Helping people in pain

How do you help loved ones who struggle with depression and hopelessness?

A friend posed this question to me a couple weeks ago, and I thought you and I could address it together. So let me start by asking you: What do you think? What works for you?

Here are my thoughts. For a long time I figured the only hope for depression and hopelessness was a good therapist. I figured this was something that God could fix, but probably wouldn’t. So apart from therapy and medication, you were stuck until you got to heaven. The best you could do is put on a happy face, and pretend you’re okay.

Then shortly after 9/11/2001, I discovered a process that God uses to fix things like this. I explain that whole process in great detail in my textbook, Spiritual Self Defense.

Of course I was excited about this, and went around trying to get everyone I knew enrolled. As you might imagine, that didn’t go over as well as I hoped. Change is hard. Even good change is threatening to most people. This is part of the reason why people remain stuck where they are for years and years.

And so, yes, I recommend you get my textbook and learn the process. It will give you powerful tools for helping other people—and, of course, for helping yourself. But I also add this caution: People can’t be bullied or pushed into transformation. They’re ready when they’re ready. Meanwhile, you and I can do all we can to create high trust relationships with the people we love. That way, when people are ready, we can be there for them.

Hope this helps.

PS. More information on the Spiritual Self Defense textbook here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Psalm 119 is the longest chapter of the Bible.
New question: Four of David’s son’s were executed, murdered, or died before their time. Can you name any of them?

The one thing that matters

I don’t know what kind of life you are experiencing. You may have a charmed existence where everything goes right. Then again, maybe your life is more like mine—dancing through a minefield.

In 1982, I quit my job to move to Wisconsin and start a business. That business failed. I worked an entire year without making any money. My wife and I started a couple new businesses. They limped along for a few years until we had our first child in 1991. Then they fell apart, and we were left homeless with a baby for eight months in 1992. We dug our way out of that hole, and we were doing okay until just before Christmas 1995. The day our third child was born, I lost my job. Even though I was laid off (not fired), my unemployment claim was denied after one month of benefits. Zero income with three little children. Almost went homeless again, but managed to create another business that sustained us. Then 9/11 happened. My primary client depended on the manufacturing industry which nosedived after 9/11. Income back to zero. I tried to make it as a writer, went bankrupt, and almost lost our home. I picked up a janitorial contract and did some other odd jobs to get us back on our feet. Again worked on making it as a writer. But someone kept deleting my online ads (who knows why). Somehow, however, I managed to get enough business to survive just by word of mouth.

If I were to rattle off my adjusted gross income for each of the last five years, you would tell me I’m lying. You would say no one could survive on that amount of money. And, you’re right. It’s impossible. It can’t be done. But God is a God of the impossible.

My bills are mostly paid. I have enough food to eat, a home to live in, a mortgage that is mostly paid, clothes to wear, a car to drive. But even more important than that is this: I’m okay. I’m not stressed. I’m at peace. I like my life. Yes, I want to do better, but I’m deeply grateful for the adventure God has me on.

I’m only mentioning the financial challenges we’ve faced. There have been all kinds of other disasters; it would take pages to list them. But again, it’s all okay.

The Bible says that a righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. I have another way of putting that: Everything can go wrong, but as long as one thing goes right, you’ll be okay.

One thing. The one thing that matters. The one thing that cannot be shaken.

Have you found it? Have you found that one thing?

PS. I just want you to know, I haven’t forgotten about you. I really like to get something out to you every couple days, but sometimes you need to just take some time out, climb the tallest tree, look around, and figure out which direction to go. That’s what I’ve been doing lately.

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Paul and Barnabas were the first Christian missionaries.
New question: What is the longest chapter of the Bible?

When love seems far away

A friend contacted me with a challenge I want to share with you. He works closely with the recovery community, and here’s what he observes: People make radical changes in their lives, but people who know and have been hurt by the “addict” are unwilling or unable to recognize those changes, to forgive, to accept and embrace that new person.

