Release the Perfume!


“Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.”

Song of Solomon 4:10

“When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume.”

Luke 7:37

What about you? What precious perfume is locked inside your heart that could be lavished on our Lord? The little treasures you and I struggle to hold on to may hold back opportunities to worship Him with extravagant praise, releasing ministry and service to Him that will bless all those around us.”

-Angela Munizzi

We must come to the conclusion that our simple actions have a way of blessing Jesus.  We must come to see that the rich and good place, where what we do or don’t do, makes a real difference.  How long has it been since you have really had this responsibility?  We are significant.  You really do matter! The worship we sincerely offer reflects back on us. This makes us radiant to any observers.

We touch Jesus, somehow, and in some vague way, and in some way we have blessed Him.  I believe that this must encourage Him, that He receives our offering.  He then responds and blesses those who are desperately crying out.  Jesus is not capricious, or sceptical, and so our worship must really affect Him. If only to add to the volume of those who have already crying out for mercy.

Our worship needs to become extravagantly simple again.  Poured out, ‘down-to-the-last-drop’ kind of worship.  It gives and gives until there is simply no more.  I also think it must be intercessory in its direction.  Intercessory worship will cover the helpless, and turn God’s ear to the needs of the depressed.  When the Holy Spirit tunes us, we become precise instruments of grace and love– enabling us to touch the hearts of many millions who are lost, who have no hope at all.

As a believer, one who struggles with clinical depression, the realization that I can be inserted into a “crisis-critical” situation is a bit comical or surreal— like sending the “Three Stooges” in to do brain surgery!  But you must see this.  I have learned this as I worshipped at His feet.  I have attempted to pour out every bit of perfumed nard,  I sincerely desire to hold nothing in reserve.

This desperation has a way of making me adequate, it is showing me how to become competent.  It has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with Jesus Christ, and His undisputed authority in the realm of this world.  His desire is to create a flock from the willing, and to bring all that glory home, to His Father.

bry-signat (1)


Was Jesus Mentally Disturbed?

“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Mark 3:21, NIV

Even our Lord’s own family did not believe Him.  I can see them gathering out of concern, not only for concern for Jesus, but for the family name– perhaps they felt a need even to protect themselves?  They talked at length, and decided on an intervention, to take custodial care– as families must do at times.

Jesus had been saying things, disturbing things.  He had resolutely confronted the present religious system, and had rebuked King Herod and the civil government.  He was living on an edge, and the sense that His family had was that He had become mentally unhinged.  He had been cavorting with decidedly irreligious and wicked people.  He lived in constant bedlam, with people mobbing Him for healing.

His teaching seemed extremely radical, almost absurd. His “parables” contained bizarre ideas. And the massive crowds actually would chase Him, trying to anticipate His next move. He was essentially a celebrity –  a “rock star.” I suppose we have no idea, of His appeal to the masses.

Is Jesus Christ a Legend, Lunatic, Liar, or Lord and GOD? In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement,

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg–or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”

The accusation has often been the case for His followers. Some of Paul’s friends thought he was crazy when he went blazing over land and sea to carry the gospel to every city. But his answer was, “No, I am not crazy; the love of Christ controls me.”  This was a good kind of crazy.  He was being used by Jesus to continue the ministry that Jesus had started– the establishment of the Kingdom of God. 

I believe it is a far deeper insanity, that seals up the truth and the light and keeps it away from unbelievers.  It is crazy to know total forgiveness and unconditional love, and then to avoid opportunities to share that same love. Now, that is crazy! Our fear of being ostracized and mocked, is an intense experience. Peer pressure is not just something our teens go through. We are always in danger of being molded into the World’s image.

Who are we?  Our Lord and Master was vilified, He was falsely accused of insanity.  But perhaps, it is the other way around.  Perhaps it is this world, and its bondages and sicknesses that is ill.  We must decide.

bry-signat (1)Please see this link: “Who is Jesus?




The Stigma of Mental Illness (or, how we found dog poop in the living room!)


