The Level Ground of Praise Gatherings

My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord. (Psalm 22.6) Faith gives you an inner strength and a sense of balance and perspective in life. ~ Gregory Peck The past 10 days I have enjoyed beautiful balance. It's a precious gift. Not something I experience very often. I don't rely on it, as it is so rare and fleeting. But I will enjoy it while it lasts. As someone with bipolar, balance is not something I can readily achieve. Certainly, there are ways I can avoid aggravating our condition to extremes. Things I've been doing over the past 10 days that boost the watchdog chemicals in my brain -- serotonin (combatting mood swings) and dopamine (battling depression). Things like going for a morning walk. Avoiding excess sugars and alcohol. Prayer and reflection on Scripture. Regular and ample sleep. All of these things have [...]

The Level Ground of Praise Gatherings2019-07-17T23:48:30-04:00

Loving Money – More or Less.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10). But money spent while manic doesn’t fit into the Internal Revenue Service concept of medical expense or business loss. So after mania, when most depressed, you’re given excellent reason to be even more so.  ~ Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. A few years ago I walked into a car dealership intent on driving one home. I had done no research. In fact, I had only concocted the scheme that morning. My thinking was I needed an all-wheel drive with plenty of seats for my children and grandchildren. I didn’t consider that I only saw them every other month or that the prospect of me taking them for a drive was next to [...]

Loving Money – More or Less.2019-07-14T23:10:58-04:00

Purposeful Prayer with the Armor of God

About 20 minutes into my 3-hour emotional collapse last Friday night, I told my wife Susan there was more going on than just a disturbance of brain chemicals. The root cause of my uncontrollable crying session is spiritual. God is working in my life and ministry and this puts me at greater risk of Enemy attack. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis — Satan doesn’t need to go after his own, but those who seek to follow Christ. Susan listened prayerfully and suggested I focus on the “Armor of God” passage in my devotional time. It is found in Ephesians 6:11-20 and it goes like this:   Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, [...]

Purposeful Prayer with the Armor of God2019-07-10T22:22:24-04:00

Freedom for, not from Religion

Today (July 4) Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence from “British tyranny” (as it was then perceived.)  It was primarily a declaration of economic and political independence (a reaction against “taxation without representation.”)  My thoughts today, however, turn to the “religious freedom” our ancestors sought in the new land.  I am particular interested in those “founding fathers” who signed the Declaration of Independence 243 years ago today.  Were they seeking “freedom from religion” or “freedom for religion”? And if it was “for religion,” what was the nature of this religion? While modern atheists may find a few examples of statements from our colonial forefathers that support the notion of “separation of Church and State” (a phrase not found in the Constitution), they would be hard-pressed to excise God (or Providence, or Sovereign) from the foundational writings of our nation. The opening words of the Declaration of Independence reveal just one [...]

Freedom for, not from Religion2019-07-04T15:14:24-04:00

If You Show Your Child Your Love

If you show your child your love, she's going to share it with others. If she shares her love with others, she's going to get hurt. If she gets hurt, she's going to run back to you. If you comes running back to you, you will give her a hug. If you give her a hug, she'll hold you tightly. If she holds you tightly, she will make you smile with joy. If you smile with joy, she will know she makes you happy. If she knows she makes you happy, she will want to please you more. If she wants to please you more, she will make pancakes with Daddy. If she makes pancakes, she will put a banana face on yours. If she makes a banana face on your pancake, she will want you to sing Gingerbread Man. If you sing Gingerbread Man, she will dance with her [...]

If You Show Your Child Your Love2019-06-28T20:22:36-04:00

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’s Prayer: How Long?

I have little to say. The thought of composing a post from scratch seems insurmountable. But I don't want to give up. I know there are people who read my work looking for encouraging words. Not false hope, for sure, not even a hope that can be seen, but a hope that is rooted in the Good News of Christ:   The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1.5)   I do a lot of self-reflection here and there is a method in my madness. I have found working in mental health ministry that more people are willing to explore their own emotional struggles if you first share yours. But there is a great danger in this. You can get so caught up in musing on your misery that you bring others down rather than lift them up. I'm determined  not to do that. So, [...]

Grandma’s Prayer: How Long?2019-06-23T19:44:51-04:00

Darkness is My Closest Companion

My friend and my neighbor have put away from me, and darkness is my only companion. (Psalm 88:18; Book of Common Prayer)   "... depression is not just sadness or sorrow. Depression is not just negative thinking. Depression is not just being "down." It is being cast to the very end of your tether and, quite frankly, being dropped... The sick individual cannot simply shrug it off or pull out of it. While God certainly can pick up the pieces and put them together in a new way, this can only happen if the depressed brain makes it through to see again life among the living."  ~ Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Darkness is My Only Companion.   It's been 14 days that have passed like 14 years. Some days I lay in bed into late afternoon. One it was 6 p.m. Other days I'm up well before dawn. Up or down, the [...]

Darkness is My Closest Companion2019-06-19T06:02:20-04:00

Life and Death with Bipolar

A friend of mine, who also has bipolar, was in an auto accident when she was in college. She was taken to the emergency room where she had an x-ray and cat-scan. Neither showed any physical damage. She called her resident adviser to come to the hospital to pick her up. By the time he got there, she was livid with the staff, crying out to anyone who would listen, and many who wouldn't, that she was paralyzed. Three doctors and several nurses examined her and found nothing physically wrong. As the night wore on, however, she became hysterical. She said she had a massive inflammation in her spine. She was admitted to a medical-behavioral unit where she was diagnosed as having an acute manic episode. She was given psychotropics. They also performed an MRI and found a mass in her lower spine.  Another cat-scan also revealed a mass in her [...]

Life and Death with Bipolar2019-06-05T17:19:29-04:00

The Personal Cost of Freedom

I went to a fast food restaurant for dinner some time ago. The guy ahead of me had just come home from Afghanistan. He was buying dinner for his son and himself. The total came to over $20. He didn’t have enough. They said they would give him a 10% military discount. Still not enough. He started taking away food from his order until he could afford it. Sad. Then I saw a man who had heard this haggling hand him $100 bill and say, "Thanks for your service." The soldier teared up and said, "You don’t know how much this means to me." The man smiled and said,  "You don’t know how much what you do means to me." I posted this story on Facebook and it got well over 100 likes and a dozen shares. It shows that people really want to care about those willing to give [...]

The Personal Cost of Freedom2019-05-26T22:12:21-04:00