God’s Plan For Us

Each of us is here by divine appointment. God looks upon each and every person as a parent looks on a growing child, and is filled with specific hopes and plans for each of us. Every person is viewed by God as a unique creation with a special calling.

There is something special that God wants to do through you. There is something specific that God wills for each person who is brought into the world, and if you do not do the good that you were ordained to do, something wonderful will be left undone. Your calling may not be to do something great in the eyes of the world, but what the world calls little is great if God is in it.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Romans 8V28-30

Tony Campolo

Pastors Struggling With Suicide

When God interrupts, it would be foolish not to heed Him. As I was praying over this week’s articles, I sensed a brooding of the Spirit over a change of direction. I was reminded of the sad death of the philanthropist Steve Bing earlier this week who at 55 years old, with seemingly everything to live for, tragically took his own life. I read of two other similar situations in the news as the week progressed.

Perhaps today is a timely word for someone who has or is wrestling with suicidal thoughts, or you think your spouse is. Please don’t suffer in silence. Whether you are overwhelmed with physical, spiritual, or mental health issues, or just feel a sense of hopelessness, please speak out today and start getting the help you need. As a society we are at last breaking taboos around mental health. We will continue to make positive strides as a church body when we are honest with ourselves and others. Many variables can affect our thoughts, emotions, and moods, and can quickly overwhelm us, so we need to take our mental health seriously, especially if we’re struggling with suicidal thoughts.

As I’ve been reading up on this subject, I want to share with you some of the best articles I have come across. They all deserve to be read through rather than sporadically quoted, so I am including the links for you. They are mostly from the American church perspective, but just as relevant to any pastors context worldwide. I pray God would breathe on them, and lead you to find hope and courage today to get the help you may need. Keeping up a façade is exhausting, and so unnecessary. We need to break this lie and shame that we as pastors are immune to such human challenges.

At the end of the list of recommended articles is a beautiful prayer and some contact details of organisations that can provide help.

Why Pastors are committing suicide –www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-pastors-are-committing-suicide/

A Psychiatrists thoughts On Pastors and Suicide - www.keyministry.org/church4everychild/2019/9/16/a-psychiatrists-thoughts-on-pastors-and-suicide

When Pastors Silent suffering turns tragic –

www.scbaptist.org/when-pastors-silent-suffering-turns-tragic/

Church leaders to confront mental health www.keepthefaith.co.uk/2019/09/17/suicide-of-prominent-pastor-forces-church-leaders-to-confront-mental-health/

Focus on the family – Pastoral ministry and suicide www.focusonthefamily.com/church/pastoral-ministry-and-suicide/

Please allow yourself to acknowledge any suicidal thoughts and desires, and then share how you feel with someone in your family, a friend, colleague, GP or counsellor. Your life is worth more than you can imagine.

If this article is speaking to you directly today, as well as encouraging you to speak about it and so seek help, be blessed and strengthened by these further thoughts and prayer.

A Prayer for fighting suicidal thoughts - Beth Ann Baus

Over the years, I’ve learned three important things about fighting suicidal thoughts:

  • Having suicidal thoughts and being suicidal are two different things. Both, however are very serious and deserve attention.
  • People have suicidal thoughts for a wide range of reasons. Therefore you shouldn’t compare yourself, your circumstances or your state of mind to anyone else.
  • It’s often hard to pray when you’re consumed with suicidal thoughts. In fact, while praying is the most important thing you can do, it’s often the very last thing you want to do. It will require self-discipline and self-control. It will require a strength that can only come from God. For this reason, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Write a prayer when you’re able to express your pain and thought process, then you’ll have it ready to read the next time the suicidal thoughts come. Perhaps the following prayer can be of some help.

Father God,

The darkness has taken hold of me and I can’t find my way back to the light. In this moment, ending it all seems like the best option, the only option, the only way to escape. Yet, there is something in me that wants your light to snuff out the darkness. So I ask, Lord, that you would do just that. You are the only light that can shine in the darkness.

I know when I’m consumed with thoughts of death I’m believing lies from the enemy. I ask Lord that you would remind me of these truths: when I feel alone, you are with me; when I feel invisible, you see me; when I feel worthless, my value is knowing you and being known by you.

Lord, help me to understand that you are enough, because you are everything I need and more. Remind me that when I feel hopeless, you have hope in me and for me. Remind me that when I don’t have the words to cry out to you, your son Jesus is praying for me, and your Spirit intercedes for me with groanings too deep for words. Let this remind me that I am seen, heard, and deeply loved.

I often feel out of place in this world. I don’t fit in and I’m not sure I want to. Remind me that this world is not my home and while, as your child, I will never fully fit in here, my time here isn’t over. Not yet. Please, give me the desire to live.

When I feel like I don’t matter, remind me that I was created with purpose. When I don’t know or understand why I feel the way I feel - remind me that you know the depth of pain in my heart, in my body and in my being. You know me better than I know myself… and yet you still love me.

When I feel like my death would go unnoticed because my life seems to go by uncelebrated, remind me that you celebrate me and that you hurt for me when I’m in this dark place. Remind me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I am worth more than I know. Remind me that this life is not mine to take. Remind me that suicide is not the only option. Remind me to love you and to love myself.