Robin Williams’ recent suicide has risen the awareness of many people. One out of five Americans will experience a mental disorder during their lifetime.  But, people can get better.  With proper treatment, most people with a mental illness recover quickly, and the majority do not need hospital care, or have only brief admissions.

Mental illness has traditionally been surrounded by community misunderstanding, fear, and stigma.  Stigma towards people with a mental illness has a detrimental effect on their ability to obtain services, their recovery, the type of treatment and support they receive, and their acceptance in the community.

Exactly what is stigma?  Stigma means a mark or sign of shame, disgrace or disapproval, of being shunned or rejected by others.  It emerges when people feel uneasy or embarrassed to talk about behavior they perceive as different.  The stigma surrounding mental illness is so strong that it places a wall of silence around this issue.

It is like hiding the “pile” instead of dealing with it properly.

The effects are damaging to the community as well as to the person will the illness and his/her family and friends.  But at Mental Health agencies and groups all over are working hard to erase the stigma associated with having a mental illness.

In-House-46638176283_xlargeThe emphasis needs to be on supporting and treating people in their own communities, close to their families, friends and familiar surroundings.

Yet discrimination and community misconceptions remain among the most significant barriers to people with a mental illness being able to actively participate in the community and gaining access to the services they need.

But it is not only people with a mental illness who experience discrimination and stigma.  Rejection of people with mental illness inevitably spills over to the caregiver and family members.

Improving community attitudes by increasing knowledge and understanding about mental illness is essential if people with a mental illness are to live in, and contribute to, the community, free from stigma and discrimination.

People with mental problems are our neighbors. They are members of our congregations, members of our families; they are everywhere in this country. If we ignore their cries for help, we will be continuing to participate in the anguish from which those cries for help come. A problem of this magnitude will not go away. Because it will not go away, and because of our spiritual commitments, we are compelled to take action.”

~Rosalynn Carter



Antidepressants for Believers?

What do you think of Christians taking antidepressants?

By Pastor John Piper, given on March 30, 2010

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

What do you think of Christians taking antidepressants? I have been on them and have been accused of not relying on God.

That relates to an earlier question about how any physical or personal means that you use can signify that you’re not relying on God. So eating might be a failure to rely on God, because he might just fill your stomach by miracle, and you don’t have to eat. Or not sleeping would be a way of relying more on God, since you don’t have to have your psyche made stable by sleep at night. And so on.

God has ordained physical means. Aside from the ones that seem more natural, like food, there’s medicine: aspirin, Nyquil, etc. This water is helping my throat right now. [Sips it.] Was that sip a failure to rely on God?

Could be. “Just throw this away and rely on God! He will keep your throat moist. You don’t need to be drinking. You’re an idolater, Piper. You’re idolizing this because you’re depending on it.”

Well, the reason that’s not the case is because God has ordained for me to thank him for that. He created it and he made this body to need a lot of fluid. And it’s not a dishonor to him if I honor him through his gift.

Now the question is, “What medicines are like that or not like that?” Taking an aspirin?

My ophthalmologist told me about 4 years ago, “Take one baby aspirin a day and you will postpone cataracts or glaucoma or something.” He said, “I can see just the slightest little discoloration, and the way it works is that circulation helps.” So he told me to pop one of these little pills in my little vitamin thing. And I take it every day. And I just said, “Lord, whether I have eyes or not is totally dependent on you. But if you would like me to use this means, I would.”

My answer is that when you start working with peoples’ minds, you are in a very very tricky and difficult situation. But I think I want to say that, while nobody should hasten towards medication to alter their mental states—even as I say it I think of caffeine, right?—nevertheless, I know from reading history, like on William Cooper, and by dealing with many people over the years, that there are profoundly physical dimensions to our mental conditions.

Since that’s the case, physical means can be appropriate. For me it’s jogging. I produce stuff in my brain by jogging. But that might not work for somebody else, and they might be constantly unable to get on top of it emotionally. I just don’t want to rule out the possibility that there is a physical medication that just might, hopefully temporarily, enable them to get their equilibrium, process the truth, live out of the strength of the truth, honor God, and go off it.

