My Battle Plan against Depression, first steps

Sword Spiritual Warfare2 Corinthians 1:8-10: 8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.

I have been looking into spiritual warfare a lot lately. I have also been reflecting on my inward struggles and have decided to draw up a battle plan. My biggest inward struggle is against the depression and anxiety that try to control the rest of me. It has been since I can remember. I am at a much better place than I once was. The biggest current struggle now, is that the serotonin-deprived parts of my brain are trying to convince me that it’s not worth exercising or stretching every day. It’ll tire me out and prevent me from getting anything else done today. It might get better for a little while, but then one slip up, and I’ll be right back where I started. It’s almost Thanksgiving, when we’ll be flying back to Minnesota. Car rides and flights always set me back. Why bother? This is a lie I have struggled with for FAR too long.

This spiritual battle wages because we are given the power to overcome sin’s grasps when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. There is no battle when there is no opposing side. The Spirit of God brings us to life spiritually, but we still live in these bodies of flesh that still have a sinful nature. Thus, the battles rages—but victory is assured because we are in Christ! (Matthew 26:41; Romans 7:14-20; Galatians 6:16-17)

In Genesis 4, Cain gets angry that God didn’t look upon him and his sacrifices with favor as God did with his brother, Abel. God addresses it in verses 6 and 7: “6 Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’” God tells us to fight against sinful feelings! These feelings of depression and anxiety? THEY DON’T CONTROL ME!

Isaiah 53:4-5: “4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for out transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Here, we discover that Jesus went to the cross for our body, soul, and spirit. His suffering was not just for our soul’s salvation, but the HEALING of our soul, as well! He brings us peace—because not only are our sins on that cross, but so are EMOTIONS, FEELINGS, and everything we can imagine! Frustrated? Nail it to the cross. Depressed? Nail it to the cross. Anxious? It’s on the cross!

I know these are a lot of scriptures, but these battle plans need more than just words of mine. You see, the word of God is the sword of the spirit. And with the faith that we receive by reading these verses of truth, we can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16-17). I shall continue.

The very first scripture I wrote was a time when Paul was depressed. So depressed that he despaired of life itself. In 1 Kings 19:3-4, we see Elijah when he is depressed. “3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom brush, sat down under it, and prayed he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” Here, we see Elijah in isolation. Depression THRIVES on isolation. Shame is in the driver’s seat when depression shows up. “I am no better than my ancestors who died in the desert before seeing the Promised Land. Kill me, too!” That sounds an awful lot like what I said earlier in this post: It’s not worth exercising. I’ll just go backwards, anyway. I’ll just have this disability forever. Ahh!

How do I fight this? I need to focus on God changing ME instead of what’s around me. In Matthew 14, Jesus is walking on the water, and Peter asks to be called out, too. Picking up in verse 30: “But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.” Peter didn’t pray for the storm to stop, he prayed, “Lord, do a work in me! Reach down and rescue me!” – THEN, the storm stopped! I’m not going to wait until I get miraculously better or I “feel like” exercising or stretching. I can’t keep praying that I’ll “feel like” exercising and stretching more. I just need to DO IT. Because I know that when I take a step, God will be there to guide it. Peter walked on the water until he saw his circumstances and got scared. I’ve been scared too long.

I talked a lot about exercising and stretching for my MS in this post, which is definitely something I need to be doing. I have been dealing with a lot of other lies that this battle plan will help to eliminate. The first step of what I need to do is to straighten all these things out in my mind. Actions are the follow through of thoughts, and I need to start there. Instead of praying that I’ll get more work and that it will pick up, how about I start doing the work I have better? It all starts in my mind.

“…But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9b-10).

Resources: “The Depression Struggle” sermon by Richard Holmes; “Understanding Spiritual Warfare” by Tonilee Adamson and Bobbye Brooks.

This Post by a warrior in Christ, Anna E. Meyer

Advertisements

Poem: TRUST (it’s a must) :)

He looked down upon her, and shook his head.

How could she not see the joy her actions had led?

How could she be frustrated, with all the joy up here?

The angel then realized that she hadn’t attuned the correct ear.

How could she be frustrated that she was not making a profit on earth,

If all of her actions led to things of eternal worth?

The angel descended and spoke through a friend.

All she needed was encouragement to defend.

The Enemy would not get his girl today,

With all the others fighting for her to keep the enemy at bay!

The girl picked up her armor which had fallen out of her hand.

