A Faithful Response For Falling Soldiers

Attitudes toward military conflict vary widely within the Christian community. Some are strict Pacifists. They take literally the words of Jesus, "Thou shalt not kill.," even in the context of self-defense. I have heard some say, "I will die for my faith, but I won't kill for it." Others are militaristic. They believe it is right, even necessary, to declare and carry out war when there is a just cause, such as fighting "for democracy," or "against terror." Many find themselves somewhere in between, searching for divine answers in an ungodly world. Wherever we find ourselves in the spectrum of beliefs about war, our faithful response is to recognize and honor those who lay down their lives for a cause greater than themselves. ("Sam Stone," by John Prine) Sam Stone came home, To the wife and family After serving in the conflict overseas. And the time that [...]

A Faithful Response For Falling Soldiers2018-11-11T21:18:25+00:00

Weary Walking in a Dark Valley

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;     heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled.     But you, O Lord—how long? (Psalm 6:2-3) The Psalmist agonizes over the anguish that impacts his soul -- body, mind, and spirit. He calls on the Lord to relieve him of his suffering, not quite sure how or when or even if God will respond. S.B. write about her struggle with mental illness: Why is it so exhausting? The mental battle has reeked savagely on my physical self. I battled for years with 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. The state of our minds impacts the condition of our bodies. A [...]

Weary Walking in a Dark Valley2018-11-07T17:10:04+00:00

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

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

10 Reasons to Leave Your Psychiatrist

     O grant us help against the foe    for human help is worthless.  (Psalm 108:12) I have Christian friends who advise me to steer clear of psychiatrists who do not share my faith.  I believe though,  "God, can use even atheists to promote healing should God choose to do so.  I've had some excellent psychiatrists and some real stinkers.  During one period where it seemed I was getting one bad psychiatrist after another, I wrote a list of 10 ways to tell it might be time to leave your psychiatrist and I'd like to offer these to you, free of charge... It's time to leave your psychiatrist when s/he says...      1)   Enough about your mother, let's talk about mine.      2)   Sure, the blue meds are working, but the pink pills are so much cuter.      3)    In my professional opinion, you're crazier than a loon.      4)     [...]

10 Reasons to Leave Your Psychiatrist2018-09-06T16:45:53+00:00