Monday, September 10, 2018

I Feel Compelled to Speak Up (World Suicide Prevention Day)

By Kris Freeman, Pastor
Revolution Church, White House, TN

The phone no longer rings in the middle of the night.

Now, it's a text message or social media warning and while the method has changed, the epidemic is just as serious and dangerous.

"I do not want to live anymore."

Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, is World Suicide Prevention Day, as sponsored by the World Health Organization.

I have a confession which may be hard for some of you to read. Not only have I struggled in my 28 years of battling type one diabetes to overcome the mental thoughts of hopelessness and depression, I average about one of the above messages received PER WEEK from a peer, friend, family member, former student, church member, student, parent, business owner and even pastors.

On or about August 23rd, a young pastor in California left behind a wife and three boys after attempting to take his own life on a Friday evening and dying of the self-inflicted injuries the following morning in the hospital. It was only approximately two weeks since Andrew Stoecklein preached on the very topic of suicide and mental illness in a passionate and compellingly raw and honest approach to a sensitive and difficult subject.

I have not slept a peaceful night since this news broke because I can put faces with the names of the very people I know battling this silent and treacherous epidemic in their own lives; whether it be family members grieving or the most important, a person suffering with no help and no hope and wondering if this is the option for them.

Let me speak candidly and frankly, suicide is not the answer. By saying that - in that manner - to someone who is facing it as a possibility - can come across as a lecture statement. Instead of assisting and helping the person battling the thoughts, it feels like an attack on their own selfishness as short-sighted, mean and comes across as a horrible approach to help.

Instead of receiving your assistance, a person with suicidal ideation may feel threatened and withdraw because of the stigma that is attached to suicide being a selfish act, or in Christian circles, labeled as a sin rather than a mental illness or its effect.

I guarantee if you have considered suicidal thoughts, as you are reading this that you have heard those very words from those closest to you who are desperately and often mistakenly trying to speak the correct words to save your life, and running the great risk of playing right into the hands of this demonic emotional war.

And yes, I called suicide a demonic emotional war. I don't believe you are a project, a failure and I do not believe it's as simple as praying your way out of the dark tunnel you are walking through. The reason I call it a demonic emotional war is that Satan, the enemy of God and father of lies and deception, is perfectly content watching good men and women destroy their lives and end it all and steal potential, purpose and people from this world with reckless abandon and mock God's people who feel helpless to stop it.

Here's the thing. I am speaking up because we are not helpless to stop it.

I want to offer some carefully written words which can help in this crisis. I am not an expert. I am a personal survivor and fighter. I believe you are worth it to live and I need you - and the people around you - to have the courage to listen to what I have to say.

See look, I've preached on this and it didn't go viral. I have written about this and no one published it. I have spoken one-on-one and no one asked the media to interview me. I am not looking for a platform, a book deal or sermon video hits.

I just want to help save your life and the life of your family members and friends who are facing this giant with no plan to overcome it.

Please listen, read to the end, and please see the resources to help.

First, let's attack the stigmas and why this is so hard in the first place.

1. The struggle of mental illness is a stigma with so many fears.

There is a business owner reading this message who has considered taking his or her own life. Perhaps a military veteran is reading this message with a daily battle against post traumatic stress disorder. A mom is watching her children play and wondering how she is going to survive the pressure to make it to Thursday. A spouse is grieving the loss of her soulmate and with the rapid succession of grief wonders if giving up is the answer.

Yet all of them with thousands of resources surrounding them online, in the church, human resources and among friends and family, do not speak up because they fear the repercussions of the stigma.

The business owner knows they cannot close down operations to seek medical or psychological treatment, so they strap on and clock in and press ahead through the fears. The military vet is terrified of being labeled as another statistic and sees the gruesome portrayal of this illness by Hollywood and suffers alone rather than trust anyone into their world. The mom can't bear being away from her children and the spouse can't find answers to grief, yet NONE of them are willing to go the extra mile when help is needed because sometimes the fear of being labeled "crazy" or "unstable" leads to avoidance and denial.

Deep in the mind of that small church pastor battling suicidal tendencies is exactly what Andrew - the  California pastor - was already facing. Without a proper approach to help, a diagnosis of mental instability could be career-threatening. Each individual starts to evaluate the effects of such a diagnosis on background checks for jobs and even something as simple as seeking out a permit for protective weapons.

Not every suicidal fear is a white coat straight jacket walking down the walls of an institutional facility. Most of them, rather, are the people you pass on the street and some numbers put the percentages into 10-20 percent of the general population faces such a mental dilemma.