She then saw what was happening, and against the devil she took a stand.

“I am okay if I don’t meet my goals,” she proclaimed.

“I have made progress, and it is by God I am claimed!

“I have been working and trying, and that was the goal.

“I can’t beat myself up because of what I can’t control!”

The angel above her smiled to the skies.

She had finally cleared her head of all the worthless lies.

“I am good enough, and I am doing this right!”

The girl shook a fist as she started to write.

“Why am I looking for my worth in money?

“As if I don’t know God? That’s funny.

“But I am his child, and he calls me a masterpiece.

“One day I will see and know how it fits, this piece.”

The girl down on Earth shook her head.

She was doing all she could in her stead.

She couldn’t control what other people did;

That was on them and herself she kid.

Only God could do something where she could not.

She should be speaking with him instead of feeling distraught!

//

The author of this poem looks through the words and into your eyes.

Are you, too, guilty of believing these lies?

Are you distressed by something you cannot control?

As if, on your own, you can change the public opinion poll?

Here is the solution, for all your troubles (it’s broad):

TRUST IN GOD.

You have to make a decision before you solve a problem.

If the decision is to trust God, it’s awesome.

Then it doesn’t matter what the solution may be;

It’ll work out later because you trusted in He.

These are the things I’ve been learning lately.

And I, the girl of the poem, have been moved by this greatly!

I try and try and try, but without God, my attempts are futile.

Pretty soon, all this work and self-reliance is brutal.

So trust in God, I shout it to the skies.

I hear it come back to me, my pleading cries.

Because I’m the one who needs to hear it.

And that is why for myself, this poem, I’ve writ.

//

Anna E Meyer

Poem: GOD Brings Success

Goals and expectations, I set them.

When they pop into my head, I take hold.

I try my best to meet each one,

Forgetting who really controls.

When I fail to meet my mark—

The one that I decided and I set—

Feeling like a failure, I cry.

But I am my biggest threat.

Why do I try these things myself?

As if, by doing more and more, I win?

I surrendered these things yesterday,

But today, I’ve lost before I begin.

“Those who don’t do can’t succeed,”

I hear it over and over again.

But all this focus on “me”?

It causes struggle now and then.

I can’t do anything on my own.

I know this to be true!

Which is why I need God’s help;

And he ALWAYS comes through!

We aren’t supposed to live the Christian life ourselves;

It’s only possible with Christ in us.

So why should I succeed myself?

This is what we need to discuss.

“May I never boast except in the cross,”

The Galatians are told by Paul.

We could never save ourselves,

Nevertheless with success, which makes us fall!

But when I give it back to God?

I let him do his work through me?

Then I am not the one glorified.

It is CHRIST, do you agree?

So may I fail when I try myself,

Because it shows my weakness.

But in my weakness, Christ is made strong.

And in HIS strength, we’ll joyfully confess:

To HIM be the glory forever and ever,

Amen!

Resting in my Heavenly Father’s Embrace

“Abba!” I cry as I reach my hands up, wanting to be held, but unsure of where my daddy is. “Where are you?”

“I am right here, my child,” comes the reply as he picks me up into his arms and holds me in a hug.

“I am so stressed out,” I say to his shoulder. But he comforts me. He puts his hand gently on my back.

“There is no need,” God tells me softly into my ear. “I’ve got this.”

I nod my head. “I don’t want to do today on my own. It’s too heavy.”

“My dear, all you have to do is ask.”

“Will you……?”

“Will I….what?”

“Will you take this day from me? And here is my to-do list. It is overwhelming. I can’t……”

“Don’t worry, my child.”

“But what if I take it back?”

“Then just give it to me once more.”

I let out a sigh as I burry my face in my Heavenly Father’s shoulder.

Yesterday was a hard day. So much going on, so much disappointment and discouragement. In church last Sunday, we talked about how the devil goes about discouraging us all. Because even if we don’t fall for his other schemes, discouragement pushes us into despair and trouble better than anything else. And now that I recognize it, I see it all over.