As I say these words I know in my heart that you love me and I feel incredible guilt for wanting to take the life you gave me. I feel embarrassed to admit these thoughts to you. I feel overwhelmed that you know these thoughts without my even saying them, and yet you still love me. Remind me that Jesus did not come to earth and die for me so that I could live a defeated life. Help me to desire life and to live fully in you.

In Jesus precious name, Amen

(This prayer first appeared here –

www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/a-prayer-for-fighting-suicidal-thoughts.html)

Please don’t be afraid to reach out if you find yourself struggling with any of these issues, or if you are aware that your spouse is. God won’t ever let you go and promises to be with you in ALL circumstances.

You can access help and support from the following:-

Anthem of hope - a Christian mental health organization dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide - http://anthemofhope.org/#home

Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123
Email jo@samaritans.org

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day

Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 9am to 10pm, weekends and bank holidays 2pm to 10pm
Text 07860 039967
Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Choose Life - Public Health Scotland

http://www.healthscotland.scot/health-topics/suicide/suicide-prevention-overview

Whilst todays thoughts may not be applicable to some of us, lets collectively pray for those for whom it’s a very real and current issue. And of course their families.

Donna MacNeil

The Celtic Blessing

Social media has been awash these last few weeks with wonderful renditions of ‘The Blessing’. The original version on YouTube has been watched and listened to over 16 million times since its release in March. These beautiful words from Numbers 6:24-26, have brought so much comfort to God’s people over the centuries. Hearing them sung as worship has an added depth of joy.

I’m sharing this stunning Celtic version with you today, led by Scottish worship leader and songwriter Steph Macleod. It beautifully blends the Gaelic language with the music and the English words, and captures our culture in the various accompanying instruments.

Whether you watch this in Scotland, the UK, or from other Nations, we at ESPS Ministries pray this Blessing upon you and yours today.

Numbers 6:24-26 New International Version (NIV)

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y3-tRu8MIk

D.MacNeil

Prayer for Peace In My Home

Lockdown meant that we, and our spouses and children had no choice but to stay at home. This resulted in everyone being stuck together in the same space every day. Although many will have some good memories to look back on from this time, it has also being a time of stress, worry, fluctuating emotions, marital tension, and refereeing children’s squabbles.

As restrictions are starting to ease, many of our homes are still a place of busyness and it can be hard to find a quiet space for contemplation and prayer.

To bless and encourage you today I want to share this beautiful prayer for all our households.

Dear loving Lord,

My home needs your peace.

My family needs you, won’t you come to us?

Won’t you set us free?

Pour out your love, pour out your Spirit,

Wash us clean, cover us, and protect us.

By the blood of Christ we are cleansed.

From His wounds, mercy and peace come forth,

To heal the wounds between us.

Let us respect, and listen to one another. Let us love one another.

Begin with me, dear Lord.

Let the change begin in me.

Give me strength. Show me how to love more.

Show me how to care more.

Show me how to forgive. Let your Spirit change me.

While you care for the others,

Let me trust in this.

That they are in your hands. Just like me.

In the name of sweet Jesus.

Amen.

D.MacNeil

(Taken from – www.prayerforanxiety.com)

 

Pastor Weariness In Lockdown

In conversation with a parish pastor recently, I was reminded how lockdown has been incredibly stressful and busy for many in ministry. There seems to be a misnomer amongst some folk that because churches are closed then it’s one long holiday for ministers! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Filled with a heart to bless and love on the community, many pastors are actually exhausted from overseeing ministries of kindness and support. Phones still ringing with parishioners problems; food banks to oversee; people dying and funerals required; sermons need to be planned prepared, prayed over and then delivered online; the list goes on. And all from the central hub of home life and the collective busyness of a family.

For many female pastors and pastors wives, it is all of the above with the added responsibility of children being home schooled, meals to cook, elderly parents to care for, young ones needing to be entertained, household chores to do, etc. Time often feeling stretched and pressured.

Impending lifting of restrictions may mean a dull thud of anxiety for those who are already feeling weary and exhausted. It’s so hard to be caring for others when you yourself feel you have nothing to give.

As much as is possible in the weeks ahead, try to only engage with priorities. Delegate out to others to take on some responsibilities to lighten your load. Check in with yourself that you aren’t coming under a performance mentality or comparison trap to other ministries. Share with those close to you how you feel, and don’t suffer under unnecessary guilt or stress. Actively seek out support for yourself if you need it, and step away from the busyness. You will thank yourself that you did!

Feel free to get in touch with us here at ESPS.M, we would love to hear from you. A problem shared is a problem halved. We are only human after all, and pushing ourselves too hard can have serious consequences on our physical and mental health over the long term. God cares for you and your wellbeing abundantly more than you even care for those around you.

Take time to selfcare from today, and ensure you aren’t running on empty when public worship services resume. God bless you with grace to be kind to yourself and look after your needs well.

D.MacNeil

 

 

 

PENTECOST

This Sunday we look forward to celebrating one of the greatest days in the history of the church – Pentecost. The powerful outpouring, transforming, filling of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the church.

Rather than reading today friends, be blessed with the following clip (4 mins). A visual representation of a defining moment. As you watch it, may your heart and soul be stirred, blessed, and ignited. More than that,  may we hunger and pray to see such a day in the life of all our churches today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLa-lj0zCGg

D. MacNeil