I have a friend who is a registered sex offender. He went to prison, came out, turned his life around, and was doing much good in his community until someone found out his sex offender status. He was hounded out of a job and out of town. Now he lives over a thousand miles away, trying to rebuild his life.

Another story: When a young man I know started getting into drugs, his “good” friends stopped hanging out with him (probably at the urging of their Christian parents). The net result: His only friends were fellow users. The pull of drugs got stronger, and the supportive community that might help him “just say no” evaporated.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Here’s my question: When you hear stories like this, what goes through your mind? How would you respond? What do you do when you’re rejected? How do you decide who to include and who to remove from your life?

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Jesus quoted the book of Deuteronomy when tempted in the wilderness.
New question: Which three prophets spoke into the life of the Old Testament hero and king, David?

What do you think?

I have a question for you:

What problems do people bring to you that you find challenging, difficult or impossible?

Or, alternatively: What challenges do you face that you would like help with?

I ask for a couple reasons. (1) I like connecting people with other people who can help them. (2) Maybe I can help. I don’t know.

Anyway, think it over and private message me, or contact me at

I haven’t posted for a few days. Again, couple reasons: (1) I did get tied up with some other things. (2) I’m pausing to determine what would be most helpful for me to post. That’s why your response to this will be so helpful to me.

Anyway, while I was searching for an image to put with this post, I found an image on Flickr with the caption: What do you think happens when we die? So…how would you respond to that? Of course, you never really know what someone’s motivation is for posting something like that, but just to get the conversation started, I wrote: “Great question. What do you think? Here’s what I think: Every moment of our lives reveals the direction we’re headed: toward God or away from Him. Death turns that direction into a destination.”

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: In the New International Version New Testament, the first word spoken by Jesus that we read is, “Let” (permit, allow). See Matthew 3:15. The first recorded word that Jesus spoke as a child will be familiar to any parent: “Why” (Luke 2:49).
New question: Which Old Testament book does Jesus quote when tempted in the wilderness?

[Re]Connect with Jesus in a meaningful way

Jesus wants to (1) heal your hurts, (2) renew your mind, (3) transform your life, (4) release the best version of you—the eternal, capable, beautiful you; the you fitted for eternal life.

No matter where you are in life, it’s good to stop and check your connection with Jesus. How do you establish a meaningful relationship with Jesus? I’ve seen this explained many different ways over the years, but here’s the version that makes the most sense to me. Perhaps it will also help you.

Find it here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Joshua and Jesus had almost identical names in Hebrew.
New question: In the New International Version New Testament, what is the first word spoken by Jesus we encounter?

Remove guilt from your life

The presence of guilt in your life is like the “check engine” light in your car—its a signal that something is wrong, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you exactly what’s wrong.

As a culture, we’ve seesawed back and forth—first saying that all guilt indicated the presence of sin, and then saying that all guilt was false—an unnecessary and undesirable cultural construct. The truth is somewhere in between. If I set the neighbor’s dog on fire and don’t feel guilty about it, then something is wrong. But if I take the blame for something that isn’t my fault, then something is also wrong. If I receive God’s forgiveness, and still feel guilty, then that’s a different kind of problem.

That’s why we need to through a simple troubleshooting process to get at the cause of guilt and repair it. I’ve created a one-page guide that explains how I do that. Perhaps it will be helpful for you.

Find it here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: David & Goliath occurred about 500 years earlier than Daniel & the lion’s den.
New question: Which Old Testament hero’s name in Hebrew was very similar to Jesus’ name in Hebrew?

Bypass forbidden fruit* *to get what you really want

Will that other woman (or man), that addiction, that temptation give you what you really want? I think deep down we all know those things are candy-coated poison. But how do we satisfy that deep longing inside?

Sometimes we want things we should NOT have. But God promises to satisfy our desires with good things. (Psalm 103:5) The temptation is to hide our evil desires from God, but our best interests are served by taking the counter-intuitive step and bringing all our desires—the good, the bad, and the ugly—to God.