“Disappointments come in threes,” a Mary Kay leader once said, “but blessings come by the thousands.” I can feel that God is opening the floodgates for blessings with this Mary Kay job of mine. It is going to affect my job at Sound House, as well. Sometimes, I can’t sleep because I am just imagining possibilities. Now that yesterday is just that—yesterday, in the past, history, I am ready to look ahead and keep moving forward.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote had me listen to a voicemail I’d left him a few weeks ago, telling him how excited I was that the father of one of my music students thanked me for teaching his daughter, and getting her excited about the piano. We do that for each other—haul one another up and out of the pity party we are trying to throw ourselves. I look at all my goals and the reasons that I am doing this Mary Kay job, as well. I want to bless other women by introducing them to a product that makes them feel good and look good on top of it; by giving them the same job opportunity I had, one that many women are praying for but don’t even know exist. I want to share my faith and pour into other women, just as I have been so poured into!

My dad giving me a hug the day of my wedding.
My dad giving me a hug the day of my wedding.

“Hey, God,” I say as he sets me down and takes my hand.

“Yes?” he asks with a small smile on his face.

“I know that the rest of this month will be better, so…thank you!”

“You know?”

“I TRUST.”

Have a great day, everyone!

Anna E Meyer

My 10th Celebration of Life

On this day ten years ago….my mother and I traveled an hour away from my hometown to visit my neurologist to receive my official diagnosis. The results from the spinal tap had come back, and finally, Dr. Nelson would tell us for sure if I had a pinched nerve, MS, or a brain tumor. He had given all three of these as possibilities as to why my entire left side had stopped working normally, but his theory was that I most likely had MS. That is what we knew before we got to Wilmar, MN. I was CONVINCED that it was nothing but a pinched nerve, and for some unknown reason my name had been on the prayer list at church for the last few weeks.

On that day, ten years ago, I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was started on some medical steroids, and I was shown how to use the Autoject for my three-times-weekly medicine shots, just under the skin. (It would be another year before I gave myself those shots….and, of course, I was bribed—because what other way is there for a kid to be willing to do something unless they get something in return?)

Since my diagnosis, we have called the anniversary of that day my “celebration of life.” It is the day when I can look back on a year and see all the things I have been able to do, even though I have MS. On this ten-year anniversary of this life-altering diagnosis, I reflect on the things I have accomplished in my life!

1. I’ve been on all sorts of cool vacations and stuff.

Who cares if I had to rent a wheelchair to go Disneyworld? I went to Disneyworld! I’ve also rented wheelchairs at zoos, and even the Minnesota State Fair. Those places take a lot of walking, and I don’t quite have the energy to walk all that way. But I still got to experience it and enjoy my visits! Those places, by the way, have been the only ones I rented a wheelchair for. I can still walk! ….just not super far. I’ve been to the Wisconsin Dells and the Black Hills of South Dakota, just doing the tourist thing because I could. In high school, I went to a youth gathering with a church denomination, and had an AWESOME time with my cousin Jenni and my aunt Sheryl! In college, I went on TWO summer mission projects. Just because I have MS, doesn’t mean I can’t have fun! So I have to plan a little extra, and the south is typically a bad idea in the summer. I STILL LIVE LIFE.

2. In middle school, there were no cheerleaders, and I wanted to be one, so I petitioned and found a coach for middle school basketball cheerleaders!

The January after my diagnosis. I am second from the right, front row. You know, the one with the big smile?
The January after my diagnosis. I am second from the right, front row. You know, the one with the big smile?

We were moderately good. Our most difficult move was when one cheerleader stood on the thighs of two other cheerleaders, but we stayed safe. I wasn’t really into watching sports, but I did notice that when our middle school teams had cheerleaders, the whole “crowd” was pretty riled up. You know, for a middle school game. Smiley face. Of course, this cheerleading team kind of left the middle school when I did. I always wanted to be a cheerleader. Our high school had football cheerleading, but by that time, I just wanted to play in the pep band. (We see why I became a music major?)

I was also on the golf team for a few years before the walking became too much for me and I acknowledged that I wasn’t that great.  But it was fun!

3. I got my black belt!

Actually, I started Tae Kwon Do in 4th grade.  In 7th grade, I got my junior  black belt.  I was diagnosed with MS in 8th grade.  In 9th grade, I got my 2nd degree junior black belt.  After I turned 16, sophomore year, I got my first degree adult black belt.  And senior year, I got my second degree adult black belt!  I was involved in Tae Kwon Do for 8 years; 5 of those years after having MS.  I remember difficulty in my first tournament after being diagnosed, but then I just focused on what I COULD do instead of what I COULDN’T.  I taught and I was a referee as my level advanced.  I became inactive in TKD after I graduated high school, but I will always be a second degree black belt!

