Saturday, February 18, 2017 has all the posts that this sight has and more and will be getting more.  It has Google Translation as well.  Please visit me there!  Sorry, I am not adding new posts to this site anymore :>(

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Jesus loves Atheists, and so do I

I visited an Atheist site.
I told them I was a Jesus follower.
And that I wanted to learn about how they think and approach life as Atheists.
Some were respectful and kind to me.
One woman wrote a beautiful description of being one with the universe as she watched the night sky, because she was formed by the universe and composed of what stars had made.
However, most attacked me.  I think they were using me as a proxy for a Christian they really wanted to vent at.
One person told me that many members of the site had been hurt by Christians and that is why they became Atheists.
Many of the group that I engaged with struck me as hurt, scared and alone.
I honored my agreement with them and did not preach Jesus.
I did not point out to them that the hole in their soul they were trying to fill was made to be filled by Jesus and Jesus alone.  That nothing else would work.
I did not point out to them that anyone can claim to be a Christian, but it is in acting the way Jesus acted that proves whether their claim to be a Christian is true or not.  Then they would know not to blame Jesus for the evil done to them by someone falsely claiming Jesus identity.
I did not point out to them that their highest rule – Treat others the way you want to be treated – pointed to their own yearning for Jesus that they did not realize yet.
I wish I had the chance to share Jesus’ love with them, so they would know that Jesus is on their side, that He loves them just the way they are, and that He wants to take them home.

Friday, November 25, 2016

I am taking the blogspot out of my site name.  It is now just  Please visit me there.  Thank you.

In my experience, The Myth of Mental Illness is not a myth.

I have recently communicated with a man that claims that “there is no such thing as mental illness.” I asked him for literature that explains his view. He gave Dave Hunt’s and Thomas S. Szasz’s work as examples. Having experienced Severe Mental Illness myself and recovered (by medication and improved thinking strategies) I felt I might be able to add something to this discussion.

First a disclaimer: I was excited and scared when the man said, “There is no such thing as mental illness.” Excited because I may learn something new and be freed from my meds forever, scared because I may be blamed once again that what I experience is my own fault by people who claim to know more than they really know. (See Job’s experience with his well-meaning friends).

Szasz in The Myth of Mental Illness says that there are diseases, such as

syphilis of the brain or delirious conditions-intoxications, for instance — in which persons are known to manifest various peculiarities or disorders of thinking and behavior. Correctly speaking, however, these are diseases of the brain, not of the mind. (1)

Szasz admits there are “various peculiarities or disorders of thinking and behavior.” This is what I think of when I currently hear the term “mental illness” being used. Szasz also asserts that “these are diseases of the brain, not of the mind.” I agree. Szasz admits that the malfunctioning brain influences the mind and “disorders of thinking” result.

In my imperfect remembrance of Lifetime Guarantee, Bill Gillham makes the claim that because the Bible says our mind goes to heaven and our brain goes to the grave, our brain is only an interface between our eternal mind and our temporary experience of physical reality. I would like to suggest that what we label “mental illness” can be caused by the brain not working correctly; or the mind not working correctly; or both not working correctly thereby affecting each other.

What if the brain is not working correctly? Trauma during early childhood can cause the brain to develop abnormally. A lifetime of fear and risky behavior can result. The brain doesn’t process information correctly, giving the mind inaccurate data, the mind’s decisions are then skewed and results in unhealthy behavior.

What if the mind is not working correctly? Ineffective thinking strategies can be inherited from Adam or be learned during childhood (unforgiveness, gossip, revenge, anger, hate, greed and more) causing frustration, more anger, withdrawal, hopelessness and many other self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.

And what if both the mind and the brain are not working correctly and negatively influencing each other? When I experienced intense sustained stress, shame and I suppressed invalidated anger (ineffective thinking strategies) for months, it was followed by clinical depression, paranoia and schizophrenia (or the brain not working correctly).

The first question has a physical component (and can be corrected with intense therapy: see Nancy Thomas, Dandelion on my pillow, butcher knife underneath), the second question requires the renewing of our mind by surrendering to Jesus and thinking the way he thinks. The last problem is my problem.

