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My Take: How churches can respond to mental illness
April 7th, 2013
02:55 PM ET

My Take: How churches can respond to mental illness

Editor’s Note: Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research, an evangelical research organization. He blogs at edstetzer.com and his most recent book is "Subversive Kingdom."

By Ed Stetzer, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The first time I dealt with mental illness in church was with a man named Jim. I was young and idealistic - a new pastor serving in upstate New York. Jim was a godsend to us. He wanted to help, and his energy was immeasurable. He'd visit with me, sing spontaneously, pray regularly and was always ready to help.

Until he was gone.

For days and sometimes weeks at a time, he would struggle with darkness and depression. During this time, he would withdraw from societal interaction and do practically nothing but read Psalms and pray for hours on end. I later learned that this behavior is symptomatic of what is often called bipolar disorder or, in years before, manic depression.

I prayed with Jim. We talked often about the need for him to take his medicine, but he kept asking God to fix him. Eventually, at his lowest point and filled with despair, he took his own life.

As a young pastor unacquainted with how to deal with these events, I found myself searching for answers. I realized two things:

First, people with mental illness are often attracted to religion and the church, either to receive help in a safe environment or to live out the worst impulses of their mental illness.

Second, most congregations, sadly, have few resources for help.

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This weekend, we learned of the death of Rick and Kay Warren's son Matthew. Those of us who know the Warrens know how they have anguished over their son's illness, seeking to keep a low profile even as Rick penned the best-selling devotional, "The Purpose Driven Life." This weekend, Matthew took his own life - putting the issue of mental illness front and center again.

Matthew had the best medical care available, a loving church that cared for him and his family, and parents who loved and prayed for him. Yet, that could not keep Matthew with us.

Mental illness is incredibly destructive, and the end result is not always ours to determine.

Matthew's life was not a waste and, yes, every day had a purpose. His pain is over now, but perhaps his life and death will remind us all of the reality of mental illness and inspire people of faith to greater awareness and action.

So, what can we do as people of faith to address issues of mental illness?

1. Churches need to stop hiding mental illness.

So often in a congregation, we like to pretend this is not a real issue because we have such a difficult time understanding it. We stick our heads in the sand, add the person to the prayer list and continue on ministering to the “normal” people. But it’s real, and it isn’t going away. In 2009, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed 17% of respondents as having been diagnosed with depression. There are people in the pews every week - ministers, too - struggling with mental illness or depression, and we need to recognize this.

2. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle.

We are often afraid of mental illness and the symptoms that come with it. As a result, we don’t know what to do with our own level of discomfort and our fears for safety, or we just don’t want to be inconvenienced.

A study from Baylor University indicates “that while help from the church with depression and mental illness was the second priority of families with mental illness, it ranked 42nd on the list of requests from families that did not have a family member with mental illness.” This is a real need among our congregations, one that we absolutely cannot ignore or expect to go away. People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don’t understand.

3. We should not be afraid of medicine.

I realize this can be a heated debate. I also recognize that medication must be handled with care - as it should with any condition. But many mental health issues are physiological. Counseling will naturally be a part of treatment. But if we are not afraid to put a cast on a broken bone, then why are we ashamed of a balanced plan to treat mental illness that might include medication to stabilize possible chemical imbalances? Christians get cancer, and they deal with mental illness.

We’ve long seen the value in the medical treatment of cancer. It’s time for Christians to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness as well.

4. We need to end the shame.

I saw it in my own family. Suicide has struck our family more than once, making the news where we wished it did not. When my aunt was arrested for gun smuggling to Ireland, our family did not think of this as an issue of Irish revolution. She was brilliant, a lawyer and a doctor, but mentally ill. Her involvement in the Irish "revolution" was one in a long line of bad choices driven by her illness and eventually led to her suicide.

Yet, it was hard to talk of these things. They had to be “handled in the dark” because “no one could know.” I love my family. But shame was something that was difficult to avoid in every case.