How do we apply this - end the stigma. Get rid of words like "nutcase" and "psycho" and attributing every scared individual in the same category as those who commit violent crime or lost their mental capacity to interact with the world. Instead, let's continue to revamp medical insurance and benefits to support workplace cooperation to assist with private, serious and impactful mental health evaluations, and then revisit how we label this sickness and disease in society.

Give time off. Build mental health awareness into benefit packages. Increase confidentiality. Stop the stigma. End the gossip.

As a cancer patient fights through treatment and returns to life when the disease is gone, so should we have a standard for seeing success in mental health evaluations and treatment and giving people hope to live a story with thankfulness instead of ending it in shame.

2. The words you say matter.

Every Christian facing suicide fears and mental illness has been told to pray their way through it and this is such an empty answer to a massive problem.

Medical diagnosis from a professional is so critical, and being under the care of a physician, therapist and counselor is the most important step. Then, consider how the people around you - and those facing the epidemic - speak about this battle. Don't be afraid of medication, but I will leave that direction to a medical professional.

Eliminate targeted phrasing which can push the stigma:

  1. You're being selfish 
  2. Just pray your way through it
  3. Have more faith
  4. Oh, just get over it
  5. You're not tough enough
  6. It's all in your mind
  7. But you look fine
  8. Stop being so lazy
  9. You're messed up in the head
  10. I don't care, just do whatever you want
Those statements are not only foolish, but to a person battling suicidal thoughts and fears of overcoming mental illness, they seem like daggers. What you perceive to be tough love becomes an open invitation for the person in the battle to further declare that they are not worth your time, love and energy to overcome it.

Behind so many suicide attempts and unfortunate conclusions is a person just deeply crying out to be heard and understood, without judgment and accusation, and to have friends and family walk the road with them and seek help. But in the end, a statement like the above becomes a trigger point and launch pad for the moment when a person gives up.

Please change our talk. How can we help? I love you. I'm right here with you. Let's go somewhere and hang out. I don't understand how you feel but I want to listen to you. You're not alone. This may not get better today but I am going to stick with you until it does. I will help you. I am your friend. I will keep this private (and of course there is an exception to that rule if there is imminent danger or in a life or death circumstance). I am committed to you.

So much of a change in our tone and our talk is the key to engaging the conversation.

I have talked someone down from a suicide on numerous occasions and even once been in serious harms way. I have been in the path of a loaded gun and I have taken weapons out of the hands of people who wanted to harm themselves. This is not easy. It nearly cost me my life and it might have placed yours in jeopardy too, but it's worth the investment to try because every person needing to hear those words is worth it too.

3. The story is better when you tell it.

Pastor Andrew's story is now being used as a foundational watershed moment for the church and mental illness and suicide. God has taken a tragedy and used it as a foundation for how to address such a hard topic. His wife's letter to him following his death is one of the hardest things I have ever read, and it went viral.

But what if - what if he survived. Would people listen to his story? How many deaths and destructive moments does it take before we as a society start to listen to those voices of despair facing hopelessness? What if - he could be here today to tell this story.

So my challenge to you, whether you are the individual facing such a fear or the family member or friend trying to overcome it in someone you love, is YOUR STORY IS WORTH BEING TOLD BY YOU. And the only way our stories build each other and become testimonies of success and survival is if we attack the epidemic head on and say enough is enough.

Not another one.

I want to hear your story. I want the world to hear your story.

I don't know how many people will read this one, but if this saves a life then I have invested my time wisely to share it.

To all the experts in the field, please help. Help us. Help them. Help me. Help you. Help each other.

And if I have spoken this directive without the proper words, forgive me. I am just a man who wanted to help and I felt today was the day to speak up.

I refuse to let suicide, mental illness, depression, PTSD, anxiety, and the countless other names of traumatic moments and battles define who I am and what the legacies of my friends, families and strangers will be.

Remember, I love you and these are my thoughts.

I may not even know you, but I'll never meet you if either of us aren't here.

Live.Love.Serve.

Pastor K

---

OFFICIAL WAYS TO HELP


Take 5 to Save Lives
This campaign encourages everyone to take 5 minutes out of their day and complete five action items:

1. Learn the warning signs 2. Do your part
3. Practise self-care
4. Reach out
5. Spread the word
www.take5tosavelives.org

RUOK?
This conversation movement endeavours to inspire others to help break the silence and ask ‘are you ok?’ to support someone struggling with some simple steps that could change a life.
https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask

Mental Health First Aid
This evidence-based, internationally-recognised course teaches participants the framework of communication, how to offer and provide initial help, and how to guide a person towards appropriate treatment and other supportive help. www.mhfa.com.au/research/mhfa-course-evaluations

There are numerous other examples too; relevant resources can be found on the websites of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (https://www.iasp.info/resources/Helping_Someone/) and the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/en/)


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Peace of My Mind (06.17.18 Notes)

A Peace of My Mind
#FamilyCircus Week 3
Pastor Kris Freeman
Revolution Church
Sunday, June 17, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 5:9 and Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. - Matthew 5:9

We are called to be PEACEMAKERS not peacekeepers - there is a difference.

