Bruised, Not Broken: Resilient Hearts

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42.3) My parents divorced in 1975. From then on, I have been identified as a child of a broken home. This brokenness certainly describes the nature of the family we once had, or hoped to have. That image of family is forever broken, shattered, never to be fixed. But I am not a broken person. Bruised, yes. Even deeply wounded, but not broken. At least not forever broken. Fractured, but capable of being mended. In time, with plenty of prayer and much care, I have passed through stages of recovery to become a wounded healer who intimately feels the pain of others and, by God's grace, responds in love. In her soon-to-be published book Kicked to the Curb, Dr. Susan Lockwood describes resilience is the life of a young woman named Rose. Rose is a twenty-something [...]

Bruised, Not Broken: Resilient Hearts2018-09-19T11:53:23+00:00

What I Believe About Suicide

God is more just than I will ever be. And, God is more loving than I can ever imagine. For centuries it has been standard church doctrine that suicide is a shameful sin, deserving eternal punishment. Persons who took their own lives were restricted from church burials, families were ostracized, even excommunicated for fear this deadly infection would spread to the whole body. The teaching that suicide leads directly to hell is rooted not so much in Scripture as in a desire to deter someone who wants to end his life from doing so. Lately, with suicides of prominent church leaders and their family members, this teaching is being called into question. Most recently, Inland Hills Church put out this message: Inland Hills Church grieves with heavy hearts as our Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein was welcomed into Heaven on Saturday night after battling depression and anxiety. It’s not the outcome [...]

What I Believe About Suicide2018-09-16T05:48:09+00:00

Choosing Life Over Death

I've been asked to share my story with a youth group next week. Like many teens, they are facing intense issues. More than just what sport to play, who to ask out on a date, what college to choose. No, much more than this, they are asking life and death questions like: how can I cope with this pain, who can I turn to for help, why live. When I was in high school, I had much to live for, or so it seemed. I was a top scholar-athlete. I was in theater, student government, publications. One would think I didn't have a care in the world. But inside I was festering with despair. At high school, I read a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson called, "Richard Cory." It begins, Whenever Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him: He was a gentleman from sole [...]

Choosing Life Over Death2018-09-13T08:02:51+00:00

Ironic Iconoclasm: Healthy, Holy Humor

Some time ago, I was asked this question: In two words or less, how would you describe your sense of humor? The first two words that came to my mind were - "Ironic Iconoclasm". Then I wondered, "What does that mean?" This post is my effort to answer that question. First, irony comes in various forms.  I like how this on-line dictionary defines one aspect of irony - a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other's false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony. I've learned this form of irony not so much from the classic Greek philosopher Socrates as from my self-proclaimed Kentuckian father Veston.  When Dad wants to catch someone off-guard with a thought provoking question, he begins with - Now, I only have a sixth-grade education, so you'll have to help me understand this... Dad is actually [...]

Ironic Iconoclasm: Healthy, Holy Humor2018-09-03T20:55:08+00:00

Do you have a humble heart?

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage...  (Philippians 2)   Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble. ― Andrew Murray.   When I was young, I was a good basketball player. And I knew it. I would play with guys much older than me and beat them. [...]

Do you have a humble heart?2018-08-30T11:47:23+00:00

The ACTS of a Balanced Prayer Life

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1.2-3) “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” ― Søren Kierkegaard Typically, we think of prayer in the sense of asking God to do something beneficial for us or others. Forgive. Guide. Provide. Heal. All these are crucial components to a balanced prayer life, but if we focus only on what we want from God, we will lose sight of all that God is and who we are in relation to God. When I first became a Christian, a friend taught me a simple method of prayer I have carried with me to this day. I don't always follow the [...]

The ACTS of a Balanced Prayer Life2018-08-27T20:14:47+00:00

Careless or Carefree Speech?

With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. (James 3.9) Each time I sit down before a keyboard and stare at a blank screen, I say a quiet prayer that my words glorify God and encourage God's people. There is so much hate speech in the world today. I count it my ministry to say something not only truthful, but uplifting. Speak the truth in love, as Paul writes in Ephesians. When we do, we make a tremendous impact on those who hear us, many of whom have been beaten down for years with messages that they are no good, that what they do is not worthy, that they will never measure up, that they are not loved. I had a high school tennis coach who knew the power of encouraging speech. He knew next to [...]

Careless or Carefree Speech?2018-08-19T16:25:13+00:00

How Can I Best Respond to Depression

Originally published April 23, 2017: I had coffee and scones with a good friend the other morning. One thing I greatly value about our friendship is that we quickly dispense of pleasantries, moving right to prayer and the sharing what is deepest in our hearts. I told him that after a lengthy period of emotional and spiritual high, I had fallen into a depressive low. At my peak, I was spending as much as three hours a day in intensive prayer and Bible study. Lately, however, my time with God had become desperately pleading for some sustenance in a verse or phrase of Scripture – “Get up and eat,” “Jesus wept,” “God is love,” and the like. My friend, who has some close loved ones battling mental health issues, asked me a very sincere and poignant question, “How can I best respond to someone who is depressed?” I thought back [...]

How Can I Best Respond to Depression2018-08-10T20:53:04+00:00

How Women Are Crazy: Pyschiatric Abuse Through the Ages

I was speaking with a friend this week about his grandmother who had been a missionary to one of the Asian nations. She had kept personal journals of her years in the mission field and my friend was prayerfully hoping to obtain them and possibly write a biography. One of his motivations was to celebrate the life and service of a woman of faith who had gone largely unnoticed in the shadow her famous husband cast. To acknowledge that women have been unfairly silenced for no other reason than their gender is more than just a radical feminist statement. It is a harsh and sometimes cruel reality. For centuries, women who somehow deviate from the societal norms placed upon them have been "put in their place" by the psychiatric profession. ... psychiatrists were often hired by husbands and fathers to probe their wives’ and daughters’ “abnormal” behaviors. The reasons men [...]

How Women Are Crazy: Pyschiatric Abuse Through the Ages2018-08-05T16:57:36+00:00

He Was in Heaven Before He Died

The following is not a story based solely on facts. I did have a Grandpa George and this was pretty much how he lived and died. But I didn't make it to the funeral. Instead, I was in a hellish heaven of my own on the psych unit of Columbia Presbyterian.   I got the call late at night that Grandpa George had died.  He had lived a hard life.  He didn't have the opportunity to get a good education.  He never learned to read or write because his demanding father made him quit school to help in the fields.   He worked hard to get by and managed to scrape together a living.  He met a woman - Maize - at the tomato factory where he worked.  She says he was throwing tomatoes at her, so she knew he liked her.   They were married in less than 3 months. [...]

He Was in Heaven Before He Died2018-08-02T00:11:28+00:00