I am re-blogging a short video outlining Spiritual Depression written by Martin Lloyd-Jones.

culture2truth

I am endeavoring to read through Spiritual Depression by  D. Martin Lloyd Jones.

I plan on reading, learning and then commenting on it.  This is not a review or a critique but an exercise.

Here is a great link with some audio of Lloyd Jones preaching. (I am not selling the book and do not profit from the advertisement of it).

Enjoy-

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The Gospel believed and applied.

Dr Martin Lloyd Jones, is a master at exposing the very roots of spiritual depression, as we soon find out in Chapter IV of Spiritual Depression.

He is minister/physician who is straightforward in his approach to spiritual matters and like one who with great concern grabs his parishioner/patient  by the collar and speaks steadily and truthfully to him about the seriousness of his  spiritual condition and the application of  a sure remedy.

The Root of spiritual depression in the life of the believer, to summarize Lloyd-Jones,  is essentially a belief in some lie or deception of the enemy of our soul. Lloyd-Jones reminding believers that,

”  We are brought into this marvelous life, this spiritual condition by the grace of God . But we must never forget that over against us is  another power. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God,but the Bible tells us that we are opposed by another kingdom, which is also a spiritual kingdom, and that all along we are being attacked and besieged.”

He also picks up the theme of  the “Subtlety” of our adversary who seeks to destroy the work of God and especially the enjoyment of the knowledge of the goodness of God. Therefore we face opposition in the form of  manifold temptation and discouragement. It is to be somewhat expected and I so heartily agree.

Jones  in speaking of the Remedy  for spiritual depression asserts, that  the reality of  what God has done in Jesus Christ by providing forgiveness for sinners who will believe  in Him ( The Gospel), must be taken into all aspects of our human personality. That the glorious  message of the gospel must permeate —- Our Mind—-Our Heart—Our Will.

That humankind ( Made in His image) has been designed in such a way that our personality, (intellect, emotions, desires) might be  captivated by him in the gospel message.  the message of the gospel must be first believed then applied.

Romans 6:17

” But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”

From this short verse, Lloyd -Jones unpacks that  “…that form of doctrine…” referred to by Paul, is the very Gospel message  which delivers from the power of sin to condemn and to which we were all helpless to escape in our own efforts.

Lloyd-Jones goes on to say that this  Gospel reality ( the complete forgiveness of sins through the completed work of Jesus) must first be accepted and understood with the mind. It is a (doctrine of truth), then it must be applied to the heart (where so many of our troubles arise and the reality of emotional instability, fears and desires compete) finally we are to take the Gospel to our will so that from our heart where our affections are turned from self to the joy of Christ  we willingly obey .

Knowing with our mind the truth of the gospel, believing in our heart his love for us and  willingly choosing those things that glorify Christ and keep us from those thoughts and desires that  bring us down and make us unfruitful, conflicted and discouraged.

Chapter IV has been very good for the soul!!!

Greatly exposed;Greatly blessed

Within the very first pages of  Lloyd -Jones book ,Spiritual depression, the believer is re-acquainted  with the inverted values that exist within the life of faith.   Namely, that there is a stark honesty that must exist in faith and relationship to God. The kind of honesty that leaves one greatly exposed, examined and laid bare.  This is exactly the kind of  stark honesty we see again and again displayed in the lives of  those individual characters found in the bible. These individuals were very imperfect people yet also in every sense “An open book”.

Lloyd -Jones  draws the attention of his readers to this reality within the lives of biblical characters and especially to the deep and revealing nature of the Psalms. He says of the Psalms,

“Here we are able to watch noble souls struggling with their problems and with themselves. They talk to themselves and to their souls, baring their hearts, analyzing their problems, chiding and encouraging themselves. Sometimes they are elated, at other times depressed, but they are always honest with themselves. That is why they are of such value to us if we are also honest with ourselves” P.9

I love the descriptions  Lloyd-Jones uses here. Struggling, baring hearts, analyzing problems, being elated, depressed, honest with themselves.

(It is important to note that the  honesty  referred to here by the very  nature  of its biblical context ,exists in relation to an honesty with oneself before a  loving God who is Holy and perfect in himself.)

