About tonyroberts

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

How to Cast Out a Demon

Some time ago a woman asked a young pastor to perform an exorcism on her. She was tormented by a commanding inner voice and she had come to believe she was possessed by a demon. He didn't know what to do. He hadn't taken any "Exorcism 101" class at seminary. He wasn't sure he even believed in demon spirits. Sure, Jesus cast out demons. Paul wrote of evil "powers and principalities" that subverted a believer's faith. The history of Christian literature is littered with stories of possessed persons. But in the modern world? Didn't demons die with the Enlightenment? But the woman was persistent. She was clearly vexed and as her pastor he didn't want to simply dismiss her need. So, he consulted a mentor who had many years of experience in pastoral ministry. This pastor advised him to ask three questions to better assess if the disease was at [...]

How to Cast Out a Demon2018-11-04T22:31:42+00:00

The Spiritual Costs and Benefits of Mental Illness

One of the exciting things for me about engaging in dialogue over faith and mental illness is the diversity of perspectives from persons with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. As I have interacted with blog readers, small group participants, conference attendees, and listeners of my podcast, I have been impressed both by the level of understanding and, more significantly, the desire to learn and grow for the sake of all those impacted by mental illness. Two questions I received from two readers illustrate well this sort of distinct perspective. First, from C.C.:   Does having mental illness make a person struggle with knowing God more than the average person?   There are no doubt particular challenges a person with mental illness has that someone without one does not. Recently I had a conversation with a woman who was going to give a talk at a nearby Walk to [...]

The Spiritual Costs and Benefits of Mental Illness2018-10-31T21:12:32+00:00

What If My Pastor Has a Mental Illness?

Last week, I invited readers to submit questions about faith and mental illness. My intent is not so much to give advice, as to share portions of my own story that could be helpful. One reader sent me a question about what to do when your pastor is displaying symptoms that could indicate a mental illness. After praying about it a good bit and revising draft after draft to sift out personal opinion, this is what I wrote: I began to exhibit symptoms of mania and depression when I entered pastoral ministry at the age of 26. I would thrust myself into work for hours upon hours, sometimes days and days. Then I would crash and get out of bed only for the bare essentials. I don't know precisely how this impacted my congregants because no one talked with me about it. I suspected they talked about me instead of [...]

What If My Pastor Has a Mental Illness?2018-10-28T15:23:10+00:00

Your Questions About Faith and Mental Illness

This week I sent out emails to my subscribers that said this... If we could have a private conversation, what questions would you ask me about faith and mental illness? I received a wonderful and wide-ranging response. Here are some I've received so far:   "Is God ok with me taking meds for the rest of my life? Does having mental illness make a person struggle with knowing God more than the average person?"  ~ C.T.   "Why is it so exhausting? The mental battle has reeked savagely on my physical self. I battled for years depression. Always treading water. My spiritual walk though however has gotten stronger. I am a stronger more faithful Christian. Now my battle is trying to make it to places people expect me to go. Church is a big one. The guilt for disappointing is immobilizing." ~ S.B.   "How does one differentiate between experiencing [...]

Your Questions About Faith and Mental Illness2018-10-25T21:10:17+00:00

When Depression Looks Like Laziness

I went to bed last night at 6 p.m.. I got out of bed at 1 p.m. this afternoon. 19 hours. Sometimes it's longer. This time it would have been had not Briley, my 80 pound lab overpowered me with her playful bites on my hand and slobbering kisses across my face. Briley loves me very much and doesn't want me to add to the despair of my depression by wallowing on a bed of misery. Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I attributed days like these to sheer laziness. I couldn't understand why some days I was so eager to start the day that I would wake up hours before my alarm. Sometimes not sleeping at all. Then other days it was like a Sumo wrestler sat on my gut, pinning me down with no chance of escape. How do I tell if I am buried in depression [...]

