Archives For suicide
If you were walking in the woods and found a watch on the ground, you would not assume that it was there by chance. You would not for a second think, “Given enough time and the combination of the right elements, this watch randomly appeared.” Poof. Just like that. Even if the watch didn’t work, you still wouldn’t think that it was the result of rain or mud or sunlight. You would look at the watch on the forest floor and know that it was left there by someone. You would assume that the watch was made by an intelligent person, not unintelligent elements. The watch is too complex to assume anything different; besides, complex things just don’t “happen” on their own.
Now imagine that someone is walking in the woods and bumps their toe on you! You are laying on the forest floor, just like the watch was. Again, what would you assume? No one would ever assume that you had been laying there for all eternity, or that you were the result of enough time and elements. How much more complex are you, than a watch? You are far more complex, far more beautiful, and far more impressive than a watch. No one in their right mind would ever think that you were the result of too much sunlight, mud, or rain. I would take one look at you and realize that you were made by an Intelligent Person and placed there by an Intelligent Person. Someone as magnificent as you could not just “happen” on his or her own.
In the Hebrew portion of the Bible, this word “made” is often translated as “create.” And when it comes to creating things, only God is the subject of this verb. No other people, gods, or things are given the right to “create.” This is simply staggering. Elements don’t create; accidents don’t create; events don’t create; demons don’t create; only God creates. This means that if something is here, then it was only made by one Person: God. And if God made you, then he wants you here. And if he wants you here, then you have a great purpose. The One who gives life also grants purpose. Every creature that God creates, he infuses with a special purpose.
The best way to find your purpose is not to demand that God shows you; rather, the best way to find your purpose is to wake up on the forest floor, look around, and see what needs to be done. Who needs love right now? Go love. That is your purpose. Who needs help right now? Go help. That is your purpose. What injustices need straightened out? Go serve. That is your purpose. As Victor Frankl asked, “What is life demanding of me right now?” Is life demanding that you be strong? Be loving? Stand up under trial? Suffer well? Then these are your purpose. We are called to turn every hell into heaven and give heaven to every hell.
I fear that too many of us have been looking into the wrong mirror. We look into broken mirrors, the result being that we only see broken people. We need to look into the perfect face of Jesus in order to see who we are. We are not accidents, incidents, or detriments. We are the bold creations of a loving Creator, who put purpose into every drop of our being.
Don’t give up on your purpose, because your purpose has not given up on you.
© Samuel Kee, 2013
The way you think about friendship is all wrong. At some point in your life—or most likely at every point—you’ll struggle with relationships. The “issue” of relationships is probably bigger than we think. So much of our energy revolves around the need for relationships, maintaining relationships, or dealing with relationships. In fact, this is one of the major predictors in attempted suicide; research shows that those who attempt suicide struggle with a lack of belonging. Each of us longs to belong, to have friends, to experience meaningful relationships.
But what is a friend?
Have you ever thought that your definition of “friend” is wrong? I believe that by truly understanding what a friend is, and what it means to be a friend, we can overcome a great deal of anxiety. According to our culture, a friend is someone who’s fun to hang out with and someone I can “be myself” with. That’s a pretty good, generic definition of what our culture thinks a friend is.
However, this understanding of friendship is extremely shallow. Yes, it may be true that a friend is someone who is fun to hang out with. Yes, it may be true that a friend is someone you can be yourself around. But this understanding is so narrow! There is so much more depth to true friendship, which we must go down into if we’re going to be rescued from drowning in such shallow water.
For instance, should a friend be someone who is fun to hang out with? Really? If a person doesn’t fit that description, then is he or she really not your friend? Or, does a friend always have to be someone you can be yourself around? But what if you’ve got some nasty habits? Is that person really a friend if he doesn’t challenge you to change?
I’ve been in a biker bar before and heard this line (inevitably once it’s realized that I am a Christian and go to church), “We’ve got better community here than at any church! This is true friendship here!” On one level, the biker could be right: there are some pathetic communities in the local church. But on another level, the biker is completely wrong. He is defining friendship as the culture defines it: these are my drinking buddies who are fun to hang out with and who I can be myself around—but that’s it. I see how shallow their friendships can be. I hear the way they talk about their fellow “drinking buddies” behind their backs. The truth is, when you find a true Christian, you find someone who’s willing to lay down his life for his friend, not stab him in the back. Actually, I as a Christian, would be willing to lay down my life for an enemy, just as Jesus did for me.
