Up and Down

1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
– Psalm 121 (KJV)

Wake up.

Get up.

Look up!

Cast down the chains that bind you – the fears, the doubts, the dares and worries, the lies of the enemy… Cast them off and turn your heart’s gaze upward!

Look up.

Step up.

Open up.

This isn’t merely a talk to pep you up. It is from Above that our help comes.

Ditch the doubt. Trust in the LORD. When life is looking up. When circumstances are looking down. In all things, do not be complacent in your faith.

Look up!

Help For Those Who Do Not Struggle With Anxiety and Depression

Whether you realize it or not, you most likely know somebody who suffers from clinical depression and anxiety.  Not only that, my guess is that person may very well be taking – gasp! – meds to help calm their jittery nerves and lift their down emotions.

It’s funny (funny odd, not funny ha-ha) that many Christians freeze up in discomfort when they hear somebody say they have anxiety and depression.  We know how to handle people who are ill with cancer or any number of physical ailments.  But when it comes to emotional illnesses…

I don’t believe the inability of many Christians to connect comfortably with depressed / anxious individuals comes from any malice or lack of love.  The discomfort is deeply rooted in simply not knowing what to say or what to do.  So much of what we do to comfort a physically ill person doesn’t translate well when reaching out to someone suffering an emotional illness.  I understand.  We depressed / anxious people can be tricky to deal with, especially when we’re in the throes of a prolonged panic attack or episode of depression. 

How do you reach out to someone who is hurting so bad on the inside and yet, most likely, just wants to draw inward in the hopes that the pain will go away and the nerves will soothe and the black will brighten?  Let me help you to help us.

First and foremost, relax.  It isn’t your job to fix anybody.  You are (most likely) not a counselor or therapist or psychologist.  Understand that the onus of healing is not upon you.  None of us can fix ourselves, let alone anybody else.

However, you can love.  And love – sometimes tender, sometimes tough – is what we need.  Not coddling, but reassurance.  You see, those of us who deal with these things understand all too well the stigma that comes with anything some in the church view as “weak.”  Don’t immediately assume that someone who is depressed or anxious is paying some penance for an undisclosed sin.  Judge not, lest ye be judged.

But understand that we often feel marginalized by our brothers and sisters in Christ (no matter how unintentional).  We feel your discomfort.  And it drives us further into ourselves.  What we need, when we are roughly sailing life’s choppy waters, is understanding.  And reassurance.  And love.  We need someone to comfort us, tell us we’re not crazy (we’re not, by the way).  Speak God’s truth to us because, frankly, times like this often rattle our faith as well as our nerves, making prayer difficult (if not impossible). 

Realize that, despite how irrational it may seem to you (and, when we can look at our situation objectively, to us as well), anxiety and depression makes us feel like our boat is sinking.  Instead of pouring water on a drowning man, grab a bucket and help us right the boat.  Do it with compassion.  Pray with us.  Be there.

Be there

Understand that, yes, what we’re thinking and feeling is most likely irrational.  And you cannot rationalize an irrational situation.  But you can comfort.  You can be salt and light.  You can help draw us out of our worrisome shells.  You can help calm our fears. You can understand how lonely and isolated depression and anxiety makes one feel (after all, who wants to bring down the people around them with all their troubles?).

You can genuinely love people who deal with anxiety and depression, remembering the definition of love: 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 [ESV]

Remember, you don’t have to fix anybody.  What we deal with is an ailment no different that any physical disease (and regardless of what triggers the episode).  We just need to be understood.  We just need love.  We just need reminded that we are loved and someone is there for us.

And, really, can you think of any human being who doesn’t need these things?

I Am Not Sinatra

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Psalm 3:5-6 (ESV)

How much do you trust God? I heard a pastor comment that true joy comes through trusting God. When our faith is so strong that we realize that nothing – nothing – happens without God knowing in advance, and remember that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV), then we discover true joy and peace in our lives.

Circumstances shrink in importance because we realize God is in control. Not us. And He loves us. And He has a plan for each of our lives. And we need not fear anything or anyone, for God is our refuge, our strength, our joy, our rest… our salvation!

Anyone who believes themselves to be a “self-made” individual is only fooling themselves. Nothing happens that God does not allow. Nor does anything just happen. There is no chance or luck.

Sinatra may have claimed to do things “my way”, but none of us is truly in control. Besides, it is best to trust God, rest in Him, seek The Lord always. Seek Him in all things at all times.


This morning at Bible study, my brother and friend Phil and I were talking about obedience to Christ. You see, in Romans 1, Paul tells us we are to called to be saints. That is quite a calling! Literally we are required to be holy and venerable. Impossible, right?

Not when we are obedient to The Lord. And the key to obedience is not works. It is love. It is recognizing Who God is, what Jesus did on the cross for we who do not deserve His grace and mercy, and being faithful because of Who God is, not what He can do for us.

