Saturday, April 12, 2014

A.W. Pink Resources



Arthur W. Pink Works Archive at Providence Baptist Ministries


Collection of A.W. Pink's Writings at GODRULES.NET

The Letters of A.W. Pink (6 audio files)
file ONE
file TWO
file THREE
file FOUR
file FIVE
file SIX

There are also many other audio files at SermonAudio.com and YouTube.com based on A.W. Pink's writings. One just needs to do a search.



Dealing with Spiritual Depression



Here are some Resources on Spiritual Depression which I found helpful over 10 years ago. Included are new resources that I think might be helpful as well. Not all depression is spiritual depression. However, all forms of depression have a spiritual component since body and spirit are linked so that what affects one also affects the other. Also, there are different causes of depression and most people suffering depression have multiple causes in their life that contributes to their depression. This blog doesn't address all causes of depression. For example, when depression is a result of financial difficulties. Minimally, that might require growth in the knowledge of financial stewardship et cetera.

- As a Christian, the first thing I would recommend to help alleviate spiritual depression or depression in general is for people to become Christians. That won't necessarily cure all forms of depression immediately, but in the long run it will (either in this life or in the afterlife).

- The second thing I would recommend is that if one is already a Christian that one should 1. repent of known sins and 2. forgive all those who have sinned against them. I'm not convinced Biblically that Christians must forgive everyone that has sinned against them regardless of repentance on the part of the offender. However many counselors and counselees testify to the healing power of comprehensive forgiveness in a person's mind/spirit/psyche/emotions and often even in one's physical body (cf. James 5:16). Withholding forgiveness often results in a bitterness that manifests in or contributes to sickness. Ironically, many times offenders don't even know or don't care that they've offended someone. Holding onto bitterness does little or no harm to the offender but often plenty of harm to the offendee. So, for the sake of enlightened self-interest, I recommend comprehensive forgiveness and all that that entails including wishing and praying for the good of those persons. Of course, forgiveness doesn't entail forgetfulness. For example, a woman forgiving a molester doesn't mean she should place herself or her children in a situation that would provide an opportunity for the molestation to continue.

Regarding repentance (the first part of #2), it should be done before the Lord and with the aid and power of His Holy Spirit. Lasting and continuing repentance may take time and can only be done with the Holy Spirit's help. Repentance by the power of the flesh will always be incomplete and insufficient.

- The third recommendation I'd offer has to do with health. It's obvious, and it almost goes without saying, that sometimes depression is a result of a physical problem(s) or illness. Not only are there psychosomatic illnesses, there are also somatopsychic illnesses. The former are physical illnesses (perceived or real) that originate in the mind; the latter are mental illnesses that originate in the body due to various things like malnourishment, toxic poisoning, genetic problems, aging, hormonal imbalances/diminishment, other biological/neurological/organic problems, parasites, viruses et cetera. So, another way to help treat depression is to go see a doctor. Doctors can help diagnosis and treat forms of depression that are based on physical problems. Also, a doctor approved exercise regimen will often do wonders to help alleviate much of the feelings of depression. I'll say more about health below.


Now to the resources.


- I was encouraged by reading Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' book Spiritual Depression. The book is based on a series of 24 sermons he gave which I (recently) found out could be accessed freely HERE.
The amazon.com link to the book is HERE.


- Sam Waldron's sermons:

(I forget which two sermons are the same sermon preached on different occasions)

Elijah's Death Wish

Elijah's Struggle with Carnal Fear

When the Brook Dries Up

Elijah Beside the Dry Brook



- A Divine Cordial by Thomas Watson


- John Piper's sermon Spiritual Depression in the Psalms
 


- Thomas Brooks' classic book  Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices
 

- Spiritual Warfare lecture series by Gerry Breshears. Often spiritual depression or depression in general either begins with or ends up involving demonic attacks to some lesser or greater degree. Demons don't fight fair. They will kick you till you go down. Or if, for whatever reason, they find you on the ground they will continue to kick you in hopes that you never get back up. Demons probably take pride in fighting dirty. I recommend listening to the series using a program that can speed up the audio because Breshears speaks slowly.

