Wretched man that I am.

I am woefully depressed and once again, like the Apostle Paul, the thing I most need to do I don’t do and the very thing I most need to avoid, I do. Take sleep. Please! I toss and turn through the evening then get up soon after midnight. I try to listen to music 🎼 and write ✍️ but rarely does it help calm me. What a wretched man 👨 I am! Who will rescue me? Need I answer? Jesus is the answer but he rarely offers an easy solution. Or maybe they are easy but I make them complicated trying to show off? I wonder if Paul ever stayed up all night eating junk food and sorting out his woes. I am sure he did — tied at literal stakes and chains ⛓  instead of a food addicts craving. And Paul was doing time for fewer divine crimes than [...]

Wretched man that I am.2022-11-03T06:32:10-04:00

Prayers Inspired by Psalms with a Friend by George Love

In his book Psalms with a Friend George Love recommends writing Psalm prayers after reading and reflecting on them. Here is my Psalm 18 prayer: God of the Sabbath, my enemies surround me and disturb me. I have been restless and have desperately tried to fight back, overextending myself. I panicked. Then I cried out to you. I asked my friends to pray for me. You heard my cries. You answered our prayers. You delivered me from the deadly ways of desperation and gave me restorative rest. And from Psalm 35: Then I will rejoice in the LORD.      I will be glad because he rescues me. With every bone in my body      I will praise him. Lord, who can compare with you?     Who else rescues the helpless from the strong? (Psalm 35.9-10) ... give great joy to those who came to my defense.   [...]

Prayers Inspired by Psalms with a Friend by George Love2022-05-11T19:24:18-04:00

What to do when you are COVID weary.

It's mid-November. We have been living in a pandemic period for nine months now. People are anxious. About catching the COVID virus. About paying their bills. Many are lonely, lacking the physical connections we need for positive affection and support. Others are angry, convinced all of this scare is overblown, even a political tactic to usher in an autocracy. Things seem so bad and it sounds like they will only get worse before they get better. And it may be a long time before they get better. No one is immune from the challenges bearing down on us personally and socially. Those of us living with mental illness can be particularly vulnerable to the extra stress the pandemic has created. To cope with the imbalance within me, I rely on a measure of balance in the world around me. Of course, it's not possible to live in a stress-free environment. [...]

What to do when you are COVID weary.2020-11-16T10:12:46-05:00

Mental Health Ministry with a Faithful Friend

Something HUGE is happening for me this weekend and the only thing better than its magnitude is that my good friend will share it with me. This Saturday from 10:15 - 11 am I will be participating in a Zoom dialogue with my partner in mental health ministry, Eric Riddle. Eric and I first met in 2014, when an article about me and my first book came out in the local newspaper. Eric and I share similar diagnoses and also had experienced a measure of healing from both prayer and pills, worship and psychotherapy, Bible studies and support groups. We met weekly for nine months with no agenda but to walk around Eric's neighborhood, talk about what was in our hearts, and listen for God's guidance. Over that period we conceived of a faith-based mental health support group called Faithful Friends that has touched the lives of dozens of men [...]

Mental Health Ministry with a Faithful Friend2020-08-13T16:20:42-04:00

A Blessed Rejection

I am still manic, showing no signs of slowing down. It is delightful, but also exceedingly dangerous. Some studies suggest that each severe manic episode you experience in your lifetime robs you of functioning for the future. Chemical highs from the brain may do as much damage as those induce by substances consumed. It is possible that for hour I spend in exercising frenetic energy, I am limiting both the quantity and quality of my life. A good friend who battles bipolar herself reminded me of this today. Our exchange went something like this:   Tony: BJ, if you are interested in receiving a free e-newsletter about When Despair Meets Delight, simply reply with your email address. Thanks! BJ: Tony, I am not interested, and here is why: I am concerned about you. As much as I want you to succeed, I am concerned you are taking on too much. [...]