Obedience flows not from an obligation but from a heart go gratitude, because we trust God. After all, He is… well… God!

None of us is perfect. There will be times of struggle. There will times of failure. But, let me ask… where is your heart? Do you consciously strive to be a man/woman after God’s own heart? When we love The Lord, we want to follow Him. We want to please Him. We want to obey Him because He is God, and He is good, and He has only our best interests at heart.

Trust in God leads us to obedience. Love for Christ bends our hearts toward Him. Seek Him first.

When I Am Afraid…

When I Am Afraid

by Chris Courtney

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” – Psalm 56:3

One of the most astounding aspects of God is how unpredictable He is.  Just when you expect Him to act a certain way, He doesn’t.  When God speaks, one anticipates the rumble of thunder.  But, just as forcefully, He sometimes speaks with a silence so loud it is almost deafening.

Jesus warned us that in this life we would have troubles, and He sure wasn’t joking.  Sometimes we get so caught up steering around life’s flotsam and jetsam that all we can see is the wreckage around us.  It’s easy to stare overwhelmed at our problems, twisting our brains into knots trying to figure things out or beating ourselves up with “what ifs” and “if onlys” and “now whats”.

Times of trouble can be anxious and lonely.  But, as David knew all too well, we have a place of refuge from life’s storms, safety from our enemy, refreshment from fear and worry and doubt. 

David put his trust in God.  The circumstances didn’t matter.  And they don’t with us either.  Did David bring on some of his troubles himself?  Absolutely.  And so do we.  Did David bring all of his troubles on himself?  Absolutely not.  And neither do we.  Either way, the answer is the same: run to God.  Seek Him out.  Ask Him to put it all to right.  Trust Him to do whatever needs done, whether it is a change of heart or direction or plans or circumstances. 

Whatever you are facing, God knows.  God understands.  If you need to be corrected, go to Him.  If you need to be protected, go to Him.  None of us is perfect.  But all who seek Christ and ask for forgiveness receive it.  All who are fearful can find peace. No person and no situation are beyond hope, beyond repair.  There is nothing so big, bad and ugly that God cannot handle it.

 (c) 2014 by Chris Courtney.  All rights reserved. 

Please share this piece with others.  It is my prayer that these words bring peace and hope to as many as possible through Jesus Christ.

Please visit the Bouville Diarist at http://www.bouvillediarist.wordpress.com


A Peek Between My Ears (Proceed With Caution)

Lord, please show me what you would have me write. Give me the words that will bless people and bring them great joy and comfort all to your glory. Guide me as I type. Thank you Lord!

Now… before I start writing I better check my email. Ooh! Amazon Kindle daily deals… A Short History of Walrus Hunting in Tanzania for $1.99? I’ll probably never read it, but I gotta buy it.

Did I turn off the dryer before I left?

I really should have stuck with an iced tea today.

Hmm… wonder who’s on Facebook today… Hey! Darla made a casserole last night using cream of chicken soup instead of cream of mushroom. Daryl’s still doing the same Sudoku puzzle from two weeks ago. Give it up Darman… Wait! What’s this? “I don’t know you but I think you are my friend and as my friend you will agree that postal workers in Scotland deserve clean drinking water. If you agree that postal workers in Scotland deserve clean drinking water and you are my friend (and, you must
be my friend because we are Facebook friends and we agree that postal workers in Scotland deserve clean drinking water), then copy and paste this post to your profile for one hour.” Well… who could be against Scottish postal workers drinking clean water? Besides, this guy was in my second cousin’s first grade class back in 1974, so…

Eight-track tapes… worst idea ever. Had to sit through two songs you didn’t like to hear half the song you did – half because that’s the track the record company split between the end of track three and the start of track four so they could fit the whole album on one tape, even though they completely shuffled and wrecked the running order of the album to try to accomplish the same thing…

Did I pay the water bill?

What’s the weather going to be today? Ugh… humid again. High in the 80’s, chance of snow tonight. What a weird year…

I really ought to consider that time management training… But I don’t have time. Ha ha! I wonder if that would be considered irony or just humor…

News… Gotta know what’s going on. Let’s see… politics, war, plane crash, war, disease, war, famine, war, North Korea – how does he get his hair to stand up like that? – hate groups, war, Bay City Rollers reunion tour (probably the only original band member is the drummer), war, illegal immigrants, war, food poisoning… hold up! Taylor Swift cures Ebola!

Did I turn off the stove?

Did I pay the water bill?

I should have never signed up for that tap dancing in cleats class. Who has time for that?

Ding! New email. Better check… nope, not buying anymore miracle hair growth products.

Oh, my eyes hurt… need to divert my gaze off this screen and look out the window for awhile. Wow… why do they keep building all these mini-malls?Half of the ones they built two years ago are still empty.

Did I pay the water bill? Surely I paid the water bill.

