A depressive is driving down a country road and has a flat tire. He looks in his trunk for a jack. Not finding one, he spots a farmhouse about a quarter-mile away with a truck in the front yard and says to himself, “I’ll go borrow the farmer’s jack.” As the stranded motorist approaches the house, he is feeling bad—one, for failing to have a jack; two, for having to depend on someone else for help. As he gets nearer the farmhouse, he begins to expect rejection and to get angry over that expectation. As he becomes more and more angry at his unmet dependency needs in the past, he projects to the farmer the anger he feels toward himself for needing the jack and toward others for disappointing him. By the time he knocks on the door and the farmer opens it, the depressive yells, “Keep your jack!” This will most likely guarantee that he doesn’t get the jack, so the motorist walks back, re-convinced that you can’t depend on people.
Very often our outlook and expectations determine the results.
A man and his wife who were on a long trip stopped at a full-service gas station. After the station attendant had washed their car’s windshield, the man in the car said to the station attendant, “It’s still dirty. Wash it again.”
So the station attendant complied. After washing it again, the man in the car angrily said, “It’s still dirty. Don’t you know how to wash a windshield?”
Just then the man’s wife reached over, removed her husband’s glasses from his face, and cleaned them with a tissue. Then he put them back on and behold—the windshield was clean!
Our mental attitude has a great deal to do with how we look at things. The whole world can appear pretty bleak if we have a depressed mental attitude. Yet how bright the world can appear if we have a joyful attitude of hope.
Karl Menninger, a famous psychiatrist, once gave a lecture on mental health and was answering questions from the audience. “What would you advise a person to do,” asked one, “if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?”
Most people expected Menninger to reply: “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their astonishment, he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the railway tracks, find someone in need, and then do something to help that person.”
The human personality is said to consist of roughly four-fifths emotions and one-fifth intellect. This means that our decisions are arrived at on the basis of 80 percent emotion and only 20 percent intellect. To engage in a confrontation, or even a discussion, without taking emotions into account is to be only 20 percent effective in your dealings with people.
Thomas Jefferson said "When angry, count to 10; when very angry count to 100." Mark Twain changed it and said, "When angry, count to 4; when very angry, swear."
One of England's finest preachers was C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892). Frequently during his ministry he was plunged into severe depression, due in part to gout but also for other reasons. In a biography of the "prince of preachers", Arnold Dallimore wrote, "What he suffered in those times of darkness we may not know...even his desperate calling on God brought no relief. 'There are dungeons', he said, 'beneath the castles of despair.'" ── Arnold Dallimore.
Many years ago a young Midwestern lawyer suffered from such deep depression that his friends thought it best to keep all knives and razors out of his reach. He questioned his life's calling and the prudence of even attempting to follow it through. During this time he wrote, "I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not." But somehow, from somewhere, Abraham Lincoln received the encouragement he needed, and the achievements of his life thoroughly vindicated his bout with discouragement. ── Today in the Word, MBI, December, 1989, p. 20, Swindoll, You and Your Problems Transformed by Thorns, p. 58.
In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy. He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep. He couldn't eat, and he avoided his friends. The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition. Concluding that his patient needed to have a good time, the physician told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi. Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles. "You must go and see him," the doctor advised. "Grimaldi is the world's funniest clown. He'll make you laugh and cure your sadness." "No," replied the despairing man, "he can't help me. you see, I am Grimaldi!" ── Source Unknown.
Half of Americans in a recent poll said they or their family members have suffered from depression, 46% considered it a health problem, and 43% saw it as a "sign of personal or emotional weakness," according to the National Mental Health Association. Other topics measured included alcoholism (seen as a personal weakness by 58% and a health problem by 34%) and obesity (38% deemed it a weakness, 48% a health problem). Where to go for help? Three choices were allowed. 45% suggested a medical doctor, 60% a mental health professional, but only 20% suggested a church, minister, rabbi, or priest, and just 14% suggested a spouse, relative, or friend. ──
National and International Religion Report, Jan 1, 1992.
Today's young women are more likely to become depressed than their mothers were and at a younger age. Reasons: increased economic pressure to contribute to family income...changing role in society...inability to meet their own expectations...a sense of having lost control. ── Dr. Gerald Klerwan, in Homemade, December. 1986.
Depression strikes about 10 million Americans within any six- month period. Human therapists can now treat only a fraction of that number. But a study shows that by using computers, more of these persons might be helped. In the American Journal of Psychiatry, researcher John Greist presented a study showing that depressed people treated by computerized questions and answers improved just as much as those consulted under a human therapist.── Resource, Mar/Apr, 1990.
