Take it Easy

Mental Illness is at epidemic proportions in the prosperous west. With all the things modern technology has provided and with all the security of food, clothing and shelter that third world countries struggle without, it is absurd that comfortable westerners should have a care in the world.

Yet they do. Millions of well-off westerners (in global terms) struggle with depression, take medication for stress or anxiety, encounter mental instability and lack the contentment and security their environment should provide them.

The causes and solutions are many and varied and I do not profess to be an expert on these matters. However I have made suggestions to sufferers which they tell me proved very helpful. So I am sharing some of my thoughts here, for the benefit of those who may also find them helpful.

Intensity Disorder

stressed

My gut feeling about much of the mental struggle that westerners contend with is that it is in fact an “Intensity Disorder”. It seems to me that people who are tormented in mind are trapped in a situation where they struggle with uncertainties, doubts, worries and the like, which create a ‘turmoil of intensity’ in their thinking, and possibly their emotions as well.

I have seen people resolve some of their mental disorder by simply reducing the mental intensity that has abducted their thinking patterns. That’s why I’ve titled this post “Take it Easy”. That is my advice to those who are getting all worked up about things, creating storms in the tea-cup of their situation.

Tormented

Now, it is true that the mental state some people get into is somewhat out of their control. People do fall prey to things that torment them and which have a mind of their own in attacking and besieging the minds of their victims.

Biblically we would see such things as demons assigned to attack and harass a person. The whole process of spiritual warfare involves issues of the mind and that must include those who are tormented by evil spirits which mess with their mind.

Capturing Thoughts

The Apostle Paul taught that we have spiritual weapons which pull down strongholds in our mind and which also bring thoughts back into line.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” 2Corinthians 10:3-5

Wrong thinking patterns can be enemy “strongholds” in our mind which create fearful or distressing imaginations and thoughts. Our spiritual weapons pull down those strongholds and destroy wrong imaginations, bringing our thinking back into line with Christ, who is the truth.

Turning Off the Intensity

People who are anxious and distressed in mind usually have something gnawing at their thoughts.

stressed

“I’m not sure I did the right thing.” “I don’t know if people like me.” “I can’t be sure everything is going to work out.” “I tried to help that person but it didn’t work out, so now I feel like it’s my responsibility.” “I want my circumstances to improve and so I’m thinking about it all the time.”

Myriad thoughts can cause you to be buried in intensity, unable to let go and “take it easy”. People berate themselves, get tied up in knots, lose all capacity to move forward, and have their mind go into overload when they have this kind of Intensity Disorder.

Imagine how much better life immediately becomes when you can turn off the intensity.

Give Yourself A Break

Stop attacking yourself. Stop putting your mind into overload. Just relax. Give yourself a break. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Take it easy.

As a Christian you have all the capacity you ever need to be able to turn off the intensity. You can cast all your cares on the Lord, knowing that He cares for you. You can give your burdens to Him. You can take His load on your shoulders, because His load is always light.

“Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7

“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you will find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Just Relax

I remember various times in my youth when I struggled with anxieties. I wondered whether I was reaching manliness as well as I hoped. Did I look like a man? Did I stand like a man? Did I fit the part properly or not? What should I do differently to convince those around me that I was every bit a man?

I was probably influenced by the insecurity generating media that wanted me to buy a product or dress the way they prescribed. I thought that looking the part was an important part of being the part.

But I noticed that people accepted my manliness even when I didn’t go out of my way to convey it. I was as tall as a man, with a deep voice like a man and I shaved and had grown up responsibilities. When I walked through a shop women would tell their child to “get out of the way of the man”, and they were referring to Me!

All my anxiety had nothing to do with reality. I was a young man, whether I felt the part or not, or whether I dressed trendy, in a uniform, or in my gardening clothes. So I learned to relax and accept that I had arrived, even on those days when I doubted the fact.

Tense Shoulders

Another process of relaxing and taking it easy came from my early months of driving. I noticed one day as a teenage driver that my arms and shoulders were totally tense. Everything from my fingers to my neck was tight with tension.