When Depression Looks Like Laziness2018-10-21T20:26:41+00:00

Growing Delight in Disorder

One thing I have learned in my spiritual life is not only is it more blessed to give than to receive, but it is more rewarding. As a pastor, I observed many who came to church sporadically, made no effort to participate in service, and gave only a few small bills whenever the mood struck them. One common feature I consistently noticed in these folks is that their spiritual growth was stunted.  I saw first hand that those who withhold their time, talent, and money from kingdom work, isolated themselves from God's abundant grace experienced in generous community. I am no longer in pastoral ministry, but I see the same principle apply to my mission here at Delight in Disorder. Over the course of the last five years, I am reaching a growing number of persons impacted by mental illness. These folks need encouragement, support, and spiritual counsel. I have [...]

Growing Delight in Disorder2018-10-17T23:19:36+00:00

Get Your Personal Delight in Disorder

Since publishing my spiritual memoir, I have been blessed to see the many ways God has used it to reach the lives of those impacted by mental illness. At a library book signing the night it was released, over 100 were in attendance. As I shared some of my story and read portions of the book, expressions of recognition came over the faces in the crowd. In the Q & A section, one man said, I have lived with schizo-affective disorder for over 50 years and I've tried to keep it a secret. Thank you for showing me the value of sharing my story. Also at that gathering was a young Eric Riddle who, like me, has bipolar. Eric had recently been hospitalized and was looking for a way to put his life back together. We agreed to meet weekly for prayer and discernment and from this was conceived our [...]

Get Your Personal Delight in Disorder2018-10-15T15:21:42+00:00

The Young and the Anxious: World Mental Health Day

I am a baby in the Baby Boom Generation, born in 1964. I remember doing drills where at the teacher's command, we would hide under our desks, get on our knees and cover our heads. The thinking was that in case of a nuclear attack, those wobbly cast metal one-unit desks would shelter us from radiation. We may have been foolish, but damn, we believed in the power of our own resourcefulness. Even though I came from a "broken home," I was encouraged by voices of teachers, coaches, and pastors around me that I could rise above my station and aim for a better life. "You are good student," "You understand the game," "God has big things in store for you." These voices filled me with hope during particularly dark days at home. Wednesday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The focus this year is "Young People and Mental [...]

The Young and the Anxious: World Mental Health Day2018-10-09T16:28:29+00:00

The End of the World (as they knew it)

There was a knock at the door and suddenly the lights went out. “It’s the end of the world!” said Maura, devotee of Jeanne Dixon. “We need to pray.” said Peter. At 16, Peter had found his way into a youth group. “First we need to confess,” said Father, a lapsed Catholic. “I’ll go get my cell phone." said Thomas,  I just downloaded  “The Virtual Vatican." Thomas had doubts, but he wasn't taking any chances. “Let’s just answer the damn door and check the breakers!”  said Sonya. Last year Sonya had come out as an atheist.  Two years ago, she came out as a lesbian.  The year before that, as Bipolar. Sonya answered the door.  Nobody was there.  She checked the breakers.  None of the fuses were blown. “I tell you, it’s the end the world!" “Let us pray.” “Father, forgive us, for we have sinned.” “Where’s my damn cell [...]

The End of the World (as they knew it)2018-10-07T20:23:09+00:00

Baking Cookies; Confronting Abuse

by Amanda Ladwig... One of the many amazing things about truly working through childhood sexual abuse is the act of taking every single thought, and terrible memory captive and watching Christ redeem them. Facing them. Feeling them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. The abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories you have. They are front and center. Begging to be defeated. Every day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, there are battles fought to reclaim simple things, innocent objects, smells, and sounds. Things that may seem trivial to others represent a great victory. That being said, today I fought a battle and won. Today, I reclaimed what should have been a pleasant childhood memory. Today, I ate an Italian wedding cookie and enjoyed it. That won't mean much to you, but to me, it is a significant victory. [...]

Baking Cookies; Confronting Abuse2018-10-02T18:09:56+00:00