When I preached on this one Easter Sunday a woman wrote me, thanking me that I took this approach. She said, “You just need to know that I live on these things, and I know what it was like 20 years ago and the horrors and the blackness of my life. And now I love Christ, I trust Christ, I love my husband, our marriage is preserved, and I’ll probably be on these till I’m dead.”

So I’m not in principle opposed. I just want to be very cautious in the way we use antidepressants.

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What Are You Ashamed Of?

“We all carry about in our pockets His very nails.” –Luther

“I am proud of the good news! It is God’s powerful way of saving all people who have faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.”  

 Romans 1:16, CEV

 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Romans 1:16, ESV

What is it, that holds us back?  Is there a significant issue–a new boat or your next vacation to Disneyland?  Would that keep you from following Him?  Would you trade Him, for that?

So many of us are chicken when it comes to witnessing for Jesus Christ. We ‘cluck and duck’ when the subject of God or religion is raised. We hope no one is looking when we ask God to bless our food in a public place.  Honestly, most of the time the issue for us is the fear of rejection. (It’s funny but some have never really gotten past the intimidation we experienced in High School.)

The saints who watch us from heaven, have got to be astonished. (Heb. 12: 1.)  They look and wonder at the way we act, when so many of them have suffered deeply.  They have been repeatedly, and deliberately hurt. We argue about padded pews and the color of the carpeting in our sanctuary.

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:32, ESV

 I suppose we need the spirit of the saints who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel. This very minute they are in prisons, in torture, in abuse all because they profess a love for Jesus Christ.

Could it be possible that God is calling you to leave your comfortable Christianity behind and tell someone that Jesus loves them and wants to save them. Will you do it, or will you be too ashamed? Let this be the year you bring the light of Christ to your dorm, your neighborhood, your apartment building, your baseball team, or  wherever God has placed you. Let Him use you for His glory!

Your faith will activate God– your fear activates Satan.


ybic, Bryan

Anorexia & Bulimia

What Are Eating Disorders?

An eating disorder is marked by extremes. It is present when a person experiences severe disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating, or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape.

A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spirals out of control. Eating disorders are very complex, and despite scientific research to understand them, the biological, behavioral and social underpinnings of these illnesses remain elusive.

The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third category is “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS),” which includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. Binge-eating disorder, which has received increasing research and media attention in recent years, is one type of EDNOS.

Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood, but some reports indicate that they can develop during childhood or later in adulthood. Women and girls are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder.

Men and boys account for an estimated 5 to 15 percent of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses with complex underlying psychological and biological causes. They frequently co-exist with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders. People with eating disorders also can suffer from numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

Eating disorders are treatable diseases

Psychological and medicinal treatments are effective for many eating disorders. However, in more chronic cases, specific treatments have not yet been identified.

In these cases, treatment plans often are tailored to the patient’s individual needs that may include medical care and monitoring; medications; nutritional counseling; and individual, group and/or family psychotherapy. Some patients may also need to be hospitalized to treat malnutrition or to gain weight, or for other reasons.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by emaciation, a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, a distortion of body image and intense fear of gaining weight, a lack of menstruation among girls and women, and extremely disturbed eating behavior. Some people with anorexia lose weight by dieting and exercising excessively; others lose weight by self-induced vomiting, or misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas.

Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight, even when they are starved or are clearly malnourished. Eating, food and weight control become obsessions. A person with anorexia typically weighs herself or himself repeatedly, portions food carefully, and eats only very small quantities of only certain foods. Some who have anorexia recover with treatment after only one episode. Others get well but have relapses. Still others have a more chronic form of anorexia, in which their health deteriorates over many years as they battle the illness.

According to some studies, people with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness compared to those without the disorder. The most common complications that lead to death are cardiac arrest, and electrolyte and fluid imbalances. Suicide also can result.

Many people with anorexia also have coexisting psychiatric and physical illnesses, including depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications, and impaired physical development.

Other symptoms may develop over time, including:

  • thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • brittle hair and nails
  • dry and yellowish skin
  • growth of fine hair over body (e.g., lanugo)
  • mild anemia, and muscle weakness and loss
  • severe constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
  • lethargy

TREATING ANOREXIA involves three components:

  1. restoring the person to a healthy weight;
  2. treating the psychological issues related to the eating disorder; and
  3. reducing or eliminating behaviors or thoughts that lead to disordered eating, and preventing relapse.