I don't know how long it will be available, but here's a link to Chip Ingrim's series on Spiritual Warfare

- Here's one of my blogs that might be helpful too – Dealing with Christian Doubts. See also my blog on the importance of Apologetics. Both of these blogs might be helpful because sometimes spiritual depression is a result of Christian doubts. The link on dealing with Christian Doubts has a link to Gary Habermas' books and resources on doubt which cover both factual doubts and emotional doubts. His discussion on emotional doubts is applicable in the following recommendation below regarding God's faithfulness.

- Related to the issue of doubting the truth of Christianity is doubting God's faithfulness, protection and provision. It's possible to be convinced of the truth of Christianity and still doubt God's presence and blessing in one's life. That often manifests in worry regarding the future. Christians need to regularly remind themselves that worry is a sin according to Matthew 6:25-34. More importantly to remind themselves to trust God's providence. To choose to believe that if they love God, then God's promise is true "that all things work together for their good" (Rom. 8:28). The following is link to a sermon from a Calvinistic perspective on Romans 8:28. Here's the link

John G Reisinger on Romand 8:28 in the life of a Christian.

 There are various definitions and senses of the word "faith." There's an aspect of faith that requires an exercise of the will to choose to trust God. This kind of faith is described by C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity.

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.— C.S. Lewis
I recommend reading C.S. Lewis' entire discussion on faith in his book Mere Christianity. It is located in book 3 chapters 11 & 12 which starts at page 68 HERE or HERE. Or Page 81 (i.e. page 75 within the book) HERE. This definition of faith should be applied to issues of worry and trusting God for the future.


- Here's one of my blogs on the topic of Heaven. Sometimes spiritual depression is a result of losing our heavenly focus and hope.

- Here's one of my blogs on the book of Ecclesiastes. Sometimes spiritual depression is a result of unrealistic expectations in this fallen world. The book of Ecclesiastes can sober us so that we have a more balanced expectation of good and bad experiences in this life. At first glance one would think that Ecclesiastes isn't a good book to recommend to those who are depressed since it might make things worse. Sometimes reading Ecclesiastes does make depression worse. However, preachers have noted that in some cases people are encouraged by the book's reality and "Down to Earth-ness." Those discouraged have said that listening to sermons on Ecclesiastes was helpful because it made sense of their experience.

- Two other books that I would also recommend that might make some people more depressed or may help relieve depression are:

Out of the Whirlwind by Mark A. Tabb (amazon.com link)

Trusting God Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges (amazon.com link)


- Get in community. Especially a spiritual community like a Church.

"A lot of depression is associated with isolation. If you are on your own – and this is a huge issue – you are more likely to be depressed and suffer from these pains."- Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/12/duncan-selbie-isolated-bad-health

"Being isolated and living alone shortens life and increases disability. It is equivalent to 15 cigarettes a day. How many in your community are over 65 and living alone?"- Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/12/duncan-selbie-isolated-bad-health

"But the findings, based on an analysis of more than 300,000 people, suggest social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.

It also does more damage to your health than not exercising – and is twice as harmful as obesity." http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1298225/Loneliness-killer-Its-bad-health-alcoholism-smoking-eating-say-scientists.html


-  I recommend 1. praising, 2. thanking and 3. worshipping God to help alleviate depression of all kinds. Sometimes depression is a result of a negative pattern of thinking, perception, perspective and attitude. Just from a purely neurological standpoint continual praise, thanks and worship towards God can help retrain one's thought life. From my charismatic point of view, there's also a spiritual power in praise, thanks and worship that can often result in changed circumstances. Some charismatic books that I recommend on the topic of praise with my personal rating are:

Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers (4 out of 5 stars)
There's Dynamite in Praise by Don Gossett (3 out of 5 stars)
Gladness: Key to Anointed Life by Don  Gossett (4 out of 5 stars)
Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers (3 out of 5 stars)

I don't necessarily agree with all their teachings/doctrines, but I think there's enough truth in these books by Carothers and Gossett to be helpful to most Christians. I think even cessationists can glean some seeds of truth from these books and incorporate it in their theology.

As an aid in changing attitudes listening to (and even singing along with) worship songs or hymns can help alleviate depression. Even the Bible records how David's music helped soothe King Saul's depression and inhibited demonic influence over him.

