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

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

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

My Pandemic Prayer Journal

I have been keeping an pandemic prayer journal. Like everything in my life, it is irregular. Intermittent. It comes in fits and starts. But as I look back over my Facebook posts the past several weeks since COVID-19 hit home, I have a good record of my life in quarantine. I want to share some of this with you: April 3, 2020 When Hope is Hard to Come By I was sitting on my back deck, listening to “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry. It is one of the best country songs ever written. Certainly one of the saddest. My wife came out and asked why I was listening to such miserable music. I said something happens when you set suffering to song that gives purpose to pain, adds rhyme and reason to what seem like pointless periods in our lives. These are hard times and it is essential [...]

My Pandemic Prayer Journal2020-04-13T19:48:38-04:00

Thank God for Pills and Prayer by Paul Monson

Every day I like to say, “Thank God for drugs!”  I don’t mean the kind that make you high or get you stoned. I’m referring to the medical kind that make you well.  You see, I suffer from Parkinson’s Disease and I take drugs every day. They help control my shaking, enable me to speak and to swallow, and type the words you now read.  Without them, I couldn’t function well enough to hold down a job. I’d be collecting disability. With them, I continue to work in full time ministry. This isn’t theory or conjecture for me.  I know from personal experience how medications directly impact my quality of life, so I thank God for them.    This is also why I see the need for the mentally ill to take medication.  If a medication helps control a bipolar person’s severe mood swings or keeps a schizophrenic in touch [...]

Thank God for Pills and Prayer by Paul Monson2019-10-30T17:41:18-04:00

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.

I find delight when I write. More delight when people read what I write. And even more when readers respond to what I write. But I am perhaps most delighted when someone is moved in such a way by my work that they offer me an encouraging word or, one that challenges me to do better. Like this from a reader named Bev:   Tony,  I understand the focus of your email is mental illness.  However, it seems that examining your mental illness and dwelling on it makes it more intense.  I suffer from anxiety, and yet, I know that if I were to spend too much time thinking of it, it would be worse.  There are so many ways to become and stay stable that I don't want to spend time irritating a wound.  Today the sky is so lovely, and I will dwell on the good and the [...]

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.2019-08-14T21:29:19-04:00

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

Enemies Sprouting Like Mushrooms

In The Message, Eugene Peterson calls Psalm 3 – “A David Psalm, when he escaped for his life from Absalom, his Son.” The words that follow reveal a hunted poet king, surrounded and scared. God! Look! Enemies past counting! Enemies sprouting like mushrooms, Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery: “Hah! No help for him from God!” (vv. 1-2) David sees no escape from sure defeat, certain death. This does not keep him from crying out to God – in fact, it motivates him all the more to do so. He lifts up to God the torturing taunts of his enemies and then reminds himself just Who it is he’s talking to – But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high; With all my might I shout up to God; His answers thunder from the holy mountain. (vv. 3-4) [...]

Enemies Sprouting Like Mushrooms2019-04-12T21:29:31-04:00

Bleeding Prayers

You have taken from me friend and neighbor; darkness is my closest friend. (Psalm 88:18)   When I am in the grip of depression, a weighty spirit pins me down to the bed. Some wonder why those of us with mental illness don’t just get up and go about our days. While this would certainly help, sometimes doing this is like running a four-minute mile with a broken leg. So what can we do when we trapped in a cave of despair? Pray? Hardly! We can do next to nothing. Only moan, alone, in misery. Yet, by God’s grace, the Holy Spirit translates our feeble groans into effective prayers. More than anyone, Jesus gets this. On the dark night before he was killed, he sweat prayers of blood. (see Luke 22:44) Then, the Holy Spirit transforms his sweat into strength. He is given the spiritual strength to endure suffering -- [...]

Bleeding Prayers2019-03-17T21:02:18-04:00
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