Around age eighteen I had no passionate goals of my own. Having lived my life to get good grades to please my mom and seldom allowed to make my own decisions except to please others, I was suddenly lost when my mom did not give me direction on what she wanted me to do. I was told I could go to any college I wanted, where did I want to go? I said I wanted to go to a local School of Design. I was told I wouldn’t be allowed to go to this School of Design (no secure job prospects), but I could go where ever I wanted to go, so where did I want to go? I said I wanted to go to school in Cincinnati for aerospace design (out of state, too expensive). No. So where did I want to go? I wanted to go to Western and live in the dorms (I was told my grades weren’t high enough to win scholarships (3.65) so it was my fault there was not enough money). No. As fall approached my mom (the person I had spent my life trying to please) was disgusted with my lack of progress and decided to take over (this action was now what I was familiar with). I would go to Western and live with my uncle and aunt (I was grateful but it was not what I dreamed).

At Western I isolated myself and was hyper-focused on getting A’s. I was having emotional hallucinations but did not realize that was what it was. I interacted with some high school buddies once and felt I was thinking slower than them. I made a bad report concerning my friends behavior (unwarranted) and reaped trouble that shook me. I realized I did not have what I needed to make life work. I called my mom and she ordered me home.

At this point I felt I needed to “break away” from my parents, particularly my mom’s control. I had no friends to go to, no skills with which to earn a living and not enough courage to simply leave into the unknown. I acquiesced. I attended the community college in the Fall semester, filled with shame that I had failed at going to college and being on my own.

I spiraled down until I had the thought that everything was work. There was nothing enjoyable. I was clinically depressed but did not know it at the time. Small decisions became impossible to make. I was scared of my thinking. I told strangers I was crazy. They laughed at me. I told my dad what I had done. He told me that that was stupid and went back to reading his paper. I dragged my shoe on the ground while riding my motorcycle. My mom shamed me implying more concern with the shoe than what would cause me to ruin it. These were my cries for help. But I didn’t know it, and no one else did either.

My dad told me to make like a rubber band and snap out of it. My mom, who had worked at the local mental hospital as an nurses’ aid, tried to shame me into mental health (she communicated that I should be ashamed of who I was now). When I didn’t respond to that she tried to scare me into mental health (with stories of “crazy” people and the negative things that happen to them).

I failed at life for ten years until God gave me the thought: What would happen if I took the meds the way I was supposed to, would they help? I had never thought of that before. I started taking the meds regularly. I spiraled up enough to be able to clearly hear and accept Jesus and follow him. My mind has been renewing for the last 30 years but my brain still malfunctions without the medication.

If I miss my meds for 1 or 2 days my sweet wife sounds to me like she is being mean-spirited, sarcastic and evil. I have to think outside reality, remember that my wife is not like that, and go and take my meds and wait. My wife becomes sweet again as the meds begin to work (She was always sweet, but my experience of her was skewed by a malfunctioning brain).

At 18 the ineffective thinking strategies of my mind became so severe that they influenced the proper functioning of my brain, producing depression. At 27 medication enabled my brain to function more effectively again and that allowed me to gain healthy thinking strategies through a relationship with Jesus. Now, 30 years later, I have a healthy mind, but it can be influenced by paranoia, depression and schizophrenia when my brain is not properly medicated.

In the end, Szasz, in The Myth of Mental Illness, does not help me in my life experience as a person dealing with mind/brain dysfunction. He is concerned with whether the mind (not the brain) can be diseased (not ineffective) in the first part of his paper. Given the tremendous amount of suffering involved concerning this subject Szasz’s debate doesn’t matter to me. In the second part, he denies that symptoms (calling oneself Napoleon) indicate a need for concern for that person’s well-being. Having worked with over one hundred mentally ill people, I believe Szasz once again, misses the point. If someone tells me they are Napoleon, I will care enough to investigate their thinking further.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and if it waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, its a duck. To me, Szasz misses the point, and is misleading in his statements. But then, why would anyone listen to me over him?

I’m mentally ill, right?

(There was also a spiritual parallel to this story going on alongside of it the whole time. But that is for another post. (Or, check out “What is it like to be mentally ill?” in the 2013 archives of this blog).

