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Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band Linkin Park sold over 70 million albums died of suicide at the age of 41.Fame does not lead to happiness but Jesus does

Chris Cornell, lead singer of the band Soundgarden and Audioslave sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. He hung himself at the age of 52.

Story after story of rock stars who killed themselves, or say they struggle daily with depression, show that fame and fortune, attention and admiration do not lead to happiness.

Fame does not lead to happiness but Jesus does

The wise King Solomon wrote:

I have seen everything that is done under the sun and behold all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight and what is lacking cannot be counted. He who loves money will not be satisfied nor he who loves wealth. This is also vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them. There is an evil that I have seen under the sun and it lies heavy on mankind. A man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor so that he lacks nothing, and all that he desires yet God does not give him power to enjoy them. But a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity it is a grievous evil. (Ecclesiastes 1:14-15; 5:10-11; 6:1-2)

Jesus said:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the things you need will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)

…when we understand the text.

For millions who suffer from depression and despair there is a better way visit www.TheExitMovie.com for more information.

(This video is by WWUTT. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central.)

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This week, I get to sit down with a great friend – a great man – Mike Wloczewski.

When Mike was in the third grade, he was attending Catholic School and got kicked out for fighting with a nun – she broke his fingers with a ruler, he threw a desk at her. The dean of the school told Mike and his dad that nuns are the brides of Christ and by striking out against her, young Mike had assaulted God, Himself and was damned for all time. There was nothing anyone could ever do about it!

So, by fourth grade, Mike was regularly getting high on acid, shrooms and other hallucinogens. His is a story that every man needs to hear, and there’s no better way to hear about it than from the man himself:

I always wanted to be loved, but nobody loved me – a great replacement for love is respect.

If I can beat the hell out of people, then I’d be respected

Staying high & beating the hell out of people quickly led to dealing drugs and being an enforcer in a local gang.

After high school (17-years-old) went bar hopping with his older half-brother and his brother thought it would be funny to see his younger brother get into a barroom brawl with a biker gang. So, he went over to these three bikers, said something terrible to them, and next thing I knew, they came over and wanted to kill me. I wasn’t having no part of that. So, I grabbed a pool cue in one hand and a cue ball in the other and when all three of them were on the ground, I was ready to leave. Then one of them got up, came to me and decided that he wanted to buy me a drink.

It turned out, they were in an international gang who were in the middle of a war to take over San Diego in the early 80’s, and they were in need of soldiers like me.

So, before I was even old enough to vote, I went to work with one of the biggest, baddest biker gangs in the whole world.

Then, I did something really stupid.

I knocked up a Sicilian girl.

When her three uncles came out from the east coast, and each of them came with one of their “best friends” (each of whom were even bigger than I was), and they delivered an invitation to my wedding on the east coast… I figured it was in my best interest to attend.

Mike Wloczewski: drug addict biker gang enforcer turned pastor

Mike and Erin

I didn’t like kids. I didn’t love my wife.

But, one of the most pivotal moments of my life was at Tri-City Hospital when my daughter was born. When I held my little girls in my arms for the first time and looked into her eyes, I knew what love was for the first time.

That lasted for about three years, when my wife decided that she didn’t want her daughter raised around guys like me who did the things that I did for the gang. I came home, and everything was gone. All that was left was a note on the door saying that she was afraid for her and our daughter’s life, along with a restraining order.

By the time I was able to legally arrange for weekend visitations, my daughter’s grandparents had led her to believe that I was to be feared and would kill her if I had the urge. This was my baby girl, who loved and adored me and who was the most important person in the world to me… and she sat in my truck with tears in her eyes begging me not to kill her.

All I could do was assure my daughter that I would never harm her and that I loved her. The fear that was instilled in her was so deep, I couldn’t reach out at that moment, so all I could say was, “When you are ready, I will always be right here for you. I love you.”

And I didn’t see my little girl again until she was 18-years-old.

Over those years, I met and married another woman, raised her children, and held a day-job in construction (a great cover, by the way).

But, after about 15 years of doing things for the club (or gang, whichever you prefer), I could hardly stand to look at myself in the mirror. I was doing as much drugs as I humanly could in order to stay awake and stay emotionally and mentally blocked from the damage I was doing.

One of my jobs was guarding the club’s meth cooks and keeping them alive. One of them noticed that I was losing it and recommended that I go talk to his mom – who happened to be a Christian counselor and a member of her church’s prayer team.

