My wife Jenn and I spoke at a Marriage Retreat recently. During the Q & A portion, a couple asked about teen depression – how can we prevent it and how can we process it when it happens to our kids.

As we pondered the question more even after the retreat ended, I thought about three major (though not exhaustive) contributing factors to feelings of depression. Having worked as a guidance counselor and a teacher for many years, these insights have come from interactions with students and parents alike.

(DISCLAIMER: What I will be talking about are feelings of depression and not clinical depression for if felt for quite long periods of time, it’s best to consult a professional.)

The three contributing factors would be identity, family, and community.


In an article written by Culture and Youth Studies, this current youth generation is the first to grow up without ever having seen a world without SMS, social media and similar forms of online platforms. Many of them access social media sites more than 10 times a day.

In a University of Missouri study, they found out that Facebook use was tied to depression, depending on how the users consumed the platform. The term “surveillance use” was introduced. It meant that users checked up on how their friends were doing and compared what they saw in their own lives which led to feelings of depression. They would “size up their accomplishments against others” producing envy that their gadgets, relationships, trips, clothing or possessions could not match up to what their friends posted. Thus, you can see #goals in their comments.

As parents, we have to teach our children that their identity and security can never come from what they have but in Who they have. Stuff will never satisfy. Only One can.

Our relationship with Jesus will be the answer. If we see who we are – sinners and messed up people and see who Jesus is – He who died a death we should have died and lived a life we should have lived, then there can be hope. Gadgets will get outdated. Relationships will come and go. People will change. Possessions will depreciate. And clothing will go out of style. But our relationship with Jesus is the only one that can truly satisfy.

We are accepted, loved and received. We don’t have to perform or prove ourselves. We belong not because of what we have done but because of what Christ has done for us in Calvary. This is the gospel that we are to preach to ourselves every day. We are fully known yet we are fully loved. For God so loved, He gave. He demonstrated this love that while we were at enmity with Him, He died for our mess ups.

We need to realize that we can send our kids to the best schools and give them the best education, but that too will never suffice. We can give them the largest lump sum one can give as an inheritance, but that too can never satisfy. “Silver and gold we have none.” But what we can give them is Jesus.


The relationships we have is a major factor as well. Having worked as a guidance counselor for years, children have come to my office countless of times asking for prayer. Much of our prayer items were related to familial relationships. From their parent’s marriage to their relationship with siblings, these are the content of our conversations.

This I can say – one of the best gifts we can give to our children is a strong marriage. There is a sense of insecurity that attaches when they feel that their parent’s marriage is shaky.

Wounds that come from how kids are treated growing up also come into play. From verbal abuse to physical maltreatment to emotional oppression, these are things that can lead to loneliness, sadness, pain which ultimately lead to depression.


Who our kids associate with is an important thing to consider. Hurt people hurt people. Insecure people attract insecure people. Broken people seek completion from others who unfortunately are just as broken. That is why the first factor is important. We need to know whose we are more than who we are. Because whose we are will determine who we are. As we embrace who God is in our lives, we begin to understand who He designed us to be.

A community who understands this will remind each other of our real value – value that is only found in Christ.

But when young people get together with others who are unsure of who they are in Christ, then they will merely try to feed off each others’ insecurities. Surveillance surfing happens to compare what others have and what they don’t have.

But a community who knows Who designed them and what they were designed to do will ward off emotions that will not be beneficial for the young person.

There is indeed hope. With man, it may seem impossible. But with God, all things are possible. What the enemy may have planned for evil, God has the ability to turn around for good. He can cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.


NOTE: If you are going through feelings of depression for more than 6 months, it would be best to consult a professional. 



Knowing who we are in Christ is so critical.  Many of us still think, speak and act as if we were living in “Egypt.”  But the Bible says that we have been set free in Christ.  If anyone is in Christ, he in a new creation; the old is gone and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Below is a list of who we are in Christ.

Special thanks to Freedom in Christ Ministries for this list.who-i-am-in-christ

Sacrifice is only a sacrifice if you don’t know what you’re trading it for.

I heard the story of Migz a few weeks ago and it utterly inspired me. He live a life that was separated from God and disobedient to His will. Recently, he went through Victory Weekend after a series of meeting with one who walked him through his faith in Christ. After surrendering everything to Jesus and understanding all that the gospel provides and redeems, he made a 180 degree turn.

His friends and people close to him asked him why. It was a sacrifice to give up all that he used to do and all for what? Faith in Christ? Won’t Jesus understand? After all, we’re merely humans, right? Prone to sin. Inclined to give in.

But speaking to him after 6pm service one Sunday, he said something that hit me hard.
“Sacrifice is only a sacrifice if you don’t know what you’re trading it for.”

Jesus sacrificed His all so that I can have life and life to the full.
I owed a debt I couldn’t pay. He paid a debt He did not owe.
Because of that, I am forever grateful.

Written below is part of the story of Migz. I pray that it will bless you, inspire you and challenge you to continue to look to Jesus both as Savior and Lord.

