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Home Cures That WorkHere is the first article for a monthly Spiritual Dimensions of Wellness column I’ve been asked to start writing for a Natural Health monthly magazine called “Home Cures That Work.”

I’m very excited about this as the audience is not church folk. Pray for this opportunity. I’ve been given full liberty to talk about Jesus, quote the Bible, give people true hope and a link will be included back to the prayer request area of our church website.

This month the focus is discouragement and depression. Next month the focus is stress and anxiety.

Beyond just having a bad day, many of us experience seasons of discouragement and depression. There are known forms and causes recognized when depression reaches a clinical intensity. However, whatever the degree of melancholy, there are spiritual factors to consider. We are not just physical beings, we are spiritual beings. This article touches on known spiritual factors contributing to mental health and wellness.

Discouragement and depression are directly related to hope, or the lack thereof. Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Those who hope in nothing outside themselves have little to grab onto to pull them out of discouragement. Even putting our hope in other people is an inconsistent source of strength because people are just people. Those who put their faith in God find they aren’t tossed about when life turns sour. Jesus spoke of trusting in him to be like building a house on a rock and those who do, find themselves standing after the storm passes.

Isolation is an enemy. People are all the time wondering what their purpose in life is or what the will of God is for their life. One thing is for certain, God made us social beings and therefore it is not God’s will that we wander through life alone. Even introverts are wired for meaningful human interaction. Studies show that babies who are touched and loved have fewer health problems than babies who lie alone in orphanage cradles. The need for others is not something we out grow. It may seem like this point fits better in an article on the social dimensions of wellness, but this is ultimately a spiritual dimension because we are created to relate to God and others.

The solutions are to find a community (a small group at a church for example) of people who share your values and beliefs and be open with them. Find a place where you don’t have to fake it. It is important to surround yourself with positive people and seek out those who emit joy. But, transparency is more important than a superficial happy-clappy environment. The Bible says “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” In other words, whatever you are feeling at the moment is valid and we need others to be with us in those moments.

A frequent phrase in the Bible to the discouraged is “take heart.” There are encouraging things to embrace even when the chips are down. First, it is encouraging to know that even those we celebrate today as spiritual giants knew well “the dark night of the soul.” Though never fun, these are refining times intended by God to make us stronger and take us into deeper places of usefulness to him. Not one ounce of pain is wasted in God’s economy. We can take heart that what we can only see as bad, God will use for good. It’s when we reach the point of weakness that his strength is able to manifest in our lives. Really, we have to get out of the way and hitting these low points are indications we are in good position for his help.

The Book of Psalms contains the whole gamut of human emotion and many who find themselves in the up and down swings connect with psalm writers like David. In Psalm 42:5 he laments “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” He speaks of being in mourning and how “deep calls to deep at the sound of thy waterfalls; all thy breakers and thy waves have rolled over me.” But each of these honest moments lead to a reality beyond what we are feeling – that God is there and God is inclined to those who are discouraged. One man in our church regularly struggles with depression and he’s tried everything and his testimony is nothing worked until he started reading and praying the Psalms each day, out loud. One a day and this thing started to lift off of him.

In the fall of 2002, my father was tragically killed in an accident on a road near my home. This sent me into a season where I couldn’t even drive at night because I’d keep imagining people in the road. I didn’t feel like smiling for the better part of a year. Every email my father sent me the last few years of his life was signed off which these two words: “Chin Up!” One day I wrote those two words on a note card with this verse written underneath: “[God is] the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3). Everyday it was like the voice of two fathers encouraging me. The world started to take on color again for me. For sure we all have different views of God, but this is who I have discovered him to be – the lifter of my head. A good place to start is to pray – God, reveal yourself to me as the Lifter of my Head.

At least once a month I consider giving up blogging all together. Every time I hit “publish” I realize I’m drawing a great big target on my back. The reason I keep doing it is because I try to focus on the 300-500 people a day who read this and the many who write me or comment to me saying what I’m writing is helpful to them in terms of thinking through what they believe. I’ve discovered it’s really a form of discipleship that didn’t exist ten years ago. For that reason I think pastors need to be blogging, and especially on controversial and relevant current event topics.

Twenty-years ago I read a book by professor and sociologist Tony Campolo called “Twenty Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to Touch!” It had chapters on whether or not a Christian should own a BMW, or whether it’s okay for a Christian to put their aging mother in the county home, etc, etc. But whether or not I agreed with his conclusions (a few I don’t) what I most remember from this book is that he had the guts to write it and I resolved at that point to be a pastor who isn’t swayed by the fear of man. So pastors… blog boldly!!