So, I trusted this meth cook and went to see her.

She started telling me how Jesus loves me and would forgive me no matter what I had done. Obviously, she had no idea how bad the things I had done were. Once I offered a little peek into my life, she realized that I was a bit out of her league and recommended somebody else for me to visit. Well, I trusted her and agreed to talk to Drew – her pastor – who said the same thing: “Jesus would forgive me, no matter what I’ve done.”

“Now, wait”, I said, “He forgives anything? Even suicides?”

“Even suicides”, replied Drew.

So, that night, I got down on my knees, took out my revolver and prayed, “God, if you’re real, I don’t think hell could be any worse than what I’m living here. You know that’s what I deserve for what I’ve done.”

With that, I put the barrel into my mouth, pointed the gun to the back of my skull and pulled the trigger.

And the hammer fell, the bullet dimpled, but the gun didn’t go off. Now, I had fired that gun thousands of times in my life and had never had a bullet dimple and not go off.

I’ve been shot three times, stabbed twice, hit by cars… I thought I was indestructible. Yet, I couldn’t even kill myself.

That night, I heard the truth of Jesus like never before: “Michael, I love you. I forgive you. And you work for me now.”

And, I surrendered, broke down, and cried like a baby.

All I knew was that I had no idea what to do next.

One of the first things I did was talk to my wife. I asked her, “If we would have had kids together, would that have made things any different or better between you and me?”

She replied, “You idiot. In the 15 years we’ve been together, I’ve had three abortions. I’ve always wanted a son, but I knew it would be terrible with you.”

I was devastated… “You killed my kids?!”

“There was no way on earth that I was going to bring another person like you into this world.”

I then told her what had just happened, showed her the bullet and told her that I had just accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

“The gun didn’t go off?” She asked. “That’s too bad.”

I knew right then we were done.

So, I called my pastor and told him all that had just happened. He invited me to come stay with him and his family in their spare room. It was a stupid invitation, as far as I could tell… I was bad news. But, he showed me that this is what Christianity is all about – loving the unlovely, even when it’s not easy. So, they let me stay with them until he was able to find me an accountability home to live in.

And, it was as if God dangled a carrot right out in front of me in the first week that He saved me. I received a phone call out of nowhere.

“Hello, this is Erin… your daughter”, said the voice on the other end. “You know, Dad, I’ve heard a lot of horrible things about you. I just need to know if they’re true.”

I said, “Yeah, baby girl… I don’t know what all you’ve heard, but I can pretty much admit that they’re all true. Probably even a lot worse than you know…

But, the weirdest thing just happened! I just accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior the other day, and I’m never going to be that guy again.”

“In that case, I’d like to get to know you.” She answered.

That was 17 years ago, and since then, each week, the two of us have dinner together. I was there when my granddaughter was born. I didn’t get to walk my baby girl down the aisle, but I got to officiate her wedding. She later got divorced, but I got to walk with her through all that. She then got married again, and I got to walk her down the aisle that time.

God brought an amazing, Godly woman into my life, and I got to marry the right way this time… we just celebrated our 13th anniversary together!

Now, I’ve learned that if a church wants to get rid of you, but you haven’t done anything wrong, then they “find an opportunity for you”. And after several years of serving in my new church, they “found an amazing opportunity for me”.

Mike Wloczewski: drug addict biker gang enforcer turned pastorIt was at a place in North San Diego County called Green Oak Ranch. It’s a Christ-based drug and alcohol rehab facility. That’s when I realized that Romans 8:28 is absolutely true:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

After a year of serving here at Green Oak, the church came out and made me a pastor. So, for the past 12 years, I have been preaching, teaching, walking alongside people, and answering their questions. I can’t believe how many times I have sat next to an alcoholic, drug addict, or gang member who has told me, “I don’t think God can love me. I’ve done too much.” At that point, we just sit and compare stories for a while. “Do you really think God loves you?” they always ask.

“Well, I don’t think He’d use me if He didn’t love me”, is my answer. “I know I’m going to heaven. And I know that if you surrender to Him, we will be there together.”

This is just part of Mike’s story. You’ve got to listen to what God has done throughout Mike’s life to train him for the things that seem to make no sense at all, but lead from one thing to the next that all add up to fulfilling God’s purposes (even walking up to drug soldiers in Brazil, sharing God’s truth with them, and planting churches in neighborhoods that had been held by gangs, prostitutes and drug lords)!

