Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Left the Light on for You!

O My Soul:

Welcome to the new blog address for O My Soul. Not much has changed, but feel free to look around. And stop in anytime you want.

The light is always on - for you!

God bless.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Luther on Prayer

O My Soul:

The 16th century reformer, Dr. Martin Luther, wrote this on prayer (my emphasis is in italics):

“Where there is a Christian, there is the Holy Ghost, who is always engaged in prayer. For though the Christian does not continually move his lips to utter words, nevertheless the heart is beating and pulsating, like the arteries and the heart in the body, unceasingly sighing: O dear Father, may Thy name be hallowed, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done among us and all people, etc.

And as the attacks, trials, and troubles press and crowd harder, also such sighing and begging becomes more urgent, even audible.

So, then, you cannot find a Christian who is not always praying, as little as a living person is without a pulse, which never rests, but beats continuously, though the person may be sleeping or is occupied otherwise, so that he is not aware of its beating.” (St. L. VIII:363.)

What then is needed for prayer? Luther says:

Without communion with Christ no one can pray even one word which would count before God or be pleasing to Him.

The prayers of the Turks, Jews, monks, and hypocrites are of that kind.”

Speaking of this prerequisite of prayer, Luther says:

“The Spirit of grace brings it to pass that we can and may, yea, must, begin to pray.

Hence Christ here means to say: If you believe in Me and have received the Spirit, your hearts having thus become sure of God’s grace, as He had said above, ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,’ then your prayer will follow as a matter of course. For this is the true and proper work of Christians, and of the Christian only.

For before we become Christians and believe, we do not know what and how we should pray. And though a man prays most fervently , still the Spirit of grace is not there. The natural heart can only speak thus: Dear Lord, do Thou regard how virtuously I live, how much I suffer; or take into consideration the merit of this and that saint, the intercession and good works of pious people. Here there is no faith in divine grace and mercy for Christ’s sake; here the heart always remains uncertain and cannot know that it is certainly heard; it wants to deal with God only on the basis of man’s own holiness or that of others, without Christ, as though God ought to humble Himself before such a man and be forced to bestow His grace or help and thus become our Debtor and Servant. Such an attitude does not merit grace, but wrath; it is not prayer, but a mocking of God.”

Concerning the Lord’s Prayer, taught by Christ Himself, Luther says in his Large Catechism:

“Besides this we should be incited and drawn to prayer because in addition to this commandment and promise

God anticipates us and Himself arranges the words and form of prayer for us, and places them upon our lips as to how and what we should pray, that we may see how heartily He pities us in our distress, and may never doubt that such prayer is pleasing to Him and shall certainly be answered;

which prayer has a great advantage indeed over all other prayers that we might compose ourselves. For in them the conscience would ever be in doubt and say: I have prayed, but who knows how it pleases Him, or whether I have hit upon the right proportions and form? Hence there is no nobler prayer to be found upon earth than the Lord’s Prayer, which we daily pray, because it testifies excellently that God loves to hear it, which we ought not to surrender for all the riches of the world.” (Trigl. 703, Large Cat., Lord’s Prayer, 22 f.)

My summary on these notes:

I am learning that Christ has been praying for me and with me all along.

Depression is causing me to pray more earnestly and audibly. I am finding joy in daily prayers handed down to me from the church of old. (Matins and Vespers)

When I'm unable to intentionally pray Matins or Vespers (whose form is taken from a rich understand of Scripture), I am glad that the Lord's Prayer is always pleasing to God.

I am thankful to audibly hear God speak to me in His Word and Sacrament which leads me back to Him (even if it is my mouth He uses or that of friends or brother pastors.)

Those are a few notes for today. Thank you Dr. Luther for teaching me and thank you to the readers for remembering me in your prayers, comments, and phone call.

God bless you, too.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Annunciation = Hope

O My Soul:

For those feeling hopeless, today we remember the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God...for with God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:35-37).

Nine months from today we observe the birth of Christ, but today we observe His conception. There is hope for your soul in Christ.

We pray:

O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son, Jesus Christ, by the message of the angel to the virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

God bless you in Christ,


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Like Lent

O My Soul:

The congregation and I have been learning the Evening Service from the Lutheran Service Book during mid-week services. It's a beautiful service. We learned it well. We sang the whole thing (including me as the pastor).

So what do I like about Lent.

I like focusing on the Word of God.

I like delivering the extra services. (I appreciate the break after Lent, too. But for six weeks its really great.)

I like that the congregation doesn't bother me with as much trivia because they are concerned about my schedule. However, I a had good boundaries in place before the season started. I am not run down. I'm getting plenty of rest and feeling ok.