In my view, blogging time for pastors is no different than Bible study leading time or visitation time. Ten years ago I’d think I only touched a couple hundred people a week. However with this venue, that number increases at least tenfold. A man in our church told me that even though I was gone this summer, he stayed “well-fed” just by digesting what I put here. Another Christian in town here recently commented how thankful they were for this blog because their church didn’t feed them on Sunday. I wish I could say to their pastor…. Pastor, your sheep are starving and you are only bringing more straw for them to lay on. Lead them into a greener pasture and deeper waters. Shepherd’s, take up the rod and staff and give the wolf a good whack!

For a couple days now I’ve been sitting on a post on the topic of “Christians and social drinking” (I’ve decided I’ll publish that shortly). I’ve been hesitant because I don’t need any more headaches. If I say I’m okay with social drinking for example, those who aren’t let me know why (and some express their disagreement by disfellowshipping! No pastor wants that!). If I say it’s wrong, another whole group is frustrated because there is freedom in the Scriptures on this matter. So most pastors say nothing. I think what conclusions pastors draw on a particular topic aren’t nearly as important as modeling the process of Biblical thinking.

I’m speaking this fall on James and I’m already thinking about how I’ll tackle the taming the tongue texts in chapter 3. I do know I’ll share my own journey these past two years in taming my keyboard – I’ve tackled the most controverisal subjects in America on my blogs and have come a long way in discerning the difference between taking cheap shots and writing with prophetic boldness.

Yesterday on my pro-life blog I made the comment, “Am I the only one who actually contemplated reporting oneself to I’m happy to be on their enemies list and go on record as a lead opposer of such systemic evil.” Pastors, God calls you to be a watchman and sound the alarm if one bearing a sword comes in to slaughter. Pastors should be key to alerting the elderly in their congregations of the impending danger. Pastors ought to be the loudest opposers of such evil (opposing medical murder – letting the elderly and the disabled die, and killing the unborn). This health care bill is really cash for clunkers in that the old and infirmed (useless eaters) are taken off the streets! And the church is quiet?? Pastors, God is looking for your name on the white house enemies list. I couldn’t agree more with my friend Randy Bohlender on this topic today – Randy, thanks for blogging boldly and taking Jim Wallis & Co. to task!

A number of times as I’ve traveled our state talking with pastors one will make a comment that they don’t talk about subjects like abortion because there are folks in the church who’ve had them and they don’t want to make them uncomfortable. I’ve started to reply to that comment by asking what other parts of the Bible they avoid because people might get uncomfortable. I talk about this stuff boldly and have women I’ve never met come up to me months later to thank me “for saving them from their own private hell.” When I ask what they are talking about they say most pastors only talk about love and God and “I didn’t want God to love me or forgive me because I thought what I did was unforgivable.” They go on to say that me addressing this and taking them to the mercy seat of God brought them into a place of healing and peace with God that sitting in the controversy-free church never did. That’s the story I’m telling these days when people want me to just stick to “preaching the gospel.” The gospel has great application to the post-abortive and the unborn! Pastor, who aren’t you reaching because you are afraid to lay the gospel over-a-top the darkest places?

Those of you following this blog this summer know I spent the bulk of the summer in Europe (among other things) visting the Reformation sites and reading a sizable stack of books about the key players in the 16th century struggle to change Christianity in one generation. I read about (and could relate to) the bloody controversies and found myself asking God: why can’t it be easier? What I’m learning is that controversy is one of the ways God gets us 1) to dig deeper into what the Scriptures really say while at the same time giving us an opportunity 2) to walk in love with those who see it differently. In my view, believers in the 16th century were successful with the former and failed miserably at the latter. I’d like to see the 21st century church succeed at both.

I remember well the first time I preached aware that a homiletics professor was sitting in the church that weekend. And with as much as I write those feelings surface at times knowing editors (with red pen in hand) are out there reading what I write! And so it’s a huge blessing to have around me a few folks who happily proofread my stuff. (Is proof read one or two words?) (My Creation House editors told me I can’t use the word “stuff” and if I do they won’t print it. Sad, because I love the word stuff, it’s so all inclusive.)

