Trick or Treat?

One Halloween a long, long time ago a man in a long, dark flowing cloak, with a hammer in hand, walked through a small town in rural Germany with a look of dreaded determination on his face. As he neared the doorway he was aiming for he tightened his grip on the hammer, climbed the steps and took one last deep breath. Raising his hammer high above his head he pulled it down with great force…BANG! BANG! BANG! Before the door was opened he turned around, walked away and there nailed to the door was a piece of paper that would begin to change the course of history in Europe.

halloween-1563652The event just described is not the first trick-or-treat-er, nor is the man the inspiration for film characters such as Freddie Krueger, the bogeyman or Hannibal Lector. This event describes the tradition of Martin Luther nailing his now famous Ninety-Five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. This happened on October 31st 1517 and was one of the catalysts for what became known as The Reformation.

The date, October 31st, automatically brings to mind Halloween, dressing up, witches, ghosts and horror movies. But this celebration of all things scary is not the only significant thing to have happened on this date.

Martin Luther, a lawyer turned Monk, was concerned about the Catholic Church ‘selling salvation’. This led to two momentous beliefs which changed religious thought in Europe. The first belief is that the Bible is to be held in higher regard than the traditions of the church. This led to the second belief: that the Bible taught salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. In other words, Luther argued that the Catholic Church was not teaching what the Bible taught and that rather than listening to the church people should listen to the Bible.

Perhaps as a child your Christian parents wouldn’t let you take part in school Halloween discos, or trick or treating and there was no way you would ever be able to go to your friend’s house to watch scary movies. Perhaps today you wonder how best to counteract the darkness, evil and sinister nature of some Halloween celebrations. On the other hand, you may think it is all harmless and you have no problem dressing up as someone from the 70s, putting your head in a bucket of water with four half eaten apples and a set of false teeth and eating pumpkin soup for the next five days doesn’t bother you. Either way, the reality is that this celebration of witches, ghosts and zombies is all a little bit silly and in the end makes very little difference to our life!

But, as a Christian, we have something far more significant to celebrate – God’s work in 1517 (and the years that followed) through a man in a long, dark flowing cloak, with a hammer in hand, in a small town in rural Germany. We should celebrate the realisation once again that God’s Word is precious. It is precious because it tells us of a love so great that salvation is given freely through the sacrifice of another. To celebrate The Reformation is the real treat; everything else is just a trick.


If this is all news to you and you want to learn more I would recommend you pick up Roland H. Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther.

Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices; Part Seven: The Hardest Word

On September 9th 2015, Channel 4 weatherman Liam Dutton achieved the unachievable with incredible poise. As part of the broadcast, Dutton was confronted by the “second longest one word official place name in the world”: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Without a moment’s hesitation, Dutton easily says the hardest place name in the United Kingdom.

Is anything too hard for us to say? A prestigious list of celebrities assures that “sorry seems to be the hardest word”. Unfortunately for Elton John, Joe Cocker, Blue, Mary J. Blige, Ray Charles, Kenny G and Scatman John, a visit to any of Northern Ireland’s school playgrounds disproves this ‘sorry-seems-the-hardest-word-to-say’ hypothesis. After-all, up-and-down the country, children are being told to “look each other in the eyes and say ‘sorry’”. Sure, this happens begrudgingly through gritted teeth; but sorry, then, isn’t all that impossible to say. Sorry is easy to say. Sorry is hard to mean.

That’s Brooks’ sixth device. Brooks takes us from a God-who-is-all-mercy (his fifth device) to a repentance-that-is-all-empty. Satan “persuades the soul that repentance is an easy work” (55). “Repentance”, he may surreptitiously slander, “is as easy as saying sorry; there’s nothing else to it”. Satan’s device is convincing us that it isn’t all that difficult to return to God, to confess in sorrow, to beg God’s mercy, to experience pardon, to save your soul. If repentance is such light work? It follows that my soul “need not make such a matter of sin” (55). Indeed: “by this deBrooks - Precious Redemiesvice, Satan draws many a soul to sin, and makes many millions of souls servants [and] slaves to sin” (55).

