Dave Burchett: The Mystery Of Grace

Although Dave doesn’t mention mental illness in this article it has a lot for each of us to consider as we read it with mental illness in mind. Allan  

Taken from   Confessions Of A Bad Christian  which can be found    HERE.

I think a lot about the church. When you write a book called “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People” you tend to hear from angry and wounded churchgoers. I have received hundreds of emails and blog posts from hurting believers. If a modest selling author and blogger like me gets that many responses then you can extrapolate that this is a big problem for the American church.

A study by the Barna Group among unchurched adults shows that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) said they avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people.

My heart aches when I hear stories of people who have been wounded and even abused by the churchgoers, leaders and pastors. I used to get angry and self-righteous.

“How can they call themselves a Christian?”

That is a question that I am often asked. But now I am more inclined to ask the question more personally in my own journey.

How can I call myself a Christian?

I began the book mentioned above with this paragraph.

“I am a hypocrite. I can be arrogant and selfish. I have been known to stretch, conceal, or slightly massage the truth. I am sometimes inconsiderate and insecure. I struggle with lust and impure thoughts. My ego often rages out of control, and I battle foolish pride. I can be lazy and foolhardy with my time. I get angry, petty, and ill-tempered. I am sarcastic and cynical. I am a Christian.”

I can make the claim in the final sentence only because of Christ. A song by one of my favorite artists, Andrew Peterson, reminds me of the mystery of grace. Peterson beautifully illustrates that I am like every sinner who ever lived or will live. Peterson’s lyrics hit home and remind me that I am saved by grace alone. It is not by my disciplined and upright behavior that I perceive to be better than most other people that wins favor with God. My ranking of which sins are more disgusting is, to quote Rich Mullins, as useless as a screen door on a submarine. I was a sinner in need of a Savior. Andrew Peterson’s lyrics describe it well.

I am the woman at the well, I am the harlot
I am the scattered seed that fell along the path
I am the son who ran away
I am the bitter son who stayed

I am the angry men who came to stone the lover
I am the woman there ashamed before the crowd
I am the leper who gave thanks
I am the nine who never came

Paul tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I used to feel superior to those who violated my denomination’s “Top 10 list of things not to do if you are a real Christian”. But I came to realize that having less repulsive sins on my resume than someone else only mattered to me and my miserable band of legalists. It did not matter to God.

As my journey continued I was wounded by the church and I got angry at God when fallible people (just like me) did not follow His Word or wouldn’t live out of His grace. Yet I often did the same thing that offended me from others. And that is why Peterson’s question resonates in my heart.

My God, my God
Why hast thou accepted me?

Indeed. I had nothing to offer that God needed. I was falling far, far, far short of the glory of God. But what He did is pure grace and Andrew Peterson says it well.

You took my sin and wrapped me in
Your robe and your ring
My God, my God
Why hast thou accepted me?

It’s a mystery of mercy
And the song I sing.

I love that imagery. He took my sin and wrapped me in robes of undeserved righteousness.

I am still prone to react when I hear stories of harsh shepherds and mean-spirited churchgoers. But more and more I realize that I am more than capable of being that harsh shepherd or mean Christian apart from trust and dependence on Jesus.

Paul wrote these words in a letter to his spiritual son Titus.

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—”When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. (Titus 3 – NLT)

Why hast God accepted me? Because of Jesus and not for anything I have done or could do. Today I have a heart of worship as I meditate on this mystery of mercy and grace.

No, Donald Trump, The Problem Isn’t Mental Illness

Taken from the Huffington Post  which is found   HERE.

Fear not, everyone. Donald Trump is here to solve our country’s issue with mass shootings — and his solution lies in further stigmatizing the mentally ill.

The entertainer presidential candidate told CNN on Thursday that the problem with incidents like the killing of two Virginia journalists on Wednesday isn’t the gun laws in the U.S., but a fundamental lack of mental illness control and resources.

Trump is correct in that we need more resources for mental health issues, but his message and reasoning for why we need it is totally misguided.

This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “It’s not a question of laws, it’s really the people.”

Trump went on to say that laws should not make it more difficult for “sane people” to have access to guns and that those who knew the shooter from yesterday’s incident most likely thought he should be institutionalized.

Here’s an important PSA for Trump and anyone who listens to him: “Mentally ill” is not synonymous with “homicidal.”