I am spellbound by the intensity of Jesus' emotions: Not a twinge of pity, but heartbroken compassion; not a passing irritation, but terrifying anger; not a silent tear, but groans of anguish; not a weak smile, but ecstatic celebration. Jesus' emotions are like a mountain river cascading with clear water. My emotions are more like a muddy foam or a feeble trickle. ── G. Walter Hansenin, Christianity Today.
A group of motion-picture engineers classified the following as the ten most dramatic sounds in the movies: a baby's first cry; the blast of a siren; the thunder of breakers on rocks; the roar of a forest fire; a foghorn; the slow drip of water; the galloping of horses; the sound of a distant train whistle; the howl of a dog; the wedding march. And one of these sounds causes more emotional response and upheaval than any other, has the power to bring forth almost every human emotion: sadness, envy, regret, sorrow, tears, as well as supreme joy. It is the wedding march. ── James S. Flora in Pulpit Digest.
Oliver Cromwell, who took the British throne away from Charles I and established the Commonwealth, said to a friend, "Do not trust to the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged." ── Warren Wiersbe in Be Satisfied.
Persons who have uneven temperaments appear to have a much greater chance of developing serious illness and of dying young than do those with other temperaments. ── Drs. Barbara J. Betz and Caroline B. Thomas report in the Johns Hopkins Medical Journal.
In 1948, Betz and Thomas classified 45 Johns Hopkins medical students in three personality groups on the basis of psychological tests and questionnaires. The students were listed either as "alphas," described as cautious, reserved, quiet and undemanding; "betas," spontaneous, active and outgoing; or "gammas," moody, emotional and either over- or under-demanding. Thirty years later, Betz and Thomas looked at the health records of the former students. They found that 77.3 percent of the gamma group suffered from major disorders, including cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and emotional disturbances. The incidence of disorders was only 25 percent in the alpha group and 26.7 percent in the betas. The doctors repeated the study on another group of 127 male students from the classes of 1949 through 1964 with similar results. "Too often, gamma people get lost in their own emotions," says Betz. "While a person's temperament cannot be changed, more support from outside sources--such as more human contacts--might help lessen a gamma's risk of disease." ── Quoted in Reader's Digest, November, 1979.
"EMOTION VS. EMOTIONALISM"
1. To emote or not to emote, that is the question...
a. Many decry the lack of emotion in the worship and lives of others
b. Others warn against emotionalism as they look down on any display
2. Can we have emotion without succumbing to emotionalism? I believe we
a. Emotions have a scriptural role in the life of the Christian
b. Yet when emotions become emotionalism, there is a grave danger
[How can we have emotion without emotionalism? Let's first consider
that there are...]
I. TWO EXTREMES TO AVOID
1. That "better felt than told" sort of religion
a. Where people depend more on what they feel in their heart
b. Rather than on what they read in their Bible
2. Where worship is characterized by unrestrained outbreaks of
a. E.g., rolling in the aisles
b. E.g., bursting out in unintelligible words
3. Such emotionalism...
a. Disobeys the scriptural admonition for worship in a decent
and orderly fashion - cf. 1 Co 14:40
b. Overlooks the warning: "He who trusts in his own heart is a
fool..." - Pro 28:26
1. In which there is a complete lack of emotion in worship and
a. Perhaps in reacting against emotionalism
b. Resulting in a "dead pan" attitude
c. Where songs are sung and sermons preached with little
reaction by those engaged
2. Such lack of "heartfelt" religion is contrary to what Jesus
a. Condemning a religion in which one's heart is far removed
from Him - Mt 15:7-8
b. Commending a love for God that involves the whole heart - Mt
[The tendency is to go from one extreme to another. Formalism can be
avoided by remembering...]
II. EMOTION HAS
A PROPER PLACE
A. EMOTION IS NECESSARY...
1. There is to be the emotion of love - 1 Pe 4:8; 1 Co 16:22
2. There is to be the emotion of hope - Ro 12:12
3. There is to be the emotion of joy - Ph 4:4
4. There is to be the emotion of sorrow - 2 Co 7:10
5. There is to be the emotion of hate - Pro 8:13
6. There is to be the emotion of fear - Mt 10:28
-- There is a place for emotion in the life of the Christian!