Getting back to my point, friendship is much deeper and richer than we normally think. Knowing this will reveal to you that you have more friends than you think; and, you can be a better friend to more people than you realize. While I want to keep “fun to hang out with” and “be myself with” on the list, I’d like to add to it. A friend is also someone who:
- Gives you love
- Comforts you
- Gives you strength
- Is with you when you need it
- Makes you happy
- Prays with you
- Forgives you
- Helps you to be good
- Warns you
- Saves you from danger
- Mentors you
- Helps you to know God
- Sacrifices for you
Just think about some of these on my list. A friend, for instance, is someone who comforts you. Does this person also have to be fun to hang out with? Absolutely not! Is there anyone in your life who gives you comfort? Who encourages you and strengthens you? Even if you don’t hang out with this person, she might still be your friend! Or, do you have anyone who prays for you? Though it might be hard to “be yourself” around this person, that doesn’t mean that he is not your friend! Do you have anyone who helps you to be a better person? Again, this individual might not be fun to be around, but you can still consider her your friend.
You have many more friends than you think; and you can be a friend to many more people than you realize. To be a friend, you don’t just need to be “fun” and “transparent.” You can be a friend by sacrificing, encouraging, helping, forgiving, strengthening, praying, being present, mentoring, saving, comforting, loving, etc. And you can find your true friends in those who are sacrificing, encouraging, helping, forgiving, strengthening, praying, being present, mentoring, saving, comforting, loving, etc.
Not everyone fits the cultural definition of what it means to be a friend. Fortunately, there is so much more room in “friendship,” enough room to include all kinds of people, not just the bubbly extroverts.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
This is video 5 of 8 in our series, “Where Was God?” This week, to answer this question, we’ll look to the resurrection of Jesus. In the resurrection, we’ll find true hope. We’ll also learn of a very helpful acronym for the word H.O.P.E. Thanks for watching and be sure to tell a friend about Hope Stands.
In 1989, I remember that one of the local Cleveland radio stations played REM’s It’s the End of the World until the grooves of the record practically wore out, in anticipation of the new decade of 1990. In case you don’t know, the world did not come to an end at that time.
My friend Derek once said, “While the world might not be coming to an end, someone’s world might be coming to an end.” That’s mighty perceptive. Today, for instance, 18,000 children alone will die of starvation. Someone else close by will be told by a doctor that the cancer is terminal. Another person will be awaked by a phone call reporting a fatal accident. There will be more shootings and more wars and more car bombs. Many will not be able to take the toughness of life anymore and will simply give up. In fact, in the next 15 minutes someone in the US will succeed in killing themselves, then again in the 15 minutes after that. Every 40 seconds, someone in our country is attempting to bring their world to an end by suicide.
Could the Mayan’s be right? Sure they could. Does that threaten the Christian’s belief in God’s sovereignty? Not at all. In fact, in 2 Chronicles 35:22, we find something absolutely shocking. God’s man King Josiah wanted to go fight for God’s nation, Israel; however, God didn’t want him to. So God spoke through a heathen king, Neco of Egypt, telling Josiah not to fight. But Josiah “did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God.” If God can speak his words through the mouth of King Neco, then God can speak through the Mayans, if he chooses. Of course, Jesus said that no living being knows when this will be, except for God the Father (see Mark 13:32). While we can’t know for sure if the Mayan’s are right, God is free to do as he pleases. Our job is clear: “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33).
The truth of the matter is that hundreds of thousands of people’s worlds will come to an end today; they don’t even need to wait for tomorrow. The best way that we can get ready is to open up our hearts to this verse and embrace its truths:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish by have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God haunts this world with dreams, whether you realize it or not. He invades every culture of every age, slipping in theological thoughts to their consciousness. They dream of a time when the world comes to an end. And that’s entirely consistent with Christian theology. Even in John 3:16, we’re told that some will perish. Cultures dream of moral standards to live by, most of which are also consistent with Christianity. The big one, as I see it, is that every culture—and I’m thinking about the world religions—dreams about a sacrifice. In every religion, there is some kind of sacrifice. Some kind of sacrifice is made in order to accomplish something, mostly to appease a higher power. This dream of sacrifice, however, has been carefully whispered into the ears of every culture, letting us all know that a sacrifice is needed. “Sacrifice” is the metanarrative of the world.