I like the build up to Easter. What a beautiful message to proclaim. Universal atonement delivered to me in Word and Sacrament for my justification by faith through Christ. There are so many ways to proclaim it. What a blessing that I get to do it.

I like the predictable schedule. Preach, teach, visit. This is always my goal throughout the year, too. It seems to work out best during Lent.

So I like Lent. Hard to believe tonight was our last midweek lenten service for the year.

God bless,


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

If God Were Not Beside Us Now

O My Soul:

From Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth page 17-18:
"Luther's friend Justus Jonas in 1524 wrote an eight-stanza paraphrase of Psalm 124. In contrast to the smooth-flowing style of Jonas, Luther also undertook the paraphrasing of the same psalm, his being shorter, more rugged, and closer to the text of the psalm. After Luther's version was published in Walter's Wittenberg hymnal of 1524, both his and Jonas' paraphrases were included in early Lutheran hymnals. Walter's tune is the one most associated with this text.

Tr. F. Samuel Janzow, 1913-2001
Setting by Richard Hillert
Publisher: Concordia Publishing House (1979)"


"If God Had Not Been on Our Side"

by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

1. If God had not been on our side
And had not come to aid us,
The foes with all their power and pride
Would surely have dismayed us;
For we, His flock, would have to fear
The threat of men both far and near
Who rise in might against us.

2. Their furious wrath, did God permit,
Would surely have consumed us
And as a deep and yawning pit
With life and limb entombed us.
Like men o'er whom dark waters roll
Their wrath would have engulfed our soul
And, like a flood, o'erwhelmed us.

3. Blest be the Lord, who foiled their threat
That they could not devour us;
Our souls, like birds, escaped their net,
They could not overpower us.
The snare is boken-we are free!
Our help is ever, Lord, in Thee,
Who madest earth and heaven.

Hymn 267
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Ps. 124
Author: Martin Luther, 1524
Translated by: composite
Titled: "War' Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit"
Tune: "War' Gott nicht mit uns"
1st Published in: Gesangbuch
Town: Wittenberg, 1537


Monday, March 22, 2010


O My Soul:

Alcoholism is a deadly disease, too. I listened to a young lady for an hour and a half this morning about the last few years of her life with a raging alcoholic husband and two young children. She is hurt with all the verbal abuse. She's angry. She's at the end of her rope.

Lord grant us wisdom during the next few weeks and be her Shepherd. Amen.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beautiful Savior

O My Soul:

I remember learning this hymn in 8th or 9th grade. I attended a Roman Catholic summer class for about one week. It was hot but the sanctuary doors were open to let in the fresh air. Two nuns, one mom, and an organist focused the music on this one hymn. I learned it by the end of the week. Enjoy, and

God bless you and keep you!

"Beautiful Savior" under the direction of Eugene B. Nelson, with the Midland Lutheran College Alumni Choir, April 2008 in Fremont, Nebraska.

"Beautiful Savior"
by Author Unknown, 1677
Translated by Joseph A. Seiss, 1823-1904

1. Beautiful Savior,
King of Creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I'd love Thee,
Truly I'd serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.

2. Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

3. Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels in the sky.

4. Beautiful Savior,
Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor,
Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!

Hymn #537
Lutheran Service Book
Text: Ps. 45: 2
Author: unknown, 1677
Translated by: Joseph A. Seiss, 1873
Titled: "Schoenster Herr Jesu"
Tune: "Schoenster Herr Jesu"
1st Published in: "Schlesische Volkslieder"
Town: Leipzig, 1842

Free Book is All the Buzz

O My Soul:

I ordered four copies of the Free Book entitled I Trust When Dark My Road. I had two other copies from the first publication, too.

Anyway, I wove the book into a Wednesday night Lenten service a couple weeks ago. After the service, I made the copies available to anyone in the congregation who would like to read the book. I only asked that they return the books when finished so we could keep them in the library for others to read.

That Wednesday night, I handed out five of my six copies. I handed out the other one on Sunday. Three come back by the beginning of the next Wednesday service but were gone again before locking the doors and going home.

I've had three people explain how various kinds of mental illness is in their family.
I listened and then prayed for and with them. I think it has been made clear that I will listen.

I didn't think the book would be this popular among so many in the congregation. There are many hurting people out there.

God bless you and keep you.


Lent 5: Judica

O My Soul:

"Judge me, O Lord and defend my cause against an ungodly people...Why have you rejected me?" Psalm 43.

I have joined my prayers with this psalm often. Recently, however, not from despair but because the Lord has promised not to reject me.

I am baptized into the death of the Christ. That is not wishful thinking but an act of God for me. He promises to protect me and he does.