(1) Classics in the History of Psychology; An internet resource developed by Christopher D. Green, York University, Toronto, Ontario; ISSN 1492-3713; The Myth of Mental Illness, By Thomas S. Szasz (1960); First published in American Psychologist, 15, 113-118. Posted January 2002

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Jesus can bridge the political divide

This election has left us all bruised and bloodied.  Both sides had people who were hurt and scared who said things that I, and maybe they, wish were not said.  Both sides had people who said beautiful things to their side and to the other side.  So where are we left?
Having experienced all my rights taken away and being physically abused (in a late 1970s mental hospital), and helpless to fight against it (mental illness debilitated my mind), I know what it is like to be a minority of one.  It is reported that Clinton has a 1.4% lead in the popular vote.  The “winners” are called the minority.  But this is not the minority of one that I experienced. This “minority” is 98.6% the size of the “majority.”
Some on either side it seems, want to “crush” the other side, make them “recant their position,” and “make them pay” for the hurt they have caused the other.
Some on the left don’t want to acknowledge that a person is a person one second before they are born and want to ignore that person’s rights.
Some on the right want to end abortion, but without putting into place the infrastructure needed to care for the present and future of the woman and her unborn baby.  They don’t realize that some women have abortions because they fear what they have seen and heard the life their baby would be subjected to by adoptive and foster families.  Simply voting no to abortion is like voting no to poverty.  You haven’t solved anything.  You have to put your time, money, and talent where your vote is.
Some on the right don’t want to acknowledge that those Americans who are open about being in the LGBT community have restricted their travel to certain parts of the United States, and restrict their participation in certain events during this election cycle because of the fear and the likelihood of being physically assaulted in their own country by other Americans who hate them.
Some on the left want to “destroy” a dear woman florist who holds to Jesus’ definition of marriage.  There are many florists in the area that offered to do the gay wedding. So that doesn’t seem to me to be the issue.  It seems to me that her State Attorney General doesn’t seem to value this Christian woman’s religious liberty as much as the “rights” that conflict with that liberty.
The Bible says that if we continue to bite each other we will devour each other.
There is no winner if the “winner” alienates the “loser.”  In four years or eight, the winners and losers may reverse.  So, let the “winners” treat the “losers” like the “winners” would want to be treated if they “lost.”  It’s not just good for the “losers”, it’s good for the “winners” too.
Jesus is not for the right or left.  He is for God.  And for all people.  He is actively working for you and your best and me and my best even though we disagree on what that best is.
What would happen if we stopped the name-calling, stopped the vicious attacks on each other and simply decided to sit down and talk to each other, and learn from each other?  I think we would find out that much of what we want is the same.  And by cooperatively, synergistically, and graciously working together we can solve that which remains.

Friday, November 11, 2016

I can't hear you over my talking

Many people that I personally interacted with today are worried about what President-elect Donald Trump will do to them;  their relationships, their bodies, their jobs.  I didn’t understand until I thought:  Would I be concerned about my religious rights and freedom of speech rights if Hillary Clinton had won?  I am very scared of the trouble her presidency would have caused me and worried if I would be willing to stay true to Jesus in the face of unknown suffering.
These people are also tired of hearing, “Don’t worry,” “Get over it,” and other mindless remarks by friends, family, etc. that may show they don’t understand, don’t care or both.
What I am trying to do is listen with my heart for their heart.  We are all people and we all have a story.  If I interrupt, judge, give advice am I going to hear their story?  Do I really just want to hear myself talk and confirm to myself how brilliant I am in my own eyes or do I want to discover another beautiful human being and their unique story?
Everyone’s opinion makes sense to them.  If I listen long enough they may tell me why they feel the way they do.  Today I heard why someone believes in doing something I wouldn’t do.  And from their perspective it made sense.
This presidential election proved that most people want to be heard.  And “the other side” has feelings and concerns that don’t make sense.
Until you listen.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

It’s not so much that I need to know what to do; it’s that I need to do what I know.

The title is from and captures part of my struggle.  The other part is that I definitely need to know more.  And yet the two are intertwined.
God will not give me more instruction if I am not doing what he has already given me.  If I want to know more I have to actually do more of what he has already said .  That's the hard part.
Or is it?  I have the most fun when I am obeying God.
I think for me it is the process of deciding to obey God that is the toughest part.  I have to risk, and trust Him that what I don't want to do now is exactly what I will be glad I did later.  Many times I feel alone when deciding.  (This may be why I need to be part of a small group).  No matter what help I have, it is in the end my decision.  And if I want to know more, if I want to experience Jesus closer to me, I must obey Him.

