If You Always Think What You’ve Always Thought

Share Button

think circles

If you always think
what you’ve always thought,

You will always do
what you’ve always done.

If you always do
what you’ve always done,

You will always get
what you’ve always got.

If you always get
what you’ve always got,

You will always think
what you’ve always thought.

(Attributed to Henry Ford)

Recognize the Spirituality of Work

Share Button

work

Recognize the Spirituality of Work

By Donald Whitney

Bill often wonders whether he is a second-class Christian because of the less-than-Christian atmosphere where he works. His occupation is good and necessary for society, but it’s also one in which liars, cheats, and thieves seem to flourish. Vulgar and blasphemous language typically fills the air of Bill’s workplace.

For other believers, the problem at work is not a godless environment; it’s the gnawing lack of meaning to their labor. They trudge through tedious days on a job that often feels intolerably unimportant.

Can followers of Jesus work in these conditions and still maintain a close relationship with Him? Or is the Lord somewhat disappointed in them because of where they work or what they do?

God ordained work. Before sin entered the world, “the Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). People must grow food, care for children, make clothes, tend the sick, construct buildings and roads, transport goods, govern the cities, and so forth.

Obviously, therefore, God intends for most people to devote themselves to what’s often called “secular” employment. Only a small percentage should be vocational pastors, church-planting missionaries, and the like (even though more are needed). Otherwise, who’d work the fields, deliver the mail, build ships and cars, develop water systems, and make medicines?

Because God has ordained it, all work has a spiritual dimension. The Bible repeatedly commends useful, honest labor (see Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10), which shows God’s intense interest in it.  When we actively recognize His presence in our workplace, we acknowledge His sovereignty over all of life. And that’s basic to true spirituality.

Even if your daily responsibilities seem dull and unimportant, or cause you to associate with and support worldly, God-hating people, remember that “the Lord takes pleasure in His people” (Psalm 149:4). And He takes pleasure in us not just at church, but at work, too. He’s as attentive to us in our work routines as He as to Joseph in his service as Potiphar’s slave, to Jesus in the carpentry shop, and to the apostle Paul when he was making tents.

Work is not a hindrance to spirituality; it is a part of it. Even slaves were instructed by Paul not to fear that their awful condition in any way diminished their spiritual standing with God (see 1 Corinthians 7:22). Our spirituality depends upon who who are in Christ, not the circumstances of our workplace. God’s presence and favor are not limited by coworkers or job descriptions.

Enlarge your vision of your spiritual life to include your daily work. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of inheritance; for your serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). Present your work to God. You are working for Him.

Taken from Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2003), 155-156.

6 Unexpected Side Effects of Depression

Share Button

depression

6 Unexpected Side Effects of Depression

By Lilian Surgeson

It turns out, there are a lots of things that are harder when you’re depressed.

Everybody knows about the crying, the numbness and the lethargy. They know about the suicidal thoughts and the black wall in front of you. The more enlightened non-sufferers know about the exhaustion, the sleeping problems and the strange relationships with food and friends.

However, there are things, subtle things, that I’d been struggling with for years that were because of the depression—I had no idea until my medication started working.

So, for information for those who love and care for the depressed, and for those who suffer themselves, these are the things I couldn’t do before my meds started working:

1. Finish a book in less than six weeks.

Depression messes with your concentration. It never occurred to me that the reason I couldn’t focus to read more than a page or so of any given novel at a time was due to that. I thought I was just too scatty, then my meds worked.

2. Sleep with the light off.

The dark became repressive, heavy, scary. I couldn’t deal with the isolation. At my worst, it made me suffer auditory hallucinations. More over, my chemicals were so out of whack that I didn’t need darkness to sleep, I just needed opportunity—not even comfortable opportunity. Now, like people who aren’t depressed I have to have low light and take my time to drop off. I thought I was a champion sleeper, the my meds worked.

3. Keep my bedroom tidy.

The only things that make my room untidy are dirty laundry and used cups. Simple to manage you’d think. No. Not when you’re severely depressed. I just couldn’t seem to stretch the extra inches to drop my dirty laundry into the washing basket.

Never mind about when my darling partner brought back my clean washing and dumped it on my bed. Just put it in the drawers you’re thinking. For years, I never had the energy. My clean clothes would end up on the floor, mixing with the dirty ones. Mugs would pile up because it wa too much to take them downstairs. It was horrid. I thought I was just a slob, then my meds worked.