Before I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I thought I was weak but I would lash out at others for taking advantage of me in my weakness. After I was diagnosed, I had a name for my weakness called "clinical depression". That and medication has helped put things into perspective. I don't lash out as much. People were never taking advantage of me in my weakness; pain; darkness. Much the opposite, many have been trying to help me.

I am beginning to think that (for me) not having depression would be a bad thing.

I think I have an insatiable appetite for success in this world. Be it education, title, priviledge, or power. As much as I want those things I am coming to realize they are not my joy but my appetite.

God is good to me in Christ. He cares for my whole soul inspite of my sinful appetites and has granted me a weakness that is for my good; for salvation from those sinful appetites.

Why does my soul become cast down (depression)? Why is my soul in such turmoil (anxious) within me? ...because I am a sinner. I have an appetite for things not of God.

This doesn't me I have no faith in Christ. I am baptized and my refuge is in Him. My prayer is that He judge me according to His promise to me in Holy Baptism.

You know what happened this morning? I confessed my sin and was forgiven. I heard God tell me about Abraham and Issac (Genesis 22), His High Priest Jesus (Hebrews 9:11-15), and then Christ Himself encountering false accusations (John 8:42-59).

And to top it off, you know what happened after that? I went to the altar of God, my exceeding joy, and He fed me His holy Body and precious Blood.

Not bad for a snowy spring morning this Sunday, March 21st.

So I am beginning to think differently about my clinical depression and my anxiety. I am beginning to this they are a gift of God. A gift where in the middle of my suffering...I see Jesus...and the wonderful people with whom He surrounds me.

In Him I hope.

And may God bless you.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weeping Over Christian Missions

O My Soul:

The darkest part of my depression was experienced overseas as a missionary.

The prevailing attitude within the missions leadership of my church body (even just a few years ago) is that you are either tough enough to handle the abandonment and abuse...or not. That may sound harsh, but as I have talked to more and more former missionaries both inside and outside the circles of my own church body, a similar pattern appears.

So, when I ran across this little article about a heart for missions earlier this morning, I experienced more thoughts and feelings than I can express in a single post. But here are a few:

I don't have the heart to be treated like a rock star visiting supporting congregations only to ask for more money. I don't have the heart to watch young college graduates lose their soul to another world religion. I don't have the heart to find another short-term missionary in a brothel. I don't have the heart to teach English to the neglect of the Great Commission to baptize and teach. I don't have the heart for planning, and more planning, and then re-planning strategies to convert the world to Jesus when at the heart of the problem is that we missionaries don't acknowledge sin in our own hearts nor in the hearts of those to whom we have been sent.

A warning to anyone praying and thinking about serving in Christian missions. You will be romanced (recruited) sweetly (aggressively) by mission leaders. It feels pretty good. But, if in the next few years you prove faint hearted in the midst of the stress that will come your way, don't be surprised if you are tossed away like a used hag.

We who have gone that way are legion... and forgotten.

Well, Jesus remembers and continues to weep over Jerusalem. It is written:

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41-42, New King James Version)

Let us pray,

Father God, remember the baptized and save us, even me, according to Your promise; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

And may God bless your soul.


Monday, March 15, 2010

The Sandman

O My Soul:

My wife would call it a pregnancy sleep.

I call an international jet-lag sleep. It is like counting backwards from ten while the dentist turns up the gas before removing empacted wisdom teeth. This kind of sleep is in control of you rather than the other way around.

Yesterday, was a Gospel day. Morning service and Bible study was really nice. Lunch with my family. I spent the afternoon teaching a new member class and taking Holy Communion to the home of a cancer patient. I was home at supper-time for a great homemade meal with my family.

All I did was take a little rest on the couch after supper...and awoke this morning at 8:30 a.m. That's 14 hours of sleep (well minus the two hours of T.V. from 10 to midnight).

What's with that?

Dressed. Quick breakfast. Matins at church and office hours.

It is now 11:30am and I'm still rubbing the sand out of my eyes.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lent 4: Laetare (Joy Sunday)

O My Soul:

It is written,

 1 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”   
15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
(John 6:1-15, New King James Version)

Here I learn to things. First, in Christ, God supplies all my bodily needs. He knows before I do what my body needs and cares for me even in my grumbling. Second, He desires much more for me. He is the Bread of Life who grants me forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life both now and forevermore.

A prayer handed down the centuries:

Almighty God, heavenly Father,

Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul.

Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience;

through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


God bless.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Public Service Announcement

O My Soul:

Here is a new PSA for

Add this to your resources. You may find it helpful.

And God bless you.