Before we seriously consider each remedy, I wish to offer a brief caveat. It’s vitally important that we remember Brooks’ target audience. Brooks is addressing Christians. Brooks is engaging with people who have been saved by grace, through faith, in Christ. Brooks is categorically denying any form of salvation by works. This means: Brooks denies the idea that our work of repentance brings our salvation. Repentance is a grace; we draw the strength to “crucify all” in repentance only from union with “a crucified Christ” (58). Therefore: when Brooks discourses on the hard work of repentance, he is not simply arguing that genuine repentance may be reached by rolled-up shirt sleeves and elbow grease. This hard work is impossible bar Christ. So, please remember: repentance is a grace that is ours in Christ. It is only through Christ that we can genuinely repent. Therefore, the easy repentance Satan urges us toward is really ‘repentance’ – that is, false repentance.

So: is repentance really such an easy word?

Remedy #1: seriously consider that repentance is a difficult work, above our power.

Repentance is beyond our power. Brooks states this in its stark magnificence:

“There is no power below that power that raised Christ from the dead, that made the world, that can break the heart of a sinner or turn the heart of a sinner…men are not born with repentance in their hearts, as they are born with tongues in their mouths…it is not in the power of any mortal to repent at pleasure” (56)

In 2 Timothy 2:25-26, Paul urges Timothy to be a faithful servant to the Lord, in the hope that “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will”. Repentance “is a gift that comes down from above” (56). It is granted by the Father to His stumbling people. It involves a powerful escape from Satan’s grasp. This is far beyond my strength. I can’t even get my dog to change direction; how can I hope my heart will be easier to fix?

So: repentance is a mighty work. Brooks repeats this over and over. He does not want us to settle for easy ‘repentance’. Believing “these five words ‘Lord, have mercy on me’ are efficacious to send them to heaven [by one’s own power in speaking them]…[is] buying a counterfeit jewel…[and resting] in the shadow of repentance” (56).

Remedy #2: seriously consider the nature of true repentance.

“Repentance hath in it three things: the act, subject and terms” (57). Here, Brooks delivers his most in-depth treatment of true repentance. The formal act of repentance, he ascertains, is “a changing and converting…turning from darkness to light” (57). The subject of this turning is the whole man: “both the sinner’s heart and life…first his person, then his practice” (57). The terms of this turning, from which both heart and life are changed, are “from sin to God” (57). The heart must be turned away from sin’s controlling power, and the life must deliberately turn from acts of sin. This means turning away from all sin, including the sinful actions, attitudes and inclinations we tell ourselves are part of our personalities and are essential to our wellbeing. In short, “repentance doth include turning from the most darling sin” (58). “Every sin strikes at the honour of God, the being of God, the glory of God, the heart of Christ, the joy of the Spirit…therefore [true repentance] strikes at all [sin], hates all, conflicts with all and will labour to draw strength from a crucified Christ to crucify all” (58). Therefore, true repentance “doth include a sensibleness of sin’s sinfulness…how opposite and contrary it is to the blessed God…[and] it breaks the heart with sighs, and sobs and groans” (59). But: “both [must turn] unto God” (57). Repentance is not a simple cease-and-desist toward sin. Instead, it is a turning, in gratitude, toward God-focused obedience. “The heart [is now] under [God’s] power in a state of grace, the life [is now] under His rule in all new obedience” (57). Repentance isn’t simply walking away from all evil; it is walking towards all that is holy and good.

Brooks’ penetrating question bears repeating: “would it be such an easy thing to repent as Satan would make the soul to believe?” (60). In union with Christ, true repentance requires the power that “made the world or raises the dead” (60). Repentance can never lead to a downplaying of the seriousness of sin. Satan’s ‘repentance’ is not repentance.

Remedy #3: seriously consider that repentance is a continued act.

Often, we present repentance as a one-time-only deal. We repent at conversion, and we lead a sorrow-free life afterwards. But, this is not true repentance. “True repentance inclines a man’s heart to perform God’s statutes always, even unto the end” (60). Indeed, “repentance is a grace, and must have its daily operation as well as other graces” (60). We cannot settle with a once-in-a-lifetime view of repentance. This does not undermine the efficacy of God’s saving-power, or the fullness of our union with Christ, or the sanctifying work of the Spirit. Instead: this undermines our human pride. At conversion, sin’s power over us is broken; but in our daily lives, sin’s nature remains unchanged. Sin is sin, so “repentance is no transient act, but a continued act of the soul”. It is not easy. True repentance turns from “more and more sin”, and turns “nearer and nearer to God” everyday (61).