If we are willing to bring our desires to God, our temptations can be opportunities for God to bring good into our lives. I’ve created a simple one-page guide that explains how I do that. Maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

Find it here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Benjamin was named Ben-Oni (“son of my sorrow”) by his mother but his father renamed him Benjamin (“son of my right hand”).
New question: Which came first, David & Goliath or Daniel & the lion’s den?

Overcome inner barriers

About this time of year, many of us look at our New Year’s resolutions, shake our heads, and smile. What was I thinking?

Okay. New Year’s resolutions is a big topic—a big can of worms. Should you even make them? I don’t know. That’s debatable.

But I want to focus in on one thing: Obstacles that keep us from achieving or receiving the good God has for us.

Suppose we want to lose weight and get in better shape. What prevents us from doing that? Is someone standing over us commanding us to eat that second scoop of ice cream? Is someone standing in front of the door at the gym barring us from entering?

In most cases, no. The real obstacles are inside. We all face inner barriers that keep us from moving forward toward the good God has for us.

How do we disable these inner barriers?

I’ve put together a one-page guide that walks you through the process I use to disable inner barriers. Maybe it will be helpful to you as well.

Find it here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Benjamin’s full brother was named Joseph?
New question: What was Benjamin’s original name at birth?

How to (more easily) forgive someone who has hurt you

We are commanded by Jesus to forgive others. And forgiving others takes a huge emotional weight off our shoulders. But few people actually know how to forgive. They try white knuckle, denial, minimizing, rationalizing—none of which work. There is a better way.

The problem is this: There is something that prevents us from forgiving. And, unless you know what to do with that obstacle, forgiving others will be difficult or impossible.

I want to give you a simple four-step process that I’ve used and I’ve helped others use. I’ve seen people use this to forgive horrendous offenses that have left lifelong pain. And it works equally well for smaller offenses.

Find it here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Joseph needed to return to his ancestral home town (Bethlehem) because he was a descendant of David, and Bethlehem was David’s home town.
New question: While Benjamin had many half brothers, he had only one full brother. What was his full brother’s name?

How to neutralize an unpleasant emotion

The fruit of the Spirit is joy and peace. So… what do we do with our unpleasant emotions (anxiety, loneliness, shame, invalidation, hopelessness and so on)?

Let’s start here. Are we honest enough to admit that we have them? I sure do. I have my moments of internal panic or dread. I have moments when I wish I could crawl into a paper bag and disappear forever. And many times in the past I have felt friendless and all alone.

If peace and joy are fruit of God’s Spirit, then you’d think that getting rid of these rotten feelings would be Christianity 101, right?

But I was a Christian for over three decades before anyone explained to me how to neutralize these unpleasant emotions. Before that I did what I suspect most people do—I went into denial.

Me? Afraid? No way! Lonely? I’m fine. Shame? What’s that? I put on my Sunday smile, and all was well. Shape up! Fake it ’til you make it. Faith before feeling. Yada yada.

But then I learned a surprisingly different way to deal with these nasty disruptions to my equanimity.

There’s a long story behind this, but let me cut to the chase: I’d like to share with you a simplified version of the process I learned. Maybe it will help you when you have those “human” moments that all of us have.

It’s all here, on this one-page guide:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Kish and Jesse were both fathers of Israeli kings.
New question: Joseph and Mary were residents of Nazareth. So why was Jesus born in Bethlehem?

  • Here's how we're ending the divide!

    What do you get when you combine deep Christian faith with outside-the-box thinking? You get the fresh insights offered by Author Dwight Clough in his many books on personal and cultural transformation. Whether he’s tackling polarization or re-examining the route to heaven, his solutions are always unique, carefully thought out, simply explained, and compassionately conveyed with a vulnerable glimpse into Dwight’s own journey. Dwight is a national award winning writer, ghostwriter, publishing consultant, and author of over 20 books including End the Divide, The Gift of Transformation, Rethinking Our War on Poverty, Am I Going to Heaven When I Die?, and What It Means to Follow Jesus. Dwight and his wife Kim have four young adult children. Dwight loves exploring the back roads of rural Wisconsin.

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