It’s a lot like the difference between LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT.

  1. Leaders are influential and servant-minded
  2. Managers are controlling and rigid

What kind of parent do you want to be? A leader or a manager?

  • Peacekeepers often AVOID conflict to keep the peace
  • Peacemakers EMBRACE conflict to make peace

Being a peacemaker doesn’t just mean the absence of trouble - it means SEEKING the highest good!

  • You have a right to be angry
  • You have a right to be offended
  • You have a right to be hurt
  • But when you exercise your right - your are putting self first

Peace is to be SELFLESS for the building of what is ACTUALLY right, not just A RIGHT.

  1. Peacekeepers often AVOID conflict to keep the peace
  2. Peacekeepers EMBRACE conflict to make peace.

Remember, we have a goal to make our #FamilyCircus a Christ-centered home.

A Christ-centered home isn’t a CONFLICT-FREE family. It’s a CONFLICT-SOLVING zone!

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. … 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom 12:17-18, 21

What do peacemakers do?

  1. Tell the TRUTH in love.

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ… Ephesians 4:15 NLT

Confront the issues, and not the person. Love the person, deal with the STUFF.

  • When you don’t listen to me, I don’t feel like you value me.
  • When you raise your voice, I don’t feel safe.
  • You may not even notice, with our friends, jabs.
  • When you continue to check your phone at the table—devalued.
  • When you lie insignificant, it’s hard to really trust you.

2. Apologize when you are WRONG

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16

Admit to specific attitudes and actions with no EXCUSES.

The difference between remorse and repentance
  • I’m sorry is for mistakes.
  • Will you forgive me is for sin.

3. Forgive and LET GO

How do I forgive? Most people say I can’t!!!!
  • Significant betrayal
  • Spouse adultery
  • Abuse
  • Tragedy
  • General irritation and annoyance!!!! (right? come on somebody amen that!)

You forgive by doing what they don’t deserve, by giving something that you didn’t pay for.

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col 3:13

Family is worth it, as far as it depends on you, it BETTER be.


Children of God are made in his IMAGE. You never look more like God than when you forgive, and when you make peace.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Every Ingredient of the Recipe (06.10.18 Notes)

Every Ingredient of the Recipe
The Family Circus Week 2
Pastor Kris Freeman
Revolution Church
Sunday. June 10, 2018

Scripture: Psalm 34:1-10 (NLT)

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. 2 I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. 3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. 4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. 6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. 7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. 8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. 10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Last week we discussed having a family that is hungry for righteousness.

What did your family say they were thankful for this week?

___________________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________

Sometimes, I get hungry for things which take a LONG TIME to make.

In the church and the family, these are the things that take a long time to develop:
- A sense of community
- A movement of discipleship 
- A life of worship
- A structure of stability

It’s like a RECIPE - you need the right ingredients, the right mixture and the right TEMPERATURE.

My family is like yours, we are a mixed bowl of different gifts, abilities and talents all molded together for a common purpose.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 

Making brownies!
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/3 cup sweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat to 350, grease pan and spread, bake 25-30 minutes
And don’t forget some recipes have a few nuts!

The recipe is like a model of the BODY which makes up the church.

  1. Butter - the liquid fat of the recipe provides TEXTURE. Every family and church needs texture. Texture represents the people who are the substance of the family and the church.
  2. Sugar - the sweetness. Every family needs those sweet people who love bigger than their body and all churches need people who can love unconditionally like Jesus.
  3. Eggs - the egg is an interesting ingredient. It’s full purpose is not revealed until it’s broken. We love broken people, we are just not satisfied that you stay that way.
  4. Vanilla - the vanilla extract is for flavor, but what it does is bring out the savory elements of the other ingredients. If you are vanilla, you make others better!
  5. Cocoa - the diversity, color, culture and style of the recipe comes from a powdery substance that once mixed and heated takes its full place. Families which are diverse and whole are so beautiful!
  6. Flour - the foundation. Nothing rises and gets full without the flour. You need foundation people in every relationship, family and church. They are the cornerstones.
  7. Salt - the preservation. Everybody thinks salt is about flavor. That’s just a small part of it! The salt makes everything in the dough stronger, thicker and more likely to stick together. It also slows down the conflict of chemical reactions in the recipe. The salt is such an important role because in your church, the salt people hold everything together in crisis, and bring flavor in success! 

But did we FORGET an ingredient?

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:13-16 NLT)

There are SPECIAL parts of God’s kingdom that don’t seem to fit in, but are so important.