Remedy #4: seriously consider that repentance is a great work of grace.

Sin is in our nature. Sin weakens us, killing parts of our conscience and corrupting our worship toward, and our sensibility of, God. But: “for a soul…to repent of his falls…is as great a work of grace…as it is not to sin” (63). God’s grace draws us to repent; a focus on His loving-kindness leads us to turn toward Him (Psalm 26:3-5, Luke 7:37-50). Repentance is a powerful work of God’s grace. It cannot be easily manufactured. Don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies.

Remedy #5: seriously consider that Satan will use easy repentance to lead you to despair.

Satan is snake. He’s slippery; his devices refuse to be pinned down. Satan urges us to put our confidence in easy repentance so he can “break the neck of the soul” (64). He’ll tell us it’s easy, but when we start to wake-up, he’ll tell us that repentance is the most difficult thing in the world. He’ll set our sin before us, and tell us that we belong to him. The sin he told us was a “mote”? He’ll tell us that it is an unmovable “mountain…and [it is] vain to repent of them…for such a wretch…to attempt repentance is to attempt an impossible thing” (65).

Satan’s offer of easy repentance will break our necks. We need to mean the hardest word. “Oh that you were wise to break off your sins by timely repentance” (65).

Top Five Commentaries on the Psalms

Last week I identified the triumvirate of Psalms study, namely the three scholars who have determined the shape of Psalms study today. However, as I acknowledged these men’s work is sometimes not the easiest to find, never mind read. So, here are my suggestions the Psalms section in your library.

  1. Willem VanGemeren, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, vol. 5, 2008.

Although this is part of a twelve volume set on the whole Bible it is by no means a lesser treatment of the Psalter for it.

VanGemeren has brought all of his experience and expertise to bear on this commentary. It is well-informed, lucidly written and beneficially concise. While the treatment of each psalm is helpful and enlightening, both the introduction and the periodic sections treating themes make this commentary well worth its price-tag. There are also numerous technical footnotes for those who want to note textual variants, interpretive issues and other data.

  1. Derek Kidner, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72 & Psalms 73-150, vols. 15 & 16, 2008.

These two volumes offer a much shorter treatment of the Psalms. Kidner’s word economy is quite remarkable, and yet it is achieved simply by pointing readers back to previous comments on words, phrases, imagery, literary technique, etc. For the conservative evangelical Christian Kidner’s most profitable contribution is his treatment of the messianic theme. It is even-handedly dealt with in the very good introduction, as well as throughout. This would be a good go to commentary alongside your daily readings or family devotions in the psalms.

  1. Nancy deClaisse-Walford et al., New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms, 2014.

By far this is the most modern commentary (the above volumes are reprints of earlier editions). In light of that it is unsurprising that it is heavily influenced by the work of G. H. Wilson, mentioned in our previous post. However, it also develops his theory. The writing style is warm https://i1.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51pM2bvTXCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgand therefore it is an enjoyable read as well as informative.

All NICOT commentaries have a reader friendly layout which makes it easy to either dip into the commentary quickly and pick up a couple of paragraphs on something, or delve more deeply into abundant footnotes. This commentary is comprehensive and has three scholars contributing to it making it a very profitable purchase.

  1. James Montgomery Boice, Psalms (3 vols.), 1994-1998.

This is not a commentary per se, but a sermon on every single Psalm. It will not be so helpful in figuring out what a particular word means, nor giving all sides to a debate. Yet, it is invaluable for sermon preparation and formation. Boice’s experience of pastoral ministry drips through every line. The illustrations are illuminating and the application pertinent. His headings and titles are also good sermon fodder (although sometimes difficult to look past).

  1. Charles Spurgeon, Crossway Classic Commentaries (2 vols.), 1993.

Spurgeon’s commentaries on the psalms (The Treasury of David) have long been celebrated by exegetes. I remain unconvinced. He may have been the prince of preachers but sometimes I think his exegesis was suspect. For that reason I would not encourage you to search for the larger Treasury of David. Instead, I would point you to this abridged version. Spurgeon is very quotable and most enthusiastic in finding Jesus in every psalm, thus his work is of value in a study of the Psalms. However, it must be used with discernment.