Is she really wearing a sweater? It’s eighty degrees out already! Looks like she wrestled the skin off a live alpaca…


Facebook again. Hey! Look at that little cutie. What a sweetie. Yeah, he definitely doesn’t like split pea and guava baby food. At least that looks like split pea and guava… Hmmm… Whoa! A link to an animal video on YouTube. Wow! I didn’t know a monkey could do that. Scroll down… great googly moogly, look at all these links to funny animal videos… Wow! I didn’t know a kitten could do that. Wow! I didn’t know a llama could that. Wow! I didn’t know a parrot could do that. Wait, what’s that guy doing juggling a chainsaw, a tuning fork and a live ferret while hood surfing on a 1967 Ford Fairlane at 70mph wearing a sombrero… Ouch! Dude… that’s gonna leave a mark. I didn’t know a sombrero could do that. Wait… yep, it left a mark.

What time is it? No! Not already! Time goes so fast… why can’t I get any writing done?

Breaking Free

I have to admit… I feel a little naughty. It’s 7:40 Sunday morning. And I’m not at home getting ready for church. Instead, I am seated at one of my favorite Caribous, writing.

And it feels… freeing.

Now, before anyone panics and thinks I have led my family to forsake the gathering of the brethren, relax. We still do church. We even do it on Sunday! We have simply decided our best spiritual course is to break from tradition.

Traditions can be wonderful touchstones to our past, connections that help anchor us to something greater. But every tradition was once a revolution, or at least a break from what used to be the tradition.

I love tradition. There is a comfortable feeling I get when I slide into an old wood pew and grab the red hymnal, turning as instructed to hymn 271, first and third verses only. There is a beautiful resonance to the upright piano and the somewhat off-key church choir singing with such heart that I cannot help but think this heartfelt, joyful noise is very pleasing to God. Likewise, I believe the Lord finds pleasure in many of the worship choruses and praise bands that are now the new tradition.

But the problem with tradition is the narrowing of focus it can bring. I find it alarming to hear pastors and other Christians who deride open minded ness with statements about being so open minded that your brains might fall out. Had the first believers not been open minded enough to see Christ, how hopeless would we be today?

Tradition can, if driven to the point of closed mindedness, splinter and divide, instead of pulling us together as it should (after all, we are all the body of Christ?). I really do not want to raise my little boy to be a follower of Apollos or Paul or Cephas. I want him to follow Christ and Him alone.

Again, this is not an anti- church message. Far from it. I would strongly urge anybody who is not an active part of a community of believers to get connected. Be it a large mega church or a small home fellowship, hook in. Connect. Engage. Join a small group or life group or whatever your church calls it’s house groups. Go where you feel led by God. Just don’t get so bound up by tradition that the heart of Christianity is hardened. Legalism squelches the Spirit.

So… as for me and my, we will serve The Lord. We will not forget the importance of community but, rather, will continue to embrace it wholeheartedly. But we are also choosing to worship outside the box, because that is where we feel led by God.

Sufficiency of Grace

Today I find myself basking in 2 Corinthians 12:9. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

What a powerful promise! The need for self sufficiency melts away in the wonder of these words. I can remove the worry component from every aspect of my life because my weakness is the canvas upon which God creates miracles.

God’s grace is the result of a His great agape love for us, His children. He is our all powerful, all-wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father. His understanding of our condition goes infinitely beyond our cap it to understand ourselves – or anything else for that matter.

But it isn’t only God’s ability to help us that matters here. It is His willingness. As Jesus points out in Luke 11:11, what father, when asked by his child for bread, would hand him a stone instead? Or if asked for a fish would give him a scorpion? (My son, being seven, would probably prefer the scorpion. I am not getting him one.)

God is our Father, and He tends to the needs of His children. That doesn’t mean He spoils us by fulfilling our every earthly desire. No, He gives us what we need. And, often times, we confuse our wants for our needs.

Paul wanted Jesus to remove the thorn from his side. But God had a purpose for that thorn. And, while uncomfortable and painful, the eternal pain of removing it would have been greater, for the thorn served a purpose.

So often we pray to God – even beg – for the removal our thorns. And, indeed, sometimes He does.

And sometimes, He doesn’t.

At least not immediately.

What we need more than the healing is usually the strength – God’s strength that perfects and completes His work through our weakness and frailty. And, as with all things pertaining to God, this is not merely for our benefit, but for the hope of those around us, who see us basking in His mercy and grace and strength despite our hardships, hurts and helpless conditions.

Today I find myself resting on His grace, seeking His strength. This peace is found through faith, not circumstances. It is that peace that passes all our understanding. It makes no sense to the world, but is utterly sensible to believers who embrace God and take His Word as truth.

Find God’s strength by faith through His grace. Run your race. God is your endurance. Be strong. Be hopeful. Don’t let your expectations box God into a corner. Seek. Ask. Knock. Believe. Rejoice. Rejoice!