Actually, much that I write gets by unedited. Every week now for years my good friend Carter Nesbitt has aided me in communicating (and developing our websites).  Most of the time he’s cleaning up and preparing the notes we put up during my teaching each weekend. However, he’s edited the early drafts of my 350-page-maybe-some-day-it’ll-get-published Sermon on the Mount book and every draft of the Momentum book and many other things.

Just moments ago he notified me of his new blog called… Couldn’t help but notice. Ha – the title is perfect for his gracious-style of perfectionism. The subtitle – typos, grammar errors and incorrect word usages – conjures up occasion after occasion where he’s pointed out how I’m in violation of the rules. (Really I make up my own rules and even make up my own words.) I’m totally apostrophe-challenged and want to state here that am happy to provide Carter with unending bloggable material. It took him seven years to get me to not type two spaces in between each sentence and I’m still not consistent there.

Check out his new blog – I’m adding it to my links.

Miss me?  Word got back to me that I need to put something fresh up here because everyone is really, really tired of looking at my Sept. 9/Dr. Scholer post every day they come here to check the blog for updates. I have been posting fairly regularly at my pro-life blog – Voices Carry. Not sure what to say as far as my ramp-back-up plan for this GatePost blog. Keeping both blogs going is tricky for me especially as Kristen and I are trying to block out large blocks of our freetime for a writing project we are working on together. I’m praying about how to proceed.

Maybe I’ll mothball both blogs or one of them. One of my friends noted it’s like all or nothing with me here – I post like a madman or post nothing at all. Maybe there is a way for me to get a managable rhythm going again. Last week, the VoicesCarry blog ranked #4 for “the most influential political blog” in the state and letting that go seems a waste. Prior to the election it hit the number two spot. I’ve been invited to be a regional political blogger for a right of center aggregate site. Part of me wants to broaden out the Voices Carry site beyond the topic of abortion and start hammering on several issues in the culture war that interest me. And, there is so much fascinating religious news out there in our world each day that I have so much to say about, like this, but nowhere to say it. I have to be careful on this site what I say politically because it’s directly tied to the church and I don’t like that restraint at all.

Yesterday I got a notice from Cluster Maps that …

…an annual automatic ‘archive’ of your red dots has taken place, meaning that all your ‘other’ (previous) red dots are safely stored in the Maps Archive, which you’ll find by clicking on the Maps Archive link immediately above your large full-size world map. Although the map archive has already happened, your existing map will stay displayed until the NEXT update of your map. This helps to avoid displaying a totally empty map until there are fresh dots to show.

So, I thought to post the old map here before it disappears from sight.  It says I had 33,363 visits from 11 Jan 2008 to 11 Dec 2008.


I don’t get how Cluster Maps does their counting – they say… “Total/subtotal discrepancies above are typically caused either by IP addresses not currently being in the database or by the gap between counter tallies (continous) and map updates (which may be daily, weekly, or monthly).”  Sounds like tongues to me. According to my blog counter, which is accurate, the numbers this year are as follows.


You can see what happens when you stop posting  – as I did here in August.

Whatever I decide, I welcome your input and really appreciate your interest to read what I’m writing and thinking.

Some of you have emailed or asked about the ChristmasBlog we did last year. I’m sorry we tabled it this year – it just wasn’t in the cards. I promise it will return next near. But, even without us putting up one new post since last December we averaged over 200 hits on that site each day last week from all over the world. People around the world are emailing asking why we aren’t doing a 2008 Christmas blog. People are even sending us Christmas product links asking us to feature/advertise them on the Christmas blog. Amazing. I wish it was going too. O well. Noel.

I keep feeling the need (or guilt) to post here or at least keep reminding you that I am regularly posting on my other blog. Limited time and energy right now has restricted me to only post at my Voices Carry pro-life blog. I’m not giving up here, I promise, I won’t let too many days go by without something interesting here.

Of course we are all praying about Hurricane Gustav hitting New Orleans today. I have posted a substantial article on where God may be in all of this. I welcome feedback on that. If you want to send money to help, send it to my friend Pastor Dino Rizzo at Healing Place Church. You may recall he and Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge were major players after Katrina. We’ll see how it goes, we may send a work team too.

Lifelight was this past weekend here in Sioux Falls – billed as the nation’s largest Christian music festival. I only went for a couple hours Saturday. I did post last night on a couple of the extremist abortion supporters who crashed the Lifelight Festival. Pardon the title but the article is even more shocking… eat a queer fetus for Jesus.

These are a just few of the headlines that caught my attention today and my discussion starters.