It perpetuates a dangerous stigma to conflate mental illness with physical violence. Research suggests that negative stereotypes is still a large problem when it comes to mental illness, and that stigma acts as a barrier to proper treatment — treatment that helps the nearly one in four people who experience a mental health disorder live healthy and productive lives.

Additionally, a 2014 study found that people with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violent crimes than the ones committing them. Yet, most people still don’t see it this way. Our culture still fully believes that the mentally ill are a threat to society. And given comments like Trump’s, it’s not hard to see why.

Making comments like this shames and alienates the large community of people who suffer from these health issues every day. It also does a disservice to the family members affected by these shootings.

The sooner we realize that mental illness isn’t the problem, the sooner we can eliminate a stigma that plagues millions of Americans — and the sooner we’ll find a real solution to these horrible tragedies.

Streams In The Desert: August 29th, 2015

And he went out carrying his own cross   John 19:17

There is a poem called “The Changed Cross.” It represents a weary one who thought that her cross was surely heavier than those of others whom she saw about her, and she wished that she might choose an other instead of her own. She slept, and in her dream she was led to a place where many crosses lay, crosses of different shapes and sizes. There was a little one most beauteous to behold, set in jewels and gold. “Ah, this I can wear with comfort,” she said. So she took it up, but her weak form shook beneath it. The jewels and the gold were beautiful, but they were far too heavy for her.

Next she saw a lovely cross with fair flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely that was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were piercing thorns which tore her flesh.

At last, as she went on, she came to a plain cross, without jewels, without carvings, with only a few words of love inscribed upon it. This she took up and it proved the best of all, the easiest to be borne. And as she looked upon it, bathed in the radiance that fell from Heaven, she recognized her own old cross. She had found it again, and it was the best of all and lightest for her.

God knows best what cross we need to bear. We do not know how heavy other people’s crosses are. We envy someone who is rich; his is a golden cross set with jewels, but we do not know how heavy it is. Here is another whose life seems very lovely. She bears a cross twined with flowers. If we could try all the other crosses that we think lighter than our own, we would at last find that not one of them suited us so well as our own.
–Glimpses through Life’s Windows

If thou, impatient, dost let slip thy cross,
Thou wilt not find it in this world again;
Nor in another: here and here alone
Is given thee to suffer for God’s sake.
In other worlds we may more perfectly
Love Him and serve Him, praise Him,
Grow nearer and nearer to Him with delight.
But then we shall not any more
Be called to suffer, which is our appointment here.
Canst thou not suffer, then, one hour or two?
If He should call thee from thy cross today,
Saying: “It is finished-that hard cross of thine
From which thou prayest for deliverance,
“Thinkest thou not some passion of regret
Would overcome thee? Thou would’st say,
“So soon? Let me go back and suffer yet awhile
More patiently. I have not yet praised God.”
Whensoe’er it comes, that summons that we look for,
It will seem soon, too soon. Let us take heed in time

That God may now be glorified in us.
–Ugo Bassi’s Sermon in a Hospital

Praise & Worship: August 28th, 2015

1. Free-  Dara maclean

2.  I Can Feel You-  Jenn Johnson

3.  Lord Reign In Me-  Vineyard

4.  All Your Anxiety-  Anne MacCallum

5.  Wonderfully Made-  Sarah Hart

6.  The Light Of The City-  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

7.  We Bow Down Befor e Your Cross- Russian Chant

8.  Nothing Is Wasted-  Jason Gray

9.  Easter Song-  2nd Chapter Of Acts

10.  Rooftops Jesus Culture

11.  The World Needs Jesus-  Malcolm & Alwyn

 

Kay Warren: Hope For Mental Illness

Taken from the Huffington Post  which is found   HERE.

When my cancer-stricken, elderly father passed away at home with family by his side, I grieved and wept, but my grief was gentle because my dad had lived a very full and rich life. I can tell you the experience of losing my 27-year-old son on April 5, 2013 to suicide was not at all the same.

Matthew – an incredibly kind, funny and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many – suffered from severe mental illness.

For more than two decades he struggled. He took his life to end his pain, and he did it in a violent way.

Our family is scarred.

We were left with – not gentle grief – but traumatic grief. Guilt. Regret. Unanswered questions. Horror.