4. Leave my phone at home without panicking.

Modern life leads us to mobile addiction—people are always fiddling with their phones checking Twitter, Facebook, texting, playing games, whatever. I’ll be the first to admit I’m hooked on the internet. This wasn’t that. This was an honest to goodness terror of being disconnected.

I was totally afraid of being alone, not being able to contact friends – even if only briefly. Quick texts became a mainstay of my coping mechanisms. Just the ability to reach out and make human contact with someone, if only to received a smiley in return. It helped a lot. For ages I couldn’t go more than 15 minutes without checking my phone, then my meds worked.

5. Drink enough water.

I actually quite like really cold water. We have it freely accessible at work. All I had to do was fill my bottle, then fill my face. This was too much for me. Sometimes, I’d get to supper time having drunk nothing. I’d manage a small glass of juice or pop to stop my mouth drying out. I couldn’t bring myself to drink things that were less than amazingly tasty. It didn’t matter how much my partner nagged.

I didn’t understand the benefits of being well hydrated. In fact my constant dehydration probably added to my depression, it certainly didn’t help. I thought the whole benefit of hydration was a myth, then my meds worked.

6. Enjoy silence.

There’s a lot of white noise in your head, and when you’re depressed it hates you. It goes on and on about things that will hurt you. You can’t catch a break. I found that if I blocked the noises out with music, films, anything at all, then I wasn’t likely to have a meltdown over something that happened three years ago or the fact that all my friends obviously hate me, or one of the other bullsh*t things my head was trying to say.

It takes its toll, constantly having things rolling around in your head. Silence is restful, it’s good for the soul. I wanted to love it but I couldn’t stand it, then my meds worked.

I realise that it may sound as though I’m crowing because my meds work—and frankly anyone with depression will tell you that’s totally forgiveable, however I promise you that the intention was not (just) that.

I’m not the only one who has suffered these subtle yet pervasive symptoms of depression.

What Type of Procrastinator are You?

Share Button

Do you find yourself procrastinating on projects?  Take a look at this helpful little flow chart developed by Joseph Ferrari, PhD on identifying different types of procrastinators and some helpful tips for each type of procrastinator.

Procrastinator

If you would like to talk to someone about dealing with your procrastination struggles, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003.

Top 10 Mental Health Concerns of College Students

Share Button

college student

The Center for Collegiate Mental Health has issued a report that has spanned six years, over 100,000 students, and 140 colleges and universities.

Thousands of counselors nationwide found the top 10 concerns of students, listed in descending order, are:”

1. Anxiety
2. Depression
3. Relationship problems
4. Stress
5. Academic performance
6. Family
7. Interpersonal functioning
8. Grief or loss
9. Mood instability
10. Adjustment to a new environment.

If you or someone you know is a college student struggling with any of the common ten items in the report, there is hope and help available.  In addition to the mental health centers offered by colleges and universities, there are counseling centers like CornerStone Family Services (614-459-3003) with counselors and coaches who are equipped and willing to help a person achieve their mental health goals.

Accepting That We Have Different Vulnerabilities

Share Button

different

We all struggle with areas of life.  We may be vulnerable in different areas of life than another person.

As humans, we tend to try to shield our areas of vulnerability from others, and one particularly common way to do so is to go on the offensive – attacking another person for their struggles or differences.  We may even end up cutting down our friends or our spouse – the very people that we would otherwise be spending time building up.

A key way in helping build up our relationships with others is to accept that just because they have different struggles and vulnerabilities than us does not make us better than them or them better than us.  We are different, not better or worse.

In our accepting of our differences, we are free to begin to stop hiding from our vulnerabilities and empowered to begin to deal with our difficulties in a constructive manner.

If you would like help with this process, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003.

Feelings Need Not Dictate Actions

Share Button

Responsible feel act

When we are feeling hurt it is not uncommon to make actions that hurt others, too.  Though we may feel justified in our reactions, hurt feelings do not justify hurting actions towards others or ourselves.

The truth is that we are responsible for how we act, no matter how we feel.

The good news is that we do not need to allow our lives to be dictated by our feelings – even our hurt feelings.  We can learn to choose how to change our thinking which in turn can change our feelings and our behavior choices.

If you would like to learn how to control your feelings rather than have your feelings control you, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003.