Be always happy; the religion of Christ was intended to remove misery. He that has God for his portion may constantly exult.- Adam Clarke

He who is wont to thank God for all things as happening for the best, will have continuous joy. - Theophylact

On the other hand, would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity, or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God willeth, who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.- William Law

 
It's our moral duty to be joyful even when discouraged and when it's difficult to do so. That might be part of why the author of Hebrews calls it a "sacrifice of praise" (Heb. 13:15). Admittedly, there's the danger of making depressed Christians even more depressed by telling them that it's their duty to be joyful. However, it remains a fact that it is our duty even when we don't feel like it (Deut. 28:47; Ps. 100:2, 4). Obviously, this shouldn't be told to the depressed in an attitude of condemnation. All (genuine) Christians will go through times of discouragement from time to time. However, the apostle Paul gave us the example of someone who could (paradoxically) be "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Cor. 6:10). The Lord Jesus Christ is prophetically described as "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3). But also as "anointed...with the oil of gladness above [His] fellows." So, there's no place for plastic smiles. Fake joy, is worse than no joy at all. Psalm 37:4 commands, not suggestions, "Delight yourself in the LORD." First Thessalonians 5:16 commands us to "rejoice always..." In his book, John Piper notes that Jeremy Taylor said, "God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy." Even non-Christians understand to some degree that it's our moral duty to be "happy" (in some sense). See for example the video Why Be Happy? by Dennis Prager (here's another of his videos HERE).

Why Be Happy?
by well known Jewish radio talk show host, columnist, author, and public speaker
Dennis Prager


For the above reasons I also recommend John Piper's classic life changing book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist which is freely available online HERE.

Consider these quote from the spiritual giant George Mueller:

According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself.

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god

I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/george-muellers-strategy-for-showing-god

More of my favorite quotes of Mueller HERE.




Keith Green Scripture Song Medley - Keith Green 
or HERE

- Depression cannot be reduced to mere psychology and neuropsychology. That kind of reductionism fits in with materialism and atheism, but not with Christianity. There's a spiritual, and physical component to depression. Having said that, it is also true that psychology and neuropsychology is involved. One should fight the war on depression on all fronts. That includes the area of psychology and brain chemistry. Neuropsychologists talk about neuroplasticity and how the brain can get into patterns of thought that get so ingrained that we get psychologically stuck. However, the good news is that neuroplasticity can work for you and not just against you. By the use of positive Scriptural thinking and Scriptural affirmations of truth depression can be diminished or even overcome. I emphasize the word "Scriptural" because not all positive thinking is Scripturally warranted. That was one of the problems of Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. It is said that when Peale asked Donald Grey Barnhouse what people thought of his theology/philosophy, Barnhouse said something along the lines of, "People have been saying, 'Paul is appealing, but Peale is appalling.' ."

By Scriptural truths I include things like God's promises:

- to Never leave us or forsake us
- to Be with us such that since God is for us, no one and nothing can ultimately be against us.
- to Work all things for our good
- to Never allow a temptation/testing/trial to come our way that we won't be able to deal with it by God's grace
- to Give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ

Many more Biblical promises could be added. However, it takes effort to believe such things and while direct doxastic voluntarism is impossible (or nearly so), indirect doxastic voluntarism is possible. By constantly meditating on certain truths one can shape one's belief system. One should also realize that faith has a component that involves the will. If we are already Christians, there is a sense in which we must actively and intentionally choose to believe God's other promises besides those of eternal salvation. Here I'll quote again C.S. Lewis' on one kind or aspect of faith:

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.— C.S. Lewis

We should stand on the promises of God in a similar way Abraham did. It is written of Abraham:

20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.22 And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."- Rom. 4:20-22


- Lastly, earlier I wrote that I had more to say about health, and in the last recommendation I alluded to my Charismatic views. I'm a Calvinist and a Charismatic. The Charismatic side of my theology affirms the availability of Divine Healing. As a Calvinist, I don't believe that God always intends to heal everyone who prays for healing in this Age/Era. For example, sometimes God has reasons, for the good of the sick person, for why He does not intend to heal that sick person. However, I do believe that the presumption should be that God will heal because God has revealed that His disposition is to heal. My summary views on Divine Healing can be read in a footnote HERE. The following link is to my blog on healing.

Recommended Resources on Divine Healing



 UPDATE

In light of Robin Williams' suicide some Christian blogs have been discussing the issue of depression. Not all suicide attempts (successful or not) are the result of depression, but many are. The following are some resources recommended by other Christians.

Resources on depression

Perceptions of mental illness in the church

Too Depressed to Believe What We Know: Eleven Resources for the Darkness

Here's a link to my blog: Suicide From Christian Perspectives