Q: Right now, with everything going on in the world, a big topic is Mental Health in our families. How should we as believers handle Mental Health?
A: We encourage believers to incorporate their faith in Christ with the available science. As we extend grace, patience, and love to the suffering, we understand how serious mental health issues can be. We encourage those in need to reach out for professional help. Yes, prayer still works, but God has gifted some amazing people to provide Bible-based counseling and therapy. There are resources for churches as well, through organizations such as the James Dobson Family Institute and the American Association of Christian Counselors. These organizations have adapted to the times and are providing Bible-based training and other valuable resources for churches of all sizes to meet the needs of a post-pandemic church and society.
Q: How has the pandemic exacerbated family issues and brought them to the surface for families?
A: The lock-downs that took place all over the world are unprecedented in modern times and families spent more time together than at any other time in their lives. Normally spending time together would be a good thing, however because of the halting of the economy there was financial stress like we have never seen before. The kind of isolation so many have experienced has greatly impacted people’s mental health. The pandemic has caused major sudden change—and change is generally the number one cause of stress in people. Add to that any pre-existing strained relationships, unforgiveness, chemical or substance dependency issues and the pandemic stressed many family units to unhealthy mental and emotional circumstances.
Q: Talk about your own person story…I know you share this in your book, Love Like You Have Never Been Hurt?
A: Cherise and I have had to deal with situations that have hurt us or left us offended. But we had to make a choice…are we going to just cut people off and be done with them, or are we going to see them as a treasure and say, “God, they need our love; they need our forgiveness, they need us to be who You want us to be.” In these challenging times, forgive and let God do a work in and through you. Love people just like Jesus loves you. He didn’t wait until you had every sin out of your life, but He kept loving you. And let God deal with the rest, because your arguing and anger is not going to change the human heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and He’ll use the weapon of love through you.
Q: What are the five truths on what loving like you’ve never been hurt means in the context of boundaries for your family:
1. Stop keeping score. After forgiveness is given, let it go. Otherwise we dig graves for people they can never climb out of.
2. It’s never wrong to love – even if someone has hurt you. To love someone is a choice.
3. Forgive – even when the one you are forgiving never acknowledges they did anything wrong.
4. To not forgive has consequences; it’s like drinking poison and expecting the person you are angry with to get sick – you are the one who gets sick and unforgiveness is spiritual poison to the soul. Worse yet, Jesus says if you will not forgive others their trespasses, He will not forgive you of yours.
5. Love God like you have never been hurt. Many times, if we are truly honest with ourselves – it’s God we are angry with for allowing a hurt to happen, especially when it happens to someone we hold dear like a child or family member.
Q: How is forgiveness the key to releasing the power of the Spirit of God and the power of healing?
A: Forgiveness brings a freedom that nothing else can bring because it is such a great act of faith to truly “cast your cares on Him.” It is a trust like no other trust to believe that God is just and sees the wrong done – even when you can’t see justice taking place. It is also powerful in that, while we seek justice and punishment for the wrong-doer, God seeks restoration (repentance, forgiveness, salvation) for the offender.
Q: Often we can walk through difficult seasons with our spouse. Talk about some of the keys to walking through that:
A: For some people marriage is everything from eternal bliss to hell on earth. It can be the hottest of hot, the coldest of cold, and everything in between because we are human and we are selfish by nature. In fact, if your marriage is guided by your human nature it probably will not last. That’s why our spiritual health is so critical: prayer, time in the Word, church, and everything that comes with truly walking with God. If we are not walking with God on a daily basis then we are walking in the flesh and the flesh only wants what it wants, with little consideration for others, and that can include your spouse.
Additionally, I don’t care how spiritual you are, if you neglect your spouse and don’t do the things that make a marriage a daily relationship then you are headed for trouble through your self-imposed separation. Isolation and neglect were never part of God’s plan for marriage. A marriage is made up of the hundreds of little things you do every day and not simply the occasional grand gesture. Time, attention, affection, encouragement, kind words – these are all critical in any relationship and will sustain in the most difficult seasons.
Q: In the last 18 months, our world has been turned upside down dealing with COVID-19 and Mental Health issue are on the rise. What advise have you been giving your church and family to deal with this?
A: We must never forget that we have the answer in times like these that the world can never offer: salvation through Jesus Christ and an eternal purpose in every situation – crisis or otherwise. So, the greatest thing we can offer is Jesus. But that doesn’t mean we bury our head in the sand and ignore the issues people are dealing with all over the world and in our own community and church.
For those who are panicked, worried, disturbed, or feel like the world is spinning out of control, I assure you, it’s not. In Job 38, the Bible said God came in a whirlwind. A whirlwind is a tornado and looks like something out of control. When God shows up in something that seems like it’s out of control, it’s to show that He’s in total control. He is God and when He is near, all the fear is dispelled in our lives. Today, there’s no need for panic. But we must make a choice, you have to choose faith over fear.
Q: Fear and anxiety can become mental prison. How can we step into freedom and break free from them?
A: Jesus provides freedom and healing for every situation, but that doesn’t mean people are always walking in that freedom. For some that means greater understanding and application of God’s Word and for others it may require professional help for past traumas and hurts so great that they cannot navigate without the help of a professional. That’s why the approach has to be comprehensive – we do what we can do as a church while providing assistance or referrals to match the need.
We still believe that God heals every situation: physical, emotional, or spiritual and we believe God heals people in our altars every week. But for some, that healing does not come instantaneously and other steps need to be added to the process. As a church, we have to be prepared to offer both – solid Bible teaching and a message of hope, salvation, healing, and restoration. What the pandemic has really shown us is that we need to also make sure we have another healing arm of the church through counseling and mental health solutions and options.
Q: The pandemic has changed so many people’s circumstances. How do we safeguard ourselves against hopelessness?
A: We’re being dominated right now in our culture by fear. We need to go from fear-based living to faith-based living. Over the last few decades, life expectancy has more than doubled. We’re actually living longer and healthier than any time in human history. We have to choose faith over fear. We have more health than any other generation in history. We have more cures, more medicine, more technology, more science than we’ve ever had. And yet, many people are living in fear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be cautious and follow all the state and federal guidelines, but as believers we need to remember that our times are in God’s hands and that the power of life and death are in the hands of Jesus. He holds the keys.
Q: With the chaos of these times we’re living in, why is it important now more than ever to really grasp that we stand in the steady, secure hand of our Heavenly Father?
A: Remind people of the simple truth that no matter what it looks like in the natural, we are winning and will ultimately win in the end. God is not surprised or startled by anything – and He has us in the palm of His hand. Trust and obey. Stand for truth even when people are calling evil good and good evil. God sees and He knows and He is ALWAYS in control over our life and every situation we encounter.
Don’t give up and don’t give in. Keep standing and keep fighting for your family, for your purpose, and for the Kingdom of God to be advanced. You are never alone and God promised with His last words on earth, “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth.”