Yet this is a very inverted value system when compared to the value system outside of the reality of faith. Whereas faith is the striping down of ones soul before a great and mighty  and merciful God, the  unbelieving world holds all such notions as the worst kind of weakness.  The world’s values are strength, independence, being self-directed and putting on up an outward image that masks any internally recognized weakness. Vulnerabilities  are seen as a great enemy of the self according to the unwritten code of worldly values.

To answer the question, “Do we come across such a condition as spiritual depression in the scriptures?” Lloyd -Jones brings us to    Psalm 42:5,

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

Ah yes, its all there, in those two questions, the depth of the very soul, the disquieted, restless condition, the self talk and  honesty. This is no doubt a spiritually depressed state. This also is no doubt a person of true faith as well because in his vulnerability  weakness and distress he knows that God is His help. He is not his own Help. God is.

Spiritual Depression, the quest.

In the interest of bringing a degree of objectivity I will answer some basic questions as to why I am reading “Spiritual Depression” authored by D. Martin Lloyd Jones.

Why do I want to read this book?

There are a few reasons, but certainly at the outset, the very combination of the first two words in the title of D. Martin Lloyd Jones book “Spiritual Depression” reach out and grab me. The stark honesty of that combination of words placed together speaks to my human soul where two realities often meet in my innermost being, that which is “Spiritual”, and that which is, “Depression”.

The title then actually brings me a small and immediate sense of relief in the fact that it authenticates a condition that is seldom (if ever) shared in conversation between people yet is often part of a person’s experience.  There is something in that alone that brings a breath of reviving.

The second reason, which quickly follows the first, is found in the last part of the title which  is (Its causes and its cure)  which promise insight and hope for the person who will sit down with the good Doctor Martin Lloyd Jones and  undergo a thorough examination and submit to receiving prescribed medicine.  (Lloyd Jones was a medical doctor before becoming a Theologian-Pastor.)

A third reason, which is surely the most objective, is that I have never read this book, though it has been in my personal library for years. I’m not completely sure how I even came to posses it.

Now I come to a few more honest questions.

Why don’t I want to read this book?

(Yes, why haven’t I read this book despite the fact that I have owned it so long?)

The first reason for not wanting to read this book, ironically, comes from the first two words of the title, Spiritual Depression. It seems much like a piercing light that threatens to exposes the rather darkened corners of the inner human experience, and not just any experience but one I know. So there is the relief of exposure on the positive side and the agony of exposure on the other.

Another reason, in the same irony and in a continuation of the same thoughts comes from the second part of the title “its causes and its cure”.  There are really two promises here, one to search for the roots of the problem and the other to remedy the problem but, (and this is the hard part), these promises in order to become effective, require a commitment from the reader; (in this case myself), a commitment to submit to the tools and process of perhaps radical surgery and all without the aid of either local or general anaesthetic.  In the economy of spiritual realities there can be no dulling of either pain or joy.

So I move forward hopeful, committed and with a slight perspiration on my brow as I currently sit in the waiting room of a pastor- theologian- physician, D. Martin Lloyd Jones, who had in his lifetime upon earth, served the Great Physician Jesus Christ in bringing health to people just like you and I for the purposes of God and man.

Spiritual Depression

I am endeavoring to read through Spiritual Depression by  D. Martin Lloyd Jones.

I plan on reading, learning and then commenting on it.  This is not a review or a critique but an exercise.

Here is a great link with some audio of Lloyd Jones preaching. (I am not selling the book and do not profit from the advertisement of it).

Enjoy-

Thinking Critically

Have you ever been in the middle of watching a news program, sitting in a classroom  or (been caught up in an infomercial) and suddenly thought ,” Wait a minute, what am I being fed here? I am not  just being informed but  subtly told how I should think, feel, and react to the information being presented”.

With the infomercial we catch on pretty quick ( but it’s so tempting to believe that we too could have those rock hard abs in just 4 weeks with only 30 seconds a day of the ” Ab-maestro”).  We want the abs, they want our money, usually in just 27 easy payments of  $14 (plus shipping and handling).

But who really goes for that stuff anyway?  Actually,enough people buy that stuff to allow the seller to pay for hour-long commercials.  Yeah.