The Babysitter

O My Soul:

I didn't cross the line.

Yesterday, I was at the line of darkness and looking in that abyss. I read the psalms, lazed around the house, picked up dog pooh in the back yard, and took my oldest son to 4-H. I didn't talk a lot the whole day. However, I want to re-iterate: I wasn't pulled into the darkest of dark places. I didn't yell, rant, hurt others but clung to the Third and Fifth Commandments as my only hope to remain in the faith to God and serve my neighbor. I spoke the psalms aloud for myself and cleaned the backyard for my wife. Today I'm on speaking terms both with God (in prayer) and my wife (at the coffee shop).

Yes, to conclude a painful day (and week) I called the babysitter to come over so I could take my wife out for coffee. We were at the coffee shop from 9 til noon. Just talking. The only evil thing so far was the name of the coffee: Diabolical Java, 32oz., black!

The kids had a great time, too.

God bless you.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Heart of Darkness

O My Soul:

I feel it coming again.

There are times when the darkness rolls in like the setting of the sun. In times like that I feel like going to bed. At it's worst. I'll curl up and not do much. Politely, I say I'm going to take a nap. I took a nap Wednesday afternoon. I bounced back for the rest of the day.

But, their are times when I become the darkness as black as a moonless night. During these times, I have plenty of energy but embody an attitude of mean spiritedness. My being is filled with...well...piss and vinegar and I'm often itchin' for a fight. I haven't felt like that for quite awhile but I'm approaching it.

What will I do?

Psalm 42 is a good start:

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, "Where is your God?" 4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. 6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. 7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. 8 The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me -- A prayer to the God of my life. 9 I will say to God my Rock, "Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" 10 As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Amen and amen!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Repost: On Praying in your Marriage Written by Todd Peperkorn on March 8th, 2010

O My Soul:

I'm reposting this post from the Rev. Todd Pepperkorn on prayer in marriage. Enjoy.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV)

One of the many benefits which my wife and I have received from the DOXOLOGY training program has been the gift of prayer. Kathryn and I were able to have a wonderful dinner and conversation with an Australian pastor and theologian named Dr. John Kleinig. He is best known in our parish for his delightful book, Grace Upon Grace.

As Kathryn and I sat and talked with him, he asked me about my book, and specifically about the struggle that I had with prayer while I was sick and on disability. We talked, and then he told us what he and his wife have been doing for many years. They’ve made several resolutions about their common life together. Here are some of them:

1. Always go to bed at the same time. This insures that eventually or generally, you end up on the same wake/sleep schedule. It helps a marriage if you aren’t two ships passing in the night, living parallel lives.

2. Talk about the day, especially that made you rejoice, and what challenges or temptations you had. This helps you to stay focused on one another and your actually needs, not simply on talking about the weather, the children, the schedule, etc.

3. Finally, pray out loud for one another each night in the presence of your spouse. The point of this is that it focuses your life upon the life of your spouse. You know that your needs are heard by your spouse and by God Himself. It helps you to know what to actually do to help your spouse, because they have told you what is going on.

So Kathryn and I started doing this in September 2009, and I can hardly begin to tell you what kind of a blessing it has been to our marriage and our family. We are more aware of one another, we are more relaxed, and we know that for at least one little snippet of time each day, we are together and in Christ. It has helped us to focus on the needs of each of our children, of our family at large and on our brothers and sisters here at Messiah.

Why not try it? It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It can be as simple as “God bless Kathryn. Give her a night of sleep. Help our children to rest so that they and we may rise in the morning to serve you.” You may be amazed at what God can do.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Peperkorn

Thank you Pastor Peperkorn.


If thou but suffer God to guide thee

O My Soul:

A great hymn: If thou but suffer God to guide thee


If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trust in God's unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.

What can these anxious cares avail thee
These never ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
O'er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.

Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whatever thy Father's pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost want are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

God knows full well when time of gladness
Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness
And from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.

Nor think amid the fiery trial
That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And set a bound to everything.

All are alike before the Highest:
'Tis easy for our God, We know,
To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
To make the rich man poor and low.
True wonders still by Him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word: though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Brother Pastors

O My Soul:

I'm attending the monthly Pastor's (Circuit) meeting today.

I am blessed with a great group of pastors in my circuit. We are like minded on core doctrine and practice. And we can socialize together which is great.

However, I used to think about what I could get from attendance. My schedule is full. Pastors can be competitive people, especially when discussing God's Word and the people we interact with day by day. So it is sometimes easy to think of these meetings as a waste of time. Even while attending, I often wasn't really there.