One heart, one widow connect suicides of 2 men (I don’t think the woman is the common denominator. I’ve seen suicides flow generationally, in siblings, etc. I would love to hear from our deliverance ministry people/friends on this one… the spirit of death staying with a transplanted heart???)

Bible Courses Allowed, Not Mandatory for Schools (Some of you know that I have been on this for a couple of years and have said this may be the next matter I take up in our city and state. I welcome your involvement.

Vladimir Putin saves TV crew from tiger (I’m looking at Putin and the Tiger through a prophetic, symbolic lens. Interesting.)

‘Founders’ prayer violated Constitution as they wrote it’?? (Thank God for my friends at the Alliance Defense Fund.)

CNN poll shows no post convention bump for Obama (No comment.)

Of recent, my blogging energies have been diverted to the LIFE ISSUE. However, this morning I find myself pondering some headlines. Just pretend we are at the breakfast table, drinking some good joe, reading the paper. Your thoughts are welcome.

Italian Priest Organizes Beauty Contest for Nuns

Muslims begin to copy the megachurch multi-site model

Police cite church for praying too loudly

Tornado hits Denver on eve of convention

Faith-filled convention opens with prayer

What Saddleback’s Pastor Really Thinks About Politics

August frost hits Minnesota and Wisconsin

Church-Going Teens Have Higher GPAs

One legged NYC prostitute knocked from wheelchair dies

A couple local headlines…

No abortion ads in student directories

Kory and the Fireflies to appear at LifeLight Music Festival

A couple crazy video clips are in the news from the Olympics…

Weightlifting accident – elbow bends the wrong way

Cuban taekwondo athlete kicks ref

The River is ramping up for a strong start this fall. Check out their new blog.

I’m having trouble doing two things (blogs) at once. And though I do appreciate the readership here at GatePost, I’m trying not to feel guilty about the infrequency. The battle for LIFE in South Dakota has begun again and my free-time is mainly focused there. If you miss regular posting here from me you can read the latest from me on my LIFE blog –

Here are three recent but very important posts that you many find interesting.

Planned Parenthood Gets Religion

Let’s have FUN kicking off our Campaign to Kill

More “Fun” with South Dakota Planned Parenthood’s new slogan – Let Families Decide

My son Caleb put up a nice little pic on his blog that you may appreciate. He gets to vote this year for the first time. You’ll note he’s starting to lean toward one side : ) Caleb has some strong views. I don’t know where he got this from. We move him to KC for school NEXT WEEK – I’m not sure how I feel about this chapter of life coming to a close.

For a few months my son Thomas and I have been looking for a Mustang ($3-4K range) so he can drive to school this fall. He’s pretty set on a Mustang and has been for a while. He’s got some pics on his blog of one that we found ($2K over budget). I know he’d appreciate the traffic on his blog – so be sure to check it out. He finds blogging discouraging because “nobody reads his.” He’d even more appreciate others joining him fasting and praying for this extra “miracle money” to somehow appear so he can buy this car. He knows we won’t be making a covenant with a creditor.

Funny story… I told him the only thing I don’t like about him getting a hot car like this is that he’d get into popularity/girls and his relationship with God would really suffer. He said, “no, if he had this car it would really help his relationship with God because he’d wake up every day praising God and drive down the road with praise music everywhere he went.”

There are now over seventy million blogs in existence most of which are created on eight leading blog hosting sites each of which host upwards to one million or more blogs. WordPress is one of the big eight. With those numbers, how is it my blog made #72 on WordPress’ BLOG OF THE DAY list yesterday? I promise it won’t go to my head. Right now I’m figuring it’s a bit like getting the letter that says you’ve been selected to win a million dollars.

Does anyone know what this means?

Sorry to disappear from the blogosphere for a few days. I hope you were able to function for a few days without my life-giving insights into whatever I’m interested in. (Blame a $39 a night La Quinta hotel room that promised wireless internet but apparently the wires were missing that would have made it actually work.)

We just got back from Birmingham late last night. Went with 11 CATG peeps to Church of the Highlands for a spectacular church planting conference. Many things are rolling around in my head right now that will soon gel into more vision and passion for what we are doing right here in SD!

It’s always great to travel with friends. Lots of laughs… like yesterday when Pastor Dennis mis-spoke during a conversation about his baldness and talked about his using viagra and how that didn’t help his hair grow (he later tried to assure us he meant to say rogaine.) We flew from Birmingham to Dallas with Brian Houston – that was cool for the star-struck among us. I want to publicly thank Kathy for packing light this time… we knew you could do it!

