I am ; even me.

I’m writing this on September 11, 2019. World Suicide Prevention Day. About an hour ago I read the tragic news about Pastor & Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson, who died two days ago by suicide. Here is how Christianity Today described Wilson — His wife, Julianne Wilson posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”... “Tragically, Jarred took his own life,” [          ] Eaton said. ”Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most.”   I did not know Jarrid Wilson, but I know his story well. His story is the story of far too many persons who try so hard to care for others yet are unable to receive care for themselves; not so much out of stubborn [...]

I am ; even me.2019-09-11T12:07:27-04:00

The Painful Best

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  (Psalm 42:5)   As one who is touched with bipolar depression, I write about spiritual darkness. Yet, as a believer, I see the light of Christ shining through this darkness. The following are from posts written over the course of the last 6 years. If I have done my job as a Christian who has bipolar, you will find hope to handle despair with the strong arm of faith.   April 9, 2013   I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live...(Deuteronomy 30:19) When I read the news of Matthew Warren's suicide yesterday, I felt sick to my stomach.  I [...]

The Painful Best2019-06-26T03:18:53-04:00

Can we prevent suicide? How? {Note: Trigger Warning}

“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide   "When I came to my senses in the hospital bed after my suicide attempt, I had to face the reality that I had tried to abandon God. At the same time, I discovered that God had not abandoned me."  --Tony Roberts, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission.   I have walked close to suicide, both in my pastoral and personal lives. I have seen it in the bandaged wrists of a teenage girl. [...]

Can we prevent suicide? How? {Note: Trigger Warning}2019-06-10T22:30:07-04:00

A Faithful Response to Suicide

Prelude: Since I first wrote this, another friend has died. I wonder what I could have done to prevent it. I had not heard from him for several weeks. Should I have checked in? My heart burns in my chest and I feel like once again death has punched me in the gut. One thing I want to stress to the family members and friends of all whose life has ended in such a tragic way is that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome. Don't beat yourself up wondering what you could have done to prevent it. Instead, let their legacy live on in the life you live. Let your memory of them shape your walk of faith in making a difference for those God brings your way.   {this was originally published on June 11, 2018}   I am a man of faith who [...]

A Faithful Response to Suicide2019-04-14T19:58:54-04:00

A Mental Illness Spectrum?

{first published in January 22, 2018} When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was given a very mixed prognosis. Many of the staff at the psychiatric hospital I was in had cared for persons with severe mental illness for years. What they often saw was people who were essentially non-communicative, sometimes aggressive, often pacing through the halls with what they called the "Thorazine shuffle." They told me I should prepare for a life where I could not return to ministry, get divorced, and, spend the rest of my life in-and-out of psych hospitals. But when I saw my psychiatrist, he painted a very different image. He handed me a memoir that had just come out called, An Unquiet Mind  by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison is a leading researcher of bipolar disorder and has the illness herself. This book expanded my vision of what God could do in [...]

A Mental Illness Spectrum?2019-01-30T20:29:53-04:00

12 Blessings in 2018: Featured Posts to Encourage and Inspire

2018 began with modest expectations. It is ending with endless possibilities. Along the way, God has blessed me with new new opportunities, new friends, a new life partner. I still experience chaotic mood swings that require diligent treatment such as medication and therapy; but with a caring network of family and friends and a strong connection to Christ's body, my sanity is maintained and I can contribute to the common good. Most particularly I offer friendly counsel to those like me who have troubled minds by sharing the inspiration of God's word and the encouraging Way of Christ. Now that the year is winding down, I thought it would be good to look back at the journey. Below I have 12 featured posts (one/month) with a brief excerpt. The titles contain a link to the posts. I hope you will review these and enjoy reading through the blessings of 2018. [...]

12 Blessings in 2018: Featured Posts to Encourage and Inspire2018-12-30T15:38:54-04:00

Suicide and Salvation

Not long ago, I took a leisurely stroll with a young friend along a "people path" in my neighborhood. We paused and watched some ducks circling the pond beyond the log fence. "Is suicide the unforgivable sin?" he asked. I was taken aback. I didn't know what to say or how to say it. I needed more time to formulate what the Bible says and doesn't say about the subject of suicide. But I couldn't wait to respond. He seemed urgent. I looked at his face, trying to read what he was saying  in the lines of his forehead."Why do you ask?" He turned away. "I have a friend who was the first person to share Christ with me.  Until about a month ago, I would say she had the strongest faith of anyone I know. Then suddenly she started doing strange things. One day, she scrubbed her church's [...]

Suicide and Salvation2018-12-16T20:08:41-04:00

A Faithful Response For Falling Soldiers

Attitudes toward military conflict vary widely within the Christian community. Some are strict Pacifists. They take literally the words of Jesus, "Thou shalt not kill.," even in the context of self-defense. I have heard some say, "I will die for my faith, but I won't kill for it." Others are militaristic. They believe it is right, even necessary, to declare and carry out war when there is a just cause, such as fighting "for democracy," or "against terror." Many find themselves somewhere in between, searching for divine answers in an ungodly world. Wherever we find ourselves in the spectrum of beliefs about war, our faithful response is to recognize and honor those who lay down their lives for a cause greater than themselves. ("Sam Stone," by John Prine) Sam Stone came home, To the wife and family After serving in the conflict overseas. And the time that [...]

A Faithful Response For Falling Soldiers2018-11-11T21:18:25-04:00

Godly Sorrow Over Deadly Grief: Reflecting on my Suicide Attempt

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;     my eyes grow weak with sorrow,     my soul and body with grief.  My life is consumed by anguish     and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction,     and my bones grow weak.  (Psalm 31.8-10) This week I shared my story with a youth group at Eminence Christian Church (IN). I started by having the youth turn to each other and say, "God loves you more than you can imagine," then, "God brought you here to be blessed." I then went through how God had orchestrated events in my life over the past decade to bring me there tonight. The event that almost prevented me from being there.  My despair over it. My book. The support of my family and friends moving back to Indiana. My blog post about suicide. The youth leader reading it and inviting me to come. The [...]

Godly Sorrow Over Deadly Grief: Reflecting on my Suicide Attempt2018-09-21T17:20:25-04:00

What I Believe About Suicide

God is more just than I will ever be. And, God is more loving than I can ever imagine. For centuries it has been standard church doctrine that suicide is a shameful sin, deserving eternal punishment. Persons who took their own lives were restricted from church burials, families were ostracized, even excommunicated for fear this deadly infection would spread to the whole body. The teaching that suicide leads directly to hell is rooted not so much in Scripture as in a desire to deter someone who wants to end his life from doing so. Lately, with suicides of prominent church leaders and their family members, this teaching is being called into question. Most recently, Inland Hills Church put out this message: Inland Hills Church grieves with heavy hearts as our Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein was welcomed into Heaven on Saturday night after battling depression and anxiety. It’s not the outcome [...]

What I Believe About Suicide2018-09-16T05:48:09-04:00