B. EMOTION MUST BE ROOTED IN THE WORD...
1. Scriptural emotions must be rooted in faith
a. Such faith comes by hearing the Word of God
b. This requires the use of our intellectual faculties
2. Notice how the Word of God is designed to stimulate emotion:
a. Reading of God's love, we should be moved to love - 1 Jn
b. Told of promises awaiting us, we are motivated to hope
- 1 Pe 1:3-4,13
c. Informed of Jesus' reconciling work, we are moved to rejoice
- Ro 5:10-11
d. Rebuked by the Word, it produces sorrow - 2 Co 7:8
e. Filled with knowledge, we come to hate certain things - Pro
of the warnings in Scriptures, we are moved to fear Reading
- He 10:25-27
-- Scriptural emotions are based upon the Word of God
C. EMOTION MUST PRODUCE THE PROPER FRUIT...
1. Scriptural emotions must bear fruit
a. The emotions evoked by Scripture are there for a purpose
b. Unless the proper fruit is borne, it is simply emotionalism
2. Notice the kind of fruit borne by scriptural emotions:
a. The emotion of love bears fruit in obedience - Jn 14:15;
1 Jn 5:3
b. The emotion of hope bears fruit in patience - Ro 8:24-25
c. The emotion of joy bears fruit in sacrifice - 2 Co 8:2-5
d. The emotion of sorrow bears fruit in repentance - 2 Co 7:10
e. The emotion of hate bears fruit in rejecting error - Psa
f. The emotion of fear bears fruit in departing from evil - Pro
-- Scriptural emotions will produce fruit in the life of the
[While formalism can be avoided by understanding the necessary and
proper for emotion in the life of the Christian, how does one avoid
emotionalism? One way is to remember...]
III. WHEN EMOTION BECOMES EMOTIONALISM
A. WHEN EMOTION BECOMES AN END TO ITSELF...
1. When people stress emotion for emotion's sake
2. When people forget that emotions are a means to an end
a. To motivate one to produce the proper fruit
b. The goal is not the emotions, but the fruit they are
intended to produce
-- If all we display is emotion, not bearing the proper fruit, we
are guilty of emotionalism!
B. WHEN EMOTION IS NOT BASED ON GOD'S WORD...
1. When one is led by the thoughts and intents of one's heart
a. Remember the warning of Pro 28:26
b. Consider also these warnings - Jer 17:9; Mk 7:21-23
2. Our emotions must be rooted in God's Word - cf. Pro 3:5
-- If our emotions are based upon anything other than the Word of
God, we are guilty of emotionalism!
C. WHEN EMOTION IS THE BASIS FOR YOUR FAITH...
1. When we allow feelings to dictate what we believe
2. Such as when a person...
a. Refuses to obey what we read in the Scriptures, because he
"feels" it should be different
b. Tries to change the meaning of a passage to support what he
"feels" is right
-- If our faith is based upon emotions, we are guilty of
1. The capacity to feel and express emotions is a wonderful gift from
a. It allows us to respond to the wonderful truths found in God's
b. It motivates to higher levels of service in response to God's Will
-- But like all good things, the capacity of emotion must be properly
2. To avoid both extremes of emotionalism and formalism...
a. Let our hearts be deeply moved by the Word of God
b. Let such emotion provoke us to bear the proper fruit God desires
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
- Ro 15:13
"THE PROBLEM OF ANXIETY"
1. Everyone is familiar with anxiety; it is a problem of epidemic
2. Yet as prevalent as it is, anxiety or worry is one of the most
counterproductive things we can do
a. Worry is like a rocking chair it will give you something to do,
but it won't get you anywhere
b. Worry is a fast getaway on a wooden horse
[How should the Christian approach the problem of worry? What can we do
about it? Perhaps by first...]
I. UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
A. WHAT IS ANXIETY?
1. Anxiety is distress about future uncertainties...
a. It is characterized by mental agitation and uneasiness
b. It may be mild or severe
2. It primarily has to do with what may happen in the future,
either near or distant
B. WHAT CAUSES ANXIETY?
1. Anxiety is caused by real or imagined threats to our well-
a. We feel vulnerable and inadequately protected against these
b. Threats such as social rejection, physical injury or
disease, poverty, death, and a wide range of other threats
2. Anxiety has three main elements...
a. Insecurity: something bad is going to happen
b. Helplessness: there is nothing I can do
c. Isolation: there is no one to help me
-- These causes may operate individually or in various
3. Emotionally, they cause just as much anxiety if they are
imagined as if they were real
[Anxiety is a form of fear, and must be recognized as such. With an
understanding of the problem, we are closer to...]