All Mike wanted was to love and be loved. He thought that love was the same as respect through violence, yet now he knows God’s love and pours it out over everyone he meets.

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Welcome back!

This week is actually part two of my conversation with my buddy, John Hintz. If you didn’t catch part 1, I really recommend you go check it out. Last week, we covered John’s life from his childhood up through around the age of 25.

And, this week, we talk about the part of John’s story where he realized that God was there. As John says himself, “This is my God Story”.John Hintz's story of redemption from abuse, alcohol and depression

Then, as we hear more and more of John’s life, we see how God shows up and everything kinda comes together, culminating to what He is doing now through John… it’s amazing!

If you have ever looked at your own life and thought, “I have no idea how God can ever use me”, then you need to hear the conclusion of John’s story and hear how God took a crazy, broken story and uses it for powerful change in many, many people’s lives.

We’re talking about abuse, alcohol, disease, suicide, and so much more… when it comes to growing God’s kingdom, God is greater than all that and more!

One of John’s favorite verses is Proverbs 27:17:

As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.

And, as John’s friend, I can attest that this guy is sharp!

Check it out!

 

Thanks for listening to this episode of Unorthodox Man! If you’d like to find out more about us, check us out at UnorthodoxMan.com. If you’d like to join our community and be a part of our conversation, find us on Facebook.

And, if you’re looking for other podcasts that can keep you inspired and keep you going throughout the day, check out my friends at ChristianPodcastCentral.com.

You will not be disappointed!

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Unorthodox Violence: An Interview with John Hintz (part 1)

Do you ever look back on your life and see God in the rear view mirror? At the risk of mixing a motherload of metaphors, you may not see Him while He’s alongside you, but when you look back in time, you can see how all the puzzle pieces of your life have been put together by God, Himself.

This week, we get to have a cool conversation with a buddy of mine named John. It’s going to be a little bit different – a two-part story – because John’s story starts at a very young age and becomes a story of brokenness, violence, drugs and worse… and then transforms into a story of redemption!

That’s the key: Redemption. It’s the theme that has run through John’s life.

In part one of his story, we hit on a few of his early milestones, including:

  • Growing Up In culturally divided Milwaukee
  • First Worst Memory – getting kidnapped
  • “Violence became a big part of my life”
  • Moved to the farm / parents divorce
  • Dad leaves: “You are the man now”
  • Looked for religion not God
  • Not fulfilled with Catholicism / Mom joins occult
  • Mom attempts suicide
  • Back to church
  • Public to Private School and back to Public
  • Mom remarried to a crazy, then kicked outUnorthodox Violence: An Interview with John Hintz
  • Mom’s new boyfriend Jim: lots of drugs, wanted to hurt Jim
  • Moved in with Dad – starts working & fighting in Dad’s bar
  • More drugs, tries to kill Jim
  • Walker’s Point six-week live in facility
  • Conversation with Dad
  • Enlists in Marine Corp
  • Military, wife, kids, leave military for law enforcement
  • Divorce, focused on kids… but more on work

To learn more about Mike’s Unorthodox life, Unorthodox ministry, and Unorthodox takes, check out UnorthodoxMan.com. And, to join the Unorthodox Community, visit our Facebook page.

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For Hannah, it started in 5th grade. The obsessive thoughts. The anxious behavior. The suicidal ideation. She knew God. She had heard about Him her whole life. She tried to combat her thoughts with verses from her Bible. But the world in her head quickly turned into doctor’s visits. Psychiatric offices. Diagnoses. Prescriptions. Medications.

conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

By the time Hannah entered high school, she struggled with depression regularly. Anxiety seemed to run her thoughts and therefore, her life. During her junior year, what started as an obsession compulsive action to ease anxiety became an addiction to the pain of self-harm. “It started with a mechanical pencil. I’d use the tip of it to scratch my arm really hard during school. It helped me get through the days. But as I felt more socially separated, I used sharper things. Thumb tacks. Keys. Then one night, I used a nail filer and drew blood. Once I saw it, I liked it. I wanted to always draw blood. It became an addiction,” she remembers.

