One week ago my Father-in-Law Calvin Clear  left us behind after an automobile accident. He is rejoicing in the presence of our Savior and we miss him. To say the least this past week has been consumed by
caring for our Mother-in-Law who was also injured in the accident. And, then there was the process of many friends saying good bye at the wake and the funeral service. 

One of the friends who came helped me decide what I thought was the most important thing Calvin had done for our
family. It dawned on me that he was a really great grandfather to our children. And, not just my children but several generations worth of cousins, nephews, nieces and sometimes the children of unrelated friends benefited from his skill as a grandfather. 

When I told the lady that I thought Calvin was the best grandfather I knew of, she asked me what he did that made him so? And, I had the answer in less than a heartbeat. Calvin was just there. He took his time and did things with his grandchildren. He gave my children his time. And therein is the lesson today for those who want to be good parents, and great grandparents. It all comes down to time spent. Calvin was willing to spend it taking grandchildren golfing, attending their games and concerts, graduations and he took them to work. 

My grandchildren learned much about life from Calvin, but mostly they learned how to be good parents and eventually good grandparents. They learned how to spend their time wisely. They learned that the most important skill most of us need in raising children is the willingness to give them our time. 

There is no good way to raise children or  influence your grandchildren if you are not willing to spend time with them.
There are all kinds of biblical examples of this truth. Deuteronomy 6 is probably the best known example that tells us that we are supposed to be teaching our children from the time they get up, along the way to work, on the
way home and as we head to bed.  I suppose that is the lesson that Calvin taught us. When it comes to children love
is spelled t-i-m-e. And, Calvin loved a lot.


“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven  effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness”
 ~ DA Carson

“…that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Titus 3:8

 Eventually, it always comes down to it. If we are going to be different then there will be work involved. Someone might wrongly think I mean that we need to do meritorious good deeds in order to find salvation or please
God. And, they would be wrong. I generally end counseling sessions with Paul’s declaration in Romans 8:1. “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!” When read in the light of Ephesians 2:8-10 in which Paul
clearly tells us that we are saved by God’s grace and through faith without our works, it is plain that our standing before God has nothing to do with our own efforts. We are His workmanship.

 At the same time as I counsel people who struggle with worry, depression and growing list of labels, I know that before the discipleship session is over, they will need something to do. As I counsel with strugglers I always hope that the word of God finds its way into their hearts and minds so that by grace their thinking will change. But, if they are going to grow and change as a whole being, then behavior will need to come into the crosshairs of homework. 

The word homework carries such a negative connotation for most of us who did it. (Less for those of us who avoided it!) But it is as important to growth and change as hearing and understanding the word. Jesus said in
Matthew 7:24, “The one who hears these words of mine and acts on them may be compared to the wise man who built his house on the rock.” He also told us that the “one who has my commandments and keeps them, he is the one who loves me. (John 14:21) From God’s lips to our ears comes the truth. If we really understand the scriptures and believe them, they will draw us to action and that action will result in change. 

James tells us to “be doers of the word and not hearers only!” (James 1:22) In my experience counselees are helped the most and do the best when time spent studying and applying appropriate scripture leads to changed
behavior. Strugglers need to know what the bible says about their current behavior and what it needs to become. 

Examples of homework assignments that grow out of scripture are not hard to find. Paul in his letter to Ephesus (4:28) said that those who stole should steal no more, but work so that they may have something to give. There it
is. By God’s grace the thief is saved, and stops thieving, but it cannot end there. The man has to get a job, work and then become a giver to others.  The action of giving coupled with the change in heart and thought results in those around him seeing the new man in Christ. The action of the Holy Spirit in his heart gives him the ability to choose to be a giver. 

There are lots of other homework examples in scripture. Those who struggle with sadness over loss can find purpose through homework that involves replacing problem behavior with biblical behavior by grace. And, that gives the struggler hope.

Grief and Anxiety: Diseases or Not? 

A little more than two months ago, Peter Kinderman wrote an  editorial for BBC News Health and in it he said “Grief and Anxiety are not mental illness.” Kinderman also said that changes in the revision of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Illness, due out in May, would increase the numbers of people diagnosed with mental illness. He went on to say that what they really need is “help and understanding, not labels and medication.” Kinderman is the Professor of Clinical Psychology at theUniversity of Liverpool and the Chair of the Division of Clinical Psychology at the British Psychological Society, good credentials if you want to say these kinds of things about the current state of psychiatry and psychology. 

The problem for those who use the DSM criteria to label strugglers with depression and anxiety is that the criteria have been relaxed even further than they were in 1980. The proposed changes will give an individual who loses a loved-one two weeks to make an adjustment to the loss or they can be labeled and treated as if they have a disease called depression. Anyone who has suffered this loss knows that the grief goes on well past two weeks and even into years. 

The same problems can be expected for anxiety or worry. “The criteria for “generalized anxiety disorder” will be significantly relaxed, making the worries of everyday life into targets for medical treatment.” And so it is as I practice medicine. I regularly see people who struggle with real problems in life that make them feel ill at ease. The solution that medicine offers that is widely accepted by our society is a prescription.  One commenter said about the article, “There is a no man’s land between GP’s (General Practitioners of medicine in Britain) and mental health  professionals…neither set of these professionals are the ones to provide it(the help needed)…Our GP’s can’t do it and now the US suggests medication. Wrong, we need another form of help.” 
When it comes to grieving loses and worry, truer words were never spoken. We do need another form of help to deal with the sadness of loss and the struggle of worry. Nearly 2000 years ago Jesus Christ offered the help that
the anxious and the grieving need. 

Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing…”  “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive
today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? …for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things, But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus pinpoints the source of much worry and sadness in life. It is a subtle form of worship. We worship having the things we have lost or wish we had. Some worry over their health or the fact that they have lost it. Others worry about material things including food, clothing and income. Jesus tells us that we cannot serve God and stuff! God will provide our needs for food, clothing and safety. But, our needs will not always coincide with our wants. And, that is where worry and sadness often come.

 Jesus tells us that God knows our needs and instead of worrying about them, we should seek His kingdom and His righteousness. That gives an alternative to worry and it is good news for those who struggle. We can apply our lives to worshipping and serving Him in a Romans 12:1-2 sense. Instead of  focusing on the things we lose or our trials we can focus on serving Christ. 
I can tell you from personal experience that the truths of scripture hold the answer to worry. When Jesus tells us not to worry, He intends to enable us to obey Him by His grace. Paul deals with the problem in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Philippians. Chapter 12 in Good Mood Bad Mood deals  with worry and examines Paul’s words in more detail than I can in a blog. Philippians chapter 4 was a great help to me and I know it can help anyone who  struggles with worry.  Kinderman was right. People need help and understanding more than they need labels.

All quotations for this blog came from BBC NEWS/Health and can be found in the January 17, 2013 article “Grief and Anxiety are not Mental Illnesses” by Peter Kinderman at the web address below.

Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.