.” John Wesley was saying he was 100% all in as a Christian there was no walking the fence for him. He wanted all that it had to offer, including the fellowship of the Church.

             Whether it is in church, on the job, at home or in a jail cell we are not alone. God word tells us “Never try and go it Alone”. He expects us to seek fellowship with Him and true fellow believers. This will never be truer than for those who will be rebuilding their lives after a period of incarceration or addiction recovery or restitution rehabilitation whatever the case may be. Not only is a biblical principle it is a statistical fact that those who get out and find a solid faith based support network, a good church, and a job their recidivism (return to incarceration) rate drops dramatically.

If you are do not know this fellowship with Christ and fellow believers I encourage you to admit you are a sinner, confessing your sins to Christ and accepting Him as Lord of your life.

In HIS Service

Mike