The above commentaries have been chosen because they treat all psalms, however there are also a number of books which tackle particular psalms which would be worth hunting out: What works when life doesn’t by Stuart Briscoe and both The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life & Slogging along the Paths of Righteousness by Dale Ralph Davis.  Also worthwhile is Wilson’s NIVAC commentary, although sadly he died before being able to complete the next volume.

Other volumes which either aren’t quite as helpful, or I haven’t used extensively are the Bible Speaks Today volumes by Michael Wilcock (which wasn’t quite as helpful) and the Baker Academic volumes by John Goldingay (which look good but I have not yet used them extensively enough to recommend them). Do a bit of research, pick up one of these commentaries and submerge yourself in the Psalms.

The Triumvirate of Psalms Study

As I embark on writing my MTh dissertation I have had to put into practice some of the best advice I have ever been given regarding reading. I can’t remember exactly who I heard give this advice, but it has shaped my reading ever since.

reading4The advice was that instead of spending all your time reading your favourite authors, spend some of that time reading the people who have influenced your favourite authors. The example of Tim Keller was given as he is a hugely popular author. The observant reader, however, will notice that Keller frequently references and quotes C. S. Lewis in many of his books. Thus, the advice was to not just read Keller, but also Lewis.

As I have turned my attention to a dissertation on the Psalms I have had to look beyond my favourite commentators on this most celebrated section of Scripture; I have had to read the authors who have influenced them. As I have done so I have found that there are three scholars who have cast their shadow over modern Psalms study, the triumvirate of Psalms study if you will.

If you wish to find out why your favourite commentator on the Psalms writes the way he does on the Psalms, the likelihood is that you will find your answer in the work of one of these three scholars.

Herman Gunkel

The first of these scholars is Herman Gunkel (1862-1932).

Gunkel’s major contribution to biblical studies was the development of something called Form Criticism. The aim of this type of biblical investigation, in Gunkel’s own words, was to ‘strive to overhear the innate, natural division of this type of poetry’ (Introduction to the Psalms, pg. 7). The result of this work was the rise of types of Psalms. Gunkel was the one who developed an understanding that there are psalms of praise, thanksgiving, lament, and that these are understood as originating from individuals and communities.

Despite a degree of revision and augmentation over the years (and by different scholars) Gunkel’s categories continue to provide the framework within which Psalms study takes place. This is evident by browsing any introduction to any Psalms commentary today.

Sigmund Mowinckel

The second scholar, Sigmund Mowinckel (1884-1965), was a student of Gunkel’s.

Mowinckel’s influence on Psalms study surrounds what the scholars call Sitz im Leben. This is German for ‘life setting’. In other words Mowinckel was concerned with the historical situation out of which each individual psalm arose. He was consumed with the context of the Ancient Near East’s religious ceremonies and what light they could shed on the religious life of Israel (out of which he argued many if not all the psalms had arisen). Through thorough historical work, and some imaginative reconstructions Mowinckel was proposed a variety of religious celebrations as the Sitz im Leben of the Psalms.

These arguments have had a lesser impact on popular treatments of the psalms than Gunkel’s contribution, and we should be grateful for that as much of Mowinckel’s work is challenged or discredited by scholars today. Nonetheless, there are things to learn here with regard to the Psalms and their origin which can be helpful.

Gerald Wilson

The final scholar is the late Gerald Wilson (1945-2005).

Wilson altered the face of Psalms study during the 1980s with a plethora of publications that effectively argued for a canonical reading of the Psalms. The most important of which was undoubtedly his PhD dissertation published in 1985. Wilson’s premise was that the book of Psalms should not only be read as 150 individual poems, but also as one whole book. In particular he argued the monarchy of Israel provided the contours to follow as royal Psalms (one of Gunkel’s categories) could be found at significant junctures of the book.

In my opinion, on the whole Wilson offers a solid and convincing argument (although not all scholars would agree). However, academically speaking, this is a relatively new theory and so it is not yet a complete one. But a discussion of the Psalms (indeed of Scripture as a whole) in light of Wilson’s work is certainly in vogue currently.

