Chain Breaker: Keys to breaking free from depression and anxiety (Part 2)

Broken chains(This is Part 2 of the message, Chain Breaker: Keys to overcoming depression and anxiety. See the last post for Part 1)

  1. God’s presence is our refuge. Psalm 62: 8 and 9 says, “Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For He is the one who gives me confidence. He alone is my protector (my high rocky summit) and deliverer. He is my refuge; I will not be upended. God delivers me and exalts me; God is my strong protector and my shelter. Trust in him at all times, you people! Pour out your hearts before Him! God is our shelter!

Years ago, when I first started pondering on this and other scriptures that talk about God being my refuge and my shelter, I would imagine myself as a tiny bird tucked away in the cleft of a huge mountain face with the wind whipping all around me.  But in my safe little spot, tucked away in secure rock, I could wait out the storm, enfolded by the mountain.  You are the most secure when you run to the Rock and hide in the security that is God’s presence.

So how do we do that? The Scripture says, “Pour out your heart in his presence.”  Look, we’re like glass to the Lord.  He sees right through us, so trying to act as though we’re all full of faith when we’re not feeling it is only going to heap shame on top of the negative emotions we’re already dealing with.

But, on the other hand, if we stay away from the Lord because our thoughts are such a mess, then we’re staying away from the only one who can right the ship.  When we’re capsized in our thinking, we under water.  We can’t get on top of it, or we would have by now.  But in the presence of the Lord, we can cry it out, let it out, get mad and even question what’s going on.  He’s not threatened by or upset by what we’re thinking because he knows what we’re made of.  And He knows He can bring alignment.

In His presence, every chain is broken. Exodus 33:14 says, “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” The chains may not feel broken in the instant, and it may take a little while before you see what He has done, but faint not.  Keep coming.  Keep soaking in his presence.  Cultivate that place of refuge and shelter and you will see Him pull the chains off of your mind.

Because he is the Chain-breaker, you are free. You are no longer captive. You will see his victory over the lies of the enemy. You will hear him speak to you personally. And that leads me to my last Key which is that God’s voice is our necessity.

  1. God’s Voice is our Necessity: When I started journaling years ago as a young Christian, all of my journal entries were one-way conversations with the Lord. I poured out my concerns and prayer requests and that was pretty much it. Sometimes, I would find a Scripture that would encourage me and I would write it down. But over the last decade, I have received great teaching on hearing the voice of the Lord specifically for myself and it has revolutionized my relationship with Jesus and is shattering the bondages of depression and anxiety in my life.

So to rehearse my first two keys: we said that God’s Word is our lifeline and God’s presence is our refuge.  So with this third key, we wait upon the Lord and expect Him to speak to our soul about our soul because God’s Voice is our necessity.  It is our urgent need.  Jesus opened the way to the Father so that His children could freely approach Him in whatever condition they are in and hear His voice of loving alignment, direction, and tender affirmation. But unfortunately, many of us aren’t accessing what has been opened to us so we stay bound in shackles that the Lord wants us to walk out of.

I have a habit when things are absolutely ‘Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs’, of asking the Lord what He has to say about the situation that I’m desperate about.  Below is part of a journal entry from one of those times. Feel free to read this as though the Lord is speaking to you. You can take my Word and apply it to whatever you’re going through:

“You are coming out. You are in the middle; this is not the end. The enemy is a liar who spews forth venom and accusations against you, against Me and against others. Love draws together, believes the best and speaks life. My love is in you but lies have thrown dirt over it.  I wash you and cleanse you.

I have compassion on your weakness and I am on your side. I fight for you and appreciate your heart turned toward Me. Keep crying out. Breakthrough is coming.

Release disappointments to Me. Arrest negative images and keep declaring My Word to create an atmosphere of faith.  Faith is not a feeling.  Faith is action. So when you choose to repent and resist and declare my Word even when your emotions contradict it, you are in faith.  Your actions speak a better word than your emotions.

You are not as your appear to yourself or even to others. Do not be afraid. My love is holding you. You will NOT be lost or rejected. I have given you a heart to seek Me and find Me which is why you are experiencing such great opposition.

You are increasing in strength. While the enemy has told you that you’re losing your mind, I say, No. He is a liar. I say, You are Mine. I have purchased you and you are holy unto the Lord. I have given you to my Son and we are one. Rest in faith that I delight in you. I see you and I know you. I created each facet of who you are. I am not surprised or appalled or angered by what I see in you. I have conquered all that would try to overcome you. You win. My life in you has overcome sin and death. Smile and laugh because you are my daughter and I am yearning for you and delighting in you.  I am not disconnected from you.  You are in my sight every minute.

