Monday, January 25, 2010

No Bible study allowed

I want to let you know that I'm going away for a holiday in the sun, starting tomorrow and will be back in ten days. It will be good to have lots of time to relax and read...and maybe even write.

But before I go I want to talk to you about an interesting but unfortunate thing that happened.

A friend of mine is in hospital for depression and yesterday one of the patients got together about four other patients who wanted to do some Bible study together. A very neat thing, don't you think?

They had a fine time, reading and discussing the Sermon on the Mount. But after a while a nurse came and told them to break it up. Patients were not allowed to have gatherings like this.

Why is not known for sure. I do know that some psychiatrists feel that as soon as a patient mentions God it's an indication of illness. True, some mental patients have problems with being overly spiritual to the point of losing touch with reality and becoming psychotic. However, these doctors might not be aware of the great benefit faith has to a patient's mental state. They become overly paranoid as soon as he/she starts talking about spiritual things.

Fortunately some medical schools are now teaching courses on spirituality and its benefits to patients. Such a good thing!

If psychiatrists could only appreciate the great good faith can do! My faith in God has meant everything to me. It has made me what I am. It has given me the courage to do what I do. It helps me stay well. Faith does so much good!

Seems to me there are two parties who need to grow in understanding: Psychiatrists need to learn about spiritual things. And Christians need to learn about medical things. They need to come together and learn from each other.

It would be so good for those patients to have an opportunity to read the Bible together. They could support each other spiritually and get well sooner. I really believe that. Such a shame!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In all honesty

Hi everyone. Sorry I haven't posted for so long. Unfortunately, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to post - increasingly difficult to be absolutely honest about the stuff I'm dealing with. Instead, I journal and email my closest friends.

Thing is, when you're in leadership and when you're trying to be there for people, you just don't want everyone to know the truth about everything, especially when you're struggling.

I'm not doing badly right now but, in true bipolar fashion, there have been times and there are times...

I was looking at the bipolarireland website the other day and read the perfect description of what I go through. "Over the life of a person who lives with bipolar disorder, the illness expresses itself in an irregular pattern of changes of mood, energy and thinking." So true! And how irregular my changes of mood, energy and thinking have been lately - from day to day!

Good thing I have a lot more than just myself to think about. Good thing I have a worthwhile purpose to live for. Good thing I have a lot of people to support me and pray for me in the work I do. Good thing I'm trusting God, most of the time...or do I do enough of that?

Actually all too often I start thinking everything's up to me alone and I forget that it's God doing the work and I just have to follow along. How comforting when God brings me back, when I remember that I can relax - when I don't need to be as stressed.

Often lately I've felt overwhelmed, which is actually - I think - just a symptom of depression. There's my own Living Room group to look after. And then there's the greater Living Room movement, a movement that is growing. Exciting, eh? And yet it's a huge responsibility, especially for someone dealing with such fluctuations in "mood, energy, and thinking." If only I had only one of those responsibilities to deal with - the group or the movement - life would be easier to manage. Or would it?

I love my group. I love leading devotional times. I love being there for individuals as they go through struggles. The relationships I develop are priceless. And God is very much in those relationships. I feel His presence in the love I share with those people. I could never give up my group or its people.

And I'm committed to seeing more Living Room groups spring up. I want to see lots of Living Rooms to serve people who need faith-based support. I want to see this movement securely in place to continue long after I'm gone. Because it's a valuable ministry, a ministry that all Christians with mood disorders should have access to. A place where they can talk about both, their faith and mental health issues - probably the only place where they can feel safe doing so. I could never give up planting new Living Rooms.

Ah, it's felt good talking to you. It's felt good being honest with you. Please don't feel sorry for me. I lead a rich life. I'm hugely blessed. Just need a bit of prayer now and again. And doesn't everyone?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Discovering God's will for us

My pastor Don Dyck's sermon yesterday was on a topic I find such an important and interesting one to think about. It's a topic I see many people struggling with, including people in my Living Room group. How do we know what God's will is? How do we know what God wants us to do? And what did God make us to do? If God wants us to do His will why does He make it so hard to figure out? Why isn't it more clear?

Pastor Don quoted several Bible passage that talk about what God's will for us is:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 1 Peter 2:13-15

Be very careful then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Ephesians 5:15-17

All these describe ways God wants us to live our lives. Pastor Don said that before anything else, we have to get this part right.
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humby with your God. Micah 6:8

Don's notes read: "God's will is discerned within the context of an everyday relationship that grows out of a commitment to live according to His ways." It's all about walking closely with God! In Don's words, "The greater the distance from God, the greater the difficulty in discerning His will for us. We won't fully know in advance what God's will for us is, but if we walk step by step with God, He will reveal His will. You will know the right thing to do."

Yes! God will reveal His will for you, bit by bit. And when you stay close to Him, He will take you on an adventure!