I've been changing my focus. I'm beginning to think about how to support and care for these gentlemen. They have lonely vocations. They meet many people but often friends with only a few. The loneliness can be overwhelming. Some of them leave the office of pastor as broken souls.

So what do I do?

First, I listen. I talk less and listen more.

Second, I pray. Truly, none of us are ever alone. Jesus is there brother and also advocate with the Father.

Third, I more actively contribute to thinking through their problems for the benefit. Lord knows, they do the same for me.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Best Actress

O My Soul:

This year's Oscar for best actress in a dramatic role goes to my wife.

She played the role of single parent to three children while single handedly keeping a dark marriage together. Not to mention caring for the dog.

Thank you. May the future be brighter.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Prayer initiated by the Father

O My Soul:

Prayer is a conversation with God that He begins with Baptized souls in His Word.

This understanding of prayer is not popular, taught much, or trusted even by the baptized soul. I often thought prayer started with me talking to God. I think that's why I often quit, felt distracted, and bored with my own thoughts.

The unbaptized soul is dead to God. (alive to his neighbor but dead to God) And dead men don't talk. So God is pleased to give life to the dead through His gift of water and Word.

Since my soul is baptized, what then is prayer?

Prayer is a conversation God our Father initiates with the baptized through His Word. My soul responds. First by listening. Then by speaking a little bit. And then by listening some more. I am learning His vocabulary; His thoughts.

This understanding of prayer has been a blessing to my soul.

When depression strikes, I feel so utterly alone. But I am not alone. I am in Christ who is my advocate with the Father. He invites me into His prayers for me and for others as well.

The appointed prayer of the week from the historic lectionary is a prayer passed down over the centuries and has been a daily blessing to my soul this past week.

Here it is. May it be a blessing to your soul as well:

O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rev. Peperkorn Back in Print

O My Soul:

The book I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression by the Rev. Todd Peperkorn is again in print from LCMS World Relief and Human Care.

I highly recommend this free (plus shipping) 100 page read to clergy and congregations. The author tell's the story of his descent into mental illness, his diagnosis, and his recovery to a life of joy as pastor, husband, and father.

Order your free copy while supplies last.

The Lord bless your soul.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Two Years Later

O My Soul:

Two years ago, I felt like I had a wet towel constantly wrapped around my head while people were throwing punches at me. Street talk for a blanket party.

Life was dark. I could not see my way through a simple day. It was a sense of chronic disorientation. I was told by my therapist that I carried myself well that it didn't show. That was verified in a number of ways. Even my wife, for a long time, didn't realize the extent of the darkness. But, I was a lost soul.

Life was painful, too. Emotional pain that led to physical pain. Emotional pain that was beyond reason and seemingly beyond my control. Constantly on the defensive even as I publicly carried myself quite well.

The darkness (depression) and pain (anxiety/fear) eventually came out at home. My wife and children felt the darkness without a word from me. Words came out as accusations and anger. Many tears have been shed.

That was two years ago. Thanksgiving week 2008 I started to get help. It has been a good first start.

I asked my wife how things are going. She is pleased.

I am not as angry. I spend time with the children in ways that the children like to spend time with me. I take out the trash more often. I help with dishes every once in awhile. I've arranged babysitters to care for the children in order to take my wife out to eat more often. I take Friday and Saturday off every week. Saturday is scheduled on the church calendar as Pastor's Family Day. Friday is simply unscheduled. I pray Matins (most mornings) and night time prayers with my family (most evenings). I'm still able to meet shut-ins, make family visits, prepare to teach and preach. I rest more while adequately meeting my vocational responsibilities.

It has been a good first start, but it is still difficult.

Medication has slowed my emotional responses while at the same time I live with an unpleasant dizziness. I still feel a lot. I still feel the darkness and the pain. I just don't react the same way. I'm able to think in the midst of the emotions. The ability to think is a gift from God. I'm glad I have the ability somewhat restored to me. I pray that I use my mind to grow in faith toward God and in fervent love toward my neighbor (starting at home and then the congregation of Christ's holy people.) My family doctor is suggesting that we lower the medication dosage at our next meeting in May. I'm not comfortable with that at this time but then again it's only March.

Since moving in November, I have not been meeting with a psychologist and I have not had contact with my Father/Confessor.

I'm just starting the search for a new psychologist. Good ones are hard to find.

And to my Father/Confessor: I still have your book of Psalms with Luther commentary. It is great. Thank you for all your help and prayers. Talk to you soon.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Sacred Meditations

O My Soul:

Johann Gerhardt is one of the great orthodox Lutheran theologians. He is also the author of many devotions. Here is exercise 13 from his Sacred Meditations. It is good for the soul to hear how much Christ is taking care of you.