I see you dancing, singing, light and free in My presence. No more sadness or heaviness.  Give thanks for your season of joy – great and lasting joy – has come.”

There is a lot in that word. It’s probably hard to catch it all, but I hope you heard a few key things:

  1. The Lord loves us and he does not see us the way we see ourselves
  2. When the Father corrects us, he gives a vision for where we are going rather than beat us up over where we’ve been
  3. He is working in us and fighting for us.  We may feel weak and under it at times, but in His presence we break out of our chains.

Because He is your Chain Breaker, you are free – you are no longer a captive.

In closing, I want to exalt the work of Jesus in order to set us on the right course.  What Jesus did for us in his life and on the cross is what makes Him our chain-breaker.  Simply telling you that Jesus is our chain breaker without supporting it with Truth doesn’t give you the power your faith needs to set you free.

When Jesus hung on the cross, he uttered three words that are the most powerful words that have ever been uttered on this planet.  Jesus cried out with his last breath, “It is Finished!”

Before Jesus even got to the cross, he took the beating of 40 lashes with whips that tore his flesh off and exposed his internal organs.  That beating paid for our complete physical and emotional healing. And on the cross, the justice that satisfied our guilt was completely fulfilled. Jesus didn’t just take on our sin – the Spotless One became our sin. So when he uttered those three words, “It is finished,” our TOTAL salvation, which is our healing AND redemption was paid for and won.

Now we can all expect to be healed from everything that is not of God. I wish I could answer why some people are healed right away and others aren’t. But I can tell you that God is the God of the In-Between. There is often a season of waiting in between the promise and the manifestation. And it’s in the waiting that we learn to grow in faith, to practice our faith and to lean into the Lord when it looks as though nothing is happening.

So while we are waiting for the complete manifestation of our healing, we are going to experience freedom by remembering that God’s Word is our lifeline, God’s presence is our refuge and God’s voice is our necessity. Because He is our Chain Breaker, we are Free – we are no longer captives. We are free now!

Now you:

  • Do you know how to access the Presence of the Lord?
  • Have you made a habit of asking the Lord to speak to you about things that concern you?
  • Do you write down what you hear in your heart? Do you have anyone who is scripturally grounded who can help you screen those words?

The Word says that the Lord is enthroned upon our praises (Psalm 22:3), and we know that worship is the atmosphere of heaven (Revelation 7:11-15), so when we worship either in song or with our words, the Lord’s presence is magnified.  While He is always with us, we need to learn to increase our awareness of His presence. Worship, praise and thanksgiving focus our attention on Him and clear our minds of worldly clutter.

I encourage you to schedule some time with the Lord, like a date with a friend.  Turn off the phone, and focus on Who He is.  As you learn to direct your thoughts to the multiple facets of God’s greatness and love, you will begin to be aware that chains are falling away that were once impossible to get free from.

Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus, this life is so busy and confusing.  I am pulled in so many directions and feel the weight of my burdens pressing down on me.  I am caught in “time” and can’t see how any of this is going to work out for my good. But I know that You are Good and that You are my Father. You promise to protect me, to deliver me from evil and to work everything out for my good. Jesus, please sustain me with your love. Pour out Your peace upon the fires in my heart.  Quell every frightful thought and release me from the  stranglehold of the enemy.  I exalt Your victory over every bondage of the enemy and your victory in me.  In Christ, I am free! There is freedom laying all my worries at your feet.  Your peace won’t let me go! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Chain Breaker: Keys to breaking free from depression and anxiety (Part 1)

Broken chainsI suffer from depression and anxiety.  And ADD.  I was blessed with the trifecta of toilet bowl thinking.  It’s only been recently that I have put two and two together and allowed the cumulative history of my life to tell its story.  But now, at 51, I have more life behind me than in front of me, and I can see that I have wrestled with these debilitating brain shackles all my life.

I remember that when I was in elementary school, I would be physically sick every morning due to the anxiety of going to school.  My mother called the doctor who gave her some advice about giving me juice or something, but I vividly recall the nausea that would hit the moment I woke up and realized I had to go to school.  Anxiety affected how I made friends and how I handled day to day challenges.  For the most part, I was fairly popular, but inside I was wracked with self-doubt and fear.

I also remember periods of time where I felt really blue.  I thought everyone felt that way.  I didn’t know what depression was.

And I also struggled with ADD, which back in the 70’s and 80’s wasn’t even a recognized handicap.  All I knew is that I even though I managed to get decent grades, I studied 5 times harder for 80% of the good grades that my two best friends got with half their brains tied behind their backs.