II. OVERCOMING THE PROBLEM
A. TRUST IN GOD...
1. The best remedy is to deal with the problem's causes, not just
2. What is the truth about insecurity, helplessness, and isolation
with regard to the Christian?
a. While the Christian may feel insecure, the reality is that
he is very secure - Pro 3:21-26; He 4:16
b. While the Christian may feel helpless, the reality is that
he has great help - Ro 8:31; cf. Psa 27:5
c. While the Christian may feel isolated, the reality is that
God is always at his side - Psa 23:4; Mt 28:20; He 13:5,6
3. The remedy for anxiety is complete trust and confidence in
God's ability to deal with anything that threatens us - Isa
40:31; Jn 14:1; Ph 4:13; cf. Deu 31:7,8; Ro 8:31
a. The more we learn about God, the more we know His infinite
power and His concern for us - 1 Pe 5:6,7
b. The avenue of prayer is open to the Christian to request
God's - 1 Jn 5:14
c. God has promised peace of mind to those who are willing to
commit their anxieties to Him - Jn 16:33; Ph 4:6,7; 1 Pe
B. TAKE THESE PRACTICAL STEPS...
1. Read the Bible
a. Committing ourselves to God's safekeeping requires that we
grow in our knowledge of God and love for Him
b. Thus, the most important thing we can do is study the
Scriptures, pray, and meditate on God's promises to His
faithful people - Ro 15:4
2. Be realistic
a. Peace of mind does not depend on solving all the problems,
righting all the wrongs, removing all the imperfections, or
getting all we want - cf. Ecc 8:16-17
b. Some things will not change and we need to be realistic
enough to accept that
1) There are problems that have no solutions
2) There are situations that must simply be lived through
3) The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to
overlook (William James) - cf. Pro 19:11
c. Realistic knowledge of our own limitations ought to cause us
to relax and slow down
1) Besides the noble art of getting things done is the noble
art of leaving things undone
2) The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of
d. We must learn to let go of some problems and allow the Lord
to be in charge of them - 1 Pe 5:7; cf. Pro 3:5,6
3. Be flexible
a. Change is inevitable; we have got to be resilient,
adaptable, adjustable - cf. Ph 4:11-12
b. Under stress, if we can't bend, we will surely break
c. Our faith must be in Him who changes not
d. There are some changes we ought to resist without
compromise; wisdom can tell us when to change and when to
hold our ground
4. Focus on the good cares, minimize the unnecessary ones
a. In the Bible, cares can be either good or bad
1) Good - 1 Co 12:25; 2 Co 11:28; Ph 2:20
2) Bad - Mt 13:22; Ph 4:6; 1 P 5:7
b. We tend to become distracted by many relatively unimportant
cares, and don't care enough about the things we ought to
- Mt 13:22
c. When the mind is distracted by many pursuits, it derives but
little benefit from any of them
d. Really only one thing is necessary - Lk 10:41,42; cf. Mt 6:
5. Learn to live one day at a time
a. Proper use of today diminishes anxiety about tomorrow - cf.
1) Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its worries and
sorrows; it only empties today of its strengths
2) Worry is the interest paid on trouble before it falls due
b. Many, if not most, of our fears will turn out to be
1) Winston Churchill said on his deathbed that he had a lot
of trouble in his life, most of which never happened
2) In headaches and in worry vaguely life leaks away, and
Time will have his fancy tomorrow or today (W. H. Auden)
6. Stay busy
a. Anxiety and idleness often go hand-in-hand
1) Despair is a form of laziness
2) Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the
daytime, and too sleepy to worry at night
b. Much good can be accomplished, even in adverse
circumstances, if we will quit concentrating on what cannot
be done and do what CAN be done
1) Don't waste time in doubts and fears; spend yourself in
the work before you, well assured that the right
performance of this hour's duties will be the best
preparation for the hours or ages that follow it (Ralph
2) Our great business in life is not to see what lies dimly
at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand
c. There is no tranquilizer as effective as the knowledge that
we have done our best and there is no pillow as soft as a
7. Learn contentment
a. A lesson Paul had learned - Ph 4:11-13
1) We need to be able to rejoice in the Lord, which we can
do if we continually count our blessings - Ph 4:4,6
2) The Christian ought to be able to see the silver lining
in the darkest cloud
b. The discontented Christian may lose his soul because of it
- 1 Ti 6:6-8; He 13:5,6
1) Anxiety often comes from having too much, rather than too
little - Ecc 5:12
2) Our wealth depends not so much on what we have, as what
we can do without
c. When a problem produces anxiety within us, the very best
thing we can do than bathe the problem in two things:
reverence and gratitude
1. The Christian is given the means to deal with anxiety...
a. Peace that comes through prayer - cf. Ph 4:6-7
b. Reassuring confidence from trusting in God - cf. Psa 23:1-6
2. Whenever the feelings of insecurity, helplessness, and isolation
a. Focus on putting your trust in God
b. Read the Bible, be realistic, be flexible, focus on the good
cares, minimize the unnecessary ones, learn to live one day at a
time, stay busy, and learn contentment
Note: The main idea and several thoughts from this lesson were taken
from a lesson by Gary Henry. The URL for his web site containing many
excellent articles and sermon outlines is: http://www.brasstacks.org