Here’s some highlights:

– The greatest church planting “tool” is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his followers after three years of equipping… stay here in the upper room until you get what you really need to go out and take territory. Jesus sent people out to plant churches with POWER!

– Great word from Brian Houston on how we often focus on what we don’t have and only take notice of the lack… we miss what is right here in our own house- people, potential. We learned THE Darlene Zschech was once just a lady in his church named Darlene – now her song made America Idols top ten list – shout to the Lord! We often don’t see the “oil” in our own “house” because it doesn’t look like its going to look like when God touches it. We’ve got to raise people in our midst up and release them!

– Regarding prayer… a man on his face never falls from that position. Do we as leaders, at our core, really believe that prayer matters? How we run our ministries reveals whether or not we really believe that is true. The hard days in prayer are more important to God than the easy days.

More later…

This post is a part of a larger “blogswarm” underway this weekend all around the topic of church/state and liberal fears of a theocracy. If you can imagine a few misguided secular progressive zealots have again intentionally picked resurrection weekend to “Blog Against Theocracy.”  My friend Bob Ellis over at Dakota Voice calls them BATS adding the “S” to stand for silliness.  Bob has organized eight or so South Dakota bloggers return a volly of truth this weekend in something he’s calling “Blogging Against Secularism.”  I’m honored he invited me to participate in the discussion though I’ll probably be the least of the contributers (if nothing else because I’m pretty focused on Easter right now).  I’ll post my contributions, probably only two, here and at my Voices Carry pro-life blog.  You can follow the rest of the blogswarm this weekend here.

Who are we kidding, it is absolutely relevant what Sen. Barack Obama’s church teaches and that his spiritual advisor is black liberationist Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Like gives birth to like.  Though many tried to dismiss it several months ago, it was centrally important for the electorate to know the full story behind Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. (Mormon salvation is that each man becomes a god of his own planet and spends eternity populating it with spirit babies – Mormon women can look forward to being eternally pregnant.)

Hypothetically, do we really think that electing a candidate with a pacifistic Mennonite or Quaker background would have no bearing on their ability to fulfill the role of Commander and Chief? Who are we kidding? Voting for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or Senator “Secular” from South Wherever is to vote their worldview into office. It is impossible to separate a person from what they believe.

Even, and especially, those who claim no religious viewpoint… while admitting to being non-religious, they betray the fact that they bow at the altar of secularism and those gods are giving voice and influence in governance. Somebody’s moral framework is going to shape society; the only question is whose. The culture war is a war of religious world views, a fight for who will set this nation’s moral agenda. And, morality touches every aspect of political and public life – economy, education, law, healthcare, defense, foreign policy, family, science and life. What we believe is central to who we are, how we live, how we think and how we view everything and everyone around us. There is no such thing as a politician who keeps his faith private. He/she may not speak about it, but it daily informs all they do. Voters therefore are not just electing men or women, they are electing what these men and women believe, and we are electing their religious world view.

Our government is “us.” It’s of the people, by the people, for the people. And we can talk about it all we want but “church” is inseparable from all this because “church” isn’t a building or an organization. The “church” is people, as again, is our government. So, I am the church and, I am the government. You’d have to cut somebody in half to separate the two.

Because so many American’s erroneously assume “separation of church and state” is written somewhere in the Constitution, secular progressives are able to effectively sideline conservative Christians from participating in the process. In writing the phrase “separation of church and state” in his private letter to the Danbury Baptist’s, Thomas Jefferson was saying the founders intention was that one Christian denomination over another should not be adopted as the religion of the state.  But Jefferson’s wall was never meant to keep religion out.  Jefferson believed in the free exercise of religion in all sectors of society, public and private.  John Jay, founding father and first Supreme Court Justice clarified the central role the Christian Faith was to play in governance – “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers. And it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

Knowing that no one can approach governance from a moral vacuum, the basis of ones beliefs is an especially critical question. Far more scrutiny should be given those who claim no “religious bias” than those who claim a religious perspective.  The reason being those supposedly without religious bias, when elected, expose the country to untested unknowns many of which are counter to moral standards that have proven to be societal stabilizers for centuries.

Our friends at Bound4Life are up and running with a great daily blog that will go through April 26 – Passover. This effort culminates on the Supreme Court steps of every state on that day – a national prayer meeting they are dubbing The Mercy Seat.

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