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

Delight in Disorder: Sin & Sickness

People ask me what the difference is between my first book, Delight in Disorder, and my second, When Despair Meets Delight. They are both about the two subjects I have the most passion for -- faith and mental illness. They both tell the story of my life and the lives of others in my ministry. They both press through dark valleys -- disorder/despair, and come to a bright pinnacle -- delight. Yes, there are some common features of the two books, but there are also some key distinctions. Delight in Disorder could be best described as a devotional memoir, a collection of 90 reflections on Psalm verses as they have shaped my life and my understanding of faith and mental illness. When Despair Meets Delight is a memoir of a minister with a mental illness and a model for mental health ministry. I wrote Delight in Disorder as therapy and [...]

Delight in Disorder: Sin & Sickness2020-10-14T20:58:57-04:00

from When Despair Meets Delight – a spiritual encounter

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.  ~ Edgar Allan Poe Share with the LORD’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12.13)   chapter five - spiritual encounter   I had a good friend in college, Steve Franz, who used to say, I drink and smoke because they are the best ways I know to commit suicide in a manner deemed acceptable by society. I’m convinced no one really wants to kill themselves. We just want to stop the pain. We want to silence the voices. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.2 [...]

from When Despair Meets Delight – a spiritual encounter2020-09-14T19:45:55-04:00

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

Delight in Disorder: Cultivating My First Book

I am going through a medication change at the moment. It is a slight "tweaking," but it makes me drowsy much of the time. It is difficult to concentrate and muster the muse for sustained creativity. I thought it best to recycle an older post. This once was written March 8, 2017. It was the first post published in this blog. I had 12 subscribers then. Now I have 449. My guess is that some of you haven't read this. For over twenty five years,  I have journeyed with this illness from manic (even psychotic) peaks to dark valleys of despair.  At both extremes, I have flirted with death—coming very close to ending my life and doing great damage to those around me.  For no apparent reason but the mercy of the Lord, God has kept me alive, saving me  from certain destruction. Yet, I have also found genuine delight in [...]

Delight in Disorder: Cultivating My First Book2020-06-21T20:40:10-04:00

Leaning on My Tribe: An Appeal for Prayer

Yesterday, I published this blog post about the “mixed state” I’m now experiencing. Immediately, encouraging words and uplifting prayers came pouring in. For this, I am very grateful. Knowing I am not alone in this battle gives me more confidence to endure. But the attacks remain fierce. On my morning walk today, voices were yelling at me all the things I’ve done wrong in the past and how I am bound to fail in the future. It is not a coincidence that the Adversary is advancing the war as my ministry grows stronger. One of my readers, Paul M., suggested I appeal to my friends and readers to engage in collective prayer for me as I walk through this valley. So, I am doing just that. I would appreciate your hopeful thoughts, encouraging words, and, particularly your uplifting prayers. I need your prayerful support. I believe God hears the prayers [...]

Leaning on My Tribe: An Appeal for Prayer2020-06-18T15:37:41-04:00

Escaping the Self-Centeredness of Mental Illness

Mental illness can be one of the most self-centered ailments there is. By this I do not mean that people who battle mental illness are necessarily self-centered. No, I mean the illness itself consumes our minds in such a way that we become unable to see beyond the realm of our own emotional pain. This is not our fault. We are not to blame, at least not for the way our minds work. Contrary to what many believe, our aim is not to draw attention to ourselves. This may be the result, but it is not our desire. One of the worst episodes I've had happened on December 1, 2016. I was blindsided from the rear and, in spite of little physical damage, I went into sort of shock. I was taken to nearby hospital. As they tried to transfer me onto a gurney, I became convinced I was paralyzed. [...]

Escaping the Self-Centeredness of Mental Illness2020-06-07T19:06:01-04:00

What’s in a Name? A Serious Title Change to my Book.

As I approach the Eleventh hour toward submitting my book for publication, I am calling everything into question. The other night I recorded an audio version and found 33 changes I wanted to make. Then, my mind turned to the title.  When Despair Meets Delight: Stories to cultivate hope for those with serious mental illness. Does this best describe my mission and communicate my message? I had some doubts. Not about it all. It was just not quite right. And the part that wasn’t right was SERIOUS! What is a serious mental illness (SMI). I first found the term on the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) website. While the definition has been in flux of late, SMI tends to refer to those diagnoses which are typically most debilitating, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. But this is a very subjective scale and even the “experts” disagree on [...]

What’s in a Name? A Serious Title Change to my Book.2020-06-04T17:03:17-04:00

Mental Illness or Demon Possession?

Let me make this clear. Mental illness is not demon possession. If you are a faith leader and someone asks you to exorcise a friend or family member, don't do it. What can you do instead? A good pastor friend of mine has shared with me a screening process to rule out lesser afflictions before one might consider a chronic diseased soul. Examine the environment. Take a particularly close look at the relationship dynamics of the person presented as the problem. Often families and other intimate groups target one member and poured all their disruptive thoughts and feelings into a scapegoat who responds with peculiar and sometimes even volatile behavior. It can be very difficult to examine the lives of those convinced they are only acting out of love. They may themselves become angry with you, even abusive. Be sure to tread lightly and have back up before you take [...]

Mental Illness or Demon Possession?2020-05-30T05:00:34-04:00

When Despair Meets Delight: The Journey

In June of 2019, I began to conceive the notion of doing a second book with the working title of When Despair Meets Delight: Stories to Cultivate Hope for Those Impacted by Serious Mental Illness. It didn't gel until around August and I had a number of false starts. In October, I hit my stride and within that month had a rough manuscript of 27,000+ words. I sent it to my personal editor, Leanne Sype, who spruced it up. I then sent it to Moody Publishers for consideration. Amy Simpson, an acquisitions editor from Moody, reviewed my manuscript and wrote back: Thanks for sending your manuscript my way. I have had a chance to review it, and I’m sorry to say Moody is not the right publisher for this project. We generally don’t publish memoirs, and while your manuscript is extremely well written, we simply aren’t the best fit. I [...]

When Despair Meets Delight: The Journey2020-05-07T02:33:25-04:00
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