A Blessed Rejection2020-05-20T14:36:07-04:00

What to Pray When Prayer Isn’t Called For

It has been almost forty years now that I have been in some form of ministry. During this time, I have asked thousands of people if I might pray for them. People of all ages, various social and ethnic backgrounds, political perspectives, sexual identities. Believers and non-believers. Christians of all stripes as well as people of other faiths and those who claim no faith at all. In four decades I can count on one hand the number of persons who were not grateful for my prayers or offer to pray. And many, many times, bringing the subject up has opened the door to spiritual intimacy that is tremendously nourishing. In my Hope for Troubled Minds Facebook community, I have been messaging members for prayer requests. I then write their responses in a notebook and look them over at various times through the week. Their prayers are unique, but they also [...]

What to Pray When Prayer Isn’t Called For2020-05-03T20:08:25-04:00

An Epistle from the Epidemic by Rev. Leslie D. Rust

In this age of anxiety about the virus crisis, some spread scare tactics that produce panic. Others point to hope in the midst of despair, faith in the face of fear, peace where worry abounds. Les Rust is one of the latter. I've known Les since our grad school days at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. We were in some classes together and were part of a small weekly prayer group. Les has a non-anxious presence well-worn in his short bearded stature. His sweet Appalachian drawl conveyed the thoughtful well-read Southern intelligence often discounted by ignorant Yankees as hillbilly nonsense. A graduate of Berea College, Les has a wood worker's hands and a pastor's heart. I'm blessed to call him a friend, my brother in Christ. Of all the arrows in his quiver, I appreciate his gift for writing the most. I am thrilled he is putting this to good use in [...]

An Epistle from the Epidemic by Rev. Leslie D. Rust2020-03-18T09:00:16-04:00

Faithful Friends: Eric Riddle

{first published May 8, 2017} I first met Eric Riddle in March, 2014, a week before the release of my spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. We went on to form a faithful friendship that, well, I’ll let Eric tell you about it.. (My words are in italics.) Thanks for joining us, Eric. We’re here to talk about faith and mental illness, two subjects I know you are passionate about. First tell me how you came to faith. I was raised in the church. As many who grow up in the church, I was following in my parent's tradition. I became more serious about my faith after my daughter was born. Going on a "Walk to Emmaus" retreat was a turning point in getting much more serious. I’ve heard those can be very transformational. Yes. The retreat was for men only and about 40 guys representing many churches [...]

Faithful Friends: Eric Riddle2019-02-17T21:13:40-05:00

Love for the Unlovable

I composed and published the following post on November 26, 2017. I'm glad to say I have much more for which to be thankful. I am in a wonderful relationship with a beautiful and intelligent woman. I have been hired as a Faith & Mental Health Advocate for a vibrant and progressive church. My son has experienced a remarkable recovery from a mysterious, debilitating condition. Yet, given my illness, I still cycle rapidly through bouts of depression and bursts of mania. Yesterday was a low point. I wanted to spend the day with my lady friend, but wound up wallowing in bed until 4:30 pm. The day got better and today hasn't been so bad, but I still carry a pall of darkness that I can't shake.  It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here's what I wrote last year....   I have been mired [...]

Love for the Unlovable2018-11-21T17:24:52-05:00

Briley “The Biscuit” Roberts

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” ― Mark Twain. This week I got a new best friend. Her name is Briley "The Biscuit" Roberts. I have spent the better part of six days now with Briley and we have become quite attached. I find that I can no longer do things on a whim. I have to think through how it will impact Briley. Can she go with me? Will I put her in a crate? What if I'm gone a long while? Could I get someone to check in on her? Since becoming a parent, I have not taken such a life-altering step. And I'm loving it. I have been a dog owner before. Growing up, we had a dog named Sparky. Actually, if you ask my sister we had a series of dogs named Sparky that kept [...]

Briley “The Biscuit” Roberts2018-05-30T21:16:25-04:00
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