Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pastors and Mental Illness (Another Heart Break)

This week another mega church’s pastor (Pastor Ron Carpenter of Redemption World Outreach Center) gave a heart wrenching confession that a member of his family suffers from Mental Illness. There will always be critics who that think the pastor should not air his dirty laundry. Others think it is a cop out by the pastor to overlook sinful behavior.  On the other side of the coin, there are those that will continue to pray for all pastors and support them with God’s love. Regardless of your view of Pastors, there are three facts we must always keep.

  1. They are human and have emotions, feeling, struggles, and pain.
  2. Their families are not exempt from pain, mental illness, or sin.
  3.  It is not my job, as a parishioner, to place any pastor on a pedestal or to tear him down. 

I have been active as an alcohol and drug counselor, pastoral counselor, and have worked in a mental health hospital for over 20 years. I have learned that mental illness and addiction is not about my opinion of who should or shouldn’t have it. 

God is not interested in our condemnation of a pastor for going public that his wife or child suffers from mental illness. God is interested in how we support and encouragement each and every individual going through a crisis. Finding out that a family member has been diagnosis with a mental illness is a crisis, it is no different than being told a family member has a chronic disease, like cancer, heart failure, or any number of physical conditions. God wants us to support them in whatever way we can.

 These same individuals, that condemn Pastor Ron Carpenter and Pastor Rick Warren, are the same individuals that will complain when they hear the pastor is out sick with gall bladder or heart attack and were not told.

As a pastor, counselor, parent, husband, and friend, this is my view of what should be happening in the church:

  1. The pastor should be allowed to be human and to share their own personal prayer needs and their family’s with the parishioners.
  2. We all should be willing to listen and encourage our pastor, just as we expect him to do so for us.
  3. We all should be praying for our pastor daily and not just in a time of crisis.
  4. None of us should criticize what we don’t understand. We would never complain when a pastor shares that his wife is undergoing heart surgery or treatment for breast cancer. Why would we criticize when a pastor announces that his wife is being treated for depression, bi-polar disorder, or schizophrenia?  We all need to understand that people who have mental illness need the same support as someone with a physical illness. 

It is time for the church start acting like the carrying compassionate individuals we claim to be. I personally applaud Pastor Carpenter and thank him for his willingness to share his own personal growth and the growth of the church, worldwide.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A REAL MAN can wear a U of M Jersey, even in Ohio!

A REAL MAN can wear a University of Michigan

Jersey, even in Ohio!

            Before you believe this is an off the cuff statement, you need to understand I grew up in Flint, Michigan and I have never cheered for another team except the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I get excited when Michigan State, Western, Central, or Eastern Michigan do well, but for me it comes down to “MICHIGAN WINNING IT ALL”. This applies not only to Football (which I love to watch), but also basketball and the other dozens of other sports they have at U of M.

            The rivalry between the University of Michigan and Ohio State is so intense that it actually sometimes feels like it carries over into other parts of any individual life. The color of clothes you wear, the places you go, the people you hang out with, and what you are willing to talk about. I have heard of fan’s be attacked outside of the stadium at both Ohio State and U of M for wearing their teams colors in the wrong town, they have been cussed out, and have even heard of cars being spray painted if they had the other teams decal on it.

            Now you ask what does this have to do with “BEING A REAL CHRISTIAN.” A lot actually, as I believe that it is ok for me to wear my U of M jersey in Ohio (and if you hang out with me for more than a couple of days you will see me in either my polo, jersey, or hoodie), I believe it is ok for my express my love for CHRIST in the same way. However, there are others that would disagree, and take offense to it just like some the people I know take offense to my U of M wardrobe.

            What makes you a Real Christian!

  1. Personal relationship with Christ
  2. Prayer time (not a spare tire religion)
  3. Reading the Play Book (THE BIBLE)
  4. Listening to the Coach and other leaders on the side line (God the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit)
  5. Being a participant in the game (yes even fans can be a participants in the game. They can jeer, shout, and they praise the players. In other words encourage those on the field.

Soft Target

Shootings and bombings at what is often referred to as “soft targets” are becoming more common around the world. Soft targets are often refer to places where people gather with no or very limited security, and especially with unarmed security. These can include sporting events, malls, and even our local place of worship.

We have seen in the headlines recently of the bombings of churches throughout Africa, the Middle East, and one that has been the hardest for me is the bombing of the Pashawar Church. The pastor in this community has been a friend on LinkedIn for a couple of years, and often shares the blessings God is pouring out in the community. The latest news is almost 150 people dead on the spot and hundreds injured  It is clear that this was a terrorist attack, simply based on the fact it was a Christian Church, and the individuals that bombed did not agree with the teaching/preaching of the church.

 Not every bombing is carried out by terrorist, some are carried out by disgruntle employees, upset family members, or even Christians that feel they are trying to make a point such as the bombing of the abortion clinics a few years back. Hurting or killing people is never right, and even becomes more heart breaking when it is done in the name of any religion.

The statement I often here is, it can’t really happen here! Often the statement is followed by the question “Can it?” Sadly the answer is yes; there are dangerous people within our own communities that have been plotting and planning to carry out an attack, whether it is for revenge, to honor their God, or they are simply mentally ill and not thinking with a healthy mind. Whatever the reasons, they have guns, bombs, or have developed another method to harm or kill. 

What can we do? I believe as a Christian community we need to stand for what is right and accomplish something that NO other group can:

  1. We need to become PRAYER Warriors. Not only for our family, local church, but also for the Body of Christ worldwide.  That God will pour out his blessing on those that are standing strong for the faith, even in these perilous times.  
  2. We need to become vigilant (watching). As individuals we need to be watching for situations where we could be harmed, and report it to the authorities.
  3. We need to become informed. One of the saddest situations within the church today is that individuals are not informed of the persecution and oppression happening around the world. Sadly, being uninformed is a dangerous place to be, because it opens the door for such things to happen here.
  4. We need to Show love to the community and hurting. Most importantly we need to show love for those that oppose us. Christ set the example, Paul showed us how to accomplish it, and we need to live it. I don’t like terrorist (just like you) but I also don’t like bullies.

My son Ethan who serves as Assistant Director of Through HIM Ministries is a Disaster Management student at Ohio Christian University, and we were talking about this very same issue. He stated that part of coping with a  disaster is to:  (1) prepare for the “what if,” (2) pray that it never happens, (3) be prepared to respond if it does, (4) show everybody the love of Christ regardless of who they are, (5) and keep moving forward in Christ through the tragedy for the Glory of God.

Sadly, the moral of this blog post is … churches are soft targets and sadly it is probably going to get worse worldwide. It becomes even more important for us to be informed, prayed up, and focused on sharing the Gospel, because God is coming back and it is only a matter of time.

Reflecting on scripture!

            As I read this morning from Mark 2: 1 – 12; I felt a special sense of urgency.   I was reflecting on the types of people we en...