Now hooked on the painful cycle of self-harm, Hannah lived countless nights begging God to kill her. She frustratingly questioned why God would give someone a life if they didn’t even want to live it. She questioned why God didn’t give her the guts to kill herself. She was angry with Him for even creating her, for waking her up every morning.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

In the midst of it all, Hannah graduated and moved to Lubbock for college. She found a church community where she grew in her knowledge of the Bible and God’s character. While God was obviously sustaining Hannah’s life, her intimate struggle with self-worth, depression, and self-harm remained present in her life.

Sometimes Hannah would reach three months without cutting, but then she would relapse. “I would be screaming at God, asking why He’d abandoned me and start cutting. I believed the lie that God wasn’t good and was indifferent to watching me suffer,” she recalls. “And all of these false views of God were tainting me. I had all the head knowledge, but the suffering was so great, I couldn’t believe that knowledge.”conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

In August 2014, Hannah decided to get a tattoo on the wrist where she would often cut. She got roman numerals based on Romans 8:37, the verse that regularly helped her fight defeating thoughts: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Conquering Cutting Addiction Through Jesus Christ

“Of course I was tempted to cut a week later, but I looked at my wrist and was reminded that I’m a fighter and victorious because of Jesus,” she shares. “I thought I would relapse after a couple of months, but I never did. It was the grace of God.”conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

While her struggle with self-harm dissipated, Hannah’s depression wouldn’t relent. Only two months later, Hannah put her own life in danger when she took an overdose of medication. After another three months, she decided to leave her school and church to seek professional help through an intensive outpatient program. Through this program, God not only helped Hannah gain self-worth and practical skills to help process the emotions she felt so deeply, but He also grew her heart for those who struggle with mental illness and helped her better understand it with a biblical view.

One night, while crying in bed and having an anxiety attack, Hannah read Philippians 1:23: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” And Hannah thought, “That’s all I want. I’m sick of this world. I’m sick of crying. I’m sick of pain. I’m sick of suffering. I’m sick of depression. I just want to be with Jesus.” And although she felt this so heavily, she also began to feel comforted and understood by Jesus and His followers in the Bible.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

Throughout the years, Hannah has often believed that if she just had enough faith, Jesus would heal her. She was told that if she prayed more, her depression would be gone. “Nothing damaged me more than believing that. I repeatedly asked God what I was doing wrong, and I finally realized, I live in a broken world with a broken mind and body,” she says. “But that’s where faith comes in.” Hannah realized there is no magic amount of prayer or faith that could have healed her. She realized that through all the pain and suffering, God had been pursuing her and was doing something that was ultimately for her good.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

“I don’t hesitate to say that Jesus is the only reason I haven’t killed myself. In 5th grade, I was told that He loved me and was good, but now I know it. I’ve experienced the weight of His grace on me. He’s the only constant thing in my life. I am constantly reminded when horrible things happen that we can be so glad that we’re not home. Jesus is not done. And God didn’t let me die all of those times for a reason.”

Today Hannah has hope in Jesus, even through her struggles. She knows that He wants to give us an abundant life. She has hope for the future, when her mind and body will be fully redeemed and glorified with Jesus. A future where she will live out the truth that she is more than a conqueror over both anxiety and depression because of Jesus.conquering cutting addiction through Jesus

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Michelle Carter and Doctor-Assisted Death: Mixed Messages about Human Value

The recent, disturbing criminal trial of Michelle Carter not only tests new legal boundaries, it’s a mirror held up in front of our society.

On June 16th, a Massachusetts judge found Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy. Because Carter wasn’t with Roy when he committed suicide, many legal analysts found the verdict surprising.

In 2014, Conrad Roy met Michelle Carter while on vacation. As New York magazine put it, theirs was a “thoroughly modern teenage romance: texting, telling each other their secrets, saying they loved each other, but only meeting in person, as far as his family knows, a couple of times.”Michelle Carter and Doctor-Assisted Death

Roy had a history of psychiatrists call “suicidal ideations,” which were the subject of many of the text exchanges between him and Carter. But instead of urging her boyfriend to get help, Carter encouraged him to take his life, often asking him “when are you going to do it?”

And in the most damning exchange, Carter reproached Roy: “You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. You just have to do it.”

Finally, Roy did it by filling his truck with carbon monoxide, while on the phone with Carter. When he tried to get out of the truck, Carter, as she told a friend in a text, told him to get back in.

Transcripts of the texts are now public. And while legal experts debated whether Carter’s actions were actually a crime, the court of public opinion has been unanimous: her actions were heinous.