We are not alone. The statistics are startling:

• Half of all adults will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.
• Half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.
• One in five children will have a mental illness by age 18.
• Ninety percent of people who die by suicide also had mental illness.

Sixty million Americans – that’s one in five adults – will experience a mental illness in the coming year. That means every one of us knows someone who is living with a mental illness – depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, an eating disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and some additionally have a substance abuse.

The sad fact is the mental health system is broken in the United States. I can’t say that strongly enough. It is not that people aren’t trying and not that there aren’t some really wonderful, compassionate people in the field of mental health, but the problem is complicated, and most of the attempts to help don’t always help.

But there is hope for mental illness, and I believe the Church can lead the way.

When you realize that a large portion of people suffering with mental illness go to either their priest, pastor or rabbi before they even go to a healthcare professional, it makes equipping faith leaders more urgent than ever. Most are not well equipped, yet clergy are dealing with people with mental health issues every day.

We have witnessed this firsthand in our own church. At Saddleback Church there is a higher-than-average awareness of mental illness and the devastation it can cause. Our Pastoral Care Team reports that 23 percent of their ministry is to people living with mental illness or their families.

Most people understand that mental illness is just that – an illness – and as such, often requires medication and treatment by mental health professionals for management and improved health. But the flip side of that realization can lead us to believe that there is nothing significant the faith community can offer to a person with a illness. This is a misperception. In reality, the Church is tasked with caring for the whole person – body, mind and soul – and that means we must recognize and care for the person who is affected by an illness. The Church can speak into the soul and personhood of the individual in ways that medical professionals cannot.

The Church’s central commitment is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This should include intentionally coming alongside people living with mental illness and supporting their families. If the Church lives out its calling in this area, its compassionate voice will rise within the community, the nation and the world – extending an unwavering message of hope and acceptance for those affected by mental illness.

I believe every church can be a solution by developing a mental health ministry. That is why we are hosting Saddleback Church’s Gathering on Mental Health and The Church October 7-9, 2015. The event will be three days packed with practical help and hope for individuals affected by mental illness, their loved ones, church leaders, and mental health professionals.

It’s time to join together and create a pathway to hope.

It’s time for the Church to offer a place of refuge, love, and compassion for those who need it most. It’s a time to acknowledge the facts and embrace the millions of people suffering everyday from mental illness.

For more information on The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, visithttp://hope4mentalhealth.com/.

15 Things Not to Say to Someone With a Mental Illness

Taken from  YAHOO HEALTH which is found  HERE.

As someone who was diagnosed with a third mental illness last year, I can be overly sensitive to what people say or do around me. It got me thinking… How many times do kind, well-meaning people slip up and say something that causes more pain and harm than good?

Here’s a list of things not to say to someone with a mental illness or who is struggling with their mental health.

1. Do not refer to the individual by their illness. I am not the depressed girl or the bipolar chick. I am Nichole. A young woman who happens to struggle with a mental illness.

2. If an individual tries to commit suicide, that does not forever make them suicidal.

3. Someone who has struggled with self-harm should not be referred to as an emo, goth or cutter.

4. Do not tell individuals who struggle with self-harm, depression or anxiety they are doing it for attention or drama. These struggles are real and should be taken seriously.

5. Although I may have a mental illness, don’t call me fragile, broken or weak. I’m a strong, independent, successful woman who happens to be diagnosed with a mental illness.

6. Talking about it doesn’t make it happen again. Talking about depression won’t make me depressed. Talking to others about self-harm won’t make them hurt themselves. Don’t think avoiding the topic is for our own good.

7. Do not blame every emotion or action on my mental illness. I still make my decisions. I (usually) have control of my actions.

8. Things like “Try harder,” “You must not want to get better,” or“It’s your decision to get better,” do not help someone with a mental illness. We are not feeling sorry for ourselves. Many of these illnesses are actually chemical imbalances or neurological disorders.

9. Saying things like “You’re not alone,” can be helpful, but saying something like, “There’s someone worse off than you,” is not.

10. Do not assume you know how the individual feels. Even if you’ve gone through the same situations, or have the same disorder, everyone is different and handles these things differently.

11. “Have you tried drinking tea?” Or, “Have you been taking this supplement or herb?” In some instances this might be OK, but for most it’s like saying, “Have you tried waving a wand and making it all disappear?” It’s just not that simple.