NUTS come in all shapes, varieties and ways. And you can be a little off, and still have a place!

8. The most important thing about the additive to the recipe is it does for it what NOTHING ELSE can do. 

You never think you need it - until it’s NOT THERE.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)

Once you apply the heat (PRESSURE) then you reveal the PURPOSE.


You are a part of this family, and you BELONG.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Everybody's Hungry (06.03.18 Notes)

Everybody’s Hungry
The Family Circus Week 1
Pastor Kris Freeman
Revolution Church
Sunday. June 3, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 5:6 and Psalm 63:1 (NLT)

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. (Matt. 5:6 NLT)

The King James Version of the English Bible says hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS.

What is it that your family is hungry for?

Think of this for a minute…
  • If you have babies, they are hungry for EVERYTHING but can only have CERTAIN THINGS
  • If you have small children, they are PICKY for what they learn to love
  • If you have teenagers, God bless you. Let’s pray and work on a grocery budget (and don’t act like you’re not feeding four of their friends regularly too!)
  • If you are an adult, you settle into a mature TASTE for what you like and a RESPONSIBLE taste for what you need.

Sometimes though, I just get hungry for more. (Popcorn!)

In your home, what does your family truly hunger for?

___________________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________

What does not work in a family, or in a church:

  • Legalistic Christianity
  • Lukewarm Christianity

What does work:

  • We are not just a CHRISTIAN family, but be a CHRIST-CENTERED home

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 NLT)

Help your family hunger for God see him as LOVING, approachable and INVOLVED.

Create an environment where questioning God and seeking him is not only recommended, but invited. Help your children see the DEPTHS of how delicious the Word of God is! Do you remember helping them try a food for the first time?

I hated steak! I got sick the first time I ever ate it. It was a disaster. But I parents taught me how to eat it, chew it and even savor it. And now as an adult, I want STEAK!!!! I love it!

You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. (Hebrews 5:12 NLT)

Three ways to create a hunger for God in your crazy, family circus of a world.

  1. Involve God in your daily CONVERSATIONS

Apply this - every day, ask a question to your kids that brings God or the Bible into the equation. Nature. Reason. Science. Will. Understanding. Tragedy. Happiness. Thankfulness.

Start a THANKFULNESS CHART (see example with Pastor Kris on the stage) - every day, every member of your family has to write something on the chart/board. No exceptions!

  1. Make attending church together a NON-NEGOTIABLE

Don’t just send. Lead.
Don’t just attend. Serve.
Don’t just take. Give.
Don’t just complain and bicker. Love.
Don’t just search. Stay.

  1. Show how seeking and serving God is FUN

Inside the worship guide, there is a family activity sheet. During the summer, post this in your home and see how many of these activities you can accomplish. Make being together fun.


But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NLT)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Feeling is Mutual (05.13.18 Notes - Mother's Day)

The Feeling is Mutual
#YouAskedForIt Week Two
Pastor Kris Freeman
Revolution Church
Sunday, May 13, 2018

Scripture: Ephesians 5:21-33 (NLT)

21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

Submission is - believe it or not, an actual of MUTUAL respect.

Submission in parenting and the marital relationship begins with GOD at the head of everything that we do together. As a couple, but FIRST as an individual, we must be submissive to him.

Today’s You Asked For It question deals with the roles of men and women in marital relationships, even what is the man’s role as the head of the family and what does that mean?

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 

This scripture proves that a man should be a LEADER, a SERVANT, and SUBMIT and SACRIFICE.

  1. There is nothing wrong or chauvinistic about good male leadership in the family.
  2. Men should be AWESOME husbands.
  3. Men should be good role models.
  4. Men should be good friends.
  5. Men should be GREAT dads.

Our God is every quality of a GREAT dad - and even a great mom! Believe it or not!

28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.

Husbands, love your wives! And here’s why women deserve to be loved!

  1. Women are vitally important and Biblically significant to the plan of God.
  2. Women should be INCREDIBLE wives.
  3. Women should be fantastic mentors and leaders.
  4. Women should be good friends.
  5. Women as mothers are the GREATEST THING on earth!

31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Relationships should seem easy - but it’s very difficult! It’s EXTREMELY difficult.

Then you add KIDS. Wow!

Being a parent is such a blessing! But it’s a tough road!

  1. Being a parent is a biological thing - God said be fruitful and multiply!
  2. Being a parent is a psychological thing - it produces mental growth and challenges!
  3. Being a parent is a spiritual thing - you are the leaders of your children’s future!
  4. Being a parent is a tragic and heart-breaking thing - the roller coasters are so hard!
  5. Being a parent is a perfect thing to illustrate the love of God toward us.


Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. (Proverbs 22:6 NLT)