We may have little respect for the authority of the infomercial but when we have a person in a trusted  position of authority on our television, such as a news anchor person, a  popular talk show host,  or a beloved teacher in a classroom, our tendency is to accept  what we are hearing somewhat uncritically. In  all of these situations we are lead in a particular direction or to come to a particular conclusion. That’s how we become informed positively (or misinformed).

Often we are told what to believe or what to accept. It is always subtle and we end up  buying not only into the news facts but the bias presentation of  the news story. The background banter between the anchor and co-anchor as they shake their head or nod to one another in approval to the stories developments or outcome.   We are expected to swallow more than  the facts we are expected to agree with the presentation itself , after all, the people presenting the bias are authority figures, they carry weight, they reflect the “proper opinion” don’t they?

Persuasion is a  good teaching tool but critical thinking looks past the apparatus to weigh the facts , sometimes to bring those facts in contact with other facts left out of the argument and to simmer those facts together to find critical truth.

Think about the most controversial subjects (Rights of the unborn vs pro-choice or, intelligent design verses evolutionary theory)  we are told what opinion is politically correct , all through  the presentation of facts, and  our little boat is pushed out onto the waters of society adrift along with others and floating on popular opinion. This creates societal peer pressure. In fact these are almost of no controversy anymore due to the continued political correct agenda of the presentation of news media.

Teachers will be marking your paper. Now there’s incentive to tell them what they want to hear. If it is a paper written on a controversial subject like rights of the unborn vs pro-choice . You can bet the pressure will to be to toe the line and weight the discussion to the popular opinion. ( Would an ethics class even consider this topic?) I wonder.

Or try postulating the concept of Intelligent design in a classroom exploring the theory of origins and evolutionary theory.

It is a theory isn’t it?  yet there is no other postulation to be brought to the table?  I mean stuff to make you think!!!

Think about the effect that political correctness has had on the exchange ideas in the public forum. In the space of  one single generation people  have made a 180 degree turn on some  the major issues of life and world-view.

We are not to be conspiracy theorists and we may have to be careful about what we say to whom ,or we will have no voice at all, but certainly we posses our own mind and with this amazing mind we have a tremendous capacity to think critically and to own what we believe and not just be drifting along with no purpose and no well thought out world view and conviction on important issues.

So watch the news, ( maybe turn off the infomercials and the talk-show host) and hear your teachers but own you mind and own your convictions don’t give them away to the world.

Have you read C.S Lewis; lately?

The Writings of C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, have been highly publicized through the production of the  movies that have come out over the last few years. (I saw most of them twice and I think I enjoyed them even more than my children, though we all loved them).

But there is no substitute for reading the stories first hand. C.S. Lewis is and will always be one of my favorite authors.

In fact I  distinctly remember reading the stories, (starting with The Magicians Nephew )  to my son. I was jumping around the room speaking with different voices and an English accent. I could see his eyes widen and his expression change as the stories characters were literally leaping  of the page. ( well I was leaping). Several times as my wife was reading to my daughter in the other room or doing night-time prayers, I could hear them saying ” What on earth is going on in there” or  What are they doing in there?”  Chairs were falling over, I was leaping ,I  would knock on the wall to represent the knock on a door and so on, to enhance the story’s imagery. ( I was often reminded that we were to be settling the children down, not winding them up). Sometimes my daughter would want to hear the story I was telling, not mom’s.  She was always welcome but was more on the quiet side and would get up and leave if we were getting out of hand.

Reading both My sons expressions and the book I would heightened the sense of suspense at the appropriate times. Working with the words of Lewis, I made the bad characters sinister and the good characters noble. I made the children in the book wonder filled and Aslan, well there was no doubt who Aslan represented. He was Powerful, Good, Eternal and a Saving Lion, not a tame lion mind you, but a good Lion.

I loved that time.

C.S Lewis  had a way of opening up the gift of imagination in the way he tells a story. He once was a thorough going atheist and I respect him for that because when he came to faith, he came to it in God’s timing through a mind that was willing to engage great truths without backing down. He was willing to accept where  the evidences pointed him, and no doubt God was calling Lewis see Him as He is. He allowed the weight of the crisis ” That God indeed exists and can be known” to settle on him for his good.

