Month: May 2014

Pastor, It’s Done.

“Dude, I said I wanted to talk. I don’t know what this is.”

Every Christian struggles against sin. (And in fact, if you do not struggle against sin, you are either not a Christian or very soon you will not be one if you continue!) Every Christian struggles against sin. We each have our own weakness. We fight against it. We do what we don’t want to do, and what we want to do, we don’t do!

In a moment of helpless clarity, you confess your dilemma to a good friend.

And your friend looks at you with concern in his eyes and says, “Have you ever considered just not doing that?”


When a friend gives advice like that, you want to belt them, don’t you? I mean, really? How does that help me?

Except… that’s what I do to myself all the time. I get depressed. What do I say to myself? “Get yourself out of this. Deal with it. You have more important things to do.”

What do I say when I mess up a meeting? “It’s ok. Pick yourself up. You’ll do better next time.”

What do I say when I bury myself in ministry and ignore my family? “Tomorrow. You can do better tomorrow. You won’t ignore them then.”

Notice the theme in all of these? It boils down to “Have you ever considered just not doing that?” It all boils down to… motivating myself with the Law.


To Stand in Joy Beside

“Good morning. Welcome to St. Luke’s.

“Usually I say ‘Welcome home’ here, because we’re a family. We care for one another quite a bit. We’re tight-knit. Last night, one of our family members went Home to be with the Lord forever. Melissa Schwartz was taken to heaven at about seven last night.

“It’s ok for us to cry and to mourn. The Bible tells us not to mourn like other men who have no hope, but it never tells us not to mourn. Don’t cry for Melissa, though. She’s happy. She’s celebrating. She’s partying. Cry for yourself. Admit that you miss her. That’s ok.

“To start our worship today, we’re going to sing a song in her honor. Please turn to hymn 152, and we’ll sing verses one through four.”

And then I walked over to the piano at the front of church… and I played an introduction to “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” that I created. It’s a fanfare, a bombastic piece. On my last note, the organ joined in, and we played together while the congregation sang. I’m told that more than one congregation member was watching the piano – apparently it was literally rocking under the force of my playing.

For Melissa. (more…)

An Unexpected Answer

I’m not normal.

One of the ways that non-normalcy manifests is my stubborn refusal to answer, “How are you doing?” with anything but the truth. I won’t burden you with a half-hour story when you really are looking for a two-syllable answer, but I also won’t lie. How am I doing? OK. Decent. Not great. But I won’t lie and say “Fine” if I’m not.

That puts people off sometimes. When most people ask, “How are you doing?” they’re not actually asking what those words mean. They’re really acknowledging your existence and expect an acknowledgment in return. So, when I answer with anything other than “Fine” or “Good,” they get confused. I’ll be honest: I kind of relish that confusion.

That honesty causes me trouble, though. It makes me very vulnerable. People know how I’m doing just by asking. I’m not hiding behind a mask of professionalism or fake stability. (Oddly enough, being transparent in an age where people hide such problems makes the other person feel vulnerable as well.)

So this week, when a mentor asked me, “How are you doing?” and I answered, “Pretty decent,” he knew something had changed.

Something has turned. I can’t say I’ve conquered depression or anything like that – I mean, really, I haven’t done a whole lot to conquer anything other than slow down and start doing some counseling. I can say that…maybe I’m accepting things and learning to look at things differently? I don’t know. (more…)

The Medicated Parson

Well, it’s official. I’ve been diagnosed, and I have problems. It’s not serious enough that I need meds, but I’m being given the option of taking them. The doctor advised me to study up on a few options and get back to him on what I think sounds best out of what he recommends.

Personally, I like the doc. He was recommended to me from a trustworthy source, and I can see why. He speaks very plainly and tells pros and cons. I have no problem with the doc.

But the meds…

Personally, I’m torn. And here’s the reason: I’ve seen what can happen while a person tries to find the right med at the right dosage level. I totally get that it’s a trial and error sort of thing. I understand that it takes weeks and months to determine what a depression med will actually do to a person, positive and negative. I get that.

But… as a pastor, I don’t have that kind of time. (more…)