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On Depression

On the Today show recently, actor Tom Cruise, speaking out of the convictions of his Scientology worldview, made headlines for attacking those who use medications such as antidepressants. One of the people he mentioned was actress Brooke Shields, who used the antidepressant Paxil following the birth of her child. Ms. Shields, who has written of her experience in a book I have not read called Down Came the Rain : My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, quickly responded with an editorial in the New York Times defending her use of the medication.

This “Star” Wars interchange cited above of “Cruise” missiles being fired against the “Shields” defense system caught my attention. I have watched a close family member struggle with bouts of severe depression for many years now who has chosen to treat it primarily with drugs and psychiatry. Unlike the way these two have portrayed themselves, I do not pretend to be an expert on this subject. But being a student of God’s Word and also of people, I would just like to offer the following observations about the topic of depression, in the hope it could help you or someone you love.

Depression is a God-given emotion indicating something is drastically […]

Drama in Worship

It’s too bad pastors today are trying to be dramatic and, in doing so, are missing the real drama found at every worship service.

What do I mean?

A common trend in evangelical churches is putting on stage a piece of drama before the congregation in the midst of the worship service. The lights dim. A spotlight shines on center stage. Mood music flows into the sanctuary to build anticipation in the audience as the performers take the stage. Usually then a scene meant to portray a Biblical story or emphasize a spiritual truth is performed to draw the congregation into the theme for that day’s service.

The only problem with this is that in trying to be trendy and dramatic, usually with the design to bring in the numbers, the church is missing the real drama of worship. Again, what do I mean?

The Lord of the Scriptures has given us commands regarding His worship, commandments that could be summarized in this basic statement: “Keep it simple and pure.” As the Apostle Paul told the “always-looking-for-a-good-show” church at Corinth:

“I am afraid, that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion […]

Under the Sycamore Tree

When the Old Testament prophets wanted to paint a picture of peace and prosperity, they would often use fig trees as imagery of God’s goodness. As Moses sought to instill in Israel the vision of the Promised Land, he said that the Lord was bringing them into a “good land of…fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees…” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). During the days of King Solomon, when Israel was at rest on all sides from her enemies and enjoying great economic prosperity, we read that “Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon” (I Kings 4:25). Since fig trees produce tasty fruits and have abundant green leaves that provide shade, they were often planted near wells to keep the sun off the water so that it was cool. A man seated under a fig tree eating the fruit above him while enjoying the refreshing water of the well was a picture of a man at peace and rest with God.

The Lord used this imagery to work the other way, though. Later, […]