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3 Ways to Fight Depression and Anxiety

By Debi Russell

Many people struggle with seasons of being down or being anxious and wonder what they can do to feel better. And while there are wonderful tools such as counseling and medication that can be a huge relief for those who need them, there are also some basic but biblical steps anyone can take to fight back when you sense you do not feel quite "normal."

1. Cultivate gratitude in your daily life. 

First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to "Be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances—for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." We all can choose to be grateful for our restored relationship with God, the life He gave us and His word to guide us—no matter what the circumstances are today. But beyond that, learning to see the abundant gifts God gives each of us every day, is a skill to develop.

Keeping a gratitude journal to write down blessings is a practice that will shape your heart to focus more on what is good, than what is not. Whatever we focus on expands, and gratitude enters both pain and comfort redirecting our focus upward on what God is doing instead of outward on what life looks like today. 

2. Connect in meaningful ways with others. 

We were created in God's image and a huge part of who we are as people then is relational beings. God, within the Trinity, models living in connection to others. We cannot live isolated and independent lives without it harming our spirits and our health. We need to connect in ways that allow us to know and be known, love and be loved—not simply socializing around people.

Community groups are a great way to begin making deeper connections, as is serving together. Praying for others needs during the week, then following up with them to ask how they are doing is another step to feel closeness. Asking someone to come over for a meal in your home is yet another way to become more vulnerable and known which invites friends into closer relationships. 

3. Challenge unhealthy and untruthful thinking. 

We all need to "take our thoughts captive" on a regular basis as the lies our culture teaches and even how our life experiences have enforced them, can derail us. Filling our mind with truth from God's word is critical. Psalm 1 discusses meditating on God's word day and night leading to a thriving life. We all have distortions—ways we think that are not accurate.

All-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, fear of man, mind reading others, minimizing our sin—all these are thinking problems. You can challenge thoughts (which then lead to feelings) by asking—does this line up with God's word? Is this the only way of looking at this situation? Could I be missing something here? What would I say to a friend in this situation? Also, talking with a friend, mentor or counselor can be so helpful in untwisting patterns of thinking learned in childhood and in times of great pain (both vulnerable states). 

Certainly there are times when these three steps will not be all that is needed or best for someone struggling with depression or anxiety, as those issues are complicated and have a physical component that may require medical evaluation, and there is no shame in seeking help! 

But these three steps do push us all toward greater spiritual and emotional health, and for many of us, will be helpful in redirecting our minds and hearts toward balance and joy.

Posted by Debi Russell with

Who Are You in the Crowd?

By Joel Polk

An important event for men is coming up in a few days. This Saturday (October 21st from 7:30-9:00 am) we will meet at the church building for breakfast. This is for all men—whether you’re at City or not.

For some time now the elders at City Church have had the desire to see the men of our church growing closer to Christ while at the same time growing closer to each other. We’ve seen the excitement generated from the Women’s Conference at City recently and are incredibly hopeful that there’s a movement in our church coming among our men as well. We see them joining together and taking on the challenge of being the men God has called them to be.

There are so many men at City that love, lead, teach, and serve the people in our church. But unfortunately a great number of other men can justifiably be considered as passive in terms of things of Christ and His church. They’re content with sitting back and observing rather than actively loving and serving their family and their church. 

And this is radically different from what the Bible calls us to be as disciples of Christ. My mind immediately goes to Luke 14:25-35 that describes Jesus’ teachings and the crowds that had gathered to hear Him Speak. This passage is included in a broad collection of teachings that Jesus gives on His journey to Jerusalem. But this section is the entry point into a theme of discipleship and the radical calling to it.

The passage trails the parable of the great banquet, which highlights God’s kingdom and the need to respond to its arrival. To avoid misunderstandings that might have resulted from the teachings of the parable, it’s followed with conditions for its membership. These followers, though extremely enthusiastic, were very unaware of Jesus journey to the cross. The crowd most likely had been following Him because of the miracles He had performed. In Luke 7:14-15 we read Jesus raising the widow’s dead son to life and in 9:12-17 Jesus feeding the five thousand. It’s also possible that the large following might be due to Jesus’ rebuking of the authorities in Luke 13:15-17. Whatever the reasons were Jesus was a popular guy and everyone wanted to see Him for themselves.

But when Jesus has the crowd’s attention He presented them some pretty radical requirements for being one of His disciples.

 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

Jesus is saying that our love for Christ must be so strong that all other love appears as hatred in comparison. He goes on to say that we must be willing to die to self, and in submission and slavery, commit yourself in obedience to Jesus Christ. And then He closes this passage by giving two stories that illuminate the importance of evaluating the costs of being a disciple of Christ—what you’ll have to give up to follow Him. 

We can infer from this text that though large crowds gathered, and some even professed allegiance to Christ, most of them did it for the wrong reasons and were completely ignorant of these costs that were involved.

I now wonder how many in our own church are content with being mere observers in the crowd—not willing to take up their cross, forsaking everything else for the cause of Christ. This challenge and call is as much for me as it is for any man, so I’ll include myself when I ask the following question: Are you allowing yourself to be vulnerable for the sake of Christ—letting Him use you as you love and serve your family and the church, or are you just hanging around waiting to see another miracle?

As this passage reminds us, the decision to pledge your life to Jesus is one of great importance and must be entered into with serious reflection. Those that don’t understand the liberating force behind giving up all things and following Christ might view Christianity as a burden, but if you know what you are committing to and understand the eternal benefits of being co-heirs of the kingdom of Heaven with Christ (see Romans 8:17), you’ll know there’s no greater blessing and there’s no cost too great.

You see, Jesus continued to make His way toward Jerusalem. The crowd most likely followed, some without any kind of objective. Jesus, however, He had an objective. 

Men—please join me Saturday as we learn together how to be active participant and disciples of Christ in the mission He has given to us.

Posted by Joel Polk with
Tags: jesus, manhood, men

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