Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Remission Depression

Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10

For the past week, I have had the blues, been down in the dumps, out of sorts, or not myself. You’ll notice that I carefully avoid the word “depressed,” choosing instead any euphemism for the condition that plagued my father for most of his life. Knowing the genetic component of clinical depression, I’ve always had the unfounded fear that I, too, will be sucked into that bottomless pit.

The deaths of several f.a.i.t.H. members, visitations, and funerals this summer have contributed to my malaise. But apart from that very legitimate reason, I have little to be depressed about. Nicole, the psychologist daughter, suggested that because Jim is doing so well I have resorted to worrying about inconsequential happenings which I ignored when I had the overwhelming worry of his cancer.

Sad but true. I need something to worry about. When I was occupied with cancer, everything else shrank in importance. I couldn’t worry about whether a grandchild got the teacher he wanted or the part in the play that she deserved. My focus was on only one thing—Jim’s recovery. I had no energy left for other worries. Cancer has a way of realigning priorities and sifting the significant from the trivial.

Holly McRae, a member of f.a.i.t.H, whose six-year-old daughter Kate is battling a brain tumor expresses this so well:

Yesterday was one of the best days in quite some time. Surprisingly, as I watched Kate go into her classroom for her first day of kindergarten, I wasn't overwhelmed with tears. Simply excitement and gratitude. Gratefulness that she got the chance to experience a first day of kindergarten, meeting new friends and navigating through an elementary school. Yes, her first day was far different than I could have ever imagined years ago. It was different, and yet still so good.

Kate is currently being evaluated by the school district to see what therapies she would or would not qualify for. The irony never misses me. The one I thought be bored with school, as it came so easy for her is now being tested to see what she needs to help her get through it. As it is still a hard pill to swallow some days, I am reminded of what truly matters, those things that no one or no disease can steal. Only those things that will last, those things that have eternal significance. In a moment the things we spend our lives painstakingly chasing can be gone. Gone with one diagnosis, gone in a moment. I hope I won't always fear cancer, but I pray that it will always remind me of what lasts. That it will have given me perspective not many find. And a confidence of what truly matters.”

This realigning of priorities has happened more than once in my lifetime. In September of 2001, tennis consumed my waking hours. I played several times a week and when I didn’t play I talked about it—how to win matches, why I lost matches, reliving points, and planning rematches. When I won a match, I was elated; when I lost I was defeated. I played tennis, as I play most games, as if it was a matter of life and death—fully engaged, committed, and involved. I approached each match using the techniques of Inner Tennis talking to myself to control the nerves that if unbridled would interfere with my ability to execute.

Then came 9/11. My priorities shifted. The outcome of a tennis match took its appropriate place in the bigger scheme of world events. I was no longer hampered by nerves before a game. What did it really matter when the world was falling apart?

In November, 2002, Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer, and my world crumbled as surely as the World Trade Center had the year before.

When in the throes of a cancer battle, or any crisis for that matter, I think I will never again need an attitude adjustment—the yanking up by the chain that occurs when real problems come into our lives. In the midst of a trial, I think that henceforth I will give thanks for every “normal day,” never again needing the thrill of a big win, an article published in a prestigious periodical, a marketing effort come to fruition, a pat on the back, or any other of the ego-boosters that make my day. Just waking up, feeling well with no looming problems on the horizon is good enough. After living in cancer’s shadow one would think a sunny day reason enough for rejoicing.

But I’m human. And human beings are quick to forget the blessings we receive and just as quick to forget the Source from whom those blessings flow.

My prayer, like Holly’s, is that cancer will continue to remind me of what is truly important, that “it will have given me perspective not many find. And a confidence in what truly matters.”

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6,7).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Review: What Every Christian Should Know About the Jewish People

An Interview with Sheryl Young

1. As a Jewish person, how did you come to know Jesus as your Messiah?

My family lived in an all-Christian neighborhood because of my father’s job. I really believed all the stories in the Torah (Jewish version of Old Testament), but I also wanted to know more about the Jesus my friends spoke of.

When we moved away from there, I forgot my desire for many years. Then, my grandparents died, and our family fell away from practicing Judaism. After I got married, my husband (whose mother was a Christian) just up and went to church one day. About two weeks later, he came home and said he’d accepted Jesus. So I went along to church, to see what it was about.

All those feelings came rushing back. But I still thought, I’m a Jewish girl, how can I accept Jesus? Then, the church had a revival and a Jewish believer in Jesus came to give her testimony and sing Messianic Jewish songs! That night, I gave my life to Christ.

2. What was the driving force behind your writing this book for Christians – and not a book for Jewish people about Christ?

Since finding the Lord in 1987, so many Christians have asked me questions about the Jewish religion, Jesus’ Jewish upbringing, and why Jewish people find it hard to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Also, there have been recent times that churches have attempted to “evangelize the Jews” without learning about them first. I felt a strong calling to help Christians have more tools and knowledge for reaching out to the Jewish world community in friendship and love.

3. What are a few questions you answer in the book?
The book is subtitled “Improving the Church’s Relationship with God’s Original Chosen Nation,” so there are many topics included to give Christians a well-rounded way to relate to Jewish people. But here are the questions I’m asked most often:

-Is Judaism a religion, a nationality or a culture?
-Why did Hitler target Jewish people and those who helped them in the Holocaust?
-How can I, as a Christian, defend Israel’s existence?
-Do Jewish people really need to be “converted,” and must they leave all their Jewishness behind?

About the Author
Sheryl’s been freelance writing professionally since 1997. Her work has been seen in the Tampa Tribune, St. Pete Times and Florida Baptist Witness Newspapers; Light & Life, Today’s Christian Woman and Better Nutrition Magazines; “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” Vista Sunday School Curriculum, and most currently as Staff Writer for The Underground Online Christian Magazine.

How to get the Book:

 Find details about How to Order “What Every Christian Should Know about the Jewish People” at her Faith-Inspired Blog, It is available (online only) at, and most other bookselling websites, or Wine Press/Pleasant Word Publishing