Let’s be honest. These are typically delicate situations. And we want to protect the privacy and dignity of the people we love, particularly when they are behaving in ways that might draw negative attention. But compassion and care can go a long way in helping people know they don’t have to hide.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Why should this be of concern to people of faith? Simply put, there is no place where Americans are more connected and no place where grace is more expected than the church.

Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs, but the greater community that holds those beliefs can be key to the lifelong process of dealing with mental illness. Most research points to the fact that more religious people tend to be healthier, both physically and mentally, but religious activities do not remove people of faith from sickness of either kind.

Christians believe the church is the body of Christ—the hands and feet of Jesus—and that means going into the darkest places and the toughest situations to bring light. It means walking with those who are suffering, no matter what the suffering looks like.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Stetzer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church

soundoff (873 Responses)
  1. CopperBot

    The last thing someone suffering from mental illness needs is to be awash in delusion and religious dogma.

    April 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  2. Universe

    Islamic scripture (Quran says)

    “The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?! [6:32]

    “They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.”[22:74]

    “If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.” [Quran 6:116]

    “They say , "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected. If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]

    “Losers indeed are those who disbelieve in meeting God, until the Hour comes to them suddenly, then say, "We deeply regret wasting our lives in this world." They will carry loads of their sins on their backs; what a miserable load! [6:31]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    April 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  3. 111Dave111

    Religion is incredibly destructive to the mentally ill. "I prayed with Jim. [..] he kept asking God to fix him. [..] he took his own life."

    The mentally ill need more reality, not more fantasy.

    Please refer the mentally ill to professionals (@Saraswati).

    April 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • 111Dave111

      Saraswati
      They would do the same thing a school, college,or even an employer might do: offer referrals and support.
      For people who are regular church goers this is a major element of community, and many people aren't really a part of other communities.
      The request is that these organizations step up and take on the responsibilities expected of other organized communities.

      Saraswati
      Most Church employees aren't mental health professionals and most members can't offer treatment to members.
      The best thing an organization of this sort can do is
      1) fight for real health care reform that opens access to mental health care,
      2) provide information and connections to community mental health resources,
      3) provide support groups for people with mental illness and their families, are facilitate access to groups in a larger community
      4) encourage real learning and understanding on the subject of mental illness,
      5) provide financial support to members until real reform does take place, 6) create committees of helpers who will assist those who request help

      These suggestions apply really to any shared community but especially to one with shared values.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • 111Dave111

      Son of Pastor Rick Warren commits suicide, family says
      Rick Warren's son lost in 'wave of despair'

      April 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • 111Dave111

      Matthew Warren was found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Worst possible combination:

      Mental Illness, Religion, & a Gun in the Home.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  4. sybaris

    A pair of hands actually doing something has done more than 10,000 pairs of hands clasped in prayer.

    If you really could pray away the debil then prescription drugs wouldn't work.

    April 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  5. pauleky

    Religion causes mental illness and exacerbates it if you're someone the church doesn't like (i.e. gays, women, minorites, etc.). One wonders if Mr. Warren's son felt a little lonely and unloved.

    April 8, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • ali

      Have you ever actually known someone who is mentally ill? Not someone who happens to believe something you think is irrational someone who is truly mentally ill? I've watched someone very dear to me struggle with mental illness. He eventually choose to take his own life. The one thing I can tell you had absolutely nothing to do with his death is his religious beliefs. He was raised Baptist but as an adult considered himself an agnostic. His views on religion were based on what he saw as logic and were formed during times of clarity, when his illness was well controlled.

      That's the point of the article. His illness was more often than not well controlled with counseling, medication and the support of his friends and family. I pulled him from the brink more than once, going as far as to have him committed for suicide watch. Those of us who loved him protected him the best ways we knew how. We protected his secret.

      The part of the article that resonated with me was how no one talked about it. Sure people tried to help but most of us are careful to preserve another person's dignity. It's almost like we are telling you we value you. We love you but you are flawed.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  6. Anon

    Love everyone, and believe them when they say, "I was born this way."