12. “Just get out of bed! Have you tried keeping busy? It will distract you.” Or not. Sometimes getting out of bed can be a huge obstacle and “keeping busy” can seem impossible.

13. “You need to change your attitude or your way of thinking. Just focus on the good things.” Although this can help at times, it’s not an end all solution and should not be meant as such.

14. “You’re just lazy.” No. No, I’m not. The fact that I got out of bed today is a miracle. It was a struggle you probably don’t understand.

15. “You’re not praying hard enough.” As someone who grew up in the church, I have heard this many times. Not only is it unhelpful, it makes the individual feel even worse about themselves. As stated before, many disorders are a chemical imbalance and although I do believe prayer can help and even heal, sometimes we need to use medication or therapy as well. Although this always seems to be a huge controversy, I’d like to say this: If you have a cold you can pray and ask for healing. But if it doesn’t go away immediately, you might look for cough or sinus medication to help ease the discomfort. Mental illness should be treated with the same sort of mindset as any other illness.

Law Enforcement Should Learn To Recognize the Signs of Mental Illness

Taken from  TIME  which is found   HERE.

The untimely death of Sandra Bland in a rural Texas jail last month has led to many unanswered questions.

Texas prison authorities say Bland hanged herself with a plastic garbage bag in her cell, a claim her family has questioned. Many suspect that Bland was murdered by corrupt law enforcement officials or correctional officers.

Lost in the emotion of yet another tragic death of a young African American in police custody is the real possibility that untreated mental illness led to Sandra Bland’s death.

Regardless of what happened in that Texas jail, Centers for Disease Control data tell us that rates of suicide have seen a steady increase each year since 2000. Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of deathamong all Americans.

And, while African Americans have lower suicide rates relative to whites, the rate of suicide among African-American males and femaleshas also been climbing each year since 2009.

As a mental health services researcher, I’ve spent years examining factors that prevent vulnerable youth from getting mental health services. My work as a psychotherapist has involved treating folks suffering from depression – folks like Sandra Bland who told police she had tried to commit suicide last year.

The importance of the social network

Sociologist Bernice Pescosolido suggests that mentally ill individuals don’t decide about getting treatment in a vacuum. Those closest to the individual are critical to facilitating entree into care, providing care or doing nothing.

Through my work, I have seen how serious mental illness such as chronic depression or bipolarity can wreak havoc on not just the ill individual, but also on their families and friends. In a sick individual’s social networks, accusations fly. Loved ones duck for cover or they hold back for fear of offending. At this unstable and vulnerable juncture, finding a way to treatment is difficult and staying in treatment is even tougher.

Depression is one of the most debilitating health issues anyone can experience. It is a leading cause of engagement in suicidal behaviors – aprecursor, of sorts, to suicide.

At the same time, depression is one of the most successfully treatedmental illnesses. Both talk therapies and psychotropic medications are replete with evidence of their successes in the treatment of depression.

The problem is that not enough people with depression actually receive treatment. The numbers vary widely by age and race. Approximatelyone third of youth with depression receive treatment. That number increases slightly – to about one half – for 20-somethings like Sandra Bland. The lack of care is even more disproportionate in ethnic minority communities relative to white communities. African Americans, Latino Americans and Asian Americans all have lower treatment rates.

My own research indicates these groups are also likely to have greater connections to their families and friends, who pray with them about their condition or offer advice. This might help explain their overall lower rates of suicide relative to whites.

Responsibility of law enforcement

While it is critical for social network members to both see and do something to help their loved ones get connected to treatment, it is equally critical for law enforcement to be trained on how to successfully address interactions with the mentally ill.

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if Sandra Bland had been pulled over by a police officer who was trained to recognize if she was suffering from a mental illness that required immediate attention. Imagine a police officer having the skills to engage Bland – or many others much like her – in a process of recovery.

That novel notion is being carried out by Dr Michael Compton and others who implement the Crisis Intervention Training, a program that trains law enforcement officials on the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to address these matters in a health-oriented rather than enforcement manner. This program has helped police redirect countless individuals into mental health treatment instead of jails. Indeed, successful CIT programs have emerged all over the country, including in Memphis and Chicago.

The circumstances surrounding Sandra Bland’s death remain unclear. But many who are struggling with a mental illness surround us. Paying attention to the signs and having true engagement with the presenting behaviors can save lives.