But lost in the outrage and debate over Carter’s action is an appreciation of the irony at the heart of this story: Carter’s messages were only an exaggerated and specifically directed version of the messages our culture—including policy and media leaders—send already to fragile and vulnerable people all the time.

The most obvious example is physician-assisted suicide. As Wesley J. Smith has said, our “society broadly accepts the agenda of killing as an acceptable end to human suffering . . . We eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferers.”

And to an extent that few people understand, that suffering is mental not physical. Only 22 percent of patients who died between 1998 and 2009 by assisted suicide in Oregon . . . were in pain or afraid of being in pain, according to their doctors.”

As Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare, wrote in the New York Times, “Patients [who request physician-assisted suicide] say that the primary motive is not to escape physical pain but psychological distress; the main drivers are depression, hopelessness and fear of loss of autonomy and control.”

“In this light,” Emanuel continues, “physician-assisted suicide looks less like a good death in the face of unremitting pain and more like plain old suicide.” Despite this, two-thirds of Americans believe that physician-assisted suicide should be legal.

And the media, in Michelle Carter-like fashion, is also guilty of encouraging suicide by glamorizing it. A recent episode of The Daily, the New York Times podcast with Michael Barbaro, told the story of a Canadian man choosing the time of his death on his own terms surrounded by friends and family. The episode, which told nothing of doctors who have recused themselves from the procedure because of regret or families who wish their loved ones had chosen life instead of death, ended by telling us how much we can learn about dying from such a beautiful story.

What Carter did was reprehensible, perhaps even criminal. But while her actions were extraordinary, her belief that suffering is best dealt with by eliminating the sufferer isn’t. Our culture is largely clueless about what gives life value and what gives us dignity. Because we don’t know what a life worth living looks like, we don’t know what a truly good death looks like, either.

This cluelessness, and the evil it begets, will be with us long after we forget the name “Michelle Carter.”

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

There is no mixed message about life and its worth from the Creator of all life–as human beings we are made in God’s image and for a purpose. All life is precious and of infinite value, to be protected and not destroyed.

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If you haven’t heard of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” I guarantee your teens have. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Ten years ago, Jay Asher, a novelist specializing in Young Adult fiction, saw his novel about a high school student who commits suicide become what the New York Times called “a stealthy hit with surprising staying power.” The book eventually reached the top of the Times’ paperback best-seller list.

And ten years later, that novel, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” was turned into a Netflix series and is a cultural phenomenon.

If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve heard about the series. If you’re a parent in a place like Colorado Springs, where literally dozens of teenagers have committed suicide in recent years, you’re probably asking yourself whether the show will only make a bad situation worse.

I’m not certain about the answer to that question. What I am certain about is that it most certainly won’t help. As my colleague Gina Dalfonzo wrote in her superb article at BreakPoint.org, while the creators thought that they were striking a blow against teen suicide, “the limited and flawed worldview they brought to it meant that they were deeply, dangerously wrong.”“Thirteen Reasons Why” has turned into a cultural phenomenon.

“13 Reasons Why” is set two weeks after a high school student named Hannah commits suicide. As Gina writes, “While her fellow students are still creating memorials and taking selfies in front of her locker, a bombshell drops on her friend Clay Jensen . . . A shoebox full of cassette recordings that Hannah created before her death is left with him—recordings addressed to 13 different people whom she says gave her reasons to kill herself.”

Told in a combination of “flashbacks and present-day stories,” Hannah’s tale is set in a depiction of the high school experience that, in Gina’s words, “makes ‘Lord of the Flies’ look like ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ Drugs and alcohol flow freely, bullying and sexual assault are facts of life, an innocent photograph or a few whispers can wreck a reputation, and the person who’s your best friend today could turn on you tomorrow.”

It’s an experience that leaves the viewer wondering, “how anyone could survive.”

The answer seems to be “you can’t, unless you’re a sociopath.” Where does this leave non-sociopaths? Certainly not with hope. As Gina points out, nothing presented onscreen gives any reason to believe that the “poisonous atmosphere” can, much less will, get better.

Against this backdrop, Hannah’s carefully orchestrated suicide-plus-audio-revenge seems like a viable option. In fact, and this is the key flaw of the series, she seems to wield a power in death that she never did in life.

Except, of course, she doesn’t. In real life, the kind of sociopaths and jerks who tormented her in life isn’t going to be too put out by an audio-cassette from the beyond. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face times infinity.