In Jesus, we awake and all the dreams become reality. We find what we’ve been dreaming about all along. Jesus is the sacrifice our collective consciousness has been longing for. Jesus was sacrificed for us, to appease the wrath of God and give us eternal life. God loved us so much, that he gave his only Son as a sacrifice, so that anyone who has faith in him will not be destroyed (tomorrow), but have eternal life.
This may or may not be my last post. OMG (Oh Mayan god!)!
© Samuel Kee, 2012
The gospel is like a gas, not a stack of bricks. A stack of bricks just sits there, in one corner of life. A stack of bricks only reaches a certain height and only touches certain lives. If the stack of bricks is in your yard, then it’s not in mine, leaving all the hope with you. And sometimes that’s exactly how we feel. We look at someone else’s life and say to ourselves, “They have all the bricks!”
But the gospel is like a gas, not a stack of bricks. Put a gas in a container, and it expands to fill every nook and cranny in that container. It spreads out evenly, no matter how small it was originally. Any amount of gas, even a pinch, will evenly fill the space in which it is put. It completely changes the atmosphere of its environment.
The word gospel comes from the Greek language, meaning, “good news.” Whenever the ancients needed to share some life changing news to the city or village, they would herald the gospel. It was the news, not prophecy. It was accomplished, not predicted. The gospel was not about news that would happen in the future, but about news that has already happened in the past.
Christians started to use this term to refer to their message. Their message was about a person who really lived and shook the headlines. He said things like no other person said. He did things that no other person did. The climax of his life was his brutal death and astonishing bodily return from the dead. The hundreds of people who saw him after his death gazed wide-eyed at this walking, talking miracle and thought, “If he returned from the dead, then maybe I could, too!”
This was big news, this was good news—definitely gospel material. Jesus told his followers that he was the new place of finding God, for reconciliation has already happened because of the sacrifice he made on the cross on behalf of sinful people. They didn’t need to offer anymore sacrifices, they didn’t need to kill themselves to be accepted, they didn’t need to continue in the endless cycles of effort in order to please God. Jesus offered the sacrifice, killed himself, pleased God, and ended the cycle, once-and-for-all.
The message of Jesus is not a finger, giving us pointers on how to live in order to be accepted by God. Rather, the message of Jesus is a gospel, the good news of what he has done for us to make us acceptable. You might say that gospel means “accomplished by God.”
And the gospel is like a gas. It was good news that was released into the air thousands of years ago, and it has been expanding and filling the world ever since. Nothing can stop it. It did not remain stacked up in some backwater town of the Roman Empire like a pile of rotten bricks. It has danced and dissolved into every time and every place.
Just a pinch of the gospel has the power to change everything. How? Because the gospel is all about hope. It brings our future crashing through into the present, robbing the past of its power. Hope has kicked out the teeth of despair, leaving it without any bite. When Jesus stood up after death, he showed us how every trial would turn out. Every trial, from concentration camps to cutting, would end in life and victory. The newscast has already been given, the herald has already spoken: We Win!
Because of Jesus, hope can be the air we breathe, even when life seems noxious. The person who has cracked open a pinch of the gospel, takes in its new reality. He still suffers, but he suffers with hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13).
I don’t know how you feel about this, but I want to live with the oxygen mask of the gospel, lest I be poisoned by the toxic fumes of sin and death. If life is choking you right now, please breathe in the good news of Jesus.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
I have two burdens on my heart right now, so please allow me to get them off my chest. If you don’t know, I am a pastor, getting to work with beautiful people that God has made. But that’s the trouble, they don’t know that they are beautiful. So I have a few words for you.
Dear friend, why are you thinking about taking your life? Dear friend, why are you addicted to porn? Thinking about America in the 1800’s, French political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the “strange melancholy that haunts the inhabitants.” His words are truer today than ever before. There is a strange melancholy that haunts us. Here’s what Tim Keller writes:
There is a difference between sorrow and despair. Sorrow is a pain for which there are sources of consolation. Sorrow comes from losing one good thing among others, so that, if you experience a career reversal, you can find comfort in your family to get you through it. Despair, however, is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing. When you lose the ultimate source of your meaning or hope, there are no alternative sources to turn to. It breaks your spirit.
