For those of you who follow this blog (which at this point is up to a rockin’ 350 of you), I’m sorry I haven’t posted in forever. It has been so long probably at least 20 of you have never seen one new post since you signed up.
The reason for this is kind of involved and I plan to write and share it with you soon. But today it is the loss of a dear friend that motivates me to sit down, get down to business, and put…er…words to screen I suppose. When I lose a friend I always feel an overwhelming drive to post about it here, to document these painful but seminal moments in time.
Most of you don’t know Brad, but he was a dear and special friend to me, one of the first really good friends I made when I entered the ministry in 1994. He was a mentor, a brother, and a man of almost inconceivable joy and positivity that lightened the lives of all who knew him. Brad impacted thousands of people with his brilliant mind and infinitely deep heart. So there’s your introduction to Brad, and here’s my tribute to him.
Brad Lockwood I love you, pal. Man, this was way too soon.
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We don’t decide what we believe and then accept and reject science based on whether or not it fits into our theology. To be spiritual in any sense is to commit, first of all, to what is. When it comes to the natural world, nothing tells us what is better than science.
Mental illness is still stigmatized in this country, along with taking the medications that often treat it. The main reason it is stigmatized is that most people just don’t understand it. If that’s you, I think I’ve come up with a way of explaining it that may finally help you get it, and is has to do with how close you are to being mentally ill yourself. Way closer than you might think.
Your Brain Generates Thoughts
Every organ in your body has a specific function (the ones that don’t are often considered useless), and each function produces something. Your lungs process and distribute oxygen. Your kidneys clean your blood of toxins and produce urine. Your liver also serves as a filter and produces bile. Your heart beats, producing a blood supply that keeps circulating through the body, delivering the fresh oxygen from the lungs.
Your brain, also, is an organ that produces something. Your brain produces thoughts. They are the “product.”
Just like you don’t have to do anything in order for your other organs to work, you don’t have to do anything for your brain to produce thoughts. Of course you can intentionally create and absorb thoughts — but your brain will think whether you want to or not. It’s just what your brain does.
The thoughts your brain constantly produces create what you know as reality.
Some Thoughts Get Stuck on Repeat
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When someone makes a mistake, then apologizes for it, as far as I’m concerned, it’s done. Chances are usually that I wasn’t angry to begin with, but if I was, a sincere apology does a lot to resolve my anger and any hurt feelings I may have had. I went into the ministry and into counseling (and onto social media) assuming most people were the same way.
I was wrong. Though a good apology goes a long way for some, it seems to have almost zero effect on others.
Even after 20 years of ministry, a decade on social media, and teaching and counseling for two decades, I am still often shocked and saddened with how graceless people often are.
I apologize if this sounds like I’m elevating myself above anyone else. That isn’t my intent. I don’t take any credit for the fact that I forgive easily. It’s just the way I am. I suppose I could just have easily been wired like one of those who struggle to forgive, and I have to remind myself of that constantly.
But on a psychological level, what’s going on with people who can listen to a heartfelt apology and still respond with bitterness, or as if an apology had never been offered at all? How many times must they have been abused or betrayed? How jaded and cynical must they have grown somehow, and through what kinds of horrible circumstances? How many years must they have spent defending their own rightness and goodness, convincing themselves of their own invulnerability to mistakes, foolery, and hurtfulness to others?
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image: Davison Free Methodist Church
This past Sunday I spoke in both services at the church I grew up in and where I worked for eight years when I first went into the ministry. I didn’t know at the time that the service was going to be streamed on Facebook Live, but was pleasantly surprised to see it.
Below you can view that sermon if you want to, it starts about 26 minutes into the service.
I promise you, whether you are religious or not, there is much to learn here. I hope you don’t overlook it simply because it’s a message I preached in church. It has universal applicability and that was the whole point of preaching it in a church to begin with. I hope you enjoy it. It was a blast.