Singleness and Fulfillment

Share Button

singleness third wheel
This post is going up just two days before Valentine’s Day, or as I used to call it, Single’s Awareness Day.  The holiday can be a time to celebrate love, but it can also be a time of sorrow and pain.

Joy Eggerichs, director of Love and Respect Now, takes on the question of singleness, marriage, and fulfillment in her insightful talk “Relational Hope“.  Whether single or married, this talk is worth watching.

You may also find Joy’s article on how to handle the “I can’t believe you’re still single!” comment illuminating (both as the one who may get the comment or as the one who may say the unhelpful comment).

If you are wrestling with your singleness or loneliness or a lack of a feeling of fulfillment in life in general, please contact CornerStone Family Services (614.459.3003) to talk to someone who is willing to walk with you through your struggles.

Fifty Shades of Grey – Erotic Doesn’t Always Mean Romantic

Share Button

grey

Fifty Shades of Grey: Erotic Doesn’t Always Mean Romantic

By John Myer

Fifty Shades of Grey comes out on Valentine’s Day weekend.

The gist of the story:  a billionaire playboy with a fetish for control lures a young girl into his web of sexual deviance.

Curious?

Hardly.

Forms of bondage/domination/sadomasochism have been around for a long time.  BDSM has worn a lot of faces from its most celebrated figure, the dark Marquis De Sade, all the way over to the two most recent fresh-faced actors who now lend it mainstream approval.

I haven’t seen the movie or read the books, and I won’t.  Instead, I did my homework for this blog post by reading production notes and synopses, watching movie trailers, and listening to interviews from the actors.

While I was at it, I paid attention to the comment sections—the gushing remarks of women who read the books and now look forward to the film release.  In the middle of them, I found a lone enthusiastic male.  He wrote, “Great, now I can take my girl to a porn flick for our Valentine’s Day date!”

This irreverent poster simply said what a lot of people have been saying since the Fifty Shades book debut in 2011—that the trilogy is simply pornography for women.  The Fifty Shades fan base on the other hand, calls it harmless fun.

Not everybody sees the fun in it.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation said, “Hollywood is advertising the Fifty Shades story as an erotic love affair, but it is really about sexual abuse and violence against women.  The porn industry has poised men and women to receive the message that sexual violence is enjoyable.  Fifty Shades models this porn message and Hollywood cashes the check.”

Man.  What does all this have to do with romance?  Well, nothing, really.  At least according to the movie’s main character, Christian Grey, who says in the film trailer:  “I don’t do romance.”

Pretty easy to guess what that means.  No excitement of true love.  No commitment between two people.  No trust.  No lifelong connection.  No sweet talk or promises.  No vulnerability or mutual self-sacrifice.  Just “games” of physical stimulation—in effect, soulless sensuality.

I already know what people are going to say. I’ve heard it for decades from guys addicted to pornography.  It doesn’t hurt to watch.   It’s only fantasy.  Fifty fans would also add their movie is only rated R, not XXX.  No actual intercourse is shown.  Just graphic nudity.  Simulation. Imitation.  Suggestion. Role play.  Innuendo.  Mind games.

Really, after all that, does anybody need to see intercourse?

Maybe you could blame my attitude on being old school.  But this isn’t just about conservative values.  I’m certain that a lot of self-confessed moral conservatives will line up for tickets on opening night and bring all their friends.

Seems a bit inconsistent.

But an even weirder moral dissonance comes out of the whole thing. There has never been a greater outcry against domestic violence than of late (with the NFL, Hollywood celebs, and the President of the United States weighing in on it, no less).  How does this new “awareness” gel with the overwhelming female popularity given a tale about a man manipulating, abusing, and sexually dominating a woman?  And then describing her as empowered!

I’m seriously not getting it.

From a theological angle, there’s something hopelessly broken inside every human being.  It can be so dark that it leads even a godly person like the Apostle Paul to confess, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18).  What’s worse, we all get stimulated by the darkness in one another and revel in it.  It’s kind of gross, really—like getting thrills by wearing somebody else’s dirty underwear.  Art that devotes itself to gratuitous explorations of torture, serial murder, or illicit sex always starts off as the product of one person’s lurid fantasy—their sin.  Call me neurotic, but my sin is bad enough, thank you.  I don’t need to “enjoy” anybody else’s.

