What Child This Is!

first published December 24, 2017...   … Christmas is not only the mile-mark of another year, moving us to thoughts of self-examination: it is a season, from all its associations, whether domestic or religious, suggesting thoughts of joy. A man dissatisfied with his endeavours is a man tempted to sadness. And in the midst of the winter, when his life runs lowest and he is reminded of the empty chairs of his beloved, it is well he should be condemned to this fashion of the smiling face. Noble disappointment, noble self-denial are not to be admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness. It is one thing to enter the kingdom of heaven maim; another to maim yourself and stay without. And the kingdom of heaven is of the childlike, of those who are easy to please, who love and who give pleasure.  (from “A Christmas Sermon” by [...]

What Child This Is!2019-12-26T01:32:59-05:00

Mystics and Madmen: When Faith and Mental Illness Clash

Well, I'm back in my writer's chair, in fits and starts that is. After pressing through a harsh spell of mental anguish, I had the good fortune of contracting pneumonia. It could be worse. Their first diagnosis was congestive heart failure. Pneumonia saps my strength and makes me contagious, but I can live with this. Truly live. As I sit here on a cold winter's night, the blank screen taunts me. I've decided to do what all good writers do. Steal the work of others, with citation. After all, even writers aren't God. No Creatio ex Nihilo for us. So what follows in the italics is a message sent to me on December 13 of last year by a woman named Carrie. Carrie is so thoughtful and articulate, I'll let her speak for herself then I'll make a few brief comments at the end.   Hello Tony,  I've been following [...]

Mystics and Madmen: When Faith and Mental Illness Clash2019-12-11T21:21:21-05:00

Grace, Delight, and Foolishness: Devotions & Responses

In addition to writing for this blog, I write for such publications as Upper Room, These Days, and Stand Firm. Writing these devotionals is an exercise of faith for me and a way to connect with others hungry for the Word. This month I was fortunate to have a series of devotions ("Our Unbelief; God's Faithfulness") published in the Aug/Sept/Oct issue of these days. They hit home for several persons -- from a psychologist in Tempe, Arizona, to a retired minister in Bradenton, Florida, and many others. Perhaps the most gratifying response came in the mail - letters from a homeless person with a Ph. D. in political science who had schizophrenia and had been living on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee until an hospitable congregation took him under their wings, found him housing, welcomed him into Bible Study and encourage him to become an advocate for the homeless. I [...]

Grace, Delight, and Foolishness: Devotions & Responses2019-09-22T17:12:09-04:00

I am ; even me.

I’m writing this on September 11, 2019. World Suicide Prevention Day. About an hour ago I read the tragic news about Pastor & Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson, who died two days ago by suicide. Here is how Christianity Today described Wilson — His wife, Julianne Wilson posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”... “Tragically, Jarred took his own life,” [          ] Eaton said. ”Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most.”   I did not know Jarrid Wilson, but I know his story well. His story is the story of far too many persons who try so hard to care for others yet are unable to receive care for themselves; not so much out of stubborn [...]

I am ; even me.2019-09-11T12:07:27-04:00

Preparing for Fiery Trials

My soul is searing. Not from the burning wrath of God but from the fiery grace of Christ. The past month has been the most challenging one I can remember over the past decade. I spent 3 weeks in a dungeon of despair, lost in a thick haze of hopeless regret over perceived personal failings that left me feeling irredeemable. Then, around midnight 11 days ago  the fog lifted; my dry bones were enfleshed with spiritual sinews. I walked unweary. I flew like an eagle full of promise and purpose. The psychological diagnosis for this is bipolar disorder. The spiritual diagnosis I’m coming to discern is being tested by the Lord; or, tempted by Satan. Or could it be both? Reflecting on an emotional meltdown 24 hours ago, I’ve come to relate intimately with the baptism of Jesus followed immediately by his desert temptation by the Accuser. Jesus understood his relationship to [...]

Preparing for Fiery Trials2019-07-07T17:10:41-04:00

The Painful Best

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  (Psalm 42:5)   As one who is touched with bipolar depression, I write about spiritual darkness. Yet, as a believer, I see the light of Christ shining through this darkness. The following are from posts written over the course of the last 6 years. If I have done my job as a Christian who has bipolar, you will find hope to handle despair with the strong arm of faith.   April 9, 2013   I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live...(Deuteronomy 30:19) When I read the news of Matthew Warren's suicide yesterday, I felt sick to my stomach.  I [...]

The Painful Best2019-06-26T03:18:53-04:00

Grandma McPeak. Just Grandma.

Today is Grandma McPeak's birthday. Some time ago,  I had lunch with her.  You know how people often have endearing names for their grandmothers — Nanny, Granny, Mama, etc…  Well, Grandma McPeak has always just been “Grandma” – as if she defined the role. She met me at the door with a smile. Come on in.  Make yourself at home. I brought you some good food for lunch, Grandma. Did you make it?  (sounding surprised) Well, no, Connie did. Bless her heart.  You tell her I said thanks. I set the broccoli salad, cantaloupe (or “mush melon – as Grandma calls it), green onions, and plums on the table, then fixed our plates with pork, ham and beans and green beans.  Grandma was standing by the microwave. Do you mind putting these in for a minute, Grandma? (looking confused) Well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to do it. What’s [...]

Grandma McPeak. Just Grandma.2019-06-24T18:59:11-04:00

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

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
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