Ignoring a Mentally Ill Believer

mental-illness

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”

Matthew 25:45, NLT

The truth of the matter is that the Church can be the wrong place to have a mental illness. This is a generalization, I know. But many times it is true. We have a strong tendency to offer only token acknowledgement of “the least among us.” We will smile and nod, and, oh so quickly move away; we feel we’ve performed our ‘duty’ as a Christian. We are somewhat relieved to ‘get away’ and dodge the problem person.

Stereotypes abound for the mentally ill. Afterall, they can be demanding, unpredictable, and dangerous. The worst are those who are dirty, unkempt. They say things that are odd and out-of-place. Have weird delusions and paranoia. They move to the margins, and usually sit in the back. But as a general rule, the mentally ill get ignored.

“People with mental illness sometimes behave in ways other people don’t understand and can’t make sense of. People with severe depression sometimes stay in bed all day, unable to manage the most basic motivation to move. People with anxiety disorders can be gripped by irrational or even unidentifiable fears that don’t incapacitate other people. Those affected by psychotic disorders may see things that aren’t real, hear voices that don’t exist, and sometimes lose the ability to discern reality at all.”

Amy Wilson, Christianity Today, 4/10/13

Often, a believer must find valuable help outside ‘the four walls’ of the Church. Some resources are often found with wise psychiatrists and caring therapists in clinical care. Medications (which are a godsend) give the afflicted much relief. The local Church just don’t always have the resources but that is o.k. It isn’t their role exactly.

However, the Church of Jesus has the only ‘real corner’ of the spiritual side of things. The body of believers encourages, teaches and guides. Without it, the mentally ill Christian would be severely effected. The local church feeds us spiritually. It can’t be replaced. It has ‘the goods’ for discipleship. It has the Word of God and motivating worship. It has elders and other leaders who shepherd each believer, into a holy life. It provides fellowship which the believer with a mental illness must have.

It’s also a place of ministry: each one using his/her gift in the corporate body of the saints. This is vital. The broken believer has an opportunity to serve, which is such a factor in the walk of the disciple. We need them in our fellowships, and they need to be there too. God blesses those who will serve Him in this. Fellowship is critical for disabled believers.

As Jesus’ representatives in this present moment, we need to extend our hands. We may not fully understand the afflicted, but we can reach through the issues (ours and theirs) and administer the love of Jesus. We might pray that this scourge of mental illness be lifted out of our society.

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Please follow this post up. Check out: https://brokenbelievers.com/the-weak-treasures-of-the-church/

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Picking Out a Kitten

cute-kittensOne of the highlights in a child’s life is choosing a kitten, it will rank up there with many other memories. It’s often the first big decision they will make on their own.

The child will be introduced to a litter, and then be encouraged to choose. And typically there will be some hard picks, but often it comes down, not to the most playful and adorable, but the kitten in some way different from the rest. 

Often the kitten chosen will not be the prettiest or liveliest of the bunch. It maybe lame or “weak” in some way. However once that child embraces that kitten, the bond is irrevocable. We could insist they make a better choice– thrusting another kitten at them, but ultimately it’s their choice. We shake our heads, acquiescent to our child’s choice.

The bonding is surprisingly quick and strong. They’ve made their pick, and they won’t be persuaded to take another. The parent must be content that things will work out somehow. They have decided. 

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

! Thessalonians 1:4, ESV

To be chosen is the highest privilege and honor there is.We may not be the best or the brightest but God has selected us to be his very own.

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:26, 28-29

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A little rough around the edges

We might be mangy,  flea-bitten. Many are deeply dysfunctional and profoundly flawed. Often we are the misfits and the loser. Yet he has chosen us to be his very own. He loves us not because we are special; but he makes us special because he loves us. 

Someone once said that if God had a refrigerator that your picture would be on it.

Beloved, this kind of love is good news for most of us. We are not chosen because we are pretty or talented, you see we are not vital to the kingdom. Rather we’re chosen because he wants us.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!”

1 John 3:1, NLT

You are God’s choice. Now the trick is to learn about walking as it. Prayer, worship and fellowship with the many others who are also chosen will bring you understanding. The Holy Spirit will show you how.

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For the Repeat Offenders Who Are Loved, [A Poem Prayer]

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“Lord,

Every family has a rascal, someone who breaks the rules

a delinquent of untold frustration and sleepless nights

a repeated offender and bearer of woe

The problem child who needs the most chastening.

Is this why you love me most persistently?

When you correct me, is it because

I’m the one most contrary

Or because you love me so?”

 

I wrote this thinking about Hebrews 12 and God’s purpose of chastening. I don’t pretend to understand this dynamic; but my childhood was punctuated by so much difficulty. As a father, my two children are now grown and fatherhood has been far easier than my dad had with me.

7 “As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

Hebrews 12:7, 10-11, NLT

I think we really understand our Heavenly Father when we spend quality time with this part of scripture. We are given insight into His care and into our own issues. It is a good thing He gives us— it enriches our spiritual lives. When He disciplines you, He proves that He is your Father. It’s critical to remember: God’s correction is always for our good.

“Father, I’m so sorry that I grieve you. I promise to behave. Thank you for being a faithful Father to my soul. Amen.”

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Dressing Up to Please, [Authenticity]

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,”

 – Colossians 3:12, ESV

I used to always get dressed up for Sunday church, hey– our whole family dressed in their best.  “Windsor knots” and jewelry, and we looked good.  I was pastoring at this time, and we felt compelled to make a statement.  We were examples, after all. (But we were also idiots.)

This now seems a little ‘kooky’ living in rural Alaska.  During the spring breakup, we would wear big rubber boots as we navigated the mud, and then in the church foyer we would all change into our dress shoes before we entered into the sanctuary.  I admit, I’m glad that we are no longer compelled to do this.

But “dress up” is a major spiritual issue with real consequences.

Not the physical dressing, nor our preening and posturing– but spiritually, getting dressed.  Paul urges us to put on our spiritual man clothing that will honor our Father.  He lists the clothes in our “wardrobe”.  These are the things we should put on, and be seen in.  We are to cover ourselves in what really matters.

“Put on…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience”

This is a list of items the Lord wants us to wear.  If my dear wife Lynn tells me she really likes to see me in a particular sweater, I will wear it and frequently.  I know she likes it on me, and I want to please her.  The list just above is what the Father really wants you to wear.  He wants to see you in these things.

I just want to urge you today, that you would think about your spiritual clothing.  What is covering your spiritual man?  What do you look like?  This might mean changing your clothes and putting on something that the Father really thinks you look good in.

“Father, when will I learn to dress the inside? Help me attend to the things that really matter to You. Amen.”

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