How Our Thorns Make Us Better, Revisited by Lamar Hardwick

The following post was first posted on September 2, 2020. I am republishing now because there has been a significant development in the life of the author. Lamar has been diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. He is taking an indefinite sabbatical to pursue treatment. This will no doubt change his life in many ways, but he is facing it with the same courage for which he is known. Lamar has been posting prayers for strength to rally his "fight club" as he faces this battle. This one is from yesterday -- Good morning fight club. It’s another great day to fight! Pray this with me “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but [...]

How Our Thorns Make Us Better, Revisited by Lamar Hardwick2020-10-12T03:39:40-04:00

from When Despair Meets Delight – a spiritual encounter

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.  ~ Edgar Allan Poe Share with the LORD’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12.13)   chapter five - spiritual encounter   I had a good friend in college, Steve Franz, who used to say, I drink and smoke because they are the best ways I know to commit suicide in a manner deemed acceptable by society. I’m convinced no one really wants to kill themselves. We just want to stop the pain. We want to silence the voices. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 [...]

from When Despair Meets Delight – a spiritual encounter2020-09-14T19:45:55-04:00

Around the World in 80 Key Strokes: Writing as Global Mission

I have been more active on social media than ever before as I promote my book. While I worry of becoming grandiose by focusing on my own story, I am delighted at the friendships I am forming around the world with people who share the same passions about reaching out to those impacted by brain illnesses with the compassion of Christ and the consolation of the Holy Spirit. One friend I've recently made is Rosette. Rosette is from Uganda and is part of a faith community which takes seriously the call of Christ to engage in healing ministry. She shared a story of a woman with severe schizophrenia who had been left to flounder in isolation. Members of the church visited her, prayed with her, advocated for her to get and take the medication she needed. Now, while not cured, she functions fully in the life of the community. She [...]

Around the World in 80 Key Strokes: Writing as Global Mission2020-07-23T03:13:53-04:00

Mental Illness: Explanation or Excuse

This is not something I want to write. It's something I feel compelled to write. First, an explanation. Mental illness is a serious problem, both for those of us who have it and for our loved ones impacted by it. It is a also a major societal issue. How we care for those who are most vulnerable is a reflection of who we are and what we believe. If we let "the least of these" fall through the cracks, we will be judged by our consciences and by our faith convictions. God does not look lightly at those abusing His children. Mental illness is a medical condition stemming from faulty brain chemistry which current medical science can treat, but not cure. My own bipolar disorder is considered a serious mental illness (SMI). SMIs are disabling conditions that are chronic. You can't just take a pill and make them go [...]

Mental Illness: Explanation or Excuse2020-07-12T21:52:35-04:00

When Darkness Meets Delight — Diagnosing the Problem (part one)

Rev. Roberts, you have bipolar disorder. What? I was in a medication-induced stupor. My mind was in a haze. Was I dreaming? Bipolar? I had heard of it, but I couldn’t connect with it. What did it mean for me? I couldn’t take it in, so I turned over and went back to sleep. Maybe dreams would take this dreadful diagnosis away or at least infuse the hope I needed to handle this new reality. Rest wouldn’t come as I tossed in a hyper-vigilant wakefulness, staring beyond the walls. I got up and walked to the central nurse’s station. The nurse on duty wore a gentle and kind expression. She had a glow about her and seemed to float above her rotating chair.  She asked what I was looking for. I told her the diagnosis I was given and that I wanted to understand what it meant. Suddenly, her expression [...]

When Darkness Meets Delight — Diagnosing the Problem (part one)2020-03-15T13:17:57-04:00

Neither to the Left Nor to the Right: My Story, My Message, My Mission

Those who know me best know that I am not into partisan politics. My stomach churns equally from the Left and the Right. This does not mean I don’t care about political issues. You don’t have to know me very well to know that my identity as a Christ follower who battles bipolar disorder impacts all I think, feel, write, and act. I have and will continue to advocate strenuously for policies that enhance the care of those impacted by serious mental illness (SMI). Yet, also, for the sake of my own well-being and to better share the fullness of abundant life, I'm going to share something I published some time ago about who and Whose I am.   My Story In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a small village church.  One Sunday, I delivered a sermon on human illness and divine healing in which I shared [...]

Neither to the Left Nor to the Right: My Story, My Message, My Mission2020-02-12T17:39:06-05:00

When you don’t feel worthy going to church.

Today I got a very searching and honest message from one of my readers. I have gotten to the point I cannot go to church for emotional reasons.  I feel TOO MUCH LOVE THERE  AND FEEL I AM A STUMBLING BLOCK AND FAILURE. How do I know if it's the devil telling me I can't or shouldn't do this for the benefit of the church that I love? How can I fight against him and keep going to prove I can beat this? I handle a job okay, have raised 2 kids, I feel I can't do church."  ~ M.   This was my response: I can appreciate your struggle, M. I have often felt I was doing more harm than good to my faith community. Believe me, the Enemy is the one who tries to confuse us in such a way that we avoid growing closer to God and [...]

When you don’t feel worthy going to church.2020-07-21T08:12:29-04:00

New Year’s Commitment: Walking in the Light of Christ

Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord and do good;     dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the Lord,     and he will give you the desires of your heart.   “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” ― G.K. Chesterton.   Today marks the beginning of a new year. Time to wipe the slate clean and start afresh. I have many goals this year. I want to get in shape physically. I want to be loving to my wife and family. I want to be diligent in pursuing my vocation as a writer and a [...]

New Year’s Commitment: Walking in the Light of Christ2020-01-01T19:42:14-05:00

Mental Health Ministry: The Mission Field in Your Backyard

by Catherine Boyle, Director of Mental Health Ministry, Key Ministry. (see bio below) A few weeks ago, I came across some old notes I saved from April 2015 for a still-unwritten book. In those notes was a website link to Key Ministry. For six months leading up to those April notes, I had been sensing God calling me back to ministry, specifically ministry to and with people with some form of mental illness. At the time, I was working in a secular corporate job, earning money to prepare for our kids’ college years. But before that, for more than a decade when my kids were young, I wrote and spoke about my experience with eating disorder and how God’s love helped me heal. I even worked as a full-time volunteer for three and a half years for a ministry startup, a transitional home for women working to overcome their own [...]

Mental Health Ministry: The Mission Field in Your Backyard2019-12-01T19:20:03-05:00

TITLE REVEAL for my upcoming Mental Health Ministry book.

From Despair to Delight: Stories that Cultivate Compassion for Those with Mental Illness I agonized about a title of my upcoming book for over two weeks, then settled on it over a couple of beers. The creative process sometimes looks like that. I've now written just about 1/3 of the book and I've outlined where it seems to be going. This title reflects both the content and the flow. From  Despair - The book begins with a scene in the psych hospital where I receive my diagnosis. My prognosis was stark; the outlook was bleak. In that moment, I felt God was not a loving Father but a malicious dictator, emasculating me on a divine whim. (from chapter one) The odds are stacked against those of us with serious mental illness. Disability. Divorce. Death. The statistics are alarming, but stories offer hope.   to Delight - Stories that convey a [...]

TITLE REVEAL for my upcoming Mental Health Ministry book.2019-10-02T21:13:08-04:00
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