In high-school, my depression & anxiety combo really bound me up and between those two emotional challenges and the inability to stay focused, my grades tanked.  My brain was so full of depression and self-loathing that I fell into really negative behaviors trying to escape my sadness and of course, as we all know, all that did was exacerbate the anxiety.  I was scared to live because every day I took a breath, I managed to make worse than the one before. I had many bouts of suicidal thinking – although I never attempted to take my life.  That’s the condition I was in when I met Jesus.

I was 18 years old when I became a Christian and I thought that all of my anxiety and depression would magically go away now that I was going to live a clean life. The logic was: No more sin = No more fear.  No more screw-ups = No more sadness. But it didn’t quite out work that way.

Over the years since my decision to follow Jesus, I have studied the Word like it’s my job.  I love the Bible and nothing gets me more excited than getting to know Jesus and studying the Word. And I love to worship the Lord. In that place of awe and reverence, things come into alignment. And I have been faithful in church since I was 18.  I’m not a flighty person. I’m loyal and dedicated and I love the Lord. But even with all of that going for me, it still hasn’t been enough to stop the tsunami of sadness that comes over me at times.  Or the anxiety that gives me chest pressure and heart palpitations at times.

In all fairness, my adult life has been marked by a lot of losses and some really intense crises that would make anyone sad and anxious. So I never thought that depression and anxiety were something I suffered from.

But recently, I have encountered the perfect storm.  As I said, I am 51 so I am entering that marvelous time of life when the youth factories start shutting down.  Not only can that wreak havoc with your hormones and your emotions, but being at this mid-life age causes a lot of retrospective thinking.  “Why hasn’t A, B, or C worked out yet? I thought I would be further along than this by this age.  When are my opportunities going to materialize? Did I miss God? Am I out of his will?”

And then come the crazy thoughts: “Am I even saved?”

If you don’t suffer from any form of depression, you cannot fathom how crazy toilet bowl thinking can hijack you and sideline you.  But take it from me, when you’re sliding down the slippery slope of negativity without crampons, it is way too easy to lose your grip on reality and on what the Word says.

Depression and anxiety are slave drivers.  But one thing I know: Because Jesus is my chain breaker, I am free. I am no longer a captive.  When Jesus burst up out of the grave and blew the door off his tomb, he displayed the finished work that brought us up out of captivity with Him. He put the keys of the Kingdom in our hands. Those keys carry the same authority that Jesus exerted when he walked the earth and brought freedom to every person bound by any sickness or torment. And today, I plan on taking the set of keys he gave to me and placing them in the lock of your prison door.  Because of what he is doing in me, I refuse to let you sit in depression alone. You are not alone. You are not forsaken. You are not shameful. He has not given up on you. You are precious to Him.  Jesus is attracted to brokenness and He has come to set every captive free. Because he is your chain-breaker, you are free. You are no longer a captive.

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Exterminating shame: Turning shame into praise

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I am convinced that shame is the most debilitating, crippling tactic in the enemy’s arsenal and that millions of precious people are completely tortured by its taunts and bullying voices. I know what this is like and can attest that this is the worst kind of torment possible. Maybe you feel like you’re one mistake away from everyone finding out what a hot mess you are. Maybe you feel like there is something broken in you…that you are akin to a factory reject.  Maybe you feel like you will never be able to please God, yourself, or others because of how flawed you are. Maybe you feel that everything that has gone wrong in your life is the courtroom evidence that the problem is you…and no matter how hard you try to fix yourself, you stay the same – messed up and broken.

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Thought for the day: Holding unforgiveness against those who have hurt us is as self-destructive as drinking poison hoping that the other person will die.

Girl looking upThought for the day: Holding unforgiveness against those who have hurt us is as foolish and self-destructive as drinking poison hoping that the other person will die.

Unforgiveness is a trap of the enemy based on legalism.  Legally, we have the right to hold people’s offenses against them.  We have the right be feel angry, hurt and ripped off. We have the right to wish bad things for them. We have the right to accuse them in our hearts for everything that they have committed against us. And the enemy loves nothing more than when we do that.  Satan is the Accuser of the Brethren and a legalist, so when we accuse others we join him in his efforts.  When we accuse, we act like him and we don’t even know it.

Revelation 12:9-11 – And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

But when we forgive, we act like Jesus who kept silent even while he was being falsely accused, lied about and wrongly sentenced to death. He forgave those who were murdering him AS they were standing there watching him die.  

And on top of that, Jesus forgives us from ALL of our sin and iniquity when we come to him in repentance. All that we have done in rebellion against the holiness of our merciful God is NOTHING in comparison to what others have done against us and if we don’t agree with that statement, we are not in touch with the depth of sin that we have been forgiven of. 