Conclusion

If you wish to find out why your favourite commentator on the Psalms writes the way he does on the Psalms, the likelihood is that you will find your answer in the work of one of these three scholars. Their work has shaped Psalms study for the past century, and I dare say will do so for the next century!

However, it must be acknowledged that their work is not always the easiest to find, never mind read. Therefore, next week I will give my top five commentaries on the Psalms. These will undoubtedly be more accessible than the work of the triumvirate of Psalms study, and yet will inevitably be indebted to them too.

Top 10 Preachers

During my lifetime I have undoubtedly listened to hundreds if not thousands of sermons.silhouette-of-catholic-preacher-1093164-m

Some sermons I love, some I hate. Some sermons lift up Christ, some miss him completely. Some sermons work logically through a passage of Scripture, others bounce around a variety of verses.   Some sermons are entertaining, others a bit boring.

I am no expert on sermons, but I do have an opinion like everyone else. Today I want to point you toward some preachers who exhibit excellence in the field of preaching. These are men I look up to, appreciate and learn much from.

Rather than just listing the names of these preachers, I have categorized them into the reason why I appreciate these men’s sermons.

Exegetical Preachers

Two of the best exegetes I have ever come across are John Bell and Dale Ralph Davis. These men show a deep appreciation for, and unparalleled understanding of most Bible passages.

John Bell is the pastor of Central Baptist Church in Harare, Zimbabwe. He has also preached at a number of churches and conferences in both the UK and USA. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities he engages in some teaching in Harare Theological College.

Dale Ralph Davis has both lectured and pastored. Most recently he served as pastor at Woodlands Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He has also served as Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi.

I have listened to these men both in the flesh and over the internet – they are well worth the time listening to.

Intellectual Preachers

I must confess not everyone appreciates an intellectual preacher. However, there are two men I believe preach with an amazing intellect but also in a very accessible way.

Don Carson is the first of these men. He is a co-founder of the Gospel Coalition, serves as research Professor of New Testament and is a prolific author in both academic and popular circles.

Mark Dever is the second of these men. He is senior pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC, as well as President of IX Marks.

Both of these men supplement their preaching with a lifetime of learning. Very few of us will ever have the privilege of spending as much time in study as these men have. However, this should not discourage us, rather it should encourage us to gain every ounce of knowledge that we can from these men’s sermons.

Wise Preachers

Wisdom is something that is easy to recognise when you hear it, but somewhat more difficult to define. Vaughan Roberts and Tim Keller are the two wisest preachers I have ever heard. This is displayed in their wise choice of words when preaching, their wise topics and approaches to preaching and perhaps most notably in their application of the Word.

Vaughan Roberts is rector of St Ebbes Church of England in Oxford. He is also currently the director of the Proclamation Trust. He has spoken at a number of conferences in Northern Ireland in recent years.

Tim Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhattan, New York. He is also chairman of Redeemer City to City, a bestselling author and co-founder of the Gospel Coalition. Keller is justifiably renowned for his wise application of Scripture to our lives and culture.

There is no way to define it, but you will know you are listening to wise men when you hear these men preach.

Passionate Preachers

Passionate preaching is something we all desire to hear, yet it is something very difficult to achieve. Passionate preaching that is edifying comes from a mind and heart deeply in tune with God’s Word. Not many people achieve this balance.

John Piper is one of those people who have though. John Piper recently retired from an extended ministry as Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He is also the director of Desiring God and an author of numerous books. Piper’s passion is infectious, and for that reason alone many preachers should listen to this man preach.

C. J. Mahaney is another preacher who is full of passion. He is the former President of Sovereign Grace Ministries and a founding pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. You must listen to Mahaney!

Humorous Preachers

People are divided over the use of humour in sermons – I’m not. Humour is a great tool to use in drawing people into God’s Word. Indeed, many of the biblical authors, and Jesus himself, use humour frequently.

One of the funniest preachers I know of is Matt Chandler. He is lead pastor at the Village Church, Dallas, Texas and President of the Acts 29 Network. Of course it is not humour alone; he handles the Bible very well and comes from a religious context which makes his preaching and teaching more applicable here in Northern Ireland than most other American preachers.