    April 8, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • meifumado

      Yes, We are all born atheists!

      April 8, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • 111Dave111

      Love it!

      "We are all born atheists!"

      April 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  7. Alias

    Going to a church to get healed is exactly the same as going to a temple, a synagogue, a witch doctor, or a mosque.
    They will call on thier 'god' to help you, and if you do get better it will have nothing to do with divinity. Sometimes their support and guidence can help, but it doesn't take anything supernatural for that to happen.

    April 8, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  8. meifumado

    Well being that religion is a form of mental illness, I do not think it's a good idea to have religious people handle the mentally challenged.

    April 8, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • The real Tom

      Belief is not a mental illness. Many, many people who are perfectly healthy believe. For many of them, the church is a source of strength and comfort. Ministers aren't all moneychangers and many DO have training in counseling.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Religion, in and of itself, is not a form of mental illness. It does remain true that various forms of religion draw those with mental issues, and some could be said to feed the very beast of mental illness.

      As Tom points out, not all pastors are out to fleece their flock, to get famous, etc. Most have genuine hearts and many have training in counseling. It is a requirement for many Divinity degrees.

      The problem, particularly in evangelical circles, is that ministers and pastors are not always required to be degreed, and have no training and no experience in dealing with mental illness. Add to that the stigma of mental illness, particularly in a religion that teaches that it is caused by demons, and you have a recipe for severe issues (suicide, bombing abortion clinics, shooting people, etc).

      April 8, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • The real Tom

      Well said, MWIW.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Religious belief is not a mental illness but it is delusional thinking.

      "a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact:"

      April 8, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • The real Tom

      I don't agree that belief and faith are delusional.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • clarity

      Yes, MWIW. Very well said.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • meifumado

      I think it is, I do see it as delusional wishful thinking which can be considered a type of weakness or illness.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Jay

      So is quoting retreads like Bill Maher and passing off your presumptive insight as your own. Cretinism, like yours, is likely the greater mental illness.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "I don't agree that belief and faith are delusional."

      Believing something in absence of proof is delusional.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • well

      I don't agree with you at all, but your comment is pretty funny. I am very religious, but still, what you said is the first thing that popped in my head. Funny is funny.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Tom,

      Why not?

      April 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Cheese, we believe plenty of things we can't ever proove, like that people other than ourselves are conscious. My issues with a particular belief system are not because they believe the unproovable, but because. they believe the illogical, the contradictory or the outright harmful.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Kevin

      To: Religion
      Re: Believing something in absence of proof is delusional.

      Actually believing something in absence of proof is faith. And everyone does it. Even if someone doesn't believe in God, they have things in their lives that they accept without proof and sometimes with proof to the contrary. The ability to have faith is just part of the human condition. And I don't think it is appropriate to berate someone for being human...especially by another human....

      April 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Sara,

      I understand your point and even agree a bit. We can't "prove" that we are not just a "brain in a vat" but I don't consider the belief that we are not brains in vats the same as religious belief and faith. Religious belief and faith would be more akin to accepting the belief we ARE just "brains in vats", it is accepting a proposition without any proper foundation.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why not? Because I know many people of perfectly sound mind who truly do believe in God. They have faith. They're not mentally ill. You may contend that you know there is no God–you don't. You, like me, don't see evidence for one, but many people do. They aren't delusional; they believe and have faith and for them, God exists.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Tom,

      I was not contending they are mentally ill. I have a lot of family and friends that are rational people that believe in Jesus Christ is god. My point is that particular belief is irrational (delusional). They accept their religious belief using reasoning that they would not employ for any other non-religious belief they hold. It is in my opinion the reason people do not like to talk religion, it cannot be confirmed or denied and yet it is accepted as "true". Their religion reinforces their irrational belief by convincing them " religious faith is a virtue"...it's not.