4. I finished high school AND college.

One of my college professors once told me that he had never seen such determination in a student. So I wasn’t the best. Who cares? I did as best I could. I was DETERMINED to finish well and I learned a ton while in those college years. I wrote a post about what MS has taught me over the last decade or so here.

5. I played a senior recital of percussion music.

At that time in my life, I had skill, because I was playing on these instruments all the time. I played a piece on the marimba, the timpani, some toms (drums), the vibraphone, and even flower pots! (Videos of all these can be seen on YouTube.) I loved that season in my life, when I could go from instrument to instrument in the percussion section in an empty band room and just PLAY.

6. I’ve had a “grown-up job” since I graduated.

Even before I graduated, I’ve been giving private lessons. According to some of my other music-major friends, I wasn’t charging enough, but still. As soon as I graduated, I got on the substitute teacher list for a few different school districts. And when I got to Kentucky, of course, I began working at a music store—giving lessons! And now I’ve started up this Mary Kay business! Before I was married, I paid my own rent, bought my own food, and loved when Mom and Dad came to Sioux Falls to take me grocery shopping. And now, I don’t get many visits from Mom and Dad (because I currently live, like, 20 hours away), but I still get care packages of coffee brands that aren’t sold in the south. (Thanks, mom!)

7. I’ve written, like, four novels.

Only one I’ve written is decent enough for me to want to publish it, but I do want to publish it! [2015 edit: you can find my first book here.] I also write shortstories and blog posts all the time. And other little things when I feel like it. I’ve kept a journal since I was diagnosed! And things have just kept moving from there. I don’t believe they will ever stop, either.

8. I wrote music for a class in college and directed an ensemble playing it in church one time.

So I maybe didn’t take into consideration that band instruments play better in flats than sharps. And that high school students can’t pick up music as fast as college students. But I was so proud of that piece! I even published my college friends and I playing the piece here on YouTube.

9. I GOT MARRIED!

My handsome groom and I at our wedding this last July.
My handsome groom and I at our wedding this last July.

Just this last summer, if you are keeping up with me at all on this blog. (I’ve kinda talked about it a lot….) Never did I ever think I would meet a man who saw ME past the MS that has been so apparent in my life. I have a limp, which is the most obvious symptom to the world and the first turn-off to anybody who sees that instead of me first (which is pretty much everybody). But Dr. Wile E. Coyote, while he notices my limp, only notices if it’s a bad day or a good day and helps me stretch sometimes. Or if he’s walking with me, and I pull him around. (He’s not as sturdy as my sisters when they’ve walked with me, hehe.) I love Dr. Coyote, my best friend, and he is what I need. But God knew that. And I am privileged to be starting this med school journey with him and trusting the Lord until graduation, and beyond! (Like, forever. Every. Minute.)

10. I have become stronger than I thought possible.

Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have had to push past the limits of where I would want to quit because something is hard. Being diagnosed so young (at 13), I had to face many decisions and situations that most teens shouldn’t have to face. I thank the good Lord for my always-supportive family who helped me so much!

On this day in ten years, who knows what things I’ll accomplish that I’ll be able to remember? The thing about having MS is that though we have to plan a little more, sometimes sleep a little more, and maybe be careful of what activities we chose to partake in, we still live normal lives. I haven’t felt normal for years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would love to wake up one day and the Lord tell me, “You’re cured!” But I know that when people see me walking with a limp, unphased, it brings God more glory.

Anna E Meyer

So I’ve talked about what I’ve learned and what I’ve done, MS wise. What else would you all like to know (MS-wise)?

Letting Go and Letting God

It has been a roller coaster of a week. Two weeks ago, I was presented with an opportunity to be a Mary Kay Independent Beauty consultant. Well, Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I discussed it, and decided that this randomly WAS from the Lord. It was totally random, and I had never dreamed of working with beauty products EVER. I was working 4 hours a week at my other job, and needed to get out of the house and associate with people other than in a music lesson or online. So, I accepted the opportunity and ordered a starter kit. Then came the discussion about inventory. Any inventory I bought upfront would be an investment, as I would sell it. But it was block week, so Dr. Coyote and I decided to both pray about it and discuss the following Saturday (AFTER tests were done). We made a decision, I told my sales director and my senior consultant (aka my awesome friend Kat who presented me with this unexpected opportunity).