I knew that most drivers seem so much more relaxed than I felt. I also realised that a three hour drive would just about cripple me at that level of muscle tension. So I deliberately relaxed my fingers, hands, arms, shoulders and neck.

The experience was liberating. I could drive and watch the road and rear-view mirrors much better when my body was not stiff. I relaxed my legs, wriggled in my seat, settled back into the chair, put my elbow onto the arm rest and even let go with one hand.

Every time I caught myself tense again I would physically relax my body until being relaxed in the driver’s seat became normal.

Loosen Up

If you are tense about something stop and address it. If it’s a responsibility then trust it to God. If it’s something you need, ask God for it and then trust Him enough to rest while you wait. If it’s uncertainty about the future commit the future to God and concentrate only on today.

Pray about those things that concern you. Let God know what your requests are. Then Relax. Loosen Up. If you catch yourself tense and anxious then change posture, pass the problems to God again, and settle into a relaxed posture once again. Practice the posture you would have and the thoughts you would think if you knew that God heard your prayer and everything was under control.

Give it a try and see what it does for helping you work through those mental storms that tie you up and bring you down.

Steps to Release via Legal Ground

The Steps to Release which I teach is a checklist of key steps that help a person move into the freedom Christ purchased for them. The steps are to:
Admit Your Need;
Find the Real Problem and its Root Cause;
Repent;
Forgive;
Renounce;
Resist; and
Cast Your Cares on the Lord
.

I noted in my early personal journey into freedom and from watching what happened to others, that it was little use coming into freedom if that freedom could not be maintained. That would be like taking ground off an enemy, only to lose it and have to fight another whole battle to win it back.

The best way to maintain or hold ground that was won was to be thorough in the process of taking that ground. And that’s where ‘legal ground’ comes into focus. If a person has given the enemy a legal right to attack them, then they will re-lose the ground they win.

A visiting minister or a faith-filled moment can see a person come free from a problem. But if the devil still has a legal right to oppress the victim with that problem, it will come back, in one form or another. The recurrence of the problem will be a real downer to the faith of the individual and they may find it harder to win the battle the next time around.

No matter what the problem is I make it a point to clear away the legal ground which may have been given to the enemy. That’s where the three steps of Repent, Forgive and Renounce have their place. Once the problem has been identified it could be easy for a faith-filled person to go straight to battle with the issues. The warrior may well win the battle. But with an open door for the problem to come back there is a serious risk that it will do just that. Jesus even warned that a demon can return bringing even worse demons with it.

“Then he goes and takes to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Luke 11:26

That’s why I get people to work through these three intermediate steps in the process. So let’s look at these steps which deal with the legal ground.

Repentance leads to God’s forgiveness and the cleansing of our sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9

The reason we need to be forgiven and cleansed is because that makes our sin just as if it had never happened. That is important because, if we have sinned we have become the servant of the sin we committed.

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

If you are a legal servant of a particular sin, then it will be very hard for you to maintain any freedom from it, even if you have experienced a dramatic deliverance. You need to be forgiven of the sin, so it is gone out of your life. Then the legal link of you as a servant of sin has been removed.

The act of giving Forgiveness to those who offended us is also vital in removing the legal grounds of the enemy. If we do not forgive, we block our own forgiveness. When we do not forgive we are handed over to the tormentors.

“But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:26

“And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due to him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also to you, if you do not forgive from your hearts every one the trespasses of his brother.” Matthew 18:34, 35

How can you expect to maintain freedom when you have been denied the forgiveness which sets you free and then you have been handed over to a tormentor? You must extend forgiveness to your offenders in order to secure your own forgiveness and to maintain your own release.

Then we come to Renouncing. This is an interesting Bible truth, because it is only mentioned in the Bible on one occasion. The Apostle Paul declared that he had renounced the hidden things of dishonesty.