This is not a suggestion to “cheesify” every piece of literature or film and transform it into Christian Pollyanna.  I’ll be very honest.  Sex and violence are part of the human story.

Even the Bible doesn’t skirt these issues.  You can find them in the pages of Scripture.

On the other hand, we don’t get them in graphic detail.  We don’t know the minutiae of what went on between a naked husband and wife during those long days in the Garden of Eden. We don’t know the particulars of David’s torrid hook-up up with Bathsheba.  Even the Song of Solomon which suggests a long and sustained intimate encounter masks itself in poetic metaphor. And rightfully so.   Anything further would only serve to gratify prurient interests.

Yet the entire premise of the Fifty Shades package is exactly that—sensual.  It doesn’t contain brief risqué moments that advance an overarching story line.   The risqué content is the story line.  Take away the BDSM theme and the whole thing turns into a can of flat soda.

I’m not under the illusion that this blog article is actually going to stop folks from doing what they’re already dying to do—that is, see the movie.  I just wish we’d stop and think about it.  Better yet, I wish we’d bring our Bibles and our relationship with God into the choices of daily life.  That includes the books we feed our minds, and the screens we sit in front of.

We say something is okay if it’s entertaining.  It’s okay if it’s funny. It’s okay if it turns us on.  But fellow Christian, when is something not okay?

Maybe this movie will tank, but given the fact that there are another two books left to adapt, the franchise doesn’t look like it’s going to go away.  At any rate, I’ll make a prediction about the folks who may not enjoy it:

  • Any woman who has escaped the sexual slave trade.
  • Any woman who has ever tried to hook up with a fetish-driven mustang.
  • Any woman who has ever made the fatal mistake of marrying one of those mustangs.
  • Any man who honestly sees himself and his gender as being servant, protector, and lover, not taker.

Wow.  A whole movie that tells a woman it’s fun to be used by a guy in his play room, no strings attached.

That makes me want to turn fifty shades of boiling mad.

The Glamorization of Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence

Share Button

Sexual abuse, domestic violence, and human trafficking are plagues in the United States and throughout the world.  Unfortunately, popular media – in books, blogs, and movies – have been saturating our society that these are not forms of deviant behavior but glamorize ways of expressing and empowering oneself.  The mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual damage done to those who survive these abuses is far from glamorous.

If you or someone you know is feeling trapped in this kind of abuse or has escaped sexual abuse, please encourage them to seek out help in healing from the violence inflicted upon them.  One resource is CornerStone Family Services (614-459-3003) and the agencies listed on its “Support” page.

Sexual Abuse 50 Shades of GreyThe following are excerpts from “Truth about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’: Movie Glamorizes Sexual Violence, Domestic Abuse” by Dawn Hawins of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation regarding the latest attempt to normalize sexual abuse and domestic violence through the book and film 50 Shades of Grey:

The mass media and throngs of women are swooning over the twisted “love story” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but this cultural phenomenon’s impact on society will serve only to glamorize sexual violence and romanticize domestic abuse.

While millions of women are fantasizing about the controlling and abusive Christian Grey of fiction, there are many other women dealing with the horrors of actually living with men like him.

In the book, and now the soon-to-be released film, Christian uses manipulation, jealousy, intimidation and violence to control the naive Ana. Most fans overlook and romanticize this because of his powerful position, handsome looks and nice suits. But women like Ana in real life will tell you that a seemingly perfect exterior does not necessarily mirror one’s psychological health or mean that he possesses a moral compass…

The reality is that if you take away the glamour, “Fifty Shades” is just a sensationalized lie, telling women that they can, and should, fix violent and controlling men by being obedient and devoted, and that, somehow, this is romantic…The popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey” among women also sends a message to men that unrestrained domination is what women want…

Porn will show you that women enjoy torture and violence, and now “Fifty Shades” is tacking on an unrealistic fairy-tale ending, convincing droves of women that this type of relationship is normal, and that they should just give in.

This is not entertainment or a fairy tale, as Hollywood is claiming. This is glamorization of violence and abuse. Society pays a price when we teach men to be turned on by women in pain…

Glamorizing sexual abuse is not an appropriate topic for entertainment. Remove the glamour and facade of the Christian-Ana relationship and ask yourself if this is the twisted lie you want to tell yourself, your daughter and your friends.