The only person tormented is the one Hannah admired, Clay. And he’s left “haunted by the thought that Hannah died because he was ‘afraid to love her,’” an idea that owes more to the movies than to real-life. In any case, as Gina points out, neither Clay nor his classmates have any “concept of the kind of love that actually does save.”

As Gina correctly concludes, “Troubled kids need and deserve better.” The National Association of School Psychologists agrees, having issued the following statement: “We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.”

Parents, we need to understand the impact that shows like this can have on our teens. And ultimately, we need to show our children what love really means—and where our hope in life truly lies.

 

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Part One: The Suffering of this Present Time

Nothing.

Jake turned the engine over again. Nothing.

Marriage and church sometimes mask the pains of sinful brokenness

Still covered in yesterday’s Austin City Limits Music Festival sweat and booze, he looked in the back of his car for an easy change of clothes. All his belongings were there, and as he turned back to the front, his eyes settled on the crumpled receipt from his 401K—he’d cashed it out two days ago and given it all to his wife.

And in the middle of the passenger seat sat the directions to his old youth leader’s house in Arkansas. He was going to drive there, murder that man, and then kill himself.

That was five years ago. Now, sitting at his kitchen table with his wife and daughter—preparing to move overseas to share the gospel—Jake and Rebecca can see God’s goodness working through each line of cocaine, each lie to cover his tracks, and each lifeline Rebecca threw him in her own attempts to be his savior.

Jake’s mother left when he was eight years old, dropping him at his father’s house for “the weekend.”  Heartbroken, Jake began to attend a church in Huntsville, Alabama, where he first learned to love Jesus. At 11, he was baptized and joined the youth group at his church. “The youth leader took an interest in me,” Jake recalls. “I thought he was my friend, someone I could turn to.” Soon after, that leader decided to show Jake pornography. “It wasn’t the first time I’d seen porn, but to have an adult show it was a whole different situation.”

Jake reported him, and the leader was removed from his position, but remained at the church.

When Jake was 12, the youth leader again approached Jake, and this time the relationship became sexual. The shame swallowed Jake alive, and when added to the abandonment of his mother, Jake began to believe that it was all his fault. He fantasized about his own death throughout his teenage years and begged God to kill him. Because his first sexual experience was with a man, Jake thought he was gay and tried to “prove” himself in high school by sleeping around with multiple girls.Marriage and church sometimes mask the pains of sinful brokenness

At 21, Jake had his first drink and found what he thought was the cure for his pain. When he drank, he could talk—never about the youth leader—but at least about the hurt from his mom. “I’d drink myself into oblivion and then cry myself into this place of ‘why does my mom hate me?’” he recalls.

When he met Rebecca, now his wife, he was 24, and she was 18. It took another 10 years for Jake to open up about the molestation. Rebecca remembers that she never thought Jake was an alcoholic: “I just thought he was really depressed about his past, because he only talked about it when he was drunk. I was glad he was talking—that it wasn’t just stuck in there.”Marriage and church sometimes mask the pains of sinful brokenness

Rebecca and Jake dated on and off for a while. Though they had a couple breaks, they always came back to each other. “My heart was always with Rebecca,” Jake remembers.

In January 2007, Jake got his first DWI when he rolled his Jeep through the front of a house on Mary St. in Austin, Texas.

It seemed like a turning point. Jake spent hours in the drunk tank, not knowing if his buddy in the passenger seat had survived. He was mortified that he was capable of what he’d done. His friend did survive, and he called Rebecca to go pick up Jake the next morning.

The incident shook both of them out of their routine, and things started lining up.

Rebecca started going back to church. Jake resisted, but begrudgingly agreed. Later that year, Jake proposed—like a storybook, he slipped a ring on his sleeping beauty while she dozed on the couch one night. He loved every suspenseful moment between the time she woke up and the time she realized there was something new on her finger.Marriage and church sometimes mask the pains of sinful brokenness

Rebecca also convinced him to come with her on a trip to Nicaragua to provide medical care for the people there. At the end of ten hard, sweat-filled days of serving others, Jake and Rebecca found a butterfly garden near Selva Negra and were married. They enlisted a pastor on their trip to perform the ceremony, and the team who had served with them threw everything together. One man grabbed his guitar, a group of women collected flowers for a bouquet, and another man—a professional photographer—readied his camera. By midday, the Harrisons were married, surrounded by new friends and the beauty of God’s creation.