“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2Corinthians 4:2

The Greek word translated “renounce” is only used once in the New Testament. Its technical meaning is to “speak off”, as if to revoke something by a verbal pronouncement. When a father disowns his son, and says, “This is no longer my son”, he is renouncing his son. The Moslem form of divorce enacted by a husband repeating the words, “I divorce you”, three times, is also a model of what renouncing could be like.

Paul had ‘spoken off’ the things which were hidden in his life, which made a lie of his testimony or good intentions. In practice today, the process of renunciation (renouncing) involves making a declaration that you are no longer connected to the evil which once ruled in your life. Mostly I simply get people to say, “I renounce the evil” (specifically naming it where possible).

Once these three steps have been worked through I then proceed into the spiritual warfare component of resisting evil, commanding it out of the person’s life. I am confident that the enemy does not have a toe-hold or a hand-grip to cling to, so gaining the release is easier. I am also confident that the freedom that is achieved will be much easier to maintain.

My first article about the Steps To Release gives more understanding of how these steps work.
So have a look at: Steps To Release

For a sample prayer through the steps to release I commend the book, Family Horizons, which is available from www.FamilyHorizons.net

Hurt Spirits Working

Some months ago I visited a family struggling to resolve marital issues. What I sensed there prompted me to explore a new approach to spiritual warfare for marriages and families.

In this case both husband and wife had claims and counter-claims against each other. The wife had various demands and her husband had various defences. He had evidence of her unreasonable behaviour, but she had justification for her actions. She had a case against him for his actions, while he had his own explanations for the situations.

I observed for a long time as this couple did verbal battle, both exasperated by the other. I silently prayed for wisdom and insight into how to best move their situation forward.

What came to my attention was that the couple had become pawns in a bigger game – and the key player was not the husband or the wife. The whole game was being controlled by a “Hurt Spirit”. Both husband and wife were drowning in their feelings of being hurt by the other. They then took aim at their spouse, as the source and cause of the hurt. The accusations and counter-claims only became bullets which created more hurt. The anger, frustration, accusations, justifications and so on, just kept adding fuel to the fire.

When I finally had opportunity to speak into the situation both husband and wife expected me to bring some clarity as to whose claims should be acceded to. Instead I had them join me in praying against the work of a hurt spirit. By that time the night was late and I did little more than take authority over the work of a hurt spirit in the marriage.

Within days I heard from the wife that the atmosphere in the home had been transformed from that very night. Both husband and wife have been growing in wisdom and grace since then and the relationship, while still challenged by many years of upset and hurt feelings, is stronger each week.

That has prompted me to wonder just how many marriages are being torn apart by a third party – not a person, but a hurt spirit. A hurt spirit, which is not anything defined as such in the Bible, but which I describe by that title because of its focus, aims to stir up feelings of offence in husband or wife. By arousing hurt feelings that spirit can goad a person to begin attacking their spouse, or acting toward them from a position of hurt.

Once that cycle has been started it can gain its own momentum, with the hurt spirit adding extra spin to the wheel from time to time. Eventually the couple can be completely at war with each other.

Now, consider Paul’s insight in such situations. He says that we are not wrestling and contending with each other, but with spirit forces at work around us. He says “we do not wrestle with flesh and blood (people) but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness (spirit beings)” Ephesians 6:12. So what I am describing to you about a hurt spirit is not as absurd as it might at first sound.

Join me in taking authority over the hurt spirits which have been messing with marriages and spoiling godly relationships. We have authority to bind them (Matthew 18:18). And if you have been messed with, make up your mind not to serve the hurt spirit any longer. Your marriage belongs to God and then to you and your spouse. It will never belong to a hurt spirit or any other kind of evil spirit. Resist the presence and influence of anything that is not fit to be in God’s presence.

“Hurt Spirits which are working in marriages, we bind you in Jesus’ powerful name and we command you to get your hands off husband and wives, hearts, minds and relationships. We resist you and your work in the lives of Christian marriages and we release healing and love to flow into each place where you have been doing your evil work. And we do this in the authority of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”