How can You win in this election?

It has been saddening to read/watch people viciously criticize and attack each other as they explain how their way of thinking is right and others' thinking is wrong.  Fear has replaced Hope as the motivation to "win" in this election.  Fear cannot be satisfied.  It can only be replaced itself by Truth.  Jesus said he is the Truth.  So how can Jesus calm our Fear?
In the Old Testament in Proverbs in the Bible it says that Jesus holds the heart of the ruler in his hand and turns it wherever he wishes.  No matter who "wins" the election Tuesday a deeply flawed person will become President.  And we don't have to worry.  Jesus has been preparing this moment since eternity past and he is not surprised or worried about what he will do.  The main thing I worry about is what will I do?  Will I humbly listen to Jesus and be true to what he tells me to do?  Or will I Fear and say "Jesus didn't say that, that's not reasonable"... and shut the eyes of my soul ... and deny him?

Dear Jesus, help me to choose Love in every situation.  You are Love.  And you always provide a way to Love.  Thank you for answering this prayer.  You always do.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"Quote"-able: Wintley Phipps

It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God's greatest gifts are given.

During my "personal, private sufferings" I may not have wanted to read this.  All the courage that I imagine I have when not suffering abandons me in the face of real suffering.  All that I thought stood by me I realize can't help me.  Sometimes even Jesus seems as though he has left me.
I am alone.  And I am afraid.
As I obey my best guess as to God's will my soul aches and I search for God in my circumstance.
It is here that I decide that no one should have to go through what I am going through alone.  If I only had someone to talk to I could bear it.  I decide if I encounter anyone struggling as I am, I will help them.
And a dream is born.
My dream, forged in the late seventies and early eighties, when I had not yet decided to take meds regularly and  I had yet to welcome Christ into my heart, is being lived out now 35 years later (with Jesus and with meds).  As a Certified Peer Support Specialist I have the privilege to serve people dealing with mental illness every day.  I am doing, as Whitley Phipps says, HPLP: Helping People Live their Potential.  Or, as Jesus says, Loving others.
Am I a hero?  Not even close.  But I am privileged to serve the real Heroes;  people who fight horrific battles in their mind and in their life every day and keep on fighting.  Battling thoughts that no one should have to experience, making even the simplest daily tasks excruciatingly difficult.
Mental illness takes the most hospital beds in our country and receives the lowest per patient funding in our country of any disease.  It is projected that half of our population will experience mental illness in their lifetime.  If that is not you then it is most likely someone you love.  And it is much cheaper to pay for treatment for all who need it than to pay the costs that untreated mental illness cause: personal, family and friend suffering; lost productivity; and hospital beds; and jails and prisons.
What can we do?  Get treatment for yourself or your loved one, treat the mentally ill with the respect being a Hero deserves, and vote for funding of Mental Health in your area.

How do we solve poverty?

4 Will evildoers never learn— those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD?
5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.
Isaiah chapter 14, NIV84
Those with money many times prey upon the poor - check cashing charges, fees for "plastic" money and money orders, cash advance charges, ever rising rent when the costs to the owner stay the same, higher prices for those trapped in the inner city without transportation for the same goods that cost less in neighborhoods that have customers that can shop around, lack of the volume discounts the rich enjoy, higher interest rates for loans to those who have the least money to pay for it.
Satan's kingdom (fear-based, selfishness-based and money-based) is founded on "what can I get out of you?"  Jesus' kingdom (love-based) is founded on "what can I give to you?"
I believe heaven's economy will be the opposite of ours.  We will dream of what we can do for others, ask Jesus for the resources to do it, work with those resources in His strength and give away what we make, our only payment is the joy we receive when we give joy to others.
What would happen if we stopped giving hand-outs that are barely enough to survive on, and we made helping the poor become self-sustaining the same priority President John F. Kennedy gave making the United States the first on the moon?  What about asking those who are challenged what they thought we could do to help them?  What if we stopped being prejudice and gave jobs to those who would otherwise end up in jail because they can't find someone who will hire them for honest work?
What would happen if I actually went about tangibly demonstrating the actions of the love of Jesus instead of just singing about it in my church or car?
I invite you to discover how you and I can allow Jesus to lift our challenged brothers and sisters.  I invite you to discover:  The Open Table