Nurse Ratched Now

{from Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest} [Nurse Ratched] reached in the basket for the log book. “Must we go over past history?” That triggered something, some acoustic device in the walls, rigged to turn on at just the sound of those words coming from her mouth. The Acutes stiffened. Their mouths opened in unison. Her sweeping eyes stopped on the first man along the wall. His mouth worked. “I robbed a cash register in a service station.” She moved to the next man. “I tried to take my little sister to bed.” Her eyes clicked to the next man; each one jumped like a shooting-gallery target. “I—one time—wanted to take my brother to bed.” “I killed my cat when I was six. Oh, God forgive me, I stoned her to death and said my neighbor did it.” “I lied about trying. I did take my sister!” “So did [...]

Nurse Ratched Now2020-10-29T19:26:20-04:00

Prayers Answered and Unanswered: Yes? No? Wait?

At age 55, my father-in-law was diagnosed with an advanced stage of colon cancer. He received an aggressive round of chemotherapy. Inexplicably, he went into a coma. We recruited prayer warriors throughout the country. In just a few weeks, one of his medical interns happened to read a case study that perfectly fit my father-in-laws profile. They adapted his treatment. He returned to full function. He is now 85 and enjoying life to its fullest. Prayers answered, "Yes." Some time ago, my (then) wife and I separated after 20 years of marriage. I desperately wanted to reconcile. I sought intensive counseling for over a year.  I met with church elders and deacons. I prayed. My family prayed. My friends prayed. My church prayed. After 5 years, it became clear marriage reconciliation would not happen and we got a divorce. Prayers answered, "No." I served in pastoral ministry for twenty years [...]

Prayers Answered and Unanswered: Yes? No? Wait?2020-10-25T06:42:56-04:00

The Bittersweet Blessing of Bipolar Revisited

The past three weeks I've been enjoying the blessing of bipolar. By this I mean I've been full of energy and positivity. I've been creative and very productive. What has been different in this manic binge is that I am still engaging in some self-care through prayer, diet, and sleep. I wouldn't say I've been perfectly balanced, but I'm making progress. I know this won't last. In fact, I have slept 20 out of the last 24 hours. My emotions are on edge. I snapped at my wife over a perceived slight that was anything but. This is the part I hate about my illness, but I still appreciate what it has given me. I say this realizing some experience more extreme symptoms and don't felt any redemption in their suffering. I grieve for this. This isn't my story. I find a bittersweet blessing in bipolar. This is what I [...]

The Bittersweet Blessing of Bipolar Revisited2020-10-22T21:27:07-04:00

What comes after When Despair Meets Delight? — Next Steps.

I’m been on quasi-sabbatical, letting go of some of my busyness to make room for God’s business in my life and ministry. For over a year now, my time has been consumed by my When Despair Meets Delight book and, while there are still things to do to “get it out there,” my mind can now mostly pivot to my next book, my next project, my next dream to pursue. It has been said of writers that there is nothing more terrifying than a blank page. Starting over is daunting for anyone, particularly when it seems we are starting from scratch. We can fool ourselves into believing we have to magically discover the one right thing to do out of an infinite number of wrong choices. This is the Enemy’s convincing lie designed to paralyze us from faithful action. I am devoting this season of transition to discerning prayer. I’m [...]

What comes after When Despair Meets Delight? — Next Steps.2020-10-18T22:04:10-04:00

Thus Sayeth the Lord: How do we hear God speak?

Some time ago Sharon Rawlette, one of my regular readers posed a fascinating question that has inspired this post. In essence, she asks, how can we discriminate between “true” voice of God from “false” ones? This question gets to the heart of how God speaks to us as well as how the Enemy tries to keep us from hearing. First, look at what it says in Hebrews: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed to be heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2) Jesus is the Word of God spoken at creation, made flesh in his miraculous birth, demonstrated in his compassionate ministry, redeemed in his sacrificial death, enlivened by his resurrection, and delegated to the Holy Spirit after [...]

Thus Sayeth the Lord: How do we hear God speak?2020-09-30T22:19:33-04:00

Being Transparent: A cost/benefit analysis.

The first person to call me transparent was a spiritual counselor I sought out when I was having a crisis of faith. I didn’t take it as a compliment. I had just bared my soul, laying out my struggles with bipolar, a troublesome marriage, conflict in my church. He watched me with an expression of concern and bewilderment. Then he smiled and said, “You are SO transparent.” He might have been affirming me, but this isn’t how it felt. It felt like a put-down. Like I was too childish to contain my emotions. I wished I could take it back. But it was out there. One of the costs of transparency. Fast forward to today. I was sitting out on the deck with my wife talking about writing a blog post. I mentioned I was weary of promoting my book and feared my readers were as well. She said I [...]

Being Transparent: A cost/benefit analysis.2020-09-26T21:28:09-04:00

Perfect Humility: A Quietness of 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; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)   Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing [...]

Perfect Humility: A Quietness of Heart2020-08-30T10:51:17-04:00

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 Life2020-08-26T20:50:05-04:00

Strength in Weakness; Delight in Disorder

6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:6-10) I've had many peaks and valleys in my life and ministry. [...]

Strength in Weakness; Delight in Disorder2020-08-19T18:48:58-04:00

Blessed are the Comforted Who Comfort Others

At Dad's funeral service, my Uncle Geoff read this passage from 2 Corinthians 1 -- 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. Comfort. Nine times in just five verses. In the original Greek, one extended sentence. Nine times! The Apostle Paul knew how [...]

Blessed are the Comforted Who Comfort Others2020-08-16T21:29:06-04:00
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