Break the Silence on Suicide

This message is a part of our Breaking the Silence series focused the issues of Suicide, Anxiety, and Depression.
Find the rest of the messages in this series here.

 Mandy’s Story

Sermon Video


The Debrief

There was more than we could share in the video on Sunday. So we’ve included the extended version here on the debrief followed by a discussion of the sermon.


Thank you, Amanda, for being so brave and open with your story to share that video with us.

There are 3 main factors that led up to us putting this service on the schedule for this message.

1.Last year at our break the chains event we asked all of the first time guests what they thought were other threats to our community. Suicide was the most common response.

2.When Mandy went through Growth Track this past November she shared with me on her response form that she had lost 2 people close to her to suicide and that she would love to somehow help people struggling with suicide or who had lost someone they love to suicide…

3. This past August Andrew Stoecklein took his life.

This hit me personally. It wasn’t because I knew Stocklein. Pastor Drew had most of what I’ve imagined are the makings of a happy pastors life. He had a beautiful family, as you can see.

He was a great communicator, which is something I aspire to be…and he led a movement making community changing church which is what we are attempting to build for our friends and neighbors and children…

Stoeklein experienced an incredible amount of success and in the midst of success he found himself spiraling into despair.

He actually took a 4 month sabbatical to rest and recuperate after what had been an incredible season of growth and expansion. When he came back he started off a new series entitle Hot Mess.

A hot mess is an attractive disaster. It’s when we do a great job making the outside look great while we’re a mess within. -Pastor Drew Stoeklein

We are good at putting on a strong and good looking exterior, while on the inside or behind the scenes everything is falling apart. We are looking hot on the outside, but inside we are a mess. Stoeklein opened up this series with a message entitled the back of the cave where he opened up about his own struggle with mental illness. Just two weeks after that message, he took his life.

Right about this same time I read Carey Nieuwhoff’s book didn’t see it Coming which inspired our series for the launch of 2 services. In the book Nieuwhoff talks about how he went through a season of burnout where he considered driving his car into a bridge pylon. Now, I’ve never entertained a suicidal thought and I’ve never been clinically depressed, so when I had come in contact with suicide and heard stories of people taking their lives I had the reaction that I think a lot of people do- not me. That would never be me.

However, when two people from my world, from the life and career and calling that I find myself in and seem to have everything going in the right direction, it was a wake up call. I decided I’d rather have my wake up call now instead of when things are bad. So over the past few months I’ve tried to integrate a few of the healthy practices that Nieuwhoff speaks of in the book. Stoeklein spoke of it in that message a couple weeks before he took his life. Not because I’m in danger, but because I don’t want to be.

From an emotional and physical mindset, in the case of someone who is suicidal, their mind and emotions turn against them. It’s not as if someone in that situation can reason or rationalize that this is not the right choice because the very system that you and I use to make decisions has been poisoned or corrupted. In computer code the term “Halt and Catch Fire” refers to a computer command that will cause all of the computer’s processes to fire and an incrementally increasing speed which puts the computer into a death spiral which burns out the CPU.

The Motorolla 6800 was an 8 bit computer release in 1974. It had a flaw that made it possible for two different commands to trigger this computer death spiral. Halt and Catch Fire basically turned the computers CPU against it.

Modern medicine states that there are corruptions or broken programming in our chemicals and nervous systems. This makes it possible for them to be turned against us. I’m not a counsellor or a psychologist, so I’m not going to speak to those today- I know of great people who are believers who can speak to these issues and I’d love to point you to them… In Halt and Catch Fire, the broken program made it possible for a destructive command to be entered, but someone had to enter the command.

Today, I want to speak about who I believe enters the command… I want to speak about the real tangible evil that roams the earth looking for people to burn to the ground. For me, the Word of God is the Sufficient source of wisdom.

What I see in scripture is that there are 7 instances of suicide. 4 of the characters we don’t know a whole lot about, we know about the events surrounding them, but not so much about them.

There are 3 people that we know quite well in scripture, they are main characters who took their own life. Here’s what’s common about these 3. The scripture speaks of the Spirit of God withdrawing from them.

Scripture isn’t explicitly saying that these people didn’t know God. In Samson’s case, the Spirit of God falls upon him one final time. This gives him the strength to bring a house down upon the leaders of a wicked army. Samson strikes a greater blow to the enemy in taking his own life than he ever did as a warrior.

So here’s what we know about these 3, they were each in the midst of a great spiritual battle.

Samson, Saul, and Judas all took their own lives and were each deep in a spiritual battle.

In the old days we thought everything was spiritual. If you had a cough people thought you had a demon. If you gave birth to twins, you were a witch. If you were sick they’d bleed you out trying to free the demons from your system. Thankfully we’ve moved past that, however now we’ve gone to the opposite end of spectrum where everything is physical, chemical, and can be explained away by blood tests and under a microscope. I don’t think that everything is spiritual, but I do believe that everything is more spiritual than we know.

The problem you’re currently facing is more spiritual than you know.

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober be vigilant. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Ephesians 4:27  And give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, …but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Satan is looking for any opportunity to do destruction.

There’s a scene in Dark Knight where Batman is struggling to understand the Joker…. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Satan uses desire, pain, and guilt as opportunities for destruction.

The devil wants to lead you into sin. He doesn’t get a kick out of you doing bad, but he wants to destroy you. Satan isn’t like a guy handing out candy because he wants all the kids to get a sugar high, he’s the guy handing out candy because he’s got a van around the corner he’d love to lure you into.

Here’s how he does this… You’ve seen the cartoon with an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other shoulder…  The idea is that we’ve got an angel on one shoulder trying to get us to do right and we’ve got a devil on the other shoulder trying to get us to do wrong… That’s not how it is…

Satan works as both defense and prosecuting attorney.

Satan leads you into something that he proposes as fun or relaxing or helpful. Then he uses that same thing to pull you under. He says, oh go ahead, it’s no big deal, you’ll enjoy it, no one will ever know, no one will care… you deserve it. Then once you’ve committed the sin he pours on the guilt and the shame. Once you’ve experienced the pain, he pours salt into the wound…

POSES – he doesn’t have the right to do either!

The voice of the good shepherd will always lead us to life.

John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Jesus says I am the door. Shepherds would sleep at the door, this kept the sheep in and predators out… Jesus wasn’t just speaking about shepherds, he was speaking of the fact that he was the way in, he is the way into life.

Jesus came that we might have life.

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