Ephesians 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

In the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord is specific in His command that we forgive those who have trespassed against us.  He is so clear that it should shake us all out of our complacency when it comes to holding unforgiveness to other people’s accounts.  God will forgive us AS we forgive others.  So the degree to which we clear the accounts of those who have debts against us is the degree to which we ourselves are forgiven by God.  Oh boy.

Matthew 6:12 – And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Now you:

  • Are you holding unforgiveness against anyone? 
  • Do you feel that their sin against you is something you cannot forgive?
  • Do you feel as though this person will be “off the hook” if you let them go in forgiveness?

When you forgive someone, you set yourself free.  Their sin is between then and God, not between you and God. When you forgive, you are not saying that what happened is OK. It probably isn’t OK at all.  But what you are saying is that you will not be their judge and jury.  You are allowing God to handle the situation.  He works in ways of love of redemption that are far above our understanding. 

When you are in Heaven with Jesus, you will not have this hurt.  But you will have the record of whether or not you forgave.  Unforgiveness will be a point of separation between you and God on that day.  Will it be worth losing your place in heaven to hold on to this fleeting pain? God wants to heal your heart right now and give you ability to begin the process of total forgiveness.  

Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus, I ask for Your help forgiving (name their name/s).  Please lead me in the path of forgiving and letting go of this pain and hurt.  I release to You those who hurt me.  I forgive them and let them go into Your hand.  I ask that You would help them to be all that You created them to be.  Help me to become all that You created me to be.  I will not allow this pain to identify me and define me any longer.  I am free to love with God’s love which is shed abroad in my heart.  My life reflects the fruit of love in every season.  I forgive and receive Your forgiveness for my sins, Father. Thank you for the grace to forgive and not allow the enemy to refresh these hurts in my mind.  I set up a hedge of protection by the blood of Jesus around myself and my thoughts as I walk out obedience to You, Lord.  I renounce all patterns of unforgiveness and decide as an act of my will that I will no longer attach myself to the sins of others through unforgiveness.  I release myself from them in Jesus Name. I am free, Amen!

 

The Season of Breakthrough: It’s time to go to the next level

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On Sunday, May 21st, the Lord impressed this word on my heart and I shared it with our congregation. (See note at bottom of post.)

I the Lord declare that this is a new season.  This is a season of Breakthrough – a season where you are rising to another level. This is a season where obstacles are being removed, shackles are being pulled off, and fetters are being shattered by My Spirit says the Lord. You as My children, and you as My Church, ascend up the steps to My Presence, says the Lord.  You are being drawn my My grace. Rivers of mercy, rivers of My lovingkindness are drawing you as a lover is drawn to the Bridegroom.  You hear My voice.  Your heart is being tenderized in this to love Me, to yearn for Me, to know that there is no other satisfaction; that this earth has nothing for you; that all that you long for and all that you are is found in Me and in Me alone.  You will no longer be satisfied by other lovers. You will no longer be satisfied by paltry things.  For it’s the richness of My presence that will draw your heart and satisfy your soul. You will yearn for Me in the night season.  You will yearn for Me when you wake in the morning.  Your heart will be so stirred by My voice.  Obedience will be easy.  You will walk in My ways.  You will run in the paths I lay out for you.  And you will show forth My Glory in a season where the darkness wants to roll in.  My Light is brighter. My light shines forth and drives back darkness.  You show forth My Power and My glory as My children and as the Church. And now I say, Children, turn your heart to Me. Turn your heart to Me. As you turn your heart to Me, you are drawn. And you will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart, says the Lord.

Now you:

  • Do you need to see breakthrough in certain areas of your life or in the lives of those you love?
  • Has there been a particular issue that has caused you to be in bondage or kept you contained?

Know this: It’s never God’s will for you to be bound or contained by anything.  If you are a child of God, your position has already been established in God’s Word in the book of Ephesians. According to Ephesians 2:6 you are seated with Christ in heavenly places. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”.

And according to Ephesians 1:21, Jesus Christ is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named.  So where does that put you? Far above everything that would try to push you down and place you in a prison of doubt, fear and lack – if you remain in Christ.

Ephesians 1:19B-21: “These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

God has declared that this is a season of Breakthrough.  I am not the only one who is hearing this from God.  Many ministries all over the world have declared the same thing. And when the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, speaks that He is moving in a certain way, it is our responsibility to get on board with what He is doing and not tarry. The Lord creates the seasons and we align our faith to them.  That’s the part we play in response to the voice of the Lord.

This is really good news! In these last days, God is pouring out His Spirit to draw us closer, to hear Him more clearly, to obey Him more completely and to love Him passionately.