Last night, Dr. Coyote and I stopped and looked around at what had been happening. We had both somehow been in a little funk this week. My debit card would not allow the purchase of the inventory we wanted (and I had already called my bank to discuss it a few times, thinking everything was said and done after that). My website was not active and I couldn’t get to it. Why were these things happening? My confidence in this decision was faltering, and I was relying on myself to fix everything.

Duh! The devil was trying to stop me, and I was trying to resist him by myself. What happened to the armor that the Lord had given me? He protects my head, always reminding me who I am—I am his child and was chosen by him for a purpose! I wear the belt of truth, so that no lies can entangle me and I can always be reminded of the truth. I wear the breastplate of righteousness, which protects my heart. The breastplate keeps the devil out of my heart because it is too easily deceived on its own. And Jesus lives there, empowering me! I also carry the shield of faith, which protects me from attacks and helps me through obstacles in my path (have you seen the way that Captain America uses his shield? I imagine using the shield of faith somehow like that). I hold the sword of the spirit—the word of the Lord. In my own experience, I have found that if I do not start off my day by reading the word, the rest of my day is filled with self-pity and I don’t look up—I’m stuck “naval gazing” (looking down at myself—it’s all me me me me me). We have access to the word like never before—I think I have 8 bibles on my shelf in different translations or with commentaries and such. And lastly, the Lord has given us use of this amazing “weapon” called prayer. And when we’re praying, we have an access to God that we wouldn’t have otherwise!

This Mary Kay job is a ministry. I decided that right away. I will be doing so much more than I would without it! I will have access to so many more women, and I will be able to invest in them. Way more than if I was sitting at home on my computer (which is what I am doing right now as I type…). This job is also an opportunity for the Lord to do his thing and grant his blessings to Dr. Coyote and I, that we can bless, as well.

Nobody and nothing will get in the way of this. The Lord set it in front of me and showed me possibilities he could do with it. Most med students have $250K of debt when they become a doctor. What if I’m not okay with that? I can interact with women and help them discover the beauty that so many of the rest of us see. Somebody did that for me, and I want to share this greatness! I don’t WANT to be normal. I WANT to be different. I WANT to let Christ use me and shine through me. I WANT to make a difference in someone’s life. And maybe someday I’ll drive a pink car (as long as Dr. Coyote wouldn’t have to). Then someday when you’ll see me, you will know that the Lord has been up to something in my life. Are you going to let him be up to something in yours?

Anna E Meyer

Five-Fold Ministry: Pastor

Synonyms: Soul-winners. Oversees, shepherds, and tends the flock of God. Protector.

Characteristics: Protector, hospitable, nurturing, love being around people. Peaceful, disarming, motivating, and counsel with wisdom.

Responsibilities: Care for and protect God’s flock; be worthy of imitation. Serve, inspire, and live as role models for their church. Instruct believers further in the things of Christ and build them up in faith. Admonishes and encourages in order to edify in love, with the patience and compassion of the Father. “He is humbled by the precious gift he’s been given and knows he’s fully accountable to God for each soul He places in his care and does not consider the gift and responsibility a light thing, but rather the most awesome responsibility in all of creation” (B. Dino).

Passions: Discipleship.

Examples: Jesus Christ, Timothy, Lydia. Who else do you know in this role? Some people from my life in this role include Pastor Jason Mueller, Pastor Jim Demke, and Tom Hartsock.

I read somewhere that women rate close to pastors on online tests because their mothering instinct is to protect those under their care and to love and grow their children. I even considered being a pastor at one point because I love doing discipleship. But the three men I have listed above? They are GREAT at discipleship and great at what they do. Not all preachers are the closest to the gift of “pastor.” Some of them teach better than they do some of the other responsibilities that fall under a pastor. There is nothing bad about that at all. I know churches that have a leadership TEAM, not simply one pastor to take care of everything. I think this is smart, if one has the resources. Then, a person that lands in each of these five spiritual ministries can be involved, and all the bases would be covered.

Anna E Meyer

Do you know people who display the gift of pastoring? Are they all pastors, or could they be other people, as well?

Five-Fold Ministry: Evangelist

Synonyms: gatherer, revivalist, etc.

Characteristics: Convicting communicator (which gives power to influence people), has a deep concern for the lost, and has a deep love of God and his people.

Responsibilities: Brings the gospel to nonbelievers and training the saints to effectively evangelize them.

Abilities: Influences people and are adaptable, able to thrive in any situation or culture.

Passion: Winning the lost to Jesus.