Too many of us are experiencing a strange melancholy in the midst of so much prosperity, because we’re building our lives on what de Tocqueville calls an “incomplete joy of this world.” When we base our lives on incomplete joys, we’ll end up being incomplete people. And nobody can live like that for very long.
What is it that you really want? What are you striving after? Finish this sentence for me, “If I had ______________, then I’d be happy.” What would you put in the blank? Friends? Success? Security? Acceptance? Wealth? The thing you put in the blank is the “incomplete joy” that will end up breaking your spirit.
Unless you fill the blank with “God.” The truth of the matter is that the only thing capable of filling that blank is God. “If I had God, then I’d be happy.” God is not an incomplete joy; God is full joy. Only he can be our ultimate thing.
I need you to realize that you will never find what you’re looking for apart from God. Everything else will let you down; you not only need to know that, but also you need to expect that. If God is your “ultimate thing,” then when (not if) these other things let you down, you will not be broken. You’ll have an ultimate source of joy to turn to and rely on. If, however, you keep God in second place, you’ll put lethal things in first, and your life will self-destruct.
We don’t need anything other than God to have joy, purpose, belonging, acceptance, and understanding. Try to replace him, and you’ll end up tearing out your own heart.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, no powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39).
If the foundation of your life is Jesus, then nothing will separate you from love. Nothing can knock him to the ground, not even death. I know what you’re thinking, “Maybe I separated myself from his love.” Wrong. Not even you can separate yourself from God’s love. After all, Romans 8 said that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of Christ, and you are part of “creation.” So not even you can sever yourself from God’s love.
I am pleading with you, base your joy on Jesus’ love for you, not on anything else. If you base your reason for life on anything else, you’re making a lethal decision. Run to his love. Embrace his love. Accept and receive his love.
But there’s something else I need to say: some of you need to stop making porn the source of your joy. You probably already realize that it’s killing you. You feel so trapped, so disgusting, and so helpless. Run to Jesus and surrender yourself to him. Not even porn can separate you from the love of Christ. He will redeem you, wash you, and set you free. Stop being a coward and stop doubting God’s ability to satisfy you more than porn. You’ve made porn an idol, a false god. You worshipped your way into porn, now worship your way out.
Sorry that my words were firm, but to knock down a foundation takes a strong swing from a heavy sledge, not a tapping finger.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
On a whim I said to a random teenager at the mall, “Show me something that symbolizes this generation the best.” With utter seriousness, he took out his wallet and showed me a twenty dollar bill. “This,” he said, “represents my generation the best.” I asked him to explain. He responded quite simply, “If you don’t have it, then you’re nothing.” He wasn’t proud and he didn’t speak condescendingly; rather, he was matter-of-fact and spoke with a bit of unease—he knew that if the money ran out, then he was a “nobody.”
That’s the atmosphere that our children are growing up in, one where identity is determined more by possessions than by intrinsic value. If a kid doesn’t have all the perks that money can buy, then he or she will not fit in. Or, of much greater concern (though the two are tied together), our children will honestly believe that they are not worth much.
Of course, children aren’t the only ones who wrestle with these feelings.
My two sons play baseball; and any time there is even a remote threat of lightning, all games are cancelled. If you look at the stats, about 80 people die per year from lightning strikes in the United States. With those kind of numbers, I’m very grateful that we do all that we can, to keep our children (and adults) safe.
But here’s what I don’t understand: over 80 people die per day from suicides in the United States. And for every suicide there are 25 attempts. So what are we doing about it? September 9-15 is National Suicide Prevention Week.
During my time as a pastor, working deeply with individuals and families on life issues, I have found something that is completely ironic to me. Too many people honestly think that they are worthless. I look at these same vibrant individuals, many of them being young people, and see so much life and potential. Yet, for multiple reasons, they can’t see their worth.
I want you to know that you are never without hope. I want you to know exactly where your worth comes from, not only for yourself, but also to help those that you love.
Your worth does not come from your possessions or from your accomplishments—or lack of accomplishments. This would be like telling a hundred dollar bill that its worth comes from what type of wallet it’s put in. Your worth comes from what someone else is willing to give in order to have you. God was willing to pay for us with the life of his own, precious Son. That is how much you’re worth.
You are priceless.
© Samuel Kee, 2012