About tonyroberts

I am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.

All the Difference in the World

In 2008, my mental illness progressed to the point that I became unable to work in my profession. I had served as a pastor for over 20 years. It was more than just my job. It was my calling. My vocation. I did not work as a pastor; I was a pastor. I delivered God's Word week after week to help people, my people, see their stories in God's story. I led Bible studies at a local addiction treatment center, extending the hope of Christ's forgiveness for those ready for a new path in life. I prayed with wailing women as they sat beside their dying husbands. After I resigned from pastoral ministry, I didn't know what I would do. I tried many things. Weeding. Cleaning furnaces. Roofing. Volunteering at the VA. Building mini-barns. I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to stay busy, but I [...]

All the Difference in the World2019-05-01T19:03:24-04:00

Mental Illness: What is the Answer? That is the Question!

Can you fathom the mysteries of God?     Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below— what can you know? (Job 11:7-8)   God is a mystery to us. God lies beyond our ability to comprehend. We can only begin to imagine who God is and how God acts as we look to the Scriptures, as we look at the life of Jesus Christ and the activity of God’s Spirit through the community of faith. Not only is God is mystery, but so is much of God's creation. Perhaps not on the scale of majestic marvel, but there are many questions about creation that remain unanswered. And the sharpest minds throughout history and around the universe who have searched for answers all their lives come to conclude:   The more I know, the more I [...]

Mental Illness: What is the Answer? That is the Question!2019-04-28T21:35:39-04:00

April’s Cruelty in the Wasteland

 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) The sun is hidden behind thick, dark clouds. A cold rain has been falling all day. I didn't know this, however, until I crawled out of bed this afternoon and asked Susan how the day was. "Not good." She said. An understatement. Cruel is more like it. Eliot could have been standing on my deck when he wrote these lines; breathing in the nascent scent of lilacs along with the stink of liquid manure; envisioning unspoken hopes and mislaid dreams floating on the surface of ruddy lawns. April has indeed been a cruel month. Look at the weather. Devastating floods along the Missouri River. Tornadoes in the Southern US, an earthquake in Indonesia, a cyclone in Mozambique causing over 1,000 cases of [...]

April’s Cruelty in the Wasteland2019-04-24T23:09:48-04:00

Moving from Anxiety to Motivation

{This post was originally composed January 8, 2018.}   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4.6)   My good friend Eric came over Saturday. We now have all the recording equipment necessary for our upcoming podcast, Revealing Voices and now need to learn how to use it before our debut on March 1. Eric also brought over a Ninja blender to make the smoothies we will drink and review on our show. Eric was here from 10:30 am - 3:30 pm and made tremendous progress. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. The more time passed, the more progress Eric made, and the more my mind became encased in a cage of anxiety. Eric is a good communicator, but because of my state of mind, here's what I heard: "Blah, blah, Skype, [...]

Moving from Anxiety to Motivation2019-04-21T19:19:06-04:00

Karma vs. Grace: A Psycho-Spiritual Analysis

Karma means action and action motivated by compassion is good. To complain that what happens to you is just the result of your karma is lazy. Instead, confidently recalling the advice that, "You are your own master," you can change what happens by taking action. ~ Dalai Lama.   If you want God's grace, all you need is need, all you need is nothing. But that kind of spiritual humility is hard to muster. We come to God saying, "Look at all I've done," or maybe "Look at all I've suffered." God, however, wants us to look to him... ~ Timothy Keller.   I have a good friend (I'll call her Trish) who practices Buddhism. Trish says she likes having a teacher tell her what to do to gain spiritual enlightenment. She claims this is just what Jesus did with his disciples. He showed them the right things to do, and [...]

Karma vs. Grace: A Psycho-Spiritual Analysis2019-04-17T23:04:09-04:00

A Faithful Response to Suicide

Prelude: Since I first wrote this, another friend has died. I wonder what I could have done to prevent it. I had not heard from him for several weeks. Should I have checked in? My heart burns in my chest and I feel like once again death has punched me in the gut. One thing I want to stress to the family members and friends of all whose life has ended in such a tragic way is that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome. Don't beat yourself up wondering what you could have done to prevent it. Instead, let their legacy live on in the life you live. Let your memory of them shape your walk of faith in making a difference for those God brings your way.   {this was originally published on June 11, 2018}   I am a man of faith who [...]

A Faithful Response to Suicide2019-04-14T19:58:54-04:00

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 Mushrooms2019-04-12T21:29:31-04:00

When Good Things Happen to Grandiose People

...  in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(1 Corinthians 12. 7-9) I was on the fast track to spiritual success. My ministry was producing fruit. Lives were being changed. I was on a mission from God and I knew it. God told me. This came crashing down when I had a medication-induced manic episode. I spent the better part of a year in and out of the psych hospital and recuperating at home. My primary mission reverted from bringing salvation to others to staying awake long enough to eat and take my medication. With the help of God working through others, I returned to pastoral ministry and [...]

When Good Things Happen to Grandiose People2019-04-08T08:57:58-04:00

A Beautiful, Brilliant, Unquiet Mind

When I first received my bipolar diagnosis, the picture painted for me of my future was rather bleak.  The staff at the psychiatric hospital explained that I would likely not be able to continue in ministry.  I would go on disability, have repeated hospitalizations and the chances of remaining in my marriage were slim to none. My psychiatrist, however, offered a ray of hope.  He recommended a memoir that had just been published by one of the most world-renowned expert on bipolar disorder - Kay Redfield Jamison.  In Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Jamison beautifully describes her own life-long struggle and brilliantly depicts the love-hate relationship many folks with Bipolar have with their illness.  She defines what she prefers to call "Manic-depression" ...a disease that both kills and gives life.  Fire, by its nature, both creates and destroys.  "The force that through the green fuse drives [...]

A Beautiful, Brilliant, Unquiet Mind2019-04-03T21:43:19-04:00

Sharing Delight in Disorder

Since my book was published, I've not done much to get the word out. As a result, I haven't sold many copies. People who have read it tell me what a difference it has made in their lives, but I have not followed up on this and reached out to others. I have a hard time walking the fine line between bragging about myself and celebrating what God is doing in my life. Lately, I have come to accept the importance of the mission God has called me to carry out. There are so many people impacted by mental illness who are in desperate need of saving faith. As the body of Christ, it's our delightful duty to show compassion for hurting souls. The emotional anguish caused by brain diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, is as real and agonizing as any bodily pain caused by a physical [...]

Sharing Delight in Disorder2019-04-02T18:17:15-04:00