Some research suggests that the use of medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers, may be modestly effective in treating patients with anorexia by helping to resolve mood and anxiety symptoms that often co-exist with anorexia. Recent studies, however, have suggested that antidepressants may not be effective in preventing some patients with anorexia from relapsing. In addition, no medication has shown to be effective during the critical first phase of restoring a patient to healthy weight. Overall, it is unclear if and how medications can help patients conquer anorexia, but research is ongoing.

Different forms of psychotherapy, including individual, group and family-based, can help address the psychological reasons for the illness. Some studies suggest that family-based therapies in which parents assume responsibility for feeding their afflicted adolescent are the most effective in helping a person with anorexia gain weight and improve eating habits and moods.

Shown to be effective in case studies and clinical trials, this particular approach is discussed in some guidelines and studies for treating eating disorders in younger, nonchronic patients.

Others have noted that a combined approach of medical attention and supportive psychotherapy designed specifically for anorexia patients is more effective than just psychotherapy. But the effectiveness of a treatment depends on the person involved and his or her situation. Unfortunately, no specific psychotherapy appears to be consistently effective for treating adults with anorexia. However, research into novel treatment and prevention approaches is showing some promise. One study suggests that an online intervention program may prevent some at-risk women from developing an eating disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food (e.g., binge-eating), and feeling a lack of control over the eating. This binge-eating is followed by a type of behavior that compensates for the binge, such as purging (e.g., vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics), fasting and/or excessive exercise.

Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia can fall within the normal range for their age and weight. But like people with anorexia, they often fear gaining weight, want desperately to lose weight, and are intensely unhappy with their body size and shape. Usually, bulimic behavior is done secretly, because it is often accompanied by feelings of disgust or shame. The binging and purging cycle usually repeats several times a week. Similar to anorexia, people with bulimia often have coexisting psychological illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and/or substance abuse problems. Many physical conditions result from the purging aspect of the illness, including electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal problems, and oral and tooth-related problems.

Other symptoms include:

  • chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck and below the jaw
  • worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acids
  • gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • kidney problems from diuretic abuse
  • severe dehydration from purging of fluids

As with anorexia, TREATMENT FOR BULIMIA often involves a combination of options and depends on the needs of the individual.

To reduce or eliminate binge and purge behavior, a patient may undergo nutritional counseling and psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or be prescribed medication. Some antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), which is the only medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating bulimia, may help patients who also have depression and/or anxiety. It also appears to help reduce binge-eating and purging behavior, reduces the chance of relapse, and improves eating attitudes.

CBT that has been tailored to treat bulimia also has shown to be effective in changing binging and purging behavior, and eating attitudes. Therapy may be individually oriented or group-based.


For more on these Eating Disorders, see:

For a Christian perspective:

1 in 4 Church Homes Are Dealing With This!

By Carlene Hill Byron

How many families in your church have a loved one who struggles with mental health problems? That’s kind of a trick question. People don’t talk about mental health problems. You’re more likely to hear them describe their child’s condition as “something like autism,” as the elder of one church we know says.

Or they might cover up entirely, as does an elder’s wife in another congregation. When her bipolar disorder swung into mania after childbirth, her family, already managing the added responsibilities of a newborn, had to manage her condition as well. But because her condition is a secret, they did so without any support beyond the usual “new baby” dinners.

The answer to the question is, if your congregation is representative of the U.S. population, one in four households will struggle with someone’s mental health problems over their lifetime. That’s schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, disabling chronic depression, and various anxiety disorders.  Look at the faces seated around you this Sunday.  Someone is probably hurting. And they’re probably afraid to tell you.

The least acceptable disability

Out of Control

A study where people ranked disabilities by their “acceptability” returned these results, in order–most acceptable: obvious physical disabilities, blindness, deafness, a jail record, learning disabilities, and alcoholism.