Examples: Jesus, Peter, Paul. Who else do you know in this role? Some people from my life in this role include Pastor Rich Holmes, Dusty Hoffman, and Luke Rhoorda.

Evangelists can come in many different forms of people. Dr. Coyote says that he sees our pastor as an evangelist because he passionately talks about being saved and being welcomed into the Lord’s family. Every week, there is a chance for salvation, and whenever somebody makes the decision to ask Christ into their heart, the entire church prays with them. This is not only and evangelist thing, but evangelists are indeed passionate like none other—this is where their heart breaks the most.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I were both involved in Cru, a campus ministry on our campuses. Cru is a ministry that is passionate about the lost. Not only did we learn how to share our faith while involved with Cru, but our own faiths grew a ton, as well. There are ministries such as this all over. They do not exist to condemn, just as Christ did not come to condemn. They simply want everyone to have the chance to hear this eternally-saving gospel. Maybe you are a Christian and aren’t being treated as such, but the other person isn’t sure. While involved with Cru, I met a ton of people who didn’t like God, or hadn’t heard the entire gospel plainly before. They never understood it. Or maybe they had grown up in church, but their hearts hadn’t been as involved in church as their heads. It is not our place to judge; that is for God alone to do. I met international students who had never even heard what this Christianity is all about, and I learned about the faiths they grew up with, as well. As I said: the goal of ministries such as Cru is to ensure that as many people that can have the opportunity to know Christ as their savior and Lord.

Anna E. Olson

Do you know of other ministries or people that display this evangelism? Where those without Christ in their lives cause heartbreak and a reason to do what they do?

Five-Fold Ministry: Intro to a New Series

In recent weeks, God has been teaching me a lot about spiritual gifts and the different offices where those spiritual gifts can be used. For instance, I have a lot of random spiritual gifts. I’ve taken spiritual gifts tests (found online—I just googled them), and I know what I enjoy and what I’m kind of good at. But how am I supposed to use them all together? I encourage people, like to read and write about spiritual things, and my gut is usually correct when I just “sense things.” Most of the time. I love listening to, creating, and teaching music with the goal to let my students become good at something so that they’ll have somewhere they can release stress. Etc, etc, etc.

I was going through Ephesians 4 with the Bible study I’m a part of, and we came upon this gem:

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (verses 11 & 12).

1 Kings 18:44 references the hand. The little cloud the size of a man's hand became a big 'ole storm in the blink of an eye!
1 Kings 18:44 references the hand. The little cloud the size of a man’s hand became a big ‘ole storm in the blink of an eye!

What the heck are apostles and prophets? Evangelists are those people who share the gospel all the time and give you little booklets about the gospel, right? Pastors are the people who preach at us on Sunday, right? And teachers are the ones we see every other day of the week if we go to school. Right? NOT QUITE. ON ANY OF THESE. Randy Barnett said in an article I’m referencing for this series, “There is nothing in Scripture that would lead us to believe that any of these no longer exists.” Even the prophet still exists today, although not many people may realize it.

In this series, we are going to focus on these five offices of ministry; we’ll zoom in on each one. I’m still doing a lot of research on these gifts myself, so expect good things. My goal is that in writing about these ministries, I can learn more about them, myself. (That’s what happens when I write about something, usually.) For those of you tuning in after the series has been published, congrats—you get to read them all or skip to the one you are most curious about. For everyone else who is reading my blog posts as I write and publish them, I’m going to try to give you three posts a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

As I share about a ministry, I would like you to consider who it is that you know who fits the description well. Then go ahead and let them know! Before I began this process, I was pretty sure where I’d land, but then I realized I was quite wrong. By the end of this series, perhaps you will have a better idea of where you land, as well! These posts should not be taken as they are written, though I’ve been doing research. They should be a tool or a kick-off to study these ministries on your own!

And that, my friends, is what I’m most excited about in writing this series. I will be talking about them each in the order they are found in Ephesians 4:11.

Anna E Meyer

For this series, here are some of my resources that I continually refer back to:

Almobayyed, Mona. “What Is the Fivefold Ministry?” eHow. 26 May 2014. Web. 26 Sept 2014.

Barnett, Randy. “The Five Ministry Offices” Randy Barnett Ministries, Covenant Global Church. ND. Web. 26 Sept 2014.

Dino, Brother. “The 5 Offices of the Church – Which Are Yours?” Shepherd Dino, Facebook. 9 Jan 2011. Web. 26 Sept 2014.