      April 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      to kevin,

      Cry some more.....if you cant put two and two together by now, FAITH is a delusion. get over it until you can prove your delusion.

      April 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  9. MEATPASTE

    How should they respond?

    Easy. No more prayer. Get people REAL help.

    April 8, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • lol??

      It's against the law because it's a private matter. You can't even find out if a person is being treated in a hospital.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • lol??

      When the DHS forces "nutball Christians" into a facility it's outa sight, outa mind to the public and anybody else. Tricky?

      April 8, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • The real Tom

      lolly, what are blabbering about?

      April 8, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • MEATPASTE

      This doesn't make any sense "lol??" What are you trying to say?

      April 8, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • lol??

      I'm not gonna play this game with you, TT. Look it up yourself.

      HIPAA Privacy Rules

      April 8, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Akira

      They can refer the person to mental health services.
      Are you suggesting nobody lift a finger to help, lol??

      April 8, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • The real Tom

      So, lolly, you fvcked up the reply button AGAIN?

      Maybe you should lay off the sauce.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • The real Tom

      I knew lolly was a bit ... odd, shall we say? Never knew it was stupid.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • MEATPASTE

      My post has nothing to do with that. Please soil someone else's comment with ineligible, useless replies. Thanks.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • lol??

      You can't help, meatball. What don't you understand? Look up da rules. It ain't your business.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • The real Tom

      loopy lolly, you ARE stupid. Helping people access health care isn't against any "rules" ya numbnuts.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Akira

      Lol??. If a person goes up to their pastor and asks for help, that pastor can CERTAINLY point them in the right direction of mental health services. What that pastor may not do is inquire at the facility or doctor about a patient's treatment, but he can certainly recommend them.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • lol??

      And let's say a nutcase shows up at a church. The pastor has no way of finding out if the dude is getting treatment.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • lol??

      He can recommend until he turns blue, but the pastor will remain clueless. You people are nutz.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Akira

      No, but he can certainly point him in the right direction, lol??.
      Which is the point of the article. Yeesh.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • clarity

      So are you just filling in the Guest card every time you "audit" at a church, lol??

      April 8, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • The real Tom

      Of course the minister has "a way of finding out." He/she can ask the person or check with the person's family. There's no law against any such thing. The person or the person's family may elect not to tell the minister, and that's perfectly within their rights, but there is no reason anyone can't reach out to someone who is obviously struggling. How dumb are you?

      April 8, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • The real Tom

      loopy lol??, I suggest you learn to read. No one suggested that the minister could get private medical information about the person without permission.

      Like I said, lay off the sauce. It's too early in the day to be that drunk.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Akira

      Uh, sweet cheeks, if the patient wants to clue his pastor in on his treatment, there's no violation of HIPAA rules.
      My goodness.

      No, a person has no way of knowing whether a person is actually in treatment or not, unless the patient tells them, but again, the pastor can recommend them.
      Get a clue.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • The real Tom

      No wonder lol?? spent time watching TV in jail-it doesn't know what's against the law and what isn't.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • lol??

      ladies, I can see in your cases these blogs are pretty much the end of the line for ya. If you don't even know about the homeless having a large proportion of mental cases because of no family, etc and bla bla bla.

      You are just blowhards with no Y in ya. No go and make yer hubbys happy. Call your own dogs stupid. I'm not yer dog.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • The real Tom

      I don't own a dog, but I see damn well you're dumber than my cat and he barely registers on the cat IQ scale. Nobody said anything about the homeless not making up a large percentage of the mentally ill, dink. Of course they do.

      Nice try saving face, loopy.

      You got your ass handed to you on this one. Oh, wait. On every other one, too.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • MEATPASTE

      Having worked in the medical field, I know more about HIPAA than you could possibly imagine. But it has nothing to do with my original post. You can't troll properly if you don't know what you yourself are yammering on about.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • lol??

      Well, well, well, meatball, that gives you even less of an excuse for being a meathead. Enjoy da ladies with da personality disorders.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • MEATPASTE

      You have yet to make any sense.

