Growing Delight in Disorder

One thing I have learned in my spiritual life is not only is it more blessed to give than to receive, but it is more rewarding. As a pastor, I observed many who came to church sporadically, made no effort to participate in service, and gave only a few small bills whenever the mood struck them. One common feature I consistently noticed in these folks is that their spiritual growth was stunted.  I saw first hand that those who withhold their time, talent, and money from kingdom work, isolated themselves from God's abundant grace experienced in generous community. I am no longer in pastoral ministry, but I see the same principle apply to my mission here at Delight in Disorder. Over the course of the last five years, I am reaching a growing number of persons impacted by mental illness. These folks need encouragement, support, and spiritual counsel. I have [...]

Growing Delight in Disorder2018-10-17T23:19:36+00:00

From Ministry through Madness to Mission

In March of 2014, I published my spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. Having served in pastoral ministry and gone mad, it’s now my mission to bridge the gap between faith communities and the mental health world. The vocation I envisioned when I went to seminary hit a large pothole, needed a major adjustment, even an overhaul. But the journey did not end. It had been 25 years since I first became a pastor. I felt passionate about faith, was eager to lead the flock, and saw visions of big things ahead. My church was in a countryside village. The people were kind and generous. They encouraged me for my preaching skills even though I read from a manuscript. They were patient with my counseling even though I was still, “wet behind the ears.” They were particularly enthused about my growing family and expressed hope for evangelism by [...]

From Ministry through Madness to Mission2018-02-22T03:07:20+00:00

Delight in Disorder: My Story, My Message, My Mission

My Story In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a small village church.  One Sunday, I delivered a sermon on human illness and divine healing in which I shared these words: When we become ill, it is important to listen to our bodies and pray that God help us make necessary changes. Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. We may be expecting too much from ourselves, or avoiding things we need to face. As we listen to our bodies, talk and reflect with others, and pray together, we can gain spiritual insight which will help us live healthier, more productive, more abundant lives. The next day, I was in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital. I was told I had bipolar disorder, that I would never work as a pastor again, that my marriage would likely end, and that I would spend the rest of [...]

Delight in Disorder: My Story, My Message, My Mission2018-02-08T09:44:15+00:00

Feeling Burdened By or a Burden For?

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11.28-30)   I grew up in a country church where there was much talk of having burdens. Members, ministers, missionaries all spoke of having a burden for youth, drug addicts, Africa. Through their impassioned speech, the sweat on their brows, and the waving of their leather Bibles, they would stir up in us a burden to give — prayer, supplies, money. What I got from this early spiritual teaching is that a burden is something God gives a person who then transfers this burden to others. It didn’t occur to me at the time that it had [...]

Feeling Burdened By or a Burden For?2018-02-07T02:52:18+00:00

Revealing Voices: Cultivating Community

Tonight (November 20), we launch our Indiegogo campaign for our upcoming podcast, Revealing Voices. My associate producer and co-host Eric Riddle and I are very enthusiastic -- not so much about the dollars collected as the number of people who will become our partners in offering hope and cultivating compassion. Many of my friends with troubled minds feel alienated by faith communities. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ fail to understand how best to respond to people with mental illness. Our mission with Revealing Voices is to bridge the gap between faith communities and the world of mental health care in order to better promote healing. Studies show that roughly 1 in 5 persons in the US experience mental illness in a given year. Research also suggests that few churches feel equipped to respond to persons with mental illness.  Added to this dillemma is that 25% of pastors struggle with [...]

Revealing Voices: Cultivating Community2017-11-20T15:58:16+00:00

Helping in a Hurricane

Lately the news has been full of stories about Hurricane Harvey and its disastrous impact. Relief efforts are extensive -- from government agencies, charitable organizations, private foundations, church groups, and individual efforts. People are eager to help in such horrifically harsh times, yet many are leery as they hear about instances where resources have been misused, rather than get to folks who need it. It is true our generosity can be abused. When such major needs arise, we give compulsively and, at times, compulsory. We often don't take the time to see that our gifts support the efforts that will meet the true needs of the most people. Misplaced trust can particularly happen for those of us with serious mental illness. Many want to help, as we have been helped in our lives. We can identify with people who have lost everything. Some are torn apart emotionally by images [...]

Helping in a Hurricane2017-09-04T20:22:15+00:00

What Rochester Has Given Me: Grace Church (PCA)

Faith communities have been an essential aspect of my life. Since I retired from ministry, I have been blessed with two churches in particular. Columbus Reformed Presbyterian (Columbus, Indiana) and Grace Church PCA (Rochester, New York). I find it very reassuring that while I am leaving Grace PCA, I will have a spiritual family in Columbus RPC to call home. Still, there is much I am grateful for and want to celebrate with Grace. When I first showed up in Rochester, I was essentially homeless. A downtown church had paid a three-day voucher for me to stay at the Cadillac Hotel. I was grateful for the mission of this generous church, but it was not a good fit theologically or socially. I had researched PCA churches since I first read Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. I was drawn to their commitment to Biblical truth as well as Christ-centered mission. [...]

What Rochester Has Given Me: Grace Church (PCA)2017-06-30T14:11:58+00:00

Discovering Delight in Disorder

For almost twenty years, I served as a pastor with bipolar disorder.  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 good reason except the mercy of the Lord, God has kept me alive, saving me  from certain destruction. Yet, I have also found genuine delight in my disorder and this is the story I tell in Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. How can we delight in an illness that has contributed to a divorce rate of more than 90% and leads over half of those diagnosed to attempt suicide? Countless times, when I have been driven to the edge of a cliff, God has rescued me and set me on level ground.  Why would God do this?  Because [...]

Discovering Delight in Disorder2017-12-28T21:26:55+00:00