“The Five Offices of the Church—30 Bible Basics.” Guarding the Heart, ReviveNations. 28 Feb 2012. Web. 26 Sept 2014.

Traut, Ed. “The Truth About Prophecy.” California: Prophetic Voice Distributors, 1991. Print.

Why Belonging to a Church is Important for Christians

Before Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I moved way out to Kentucky from the northern Midwest, we looked online for a church similar to ones we’d been attending. We prayed for seven-ish months before we moved that the first church we went to in Pikeville, KY, would be the church that the Lord had for us to grow, flourish, and get plugged in at.

Why?

Because having a church home is how you grow. True, one can do Bible studies on their own or podcast a sermon. But IT’S NOT THE SAME. The church is VITAL to individual spiritual growth. Did you know that for couples who attend church regularly, the divorce rate goes down, leaving it at 1%? They don’t even have to be born again Christians for that to happen—the Lord uses his bride for that effect on people.

Churches are also important because of FELLOWSHIP. Dr. Coyote and I also prayed that we would find friends right away. We came to Pikeville on a Saturday, so that we could go to church the following day. In church the next morning, we met Jim and Erica, a couple from the northern Midwest, as well! They took us out for supper that week, and told us about gender specific Sunday school classes and the time they met at. So the next week, we began attending Sunday school!

Sunday school (or small groups that can meet anytime during the week) are great to get plugged into for a few reasons:

  1. You get to meet people! There aren’t as many people in a small group than there are at church. You will get to know them, and they will get to know you. Friendships may form, if you let them!
  2. You get to grow even DEEPER in your spiritual walk. Not only will you cover extra material, but a small group gives a chance for questions or discussions! VERY helpful.

Which leads me to another reason why attending church every week is so great: You develop a church FAMILY. Not only did we get new friends and new opportunities to grow, we could request prayer for something and know without a doubt that there will be prayers petitioned on our behalf. We can greet people we see at church in the store, not only because we recognize them, but they are family!

There are some people that have had bad experiences with church or never feel welcomed. Let me touch on the second point first:

At some bigger churches, especially, where there are multiple services, not everyone is going to know anyone else. They may just think your new face is in their regular service because normally you go to a different one. REACH OUT! Tell somebody that you’re new there. Dr. Coyote and I were lucky—we got to the church we currently attend during a holiday weekend, so EVERYBODY knew that we were new—we weren’t sitting with anybody, and there was a scant crowd that day. But I didn’t instantly recognize people as family after one attendance. “Hi, I don’t know you!” I sometimes say while I’m greeting somebody. Whether I’m simply unfamiliar with a person or they are new—it doesn’t matter.

do-you-think-god-cant-use-you quoteThe first point: Yes, many churches have hurt people. I have heard tales over and over about it. But does that make you want to give up church all together? Not all churches are the same. I’ve attended churches of all sorts of denominations because to me denomination doesn’t matter, as long as the pastor preaches from the Bible and there is a welcoming atmosphere. Those two things are honestly the most attractive first-impressions of a church. (I’ve moved around a little bit in my lifetime, believe it or not.) Why were you hurt? Because of a conviction you received that you didn’t want to hear? Because of something you, nor anybody in the congregation had any control over? I find it sad that after a church has issues with a pastor, many times they disintegrate. Who was that church following? The pastor? A human being, just like you and I? Or Jesus Christ, the God of the universe? Just so you know, Jesus can use ANYBODY. He is able to use a pastor who has committed a crime, he is able to use a homosexual pastor— he used prostitutes in the Bible, for goodness’ sake! And liars and thieves and drunkards and ahh! So many.

Here’s something else: We’re told to.

Hebrews 10:25
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Jesus went to the synagogue regularly (when he goes to Nazareth, he went to the synagogue AS WAS HIS CUSTOM). All over the New Testament, we are told to gather together! Love one another! Serve one another! What better place to do that than the church?

Most of all, friends, I actually love going to church. My weeks get long, but when I go to church, I know I’ll find someone to hug, and I’ll get my “fellowship fill” for the most part. I’ll learn something new, and the Lord will teach me things that GO WITH THE SERMON all week. Seriously, that happens all the time. When I’m down, I receive encouragement. When others are down, I can give it. Life gets monotonous and draining, but the Lord is with us through it all! (And don’t JUST go to church—spend time with God every day! He’s just that fun to hang out with. But…that’s a rant for another post.)

Anna E. Meyer