      April 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  10. Mary

    @ Honey Hush, It is Gods time that all this madness will end.
    @Austin, "... he allows...", is the correct terminology. There IS a big difference between *it* being *Gods will* (which is a lie) and allowing something to happen. Allowing something to happen only lends proof to how wrong satan is...

    April 8, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Honey Hush

      Mary, now I know who you are, the nutter that believes the reply button is the work of Satan, scary stuff.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  11. First mental illness.

    God created Adam and knowing that he would get hor-ny from time to time and not wanting him to cop-ulate with the trashy br-oads in the land of Nod, so He creates Eve from a rib. He saw this was good until he noticed Eve was a little touched in the head, thinking she could hear talking snakes and all. Rather than give her a clue he lets both his creations screw up tells them to get dressed and kicks them out of the garden. So there you have it God could have stopped the whole mentally sick thing right from the get go but couldn't be bothered. I probably got the whole story terribly wrong, of course it could be the Rig Veda got it right and Vaak create the cosmos in a big bang sort of way.

    April 8, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  12. Jack

    Churches helping mental illness? What would they do, blame the devil, perform an excorcism and when that doesn't work burn them at the stake?

    April 8, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Saraswati

      They would do the same thing a school, college,or even an employer might do: offer referrals and support. For people who are regular church goers this is a major element of community, and many people aren't really a part of other communities. The request is that these organizations step up and take on the responsibilities expected of other organized communities.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • lol??

      What did Hitler do? Socies have all the answers

      April 8, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • lol??

      Medical treatment and records are sealed like the Big O's grades. Socies always shoot themselves on the foot. WWHD (Hitler)

      April 8, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • The Demon Deacon

      LOL??
      The resident expert on the RCC, Bill Deacon, claims that once a person is baptised and confirmed into the church they always remain Catholic no matter what bad asses they turn out to be ( see Mafia and Catholic child s3x abuse scandals). So Hitler was a Catholic, the end.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I guess that leaves the question what kind of Catholic? I've also made the point that merely being Catholic doesn't confer any special holiness on a person. Conversely, just because one is Catholic doesn't indicate they are evil and certainly doesn't indicate all Catholics are evil. This stuff shouldn't require explanation demon but apparently it does. My suggestion is be a Catholic if you think you can handle the discipline, practice the sacraments and find your models in the saints, not the demons.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • The Demon Deacon

      Bill Deacon
      Is irrelevant. Billy is an obsequious papal apologist troll. You seem to be getting Chad like misrepresenting what others have posted. Where did you see that I stated all RCC goers are evil, ever? Actually I admire Frankie and hope he does a good job of cleaning house. But you and those like you are a stain on the church and should be booted out along with a whole lot of the hierarchy.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  13. Doc Vestibule

    The traditional response to mental illness is to try and cast out the demons through prayer and sacrifice.
    Sometimes all it takes is a recitation of a Psalm, sometimes you've gotta sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood around the house and/or altar.
    In one of the many books of the Bible rejected by most protestants, a fellow named Tobit was granted magic healing and exorcism powers by harnessing the awesome might of fish guts.

    " And he replied: 'the heart and the liver, if one is troubled by a demon or an evil spirit, one must burn them before a man or a woman, and they shall no longer be troubled by them. As for the bile, it is for anointing a person who has white specks in his eyes, and he shall be healed.'
    – Tobit 6:8

    So make sure your First Aid Kit is well stocked with fish guts, ram's blood, holy water, Benedectine relics and a copy of the Bible.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      You must be unaware of the medicines derived from fish used to treat influenza, heart disease, diabetes and pain.

      Tell the truth, you're not really a Doctor are you?