It seemed like a turning point, but it wasn’t. The trappings of marriage and church attendance simply masked the deep brokenness lurking underneath.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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“It is a very weird spot to be in—to know the truths of the gospel in your head, but feel nothing. How can you be expected to feel anything toward God, when you feel nothing toward anything?”

Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.As an adolescent, Lyndee began a journey through many deep and troubled episodes of depression. For years, she struggled to not only find joy, but to feel anything at all.

Lyndee understood God’s joy in theory, but in her depression, she struggled to understand and grasp God’s joy personally. She struggled to feel God’s presence in her life. Mentally, Lyndee’s depression left her confused and deflated. Physically, it led to self-harm, and Lyndee burned herself as a way for her to feel something.

“I had the gospel, and I believed in God,” she recalled, “but there was a disconnect between that and actually being able to feel and experience joy.”Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

While the feeling of joy Lyndee craved eluded her, the feeling of pain brought temporary relief. After Lyndee’s mom confronted her about physically injuring herself, Lyndee guiltily quit the burning. Although the outward damage stopped, the inward problem remained, and led to other, less apparent types of self-harm.

Lyndee would sit outside in cold weather without the proper clothing, or she wouldn’t eat when she was hungry. But despite her efforts to feel physical pain, Lyndee remained numb. “When you are numb, you just don’t feel anything,” she remembered, “which is where I was most of the time.”

Years later, when Lyndee turned 17, she moved to Colorado to attend an art school. Her depression traveled across the states with her, growing worse in her isolation.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

Lyndee, somewhat aware of the severity of her depression, began to self—medicate as a way out of the darkness. But her use of alcohol did not help, instead it quickened her downward spiral. Lyndee realized she could not fight the depression alone. She decided to seek help from a church, even after receiving confusing messages as a teenager.

Reeking of alcohol and cigarette smoke after a night of partying, Lyndee entered a church service one Sunday in a back building of a deserted carnival. After the service, a pink‑haired young woman and her family offered to take Lyndee out to lunch. One lunch led to two, and eventually the family’s home became a refuge from Lyndee’s lonely, dark apartment.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

“I didn’t even know these people, but they would stay up late talking with me,” she said. “They let me sleep on their couch and left me breakfast on the table when they went to work.”

Lyndee encountered a different aspect of community, as she experienced the love of Jesus through her caretakers. This lit a spark, but her struggle with depression and pursuit of joy was not over.

A few weeks later, in her car outside her apartment, Lyndee sensed God’s call to leave Colorado and return home. She dropped out of art school, and when she got home, Lyndee questioned why God called her back. Her depression was now outwardly evident, and Lyndee’s parents saw a different person than the daughter they knew, with no real idea of how to help her.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

The message she heard from people in her local church was that if she had more faith, she would be fine. Though they prayed for Lyndee’s spiritual strength and encouraged her to join a Bible study, or to read certain books, Lyndee’s physical and deep emotional scars were ignored. Lyndee returned to self‑harm, now cutting herself, and her depression worsened with obsessive suicidal thoughts, which would not go away.

One night she was overwhelmed by thoughts of suicide. “I tried the best I could to fight the thoughts,” Lyndee said. “But when you are depressed, and your brain is not producing the right amount of chemicals, it is like fighting a battle without any weapons. You have nothing to fight with. My mantra became ‘I am going home. I am going to take my allotted daily medication. I am going to go to bed.’”

But instead of following her own formulaic advice, Lyndee swallowed half a bottle of aspirin. By God’s grace, Lyndee remained alert until her parents arrived home, and they rushed her to the emergency room.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

In the ICU, the toxins in Lyndee’s blood continually measured to a point far beyond critical. Lyndee remembers seeing her dad in the corner of the room, his head in his hands after hearing the doctors tell him they had done everything possible for his daughter.

Lying there, Lyndee knew her fight was over, and her body was giving up. She knew she couldn’t do anything else on her own. “I was desperate for something and I didn’t know what it was.” So she prayed a simple prayer: Lord I can’t do this. I need you to take it from here.

A peace came over Lyndee. She looked up at her dad sitting in the corner. “All you have to do,” she said, “is wait until they take my blood the next time, and my toxin level will be down.”
And Lyndee was right. Her blood levels stabilized, and she was released to go home under the care of her parents.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

Lyndee believes God performed a miracle and healed her. Over the course of several years and with the help of doctors and medications, Lyndee went from feeling numb to being able to function. She co‑owned and operated a small coffee shop, learned to communicate well with others, started going to church, and found victory in leading a very basic life. She felt joy in the small moments of life, following a God who loved her regardless of her past.

