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Archive for April 16th, 2013

Scott_Stuart_counseling

 

Dr. Stuart Scott is best known for his book titled, “Exemplary Husband.”  He is a professor of Biblical counseling who taught at The Master’s College, The Master’s Seminary, Boyce College and currently at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The following is his lectures in a course on Pastoral Counseling at The Master’s Seminary.  What a wonderful resource!

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Depression

I decided to read this book because it is germane to our marathon week, which deals with biblical counseling and psychology.  Without further ado, this is perhaps the best book I have read so far that is in relation to the topic of depression.

There were a few obstacles in the beginning of the book.  For example,  I was somewhat confused while reading the first chapter when he partitioned depression into three categories: mild depression, moderate depression, and severe depression.  I was scratching my head for a while; and was thinking whether the author believes that the first two types of depression was okay or not in one’s life.  However, I came to an understanding later when the author said in the latter part of the book that he is in no way advocating depression.  It would of helped much if he clarified it earlier so that it would help prevent people to not strictly begin making a parallel with “sadness” to depression.  We know that the Bible makes a clear indication that there is a time to weep and grieve.  As a result, sadness is not the same as depression.  The author clarifies his point in page 69,

We should note here that ‘sorrow’ is not the same as ‘depression.’  In the midst of painful circumstances, there is nothing wrong with a Christian grieving and sorrowing.  But in the midst of that pain, we must never be utterly cast down and dejected.  We must never become hopeless and pessimistic.”

Before I do a brief review of each chapter, I would like to point out a few helpful resources in the book.  What I really appreciated about this book are the “questions for discussion and application” and the “graphs.”  Those two components were helpful.  While reading the book, I was better able to retain the information when spending some time carefully analyzing the graphs and the questions.  It allowed to me to retain the main points of each chapter better.  I can’t wait to use those main points with those I am discipling and counseling.  I believe it will benefit the body tremendously.

What’s it Like to be Depressed?  Defining and Describing the ProblemThis chapter describes the universal problem of depression in the sense that it effects many people.  It does not discriminate against race, age, status, etc.  One area I really valued about this chapter was its clarification of depression.  For example, the author describes that in a majority of cases, depression is a spiritual problem, but there are a few cases where depression maybe caused by a physical disease that happens only on a minority of cases.  In other words, depression can be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer; to name a few (Please see The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference).

Also since the author makes reference to Jesus in many occasions as a “man of sorrows,” Wayne Mack is no way saying that Jesus was depressed.  Although Jesus experienced sorrow, weariness, discouragement, and disappointment over the effects of sin in the lives of others and in the world – as the author puts it, Jesus did not “allow Himself to be controlled by these feelings” (5).  He was sinless and perfect, unlike humans who cave into the dangers of depression.

In this chapter, he also focuses on describing mild and moderate depression.  What helped and brought clarity were his examples from the Bible such as Asaph (Psalm 73), Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:1-20), and the psalmist (Psalm 42-43).

What’s it Like to be REALLY Depressed?:

Here in chapter 2, the author provides a detail explanation of severe depression.  He describes it as “utter hopelessness” (15).  He further defines it as

It is a permanent spirit of heaviness or gloom that affects, controls, and dominates every area of a person’s life” (15).

Severe depression according to the author can be found in Psalm 32, 38, 1 Kings 19:3-10.  These men: David and Elijah were godly men who experienced depression.  Their depression is described with some death imageries.

One other point the author included in this chapter that was very helpful in describing depression was his example of Paul when quoting 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.  Paul says,

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairingpersecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (NASB).

Paul’s description of what does not happen to him and others who are obedient to God is a good description of what happens to others who are depressed (21).  The words in red provides the contrast.

On another note, when you put depression together, it affects the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of oneself.  He goes in greater detail in the book.

Why Do People Get Depressed?:

The general biblical perspectives on the causes of depression need to taken into account when dealing with depression.  What are some of the “general biblical perspectives?”  Here is how the author puts it:

First, the experience of any kind of depression (mild, moderate or severe) is only possible in a fallen world.

Second, depression is the only logical, rationality consistent result of living without God.

Third, deliverance from depression – which is one of the possible effects of the fall into sin – is made possible through the redeeming work (justification and sanctification) of Jesus Christ and the regeneration (new birth and continual work) of the Holy Spirit in us.

Fourth, experiential deliverance from depression (and other effects of sin) is not an automatic result of the regeneration and redemption that begins at salvation.

Fifth, because we all still struggle with indwelling sin, it is possible for believers to experience all three kinds of depression.

Sixth, believers can look forward to a time when they will experience complete and continuous deliverance from all sin and all problems, including all kinds of depression.”