      April 8, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • The Demon Deacon

      Bill Deacon
      Is irrelevant. Billy is an obsequious papal apologist roll. How was the turnout Billy your joint must have seemed empty after last week.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bill Deacon
      Biochemical pharmaceuticals derived from ichthian sources are a tad harder to synthesize than just burning its entrails.
      But if you think that the aroma if singed swim bladder can hure your high blood pressure, you're welcome to try.
      And for the record, I am not a medical doctor.
      I received by Sacred Theology Doctorate from the University of Buffalo Spit, Saskatchewan.
      The STD I got at the U of BS allows me to use the ti/tle "Doctor".

      April 8, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  14. Liberty for Captives

    A very helpful post on a controversial topic. Thanks for sharing.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  15. Austin

    #5 Dreamed i was in a wh.ore house and I flooded it because i turned on a water spitot upstairs and just let it go and left it on. I had been praying about lust. I didnt catch this dream, until a few week later i did a study on water. I had no clue about this dream. i seemed like a random joke. but i got kicked out for letting the water run and flood.

    15 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. 20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man's wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? 21 For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.

    # 6 dreamed i was touring a house and went out back and there was an ABOVE ground pool with an flush deck and a privacy fence right around the deck.

    two days later the kid sleeping next to me pulled out a piece of paper , sheldon clay was his name, and he showed me his blue print he drew, of a new house, with an above ground swimming pool , with a flush deck around the pool, and a privacy fence on the deck.

    #7 this kid on night threw a roll a tp and racked me. I was furious and said to myself, I wonder if he has the light in his eye. and then i rebuked my judgment of his spiritual condition. THE NEXT MORNING he woke up and came up to me and said, "i had a dream last night that i was going around to see who had a special light in their eye to see if they were possessed or not"
    this kid was not a bible verse type of guy.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Austin

      When I have dreams about things before things happen and they happen through other people, outside circu.mstances, and they happen in a spurt in a time in my life that would characterize the exact way God works, then what i have is evidence. And with me being the one who experienced this, and went from one dream to the next, then having these things play out in my day, I can tell you that this is proof of God, the author of all things spiritual.

      Every one of you disputing me allready has kicked the idea of God out of your life. You hate the God of the bible in the first place, but I think this is an appropriate place to let you know that when they said "He hath beelzebub, or He is drunk", that really what we see is that unbelievers go to any extent to reject a miracle right in front of their facecs, or ears, because they are held captive, they are slaves to unbelief.

      You could witness a miracle, and I have told you of such that I did experience, and you would rationalize it at all costs. You reject truth. And it is simply because you hate God.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • JWT

      The fact that a person does not believe in any of the gods Austin does not mean that they hate any of them. In fact to most atheists they don;t think of god any more than they think of purple leprechauns. God is irrelevant.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Austin

      When you reject God at all costs, the fact that you are emotionally dead on the issue does not confiscate hatred.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • midwest rail

      You have NO idea what "confiscate" means.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Austin

      Maybe you don't hate Him, maybe your heart is being prepared for salvation.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Austin

      You know exactly what I am talking about Midwest Rail so my odd uses of words work just fine.

      Yesterday I was accused of copying the words "evasive exploitation." Would you like to stuck up english?

      April 8, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • JWT

      There is no cost to rejecting your version of a god Austin. None at all. And no hatred just disinterest.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • midwest rail

      That was not an "odd use" of the word. It was blatantly incorrect. Next.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Science

      In fact Austin this is more interesting..................................

      Listening to the Big Bang - In High Fidelity

      Apr. 4, 2013 — A decade ago, spurred by a question for a fifth-grade science project, University of Washington physicist John Cramer devised an audio recreation of the Big Bang that started our universe nearly 14 billion years ago.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404170154.htm

      April 8, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Saraswati

      Just use Shawn Spencer's "I've heard it both ways" and move on. (ref. Psych)

      April 8, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Austin: Please apply to the James Randi Foundation. Obviously none of us or our opinions are going to change what you think. I don't accept your claims and quite apparently not many do, that said, if you really want to convince us, do so....apply to the James Randi Foundation and let them be the ones who determine this. Arguing with you is futile...you simply refuse to step back and look at it from our side for one second...we're able to look to your side (most of us have lived your side), so what is so difficult for you to do the same?