Alistair Begg is another preacher who uses humour to good effect. Originally from Scotland his humour is very much akin to ours here in Northern Ireland. He has pastored Parkside Church for 30 years, written a number of books on pastoral ministry and teaches regularly on Truth for Life.

Irish Preachers

As you will have noticed none of the above guys come from Northern Ireland/Ireland, nor serve in Northern Ireland/Ireland. I suppose it is the nature of the beast, when you become a Christian it is the ‘famous’ pastors you hear of first and therefore they often have the biggest impact on your. Nevertheless, below are ten more preachers all from or serving in Northern Ireland/Ireland who I would also recommend listening to.

Peter Firth (New Testament Tutor at the Irish Baptist College)

Andrew Roycroft (Pastor of Millisle Baptist)

Gordon Walker (Pastor of Carryduff Baptist Church)

Stafford Carson (Principal of Union Theological College)

Trevor Brock (Pastor of Great Victoria Street Baptist Church)

Casement Moore (Director of Cornhill Belfast)

Johnny Carson (Pastor of Whitehead Baptist Church)

Ivan Watson (Pastor of Cavan Baptist Church)

David Johnston (Minister of Hamilton Road Presbyterian)

Colin Adams (Pastor of Greenview Evangelical Church)

Who am I? Identity after diagnosis.

After a few quick questions, the doc looked up from his questionnaire and concluded with some finality, “Rachel, I think you are depressed.”

I was shocked and immediately defensive. I thought the NHS were just fobbing me off with their latest hobby horse – “Pass her a few pills and all will be well”.

Image by Cristiano Galbiati
Image by Cristiano Galbiati

However, I would be lying if I said it was the first time I had heard a doctor say this. For me, depression was a constant battle but this time was different. For the first time, he was recommending a course of anti-depressants.

“I must be really messed up,” I concluded, inwardly.

I walked home bewildered and crushed. I went to the GP because I was tired and achy; after some research on Google (which is never good!), I had diagnosed myself with an autoimmune disease. Truthfully, I think I would have been content with lupus rather than depression. Why? For many, mental illness = shame, weakness, taboo.

“I should not feel this way,” I argued to myself. “Christians are supposed to be happy, joyful people. We are saved.”

When I went to church that Sunday, I avoided eye contact, afraid that perceptive eyes would be able to sense, as the doctor had done, what was really going on inside. I felt as if a label was tattooed across my forehead: depressed. Depression shaped my actions and thoughts: almost overnight, I became “Rachel Hanna, depressed person.” I distanced myself from people who loved and knew me best, fearing judgment, or worse – pity. I questioned my worth, relationships and, ultimately, the purpose of my life. Who would notice if I was gone anyway? Did anyone really care? Was it really worth going on?

That was June, now it is September. I am still taking anti-depressants and probably will be for some time. But now I am ok with that – why? I realised that, though my brain might need extra help to be positive, basing my identity upon a diagnosis was a form of idolatry. I am first and foremost a child of God – that is who I am. It does not mean that the world is perfectly rosy all of a sudden. Sometimes it feels like a constant battle. I am learning to see myself as God sees me and trusting Him despite the uncertainties and disappointments of life. A few months ago, the last person I turned to was God. Surely, He would prefer if I gave up wallowing and painted on my best Sunday School smile. I couldn’t be more wrong.

He has taught me a lot about His grace through this process and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will choose gratitude instead of despair, practicing love and forgiveness instead of bitterness, contentment instead of comparison. I am freed by Christ from the bonds of sin and death and though I have my bad days, I know that one day all will be well. Until then, I use the truth of his Word as a sword, to fight the ongoing battles in my mind. In Christ, I am born again to a living hope, a hope for today and all of my tomorrows. I have a Father who works all things for my good and for now, He is challenging me to just trust Him. I praise God that He has removed my guilt and shame, teaching me that my identity is rooted in Him and that He is enough for me.

I am increasingly aware that I am not the only one living with depression and that it comes in many forms, I am by no means an expert. If you are struggling, do not be ashamed – please speak to someone about what’s going on. We need to remove the stigma and taboo of mental illness and learn how to better support our friends and family who live with it on a daily basis.