Least acceptable: mental health problems. People with mental health problems frighten us because when people become mental ill, they become someone we don’t know. A bright boy who was his family’s bright hope may find he just can’t cut it anymore as schizophrenia turns him paranoid, disoriented, unmotivated in the extreme, and overwhelmed by delusional voices that tell him, over and over, how worthless he is.

Or, in the case of bipolar disorder, a girl who was a well-liked and active member of her Teen Challenge group may suddenly turn promiscuous, run away from home, and make a new home in the streets of a strange city. Laziness. Promiscuity. Violence. Sin. That’s what many people see when they look at those with mental health problems. It’s hard to believe that people may behave in such unacceptable ways and not be in control of their behavior.

Having a mental health problem is a lot like being on alcohol or drugs, without being able to stop. Medications “work” for about two-thirds of us. That means that a third of us can’t ever get off the chemical ride that our brains produce.

For those of us who can use medications, the side effects can be daunting. I have lost about 20 percent of my small motor functionality as a result of one of the five medications I take for bipolar disorder. I prefer that to losing large motor control and having another auto accident, being so disoriented I can’t find my way home from the store, losing bowel control in a busy bookstore, gaining 45 pounds, or any of dozens of side effects I’ve experienced on other medications.

Many people become so frustrated with side effects that they stop taking medications. Only about half of us accept treatment. Even when we are treated, not everyone regains their status as a fully functioning adult. In our extended family, six people have diagnoses. Those with bipolar disorder and chronic depression are successfully medicated and work full-time. Those with panic disorder and schizophrenia are on permanent disability. Nothing has pulled them through.


What the Bible says

The Bible talks about mental illness, as well as physical illness.

  • It describes a king who was made mentally ill until he would recognize the sovereignty of God (Dan. 4:29-34).
  • It describes demonized men who lived among the tombs and terrorized everyone until Jesus set them free (Matt. 8:28-33).
  • It also describes as demonized a young boy that most scholars today say had epilepsy (Matt. 17:15-18). Jesus delivered him, too.
What was once believed

What does this tell us about illness?

First, that God is able to heal. Second, that some physical and mental illnesses are caused by demons. Third, that some mental illnesses are caused by sin. But are all mental illnesses caused by demons or sin, and is seeking God our sole resource for physical and mental healing?

Since the 1950s, we have usually sent church members with epilepsy to doctors for effective treatment with anti-convulsant drugs. In a similar way, we’ve learned that medicines can effectively treat many cases of mental illness. So if all mental illnesses were caused by demons and sin, medicine would be exorcising demons and turning hearts to repentance. That is certainly untrue, for those are the works of the Holy Spirit.

Instead, we now know that most if not all mental illnesses are biological in origin, with environmental factors possibly triggering an existing genetic predisposition to the illness. Mental illnesses, just like epilepsy, are biological disorders of the brain.

What can the church do?

Compassionate service is one of our core charges as Christians. We observe it almost daily in the experience of one man we know with schizophrenia. His life is confined almost entirely to his home due to the fear, indecision, and lethargy that have become the shape of the illness in his body. But neighbors bring him occasional meals. The secretary of his small church talks to him by telephone every weekday. Several other members take weekly calls at designated times to help break his isolation. If he doesn’t feel up to driving to his Bible study meeting or Sunday services, some member will give him a ride. Nearby relatives help him plan and manage his finances, and come by to clean occasionally and for DVD “movie nights.” Phone cards given as gifts allow him to call his mother nightly. There’s much more that could be done—more frequent house cleaning and more meals and more visits—but he enjoys far more contact with many more loving people than many shut-ins.

The challenging good news is that when people with mental illness turn to someone outside “the system” for help, the church is first to get the call 40 percent of the time. Is your church ready?


Carlene Hill Byron is the former Director of Communications for Vision New England. Through NAMI—the Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness, she and her husband, James, train churches to effectively serve people within the congregation with mental health problems and also teach NAMI’s class for families of people with mental health problems. They are members of Asbury United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, where James serves on staff. First published by Vision New England’s Ministries with the Disabled, Acton, Massachusetts.