Lewis once convinced and committed, then used his gifts to tell  “The Great Story”.

Here is Lewis in His own words speaking about his allegorical writing in the time in which he lived,

“until the theologians and the ordained clergy begin to communicate with ordinary people in the vernacular, in a way that they can understand, I’m going to have to do this sort of thing.”

Today of course the pulpit does communicate to the ordinary people in the vernacular ( at least in the protestant denominations that I know) but C.S Lewis contribution  to the fabric of Philosophical thought ,faith and story telling belongs to the church of believers, he is one of our dear brothers who  I love to read.

If you ever want to get into some serious C.S. Lewis though you have to read his other works.

Here are a few suggestions

Mere Christianity  http://www.amazon.ca/Mere-Christianity-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652926

Surprised by Joy  http://www.amazon.com/Surprised-Joy-Shape-Early-Life/dp/0156870118

The weight of Glory  http://www.amazon.com/Weight-Glory-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060653205/ref=pd_sim_b2

A grief observed  http://www.amazon.com/Grief-Observed-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652381/ref=pd_sim_b8

Above and beyond the rhythm

My work gets me around the city of Vancouver a lot. Vancouver is a great city; it has a vibe a rhythm. There are the early morning dog walkers in the Yale Town district up at 5:30 am with all of the dogs sharing the few trees in the park for bathroom breaks and the Lulu lemon yoga pant clad 20 something women going to or returning from their yoga classes with a rolled up mat under one arm and yes, a latte in the other. They busily bustle along with an air of importance and a “look at me” attitude. Men pour out of the Gyms too (A few have those yoga mats) but most are freshly pumped up from free weights and they Jog. This is one of the nicer parts of town. The people here are well off, motivated, highly effective; some are singles, some family people.

Further on just a few blocks north there are the shopping carts the people sleeping in doorways the high traffic back alleys that are shared by the homeless for bathroom breaks (You have to be careful where you step). There are the 20-50 something men and women who have no place to lay their head, with a cigarette- butt- rollie in one hand and yes a shopping cart in the other. If you were to continue north and a little west (Which puts you into the East Hastings area) you would find yourself in the heart of a homeless population that knows few biases related to race, colour or background. It is a scary place, people yell at each other; they yell at themselves, they yell at unseen persons too. They fight over items in garbage bins (they steal things from each others carts.) The stories of how they came to be here are as varied and interesting as any you will hear. This is the not so nice part of town.  The people here are hopeless, the often forgotten, the surviving.

That’s North of Yale-Town but if you were to head west a few blocks you would find the early morning streets a-buzz with the hospital staff of St Paul’s Hospital scurrying around coming on or off shift or slipping out to get a Starbucks wearing scrubs and walking and talking together so fast they look like they are in fast motion. They really are busy and they’ve been busy all-night long. These people are the serious, task oriented, concrete thinkers. Likely they come from elsewhere but they are woven into the fabric of the city on a 24 hour basis. Hospitals never go on break.

If you head still west up to Davie Street not much happens until after 7:00 am this is a bedroom district, old apartments,  with restaurants, deli’s, coffee shops that open later in  the morning. This district continues North on Denman and circles around to Robson. The people in this area are bohemian, activists, progressive, New Age, Taoists, bicycle riding transit users, artist, writers they have student loans, and are either gay or have gay friends attend various  rallies and the pride parade.

Then comes myself a (delivery man) I come into the city and travel from area to area within the city, I know the city but am not of the city, I am part of the city rhythm, yet I am a stranger. I have observed that as I meet and come to know individuals within the city, the rich, the homeless, the busily employed, the freethinking bohemian, there are moments when you see that all men and women have a longing for something more than they have at present, a deep yearning for more, a resting place for the soul, an ultimate relationship.  Every time I see it in them I remember this statement of Jesus, in Matthew 11

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The hard part is sharing the message. It offends the sensibilities because it is attached to the knowledge of God, it strikes against our pride, it calls us to turn from lifestyle practices and replaces our values with a higher standard.  A relationship with God draws boundaries and will require change.  I have come to care about the people I serve as a delivery person and those who are put on my path. I want hem to experience the forgiveness that leads to life and relationship with Christ.  these are the people on my path.

Who are the people on yours?