      April 8, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Austin ~

      Confiscate
      verb (used with object)
      1. to seize as forfeited to the public domain; appropriate, by way of penalty, for public use.
      2. to seize by or as if by authority; appropriate summarily: The border guards confiscated our movie cameras.

      Cur silly music – the more you know –

      April 8, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • The real Tom

      Maybe we should call Austin "Mr. Malaprop."

      He's starting to remind of Norm Crosby.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Akira

      Saraswati, one of my favorite shows...so, so funny! I say that to my daughter all the time.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • The real Tom

      Austin, doesn't it sink in at any point that you don't get to make words mean whatever you wish they did?
      "Evasive exploitation" is meaningless. The two words together are simply gibberish. You just happened to like the way they sound and you think if you say them enough, somebody will nod and say, "Gosh, Austin, you're right."

      Nobody's saying that because you aren't.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • The real Tom

      Does anyone else notice that every time Austin describes his dream about the house, he capitalizes "ABOVE GROUND POOL" as though there were some significance to a pool being above ground?

      So funny.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • lol??

      Tom tom sayz, "...."Evasive exploitation" is meaningless........" I could see it being applied to a retreating military force doing ye ol' slash and burn.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • The real Tom

      Then you should tell your pal Austin to use it in that context.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Akira

      Please explain the term, lol??.
      You seem to think you have a grasp on it.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Akira, yeah, funny show.

      And Shawn gets his stuff done despite being not quite college level literate. OK, he's a fictional character, but really, I work with a lot of non-native English speakers and I just read through this kind of bad English stuff. Sure, in a native speaker it loses you a little credibility, but that's Austin's business. Heck, I'm too lazy to proofread most of my comments so who would I be to talk? I really think there are more interesting things to discuss than weird vocabulary, spelling or grammar.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • But Tom

      In Austin's dream the pool could have been an IN GROUND pool that ascended form the soil to be an ABOVE GROUND POLL complete with a few Jesus named pool cleaners walking on top of the water.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • The real Tom

      True. But Austin probably wouldn't think that was any more miraculous!

      Can't confiscate that!

      April 8, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • lol??

      Yogi, Bush, Austin, lighten up.

      Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.
      Yogi Berra
      Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/y/yogi_berra.html#0dB6kubYQpRieP4y.99

      Don't forget Dave Barry.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Akira

      Saraswati, yeah. I have a friend who deliberately does that "Norm Crosby" shtick; I asked him one time if he does that deliberately so people underestimate his intelligence...and he looked surprised, then replied, "you're the only one who has ever gotten that." Makes me wonder...

      April 8, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • lol??

      Think your box at the bank is safe?? BBBbbbbwhahahahaha Anything is subject to the "wegodians'" desire for confiscation.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • lol??

      wiki, "...........Crosby is a native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, a dissolved municipality............" How come even the socies can't stand up to wicked corporations, the money seeking type that no longer serve a useful social function, and dissolve them? Nah, you'd rather get on their boards.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • The real Tom

      Akira, lol?? didn't know who Norm Crosby was-had to look him up.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Akira

      Tom, the newbies have no idea who the old greats were; not mentioned in that book, so they wouldn't know.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • lol??

      Actually I don't use a TV. Most of my life has been without one. I have one in storage but haven't lived with one in decades, except for the provided ones, hotels, friends, jail, etc.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • The real Tom

      Figures.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Alias

      @Austin
      If you want to prove your dreams mean something, then tell us what you dreamed would happen before it does. Then, if it happens you may have some proof.
      I had a girlfriend many years ago who was as faithfull as you. When her cousin was 9 monthe pregnant, she had strange pains about every 20 minutes. So when her cousin finally went into labor my insane girlfriend insisted that she had sympathy pains at the same time the labor started.
      Get the point?
      How mant of your dreams neve come true?

      April 8, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • clarity

      " Most of my life has been without one. . ."