“I’ve spent a lot of time “finding myself” and ended up in the same place as before because I was too busy searching rather than being.

Religion has always been an identity crisis for me, I knew it was part of me, I just couldn’t figure it out then. I tried being dutiful, attending church, saying prayers – though sometimes not even knowing what I was saying.

It reminds me everyday why I choose to be Christian and live in a world of organized religion and follow the path that has been set out for me. I have never in my life been this close to religion, God and Jesus. I grew up saying prayers I never even understood until just recently. I always wondered where the “Our Father” came from only to realize it was from the book of Matthew.

I believe this was all part of His plan. If I was meant to learn it then I would have.
“His timing is perfect, and his presence is constant. He is always with you!” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

He gives you struggles to overcome – not struggles to accept as part of your identity, but to shape you to be the person He created you to be.

I choose to be Christian because I now have the lens to see the better side of me, the knowledge to be better and the strength that every struggle provides blessings that I may not even know I need.

I choose to be Christian because it has helped me see my purpose; my ability to help and lead people as I have in my work, to inspire people as I do with my students and bring it to a whole new level by helping carry out His word.

I don’t believe to be perfect nor do I think I ever will be, but being Christian gives me the strength to try to be, the courage to pick up from failure and try again, to repent, to be me- the person He created me to be. This all paves way to a better life.

I choose to be Christian because He Saved me. And He always will.





When we don’t know who we have been designed to be,
we end up attempting to be someone we’re not.

I know because I’ve tried.

From peer pressure to aspiring to be someone, this pierces through the vein of every man, woman, teen and even child, desiring to be someone or achieve something.

Jesus was in the wilderness, tempted by the devil to be who He wasn’t supposed to be. Satan tempted him by starting his statements with “if you really are the Son of God, then…”

It was interesting that this event came right after His Heavenly Father just confirmed His identity and pleasure towards Him as His Son. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) God declared this before Jesus’ ministry started, way before He’s done anything to please His Father.

It’s not much different with you and me.

When we don’t know who we are in Christ, we end up trying to please God by earning His favor through self-effort and sheer performance. Consequently, we end up doing things we weren’t designed to become.

It’s like seeing…

* A princess feeding from the dumpster
* A prince living like a pauper
* A free man living like a slave
* A child trying to prove Himself to his father
* An heir working for his inheritance he already received.

Translating this to current reality…

* Women looking for love, seeking to find it from one relationship to the next, not realizing that genuine, unconditional and unending love can only be found from our Heavenly Father.
* Men seeking for satisfaction through porn because they’ve settled for a cheap and temporary substitute.
* Students burning hours/days trying to finish an iPad game instead of accomplishing what’s on their plate at this time.
* Entertainers selling their dignity whether live or onscreen “for the sake of art.”
* Public servants who are serving no one else but themselves.
* Business people who have sold everything including their character to achieve financial success.

How do I know? I’ve done it…so many times. It may not have been in these terms but in so many words, I’ve traded Christ’s identity for something unintended for me because I’ve forgotten who He’s made me to be and called me to become.

Thankfully, we are reminded daily by His Word .

I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:15)
I have been justified. (Romans 5:1)
I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)
I have been adopted as God’s child. (Ephesians 1:5)
I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. (Colossians 1:14)
I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
I am free forever from condemnation. (Romans 8:1,2)
I am assured that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
I am free from any condemning charges against me. (Romans 8:31)
I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35)
I have been established, anointed,
and sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21,22)
I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me
will be perfected. (Philippians 1:6)
I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me. (1 John 5:18)
I am significant. I am the salt and light of the earth. (Matthew 5:13,14)
I am God’s temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 2:6)
I am God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)




“Who are you?” can be a silly question.

But it can also be an important question to answer.

Superficially, you may respond by giving your first name or your job function.

But the the more significant reply would be your identity from the One who designed you.

Wayne Alcorn, pastor of Hope Centre in Australia and president of Australian Christian Centre, shared a powerful message at the Every Nation World Conference.

As a ministry, we are called to be a missional organization. Missions is both down the street and around the world.

We are called not only to bring salvation but also transformation. We are missionaries to the city God has put us in.

But if we want to see city wide transformation, it starts with a personal transformation.

And transformation doesn’t happen by me trying hard to love God but by realizing how much I am loved by Him.

Luke 3:22 narrates to us the story of Jesus’ baptism. It is where God makes a statement. He says, “this is my Son, whom I love, of whom I am well pleased.”

Two things: “I love you and I am proud of you.” This is what God told His Son.

When we know how God sees us, then it doesn’t matter what people may say.
When I call him father, it identifies him as my dad and it identifies me as his son.

God wants us to discover who we are on the basis of what He says not on what others say.

When you know who you are, then you are unshakeable.
When you don’t know who you are, you will be flattered by praise and flattened by criticism.

When I don’t know who I am, I tend to damage relationships.
Insecure people interpret disagreements as rejection.
Insecurity makes leaders control freaks. They live life with self-entitlement.

How can we transform our world if we haven’t been transformed by His love?

Do you know who you are in Christ?