Looking back, Lyndee credits much of her recovery to the unconditional love of Christ, shown through her Missional Community group at The Austin Stone Community Church. Teaching her how to live life after depression, God used her MC to show her more of his character and his unconditional love for her. Lyndee was finally experiencing the love of Jesus, finding joy in his love. “I met people who loved me and showed so much grace when I came to them and confessed my sin,” she said.Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

She has learned how to forgive those who misunderstood her depression. Today it is important to Lyndee that those around her have a better understanding of what depression is, and that believers begin walk alongside others who struggle with it.

She still has days when she feels down, but clinical depression is no longer a part of her life. Lyndee is growing in her knowledge and understanding of Jesus, and in her awareness of Christ’s love for her. She feels God’s joy through the work of the Spirit in her.

“I have found out more about who I am, learning how to cope with things in a healthy manner,” Lyndee said. “I know joy is knowing you have God no matter what—and that God is sufficient.”Despite her tragic past, Lyndee now finds joy in God.

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. False promises of love and personal fulfillment are no exception.

Over a year and-a-half after the Obergefell decision, the debate over gay “marriage” and homosexuality has largely fizzled out: partly because of the election, partly because the “T” in the LGBT acronym has been stealing all the headlines, and partly because Obergefell is now viewed by many as settled law. And that’s a shame, because so-called “progress” isn’t bringing about the rosy picture we were promised.

In what may be the most candid piece in Huffington Post history, Michael Hobbes, who identifies as gay, writes about what he calls an “epidemic of loneliness.”false promises have claimed victims in the LGBT community

“For years,” he begins, “I’ve noticed the divergence between my straight friends and my gay friends. While one half of my social circle has disappeared into relationships, kids and suburbs, the other has struggled through isolation and anxiety, hard drugs and risky (behavior).”

Through story after story and mountains of statistics, Hobbes then documents a consistent and chilling trend among those who share his lifestyle. “Gay men everywhere, at every age,” he writes, are two-to-ten-times more likely than heterosexual men to commit suicide.

And that’s just the beginning. Homosexual males also suffer from higher rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, allergies, asthma, and a whole host of behavior-related infections and dysfunctions. They’re twice as likely to experience major depressive episodes, report having fewer close friends, and abuse drugs at an alarming rate.

In fact, living in so-called “gay neighborhoods” is a predictor of more frequent, risky behaviors and methamphetamine use. And, Hobbes adds, the community itself is brutal and degrading to its members. Smart-phone hookup apps drive a culture of exploitation and casual encounters that one young man he interviewed said made him feel like “a piece of meat.”

We often hear these disastrous statistics and stories attributed to homophobia, bullying, and shame. Having been treated horribly since childhood, men like this author—the oft-repeated myth goes—are forced to live a lie. They’re depressed because they’ve been oppressed and repressed.

But here’s the problem with the bullying hypothesis. In countries like the Netherlands and Sweden where same-sex “marriage” has been the law of the land for years, gay men remain three times more susceptible to mood disorders and three- to ten-times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.”

The situation is so bad that one respondent in a survey of HIV clinics told researchers, “It’s not a question of not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them not knowing if their lives are worth saving.”

Incredibly, after this long and brutal and well-documented description of life in his community, Hobbes then concludes the cause as having minority status, which has taught them to live in fear. At no point does he consider the possibility that it’s the lifestyle itself that may be what’s destroying these men’s lives.

Still, one expert quoted in the piece hints that he knows what’s going on. Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University, admits that for many people, the marriage decision was a letdown. “We have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”

Could it be that this lifestyle cuts off this community from the natural family, from children, and—according to years of statistics—from monogamous partnerships? Could it be the disparity Hobbes sees between what he wants and what he got is a result of a broken lifestyle? Could it be that this behavior naturally isolates people? Could it be that God didn’t design His image-bearers to live like this, and when we do, it actually destroys us?

Unfortunately, those questions are no longer even considered by Hobbes or by social scientists. But we as a society, and especially the Church, must consider these questions. As long as there are real people trying to fill their hearts with lies, caring about them will mean having a more open mind than the Huffington Post.

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

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