      Finally the one whom Jesus dropped on his head says something I can believe.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Akira

      Jails, lol?? Oh, boy.

      April 8, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • clarity

      Austin might have met lol?? in jail and just doesn't realize it.

      (Now Austin frantically rustles through his dream doc-umentation to see if he missed something.)

      April 8, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  16. Austin

    18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’b If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’c

    April 8, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Squished Kitty Zombie

      Bible verses how clever. Resurrected pus-sies, interesting concept.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Religious propoganda Austin. Cult logic. Saying people will reject another group of peoples made up beliefs is not surprising, it is inevitable. And the claiming it is a prophacy would be like dreaming a cat died and then going outside and finding a dead cat on the road....oh wait....

      April 8, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  17. Mary

    @ Respond to mental illness?, The proof of that *invisible being* is all around you... even you, yourself are proof of his existence...

    April 8, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Respond to mental illness?

      That...makes no sense...

      April 8, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  18. Mary

    Until you've been up close and personal for years on end with a variety of mentally ill people while on and off meds, there is no way you can come to a educated, informed, and unbiased Big Pharma conclusion on the matter.
    Yes Big Pharma IS very much in it for the money only!
    Doctors, some knowing some not of the industry and what their meds really do
    I have come to a partial conclusion... Meds do affect everyone do a varying degree whether it be committing mass killings or being a loner due to not being able to concentrate on simple tasks.
    Without meds, can be just as hard to the individual, family, and close friends; it's a double edged sword... mental illness.
    I believe it would be worth our while to look at all natural meds along with the healing power of Gods word would be the best and only choice...
    We all have that freedom of choice, don't we?
    For those who are in the midst of their mental illness, not so much
    For those of us able to, we need to do so with Gods guidance in mind...

    April 8, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • JWT

      I'll take the doctor and meds over god anytime. At least I know the meds work very well.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Honey Hush

      Mary
      God made some of his creations with mental illness but the healing power God's word is the answer, so why doesn't He get on with it and eradicate all mental illness? Only a deluded Christian can come up with that rationale. There is no God, get over it.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Austin

      Yes there is a God and I have proof. I have experienced special revelation. God has control and power. And while he allows sickness and struggle, death, persecution, we are justified and await a place called heaven.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • sam stone

      "Yes there is a God and I have proof. I have experienced special revelation."

      Spiritual revelation is not proof, Austin.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Meds are at their most effective when the mental illness in question is organic in nature, when it has a biologic cause. This includes things like bipolar disorder and many kinds of depression as well as others.

      Yes, most people with mental illness will benefit from counseling and meditation (or prayer) to a degree, but in many cases it simply isn't enough. Religion isn't a cure. It can be a support system. It can help a person find the will to do the work to overcome their illness, but it isn't anything more.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • The real Tom

      Mary, I wouldn't go to you for medical advice if I had a broken arm. Why would you think you're qualified to give medical advice on mental illness?

      April 8, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Pete

      ""Yes there is a God and I have proof. I have experienced special revelation."

      Spiritual revelation is not proof, Austin."

      Plus what we've seen from Austin it wasn't really a spiritual revelation.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  19. Saraswati

    Most Church employees aren't mental health professionals and most members can't offer treatment to members. The best thing an organization of this sort can do is 1) fight for real health care reform that opens access to mental health care, 2) provide information and connections to community mental health resources, 3) provide support groups for people with mental illness and their families, are facilitate access to groups in a larger community 4) encourage real learning and understanding on the subject of mental illness, 5) provide financial support to members until real reform does take place, 6) create committees of helpers who will assist those who request help

    These suggestions apply really to any shared community but especially to one with shared values.

    April 8, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  20. Respond to mental illness?

    I submit that talking to an invisible being is a mental illness.

    April 8, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Austin

      soul, spirit, God

      April 8, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • sam stone

      thanks for proving the point, Austin

      April 8, 2013 at 9:04 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.