What Rochester Has Given Me: Grace Church (PCA)

Faith communities have been an essential aspect of my life. Since I retired from ministry, I have been blessed with two churches in particular. Columbus Reformed Presbyterian (Columbus, Indiana) and Grace Church PCA (Rochester, New York). I find it very reassuring that while I am leaving Grace PCA, I will have a spiritual family in Columbus RPC to call home. Still, there is much I am grateful for and want to celebrate with Grace. When I first showed up in Rochester, I was essentially homeless. A downtown church had paid a three-day voucher for me to stay at the Cadillac Hotel. I was grateful for the mission of this generous church, but it was not a good fit theologically or socially. I had researched PCA churches since I first read Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. I was drawn to their commitment to Biblical truth as well as Christ-centered mission. [...]

What Rochester Has Given Me: Grace Church (PCA) 2017-06-30T14:11:58+00:00

My Fall from Faith: Terri Nida

Two of our aims here at Delight in Disorder is to connect faith and mental illness in such a way that our suffering becomes redemptive and that we see our whole lives in a spiritual light. Body. Mind. Soul. I first read Terri's story in You Share: Stories that Matter.  Some time later, she became a subscribing member of Delight in Disorder. So, I wrote to her about doing a guest post. She graciously agreed. While Terri is not diagnosed with a mental illness, she has struggled with depression most of her life and her story reveals such powerful immersion into the nature of  suffering: physical, emotional, and spiritual, I thought it fit well here. This is her story... On August 18, 2013, I suddenly felt dizzy. It had been a nice Sunday afternoon. The hanging plants on my balcony were slowly swinging in the breeze, and I remember admiring [...]

My Fall from Faith: Terri Nida 2017-06-27T22:02:38+00:00

Enemies Sprouting Like Mushrooms

In The Message, Eugene Peterson calls Psalm 3 – “A David Psalm, when he escaped for his life from Absalom, his Son.” The words that follow reveal a hunted poet king, surrounded and scared. God! Look! Enemies past counting! Enemies sprouting like mushrooms, Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery: “Hah! No help for him from God!” (vv. 1-2) David sees no escape from sure defeat, certain death. This does not keep him from crying out to God – in fact, it motivates him all the more to do so. He lifts up to God the torturing taunts of his enemies and then reminds himself just Who it is he’s talking to – But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high; With all my might I shout up to God; His answers thunder from the holy mountain. (vv. 3-4) [...]

Enemies Sprouting Like Mushrooms 2017-06-26T22:36:53+00:00

The Grim Disbelief of Sylvia Plath

 Sylvia Plath doesn't reflect much on God in her early journals, but when she goes to provide child care for a Christian Science family, we see a developing theology which, though unorthodox, she articulates well.  She finds some common ground with Christian Science, in the value placed on the importance of thought (Mind).  But she differs in her perspective on the basis of this Mind. Now that I ponder over it, I do see a sudden neat edifice of logic, and I do agree with some of their generalizations in spite of the fact that I am philosophically at the other end of the pole, - a "matter worshiper". Yet, Plath is certainly more complex than a simple "Material Girl". I believe that there is a realm (abstractly, hypothetically, of course) of absolute fact.  Something IS.  And that, in our poor human lingo, would be the "truth". No sooner [...]

The Grim Disbelief of Sylvia Plath 2017-06-12T17:25:09+00:00

Disturbing Dreams; Delightful Days

Do not be wise in your own eyes;     fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body     and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8) One night I had a dream. I was a pastor again, this time in a large church. People were praising me. Word was getting out about me. My reputation was spreading. My name and photo had even been placed on a Snickers bar. I was getting full of myself. I was heading for a fall. The dream was not far from the truth (except for the Snickers bar). There was a time when my ministry was celebrated, I was advancing in my career, and my name was recognized. I like to think I gave God the credit, but I fear all too often I didn't. Then, I fell. Hard. In my case, my mental illness got the best of me. This [...]

Disturbing Dreams; Delightful Days 2017-06-12T17:29:43+00:00

Thus Sayeth the Lord: How Can I Hear God’s True Voice?

Sharon Rawlette, one of my regular readers posed a fascinating question that has inspired this post. In essence, she asks, how can we discriminate between “true” voice of God from “false”ones? This question gets to the heart of how God speaks to us as well as how the Enemy tries to keep us from hearing. First, look at what it says in Hebrews: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed to be heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2) Jesus is the Word of God spoken at creation, made flesh in his miraculous birth, demonstrated in his compassionate ministry, redeemed in his sacrificial death, enlivened by his resurrection, and delegated to the Holy Spirit after Christ's ascension. [...]

Thus Sayeth the Lord: How Can I Hear God’s True Voice? 2017-06-12T17:27:25+00:00

Higher Power Healing

In a recent Medium story, I made this contention: The issue for college students now is not so much “Can I admit my needs?:” but, given these needs, “What do I do now?” If we borrow the language of a 12-step program, many students take the first step of freely admitting their powerlessness, that their lives have become unmanageable, even that they are faced with insanity. But few take the next step, the faith step, believing that a Power greater than myself can restore my sanity. (from "How, Then, Shall We Live?" by Tony Roberts) This post sparked a wonderful response from Howard Chang: Tony, I read your piece. I liked how you highlighted the improvements that have taken placed in mental health care in college campuses since the 80s and posed the question, "What next?" to students after they have taken the first step. However, I think students [...]

Higher Power Healing 2017-06-04T23:01:24+00:00

Being “Humble-ated”

Do not be wise in your own eyes;     fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body     and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8) Last night, I had a dream. I was a pastor again, this time in a large church. People were praising me. Word was getting out about me. My reputation was spreading. My name and photo had even been placed on a Snickers bar. I was getting full of myself, and little else. I was heading for a fall. The dream was not far from the truth (except for the Snickers bar). There was a time when my ministry was celebrated, I was advancing in my career, and my name was recognized. I like to think I gave God the credit, but I fear all too often I didn’t. Then, I fell. Hard. In my case, mental illness got the best of me. [...]

Being “Humble-ated” 2017-05-30T15:02:04+00:00

The Cruelty of April

 April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. (from The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot) It's April 26 now. The sun is shining. 68 glorious degrees. A reassuring cool Spring breeze. Cruelty is as distant from this day as the East is from the West. But the nascent scent of lilacs blends with the stink of liquid manure. Unspoken hopes and mislaid dreams float on the surface of the ruddy lawns. April this year has taken a desperate toll on my body and has sapped the strength of my psyche. The 30 pounds I lost the preceding six months have returned with a vengeance. The number alone does not trouble me, but the fact that I find it physically challenging to get out of bed does. A more serious concern is the gripping chronic pain I now [...]

The Cruelty of April 2017-05-30T14:10:38+00:00

How Can I Best Respond to Someone Who Is Depressed?

I had coffee and scones with a good friend this morning. One thing I greatly value about our friendship is that we quickly dispense of pleasantries, moving right to prayer and the sharing what is deepest in opur hearts. I told him that after a lengthy period of emotional and spiritual high, I had fallen into a depressive low. At my peak, I was spending as much as three hours a day in intensive prayer and Bible study. Lately, however, my time with God had become desperately pleading for some sustenance in a verse or phrase of Scripture – “Get up and eat,” “Jesus wept,” “God is love,” and the like. My friend, who has some close loved ones battling mental health issues, asked me a very sincere and poignant question, “How can I best respond to someone who is depressed?” I thought back on my own dark seasons and [...]

How Can I Best Respond to Someone Who Is Depressed? 2017-05-30T14:10:23+00:00