Living in Love

“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)   You don’t fall out of love Like a cradle When the wind blows And the bough breaks.   Love is in the broken bough, the blowing wind, the falling cradle.   Love lives in us When we live in love   We live in the hands of the cradle-maker, the breath of the blowing wind, the heart of the broken bough.   (dedicated to S.L.; 9.23.2018)

Living in Love2019-01-27T14:23:37-04:00

The Physician Inside: 3 Steps to Better Self-Care

Note: This was first published in the Spring of 2017. Much has changed. I have more reason than ever to maintain my well-being. My solitary self is now in a shared union with another. What God has joined together is our job to care for.   Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19) As a competitive athlete, I diligently trained my body and "played through the pain," dismissing wounds I still face. As a student, I fiercely focused my mind on questions and concepts that helped me better understand who I am, but fell short of understanding how I fit in the world. As a pastor, I offered my best (and sometimes more) to meet people's needs, and became so obsessed with this, I ignored my own. Now, 54, launching new vocational [...]

The Physician Inside: 3 Steps to Better Self-Care2019-01-23T18:31:51-04:00

Good Work; God’s Work

In his book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, Timothy Keller quotes Robert Bellah from Habits of the Heart.  Bellah observes that modern "expressive individualism" eats away at the cohesiveness that ties us together as a people and makes our work meaningful and productive.  Something more is needed.  He writes -  To make a real difference [there would have to be] a reappropriation of the idea of vocation or calling, a return in a new way to the idea of work as a contribution to the good of all and not merely as a means to one's own advancement. Reflecting on this, Keller identifies streams within the Christian Scriptures and particularly in his own Reformed Christian tradition.  One of these streams flows from Martin Luther.  Keller notes - The headwaters of Lutheran theology put special stress on the dignity of all work, observing that God cared for, fed, clothed, [...]

Good Work; God’s Work2019-01-20T19:44:12-04:00

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 Depression?2019-01-04T17:08:31-04:00

12 Blessings in 2018: Featured Posts to Encourage and Inspire

2018 began with modest expectations. It is ending with endless possibilities. Along the way, God has blessed me with new new opportunities, new friends, a new life partner. I still experience chaotic mood swings that require diligent treatment such as medication and therapy; but with a caring network of family and friends and a strong connection to Christ's body, my sanity is maintained and I can contribute to the common good. Most particularly I offer friendly counsel to those like me who have troubled minds by sharing the inspiration of God's word and the encouraging Way of Christ. Now that the year is winding down, I thought it would be good to look back at the journey. Below I have 12 featured posts (one/month) with a brief excerpt. The titles contain a link to the posts. I hope you will review these and enjoy reading through the blessings of 2018. [...]

12 Blessings in 2018: Featured Posts to Encourage and Inspire2018-12-30T15:38:54-04:00

Suicide and Salvation

Not long ago, I took a leisurely stroll with a young friend along a "people path" in my neighborhood. We paused and watched some ducks circling the pond beyond the log fence. "Is suicide the unforgivable sin?" he asked. I was taken aback. I didn't know what to say or how to say it. I needed more time to formulate what the Bible says and doesn't say about the subject of suicide. But I couldn't wait to respond. He seemed urgent. I looked at his face, trying to read what he was saying  in the lines of his forehead."Why do you ask?" He turned away. "I have a friend who was the first person to share Christ with me.  Until about a month ago, I would say she had the strongest faith of anyone I know. Then suddenly she started doing strange things. One day, she scrubbed her church's [...]

Suicide and Salvation2018-12-16T20:08:41-04:00

Sacred Rest

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. (Psalm 116:7) One of the marks of bipolar disorder is a sense of restlessness. Often, I struggle a great deal with this. I pace. I sit. Then I stand up almost at once. I toss and turn in bed. There seems to be no rest for my weary soul. But the Psalmist here assures us that we can lay claim to a promised rest. It is our possession as we grow in our relationship with God. The Sabbath-rest God desires for us in this life, a rest that often escapes us, is fully realized at the end of our extended life journeys. We will then look back on all the LORD has done for us, grateful for the temporary rest we enjoyed, blessed by the eternal rest that lies before us. Rest is such a cherished [...]

Sacred Rest2018-12-02T20:01:23-04:00

Where is God When the World Goes Mad?

In Elie Wiesel's Night, Eliezer is a Jewish teenager, a devoted student of the Talmud from Sighet, in Hungarian Transylvania.  In the spring of 1944, the Nazis occupy Hungary. A series of increasingly repressive measures are passed, and the Jews of Eliezer’s town are forced into small ghettos within Sighet.  Before long, they are rounded up and shipped out to the death camps of Burkenau, and Auschwitz. Throughout this slim narrative, Eliezer reflects on the nature of God in response to the atrocities he witnesses.  In one pivotal scene, he describes the execution of three Jews, among whom is a young child.             One day, as we returned from work, we saw three gallows, three black ravens, erected on the Appelplatz. Roll call.  The SS surrounding us, machine guns aimed at us: the usual ritual.  Three prisoners in chains – and, among them, the little pipel, the sad-eyed angel.             The SS [...]

Where is God When the World Goes Mad?2018-11-28T19:50:09-04:00

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 Illness2018-10-31T21:12:32-04:00

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 Laziness2018-10-21T20:26:41-04:00