Besides the general biblical perspectives concerning depression, the author also narrowed things down to three specific causes to depression (37).  The three causes are:

  • One’s refusal to deal with sin
  • One’s mishandling of a difficult event
    • One major talking point is the notion of separating ocassion from cause.  It must be understood that depression is not a result of a event, but the person’s response to an event in their life.  The formula that the author uses is: EVENT + INTERPRETATION=RESPONSE.
  • One’s unbiblical standards and values

Getting Out of the Blues-Biblical Principles:

Chapter 4 is primarily a reiteration of the three causes mentioned prior:

  • One’s refusal to deal with sin.
    • Because of one’s failure to deal with sin, which can lead to depression, the individual must:
      • Specifically identify and acknowledge the sins and failures that are at the root of one’s struggle.
      • Use Scripture as the standard to determine right and wrong.
      • Understand the serious nature of sin according to Scripture.
      • Understand what genuine repentance is (2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Psalm 51).
      • Understand the basis for God’s forgiveness which is given by God’s grace through faith (Romans 1:17; Ephesians 1:7;  2:8-9).
      • Confess sins to anyone who has been directly hurt by us (James 5:16a).
      • Have a committed mentality to mortify sin on a daily basis (Proverbs 28:13).
      • Substitute godly habits for bad habits/replace ungodly with godly habits.
      • Learn from your failures by avoiding and fleeing from the temptations that eventually lead to sin (2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Corinthians 6:18).
      • Take Paul’s admonition to forget what is behind and press forward to what God has for us ahead (Philippians 3:13-14).
  • One’s mishandling of a difficult event.
    • Because of one’s mishandling of a difficult event, which can lead to depression, the individual must:
      • Have a right relationship with God (Gospel needs to be the motivation)
      • Obey God.
  • One’s unbiblical standards and values.
    • Because of one’s unbiblical standards and values, which can lead to depression, the individual must:
      • Seek relation with God (Psalm 42:1-2, “As the deer pants for the water brooks,/So my soul pants for You, O God./My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;/When shall I come and appear before God” (NASB)?
      • Develop a candid communication with God (Psalm 139:2b, 4).
      • Learn to talk to yourself based upon what you learned from Scripture rather than listen to yourself which can lead you astray (Psalm 42:5, “Why are you in despair, O my soul?
        And why have you become disturbed within me?
        Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
        For the help of His presence” (NASB).
      • Focus dominantly on facts, not feelings (Psalm 42:8)
      • Understand that you have a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and know that you are not helpless (1 Corinthians 10:13).
      • See the present in light of your future in Christ, not your future in Christ in light of the present.
      • Learn to be a patient person and know the implications when one is not patient.
      • Reflect on a holistic view of God’s attributes (i.e. justice, holiness, love, omnipresence, omniscience, immutability, sovereignty, etc.).

Getting Out of the Blues – Biblical Examples:

Chapter 5 provides excellent examples of the biblical characters in the Bible as to how they waged war against depression.  One thing that these men had in common that we can learn from them is that they loved God and feared Him.  They had an encounter with God.  We have an encounter with God through His Word and in prayer.

  • Asaph (Psalm 77)
  • Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:21-30)
  • David (Psalm 42-23)

Loneliness or Lovely-less?:

This is a great chapter that goes into great detail concerning the pros and cons of loneliness.  Loneliness is another factor that can lead to depression.  Here are the author’s main points in order to wage war against loneliness that can lead to depression:

  • Loneliness: A Common Experience
  • Loneliness: A Painful Experience
  • Loneliness: A Destructful Experience
  • Loneliness: A Problem with a Solution
  • The Causes of Loneliness:
    • A deficient relationship with God
    • A transient type of life that we all have
    • The nature of one’s responsibilities in life
    • One’s sins and failures
  • God’s Solution for the problem of loneliness
    • Accept the reality of the unavoidable (John 16:33; Isaiah 43:1-2).  All of will experience some amount of loneliness.
    • Rejoice in the benefits that results in loneliness.  It will stretch your walk with God (James 1:2-4).
    • Know God better by developing an intimate relationship with your Creator.  What helps as the author puts it: “practice the presence of God” in your life.
    • Put off/put on by identifying and eliminating the bad attitudes and deeds that brings about loneliness and endeavor to develop the attitudes and deeds that brings about good relationships.
    • Apply what you learn.  One way to help you achieve that is by getting a concordance and find the passages that deals with our responsibilities to other people.  Use that as your devotional time.

Questions and Answers About Depression:

Chapter is one of my favorite chapters, because the author list down the major or very significant questions related to depression.  Some of the questions are great because they are the controversial ones or the types of questions that seems to be confusing to many.  And he addresses them so that the counselor or counselee will have a better idea of how to approach it biblically and confidently.

In this section, some of the questions that has to do with whether one is diagnosed with depression; is depression a mental illness; is there genetic tendency toward depression, can a physical defect or deficiency if found, be the cause of depression; what is the difference between a disorder and a disease as it relates to depression? etc.

Additional Notes for the Counselor:

Here in chapter 8, the author provides helpful resources to use when counseling a depressed counselee.  This section covers the physical area of the person’s life, the theological area of the person’s life, the cognitive area of the person’s life, the relational area of the person’s life, the motivational area of the person’s life, questions for the counselor, and a case study for discussion and application.

Conclusion:

I hope and pray that this book or other biblical materials related to this essential topic will encourage you to seek Christ even more if you are experiencing depression or not experiencing depression.

There are a myriad of negative things going around in the world.  This year alone, in this nation, we have seen much violence and death such as the Aurora mass shooting, Sandy Hook mass shooting, the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon; and the numerous amount of suicides that have been going on in this nation.  You do not have to look far to see what is going on.  Just look at your communities, read the newspaper, watch the news, or listen to the radio.  Hope can only be found in Christ.

I pray that God will equip you and grant you wisdom to be effective ministers that will reach out to the lost and hurting.

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