Be blessed!

Note: It may seem from my two recent posts regarding prophetic words from the Lord that I do this every Sunday, but I don’t.  Recently, however, the Lord has been drawing me into a season of fasting and prayer where He is speaking to me and pulling me closer than I have ever been. I sense His Presence and His leading so much more clearly right now. I know that He has a purpose for this and I am trying to be as yielded as I can.

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Thought for the day: God wants all so He can increase us

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In Genesis 26:4, God promises Abraham that He will multiply his descendants, make them as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all of the land that Abraham has been sojourning in.

Gen 26:4: I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed

But what is important to notice is that this promise is reiterated to Abraham after he had pursued heart-wrenching obedience to God by offering his only son, Isaac, as an sacrifice to the Lord. (See Genesis 22) God stopped him from this action and provided a ram in the thicket as the sacrifice, but Abraham’s heart was purified in the crucible of testing and he came forth as gold.

After this testing in the Refiner’s Fire, Abraham received that word in the Scripture we just read. I believe that this timing is not coincidental as I believe that the God Who instituted the law of sowing and reaping understands that what we sow in our lives is what will be multiplied.  God didn’t want Abraham’s self-life and self-determination to be what was multiplied as the stars in the sky.  He wanted the faith that would propel Abraham towards radical obedience to be what was multiplied in the earth.  So once the dross had been burned away and the lone heart of desperate longing for the Lord was left, God spoke the word of multiplication over Abraham and his seed.

The depth of purity of Abraham’s trust and devotion to his God, was the breadth of the multiplication of his descendants. Abraham’s descendants, both natural and spiritual descendants, are billions strong now and this corresponds to the depth of his faith.

When God allows us to go through the crucible, it is to refine us.  He doesn’t want to multiply wrong motives and our self-life.  He wants to multiply us but He needs our worldly attachments to become infinitely small so that He can become infinitely big.

Religion keeps God small and most people are happy with that arrangement because they can maintain their lusts and desires along with what they believe is God. But if truly have God, we have a fire – a Consuming Fire.  And this Fire will not allow the weeds and thorns to strangle the harvest and overtake the fruit we can produce for the Kingdom.

If our hearts are truly toward the Lord, we will welcome the Refiner’s Fire.  He is loving and gentle toward us, but unrelenting toward anything that will steal our destiny and possibly rob us of our eternal place with Him.

Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

Let’s pray:

Dear heavenly Father, we come to You as the Holy Fire.  We know that your holiness is as pure and consuming as fire and we desire to be changed and purified. Father, we can’t purify ourselves or even desire to tear our hearts away from the attachments of this life.  Our family, friends, and achievements are all to us at times.  But You have called us to higher life where we can hold on to You with all we are and also enjoy the blessings of this life without those blessings owning our hearts in trade.  We are yours.  You purchased us with the blood of your Son.  We are also the children of Abraham and as such, we can tap into that faith that takes us beyond what we see with our eyes into a trust that radically obeys.  Holy Spirit, please do this work in us.  As the days grow darker and the day of Your appearing comes closer, we need to cross the line and be all in with Jesus.  No more games.  No more comfortable religion.  No more halfway obedience.  All in – by Your grace alone.  In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.

 

Live Long – Live Strong: Keys to anti-aging and feeling great at every age

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Photo taken by Amy Caramihalis

I have been asked by a few people to occasionally blog about fitness.  I think I have shied away from this topic because I have no formal education in physical fitness and there are SO many blogs and articles on health and fitness that I assumed people would rather read those.  But the requests keep coming, so I guess some of my readers will benefit from the minute amount of knowledge I have on the subject of eating for anti-aging and working out for health and vitality.

Why is a healthy lifestyle, nutrition for anti-aging and exercise so important to me? I have found that my physical stamina, emotional well-being and appearance are all drastically impacted by the habits that I have formed over the years.  My schedule on most days is the following:

  • 4:30AM: Wake up, get coffee, spend time in the Word of God, journaling, praying, etc.
  • 5:40AM: Change into workout clothes, get ready for the gym
  • 6:00AM: Workout classes start, or I workout at home
  • 7:00AM: Make breakfast
  • 7:15AM: Get ready for work

The gym that my husband and I go to is small and the classes are relatively intimate compared to other gyms in our area.  We love this because we have become part of a community that has the same goals that we do.  Most of us are working professionals ranging in age from early 20’s to late 60’s!  We encourage each other, we notice when someone has gone “missing”, we grieve with each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments – even those outside of the gym.  This community makes working out fun and keeps us coming back.  It provides accountability and friendship.

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