Thursday, February 27, 2014

When God Wants a Man (Anonymous)

When I first was saved on a Friday night in August of 1972, my joy was abounding. In fact after I left the church camp where I had just been saved, I went home with my cousin to his home in Muskegon, Michigan. We were at a friend's house outside at  night. As I was thinking about what had happened, at camp;I began to yell very loudly, "I am going to Heaven, I am going to Heaven." A man who was in a car driving by the house heard me and thought I was yelling at him. He stopped and told me that he would beat the ## out of me.  I tried to explain to him that I was thanking God for the assurance that I had that when I died, I would  go to heaven.  I was sixteen years old and this initial joy went on for days.

And then at some point, I began to  experience trials, a certain heaviness of heart.  At this juncture in my Christian life, I was unaware that I would be called to the ministry.
Some years later, I came across this poem.

When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man...
When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part
When He yearns with all His heart to create so great 
and bold a man that all the world shall praise...
Watch His methods; Watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects...
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into frail shapes of clay that only God understands. 
How his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands...
How he bends but never breaks when His good he undertakes.
How He uses whom He chooses...with every purpose fuses him;
By every art induces him to try His splendor out...
God knows what He's about!

When God wants to take a man and shake a man and wake a man...
When God wants to make a man to do the future's will;
He tries with all His skill...
When He yearns with all His soul to create him large and whole...
With what cunning He prepares him...
How He goads and never spares him! How He whets him 
and He frets him and in poverty begets him...
How often He disappoints whom He sacredly anoints!
With what wisdom He will hide him;
Never minding what betide him...
Though his genius sob with slighting and his pride may not forget;
Bids him struggle harder yet!
Makes him lonely so that only God's high messages shall reach him...
So that He may surely teach him what the hierarchy planned;
And though he may not understand...
Gives him passions to command.
How remorselessly He spurs him...
With terrific ardor stirs him
When He poignantly prefers him.

When God wants to name a man and fame a man and tame a man...
When God wants to shame a man to do His Heavenly best;
When He tries the highest test that His reckoning may bring...
When He wants a [god] or king;
How He reins him and restrains him so 
his body scarce contains him...
While He fires him and inspires him…
Keeps him yearning, ever burning for that tantalizing goal.
Lures and lacerates his soul...
Sets a challenge for his spirit;
Draws it highest then he's near it!
Makes a jungle that he clear it;
Makes a desert that he fear it..
.and subdue it, if he can -
So doth God make a man!

Then when he tests his spirit's wrath
Throw a mountain in his path;
Puts a bitter choice before him 
and relentlessly stands o'er him...
Climb or perish, so He says...
But, watch His purpose, watch His ways.
God's plan is wondrous kind -
could we understand His mind?
Fools are they who call His blind!

When his feet are torn and bleeding;
Yet his spirit mounts unheeding...
Blazing newer paths and finds;
When the Force that is Divine
leaps to challenge every failure,
And His ardour still is sweet -
And love and hope are 
burning in the presence of defeat!

Lo the crisis, Lo the shouts that would call the leader out...
When the people need salvation doth he rise to lead the nation;
Then doth God show His plan...
And the world has found a man!

For a fuller biographical account of the many trials that my wife
 Robyn and I endured please follow this link:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Attention Deficit Disorder -Part 3

How is ADHD diagnosed in adults?
Like children, adults who suspect they have ADHD should be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. But the professional may need to consider a wider range of symptoms when assessing adults for ADHD because their symptoms tend to be more varied and possibly not as clear-cut as symptoms seen in children.
To be diagnosed with the condition, an adult must have ADHD symptoms that began in childhood and continued throughout adulthood. Health professionals use certain rating scales to determine if an adult meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. The mental health professional also will look at the person's history of childhood behavior and school experiences, and will interview spouses or partners, parents, close friends, and other associates. The person will also undergo a physical exam and various psychological tests.
For some adults, a diagnosis of ADHD can bring a sense of relief. Adults who have had the disorder since childhood, but who have not been diagnosed, may have developed negative feelings about themselves over the years. Receiving a diagnosis allows them to understand the reasons for their problems, and treatment will allow them to deal with their problems more effectively.


Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments.
Treatments can relieve many of the disorder's symptoms, but there is no cure. With treatment, most people with ADHD can be successful in school and lead productive lives. Researchers are developing more effective treatments and interventions, and using new tools such as brain imaging, to better understand ADHD and to find more effective ways to treat and prevent it.
The most common type of medication used for treating ADHD is called a "stimulant." Although it may seem unusual to treat ADHD with a medication considered a stimulant, it actually has a calming effect on children with ADHD. Many types of stimulant medications are available. A few other ADHD medications are non-stimulants and work differently than stimulants. For many children, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. Medication also may improve physical coordination.
However, a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply for all children with ADHD. What works for one child might not work for another. One child might have side effects with a certain medication, while another child may not. Sometimes several different medications or dosages must be tried before finding one that works for a particular child. Any child taking medications must be monitored closely and carefully by caregivers and doctors.
Stimulant medications come in different forms, such as a pill, capsule, liquid, or skin patch. Some medications also come in short-acting, long-acting, or extended release varieties. In each of these varieties, the active ingredient is the same, but it is released differently in the body. Long-acting or extended release forms often allow a child to take the medication just once a day before school, so they don't have to make a daily trip to the school nurse for another dose. Parents and doctors should decide together which medication is best for the child and whether the child needs medication only for school hours or for evenings and weekends, too.
A list of medications and the approved age for use follows. ADHD can be diagnosed and medications prescribed by M.D.s (usually a psychiatrist) and in some states also by clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and advanced psychiatric nurse specialists. Check with your state's licensing agency for specifics.

Trade Name
Generic Name
Approved Age
Adderallamphetamine3 and older
Adderall XRamphetamine (extended release)6 and older
Concertamethylphenidate (long acting)6 and older
Daytranamethylphenidate patch6 and older
Desoxynmethamphetamine hydrochloride6 and older
Dexedrinedextroamphetamine3 and older
Dextrostatdextroamphetamine3 and older
Focalindexmethylphenidate6 and older
Focalin XRdexmethylphenidate (extended release)6 and older
Metadate ERmethylphenidate (extended release)6 and older
Metadate CDmethylphenidate (extended release)6 and older
Methylinmethylphenidate (oral solution and chewable tablets)6 and older
Ritalinmethylphenidate6 and older
Ritalin SRmethylphenidate (extended release)6 and older
Ritalin LAmethylphenidate (long acting)6 and older
Stratteraatomoxetine6 and older
Vyvanselisdexamfetamine dimesylate6 and older

*Not all ADHD medications are approved for use in adults.
NOTE: "extended release" means the medication is released gradually so that a controlled amount enters the body
over a period of time. "Long acting" means the medication stays in the body for a long time.
Over time, this list will grow, as researchers continue to develop new medications for ADHD. Medication guides for each of these medications are available from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration  (FDA).
What are the side effects of stimulant medications?
The most commonly reported side effects are decreased appetite, sleep problems, anxiety, and irritability. Some children also report mild stomachaches or headaches. Most side effects are minor and disappear over time or if the dosage level is lowered.
  • Decreased appetite. Be sure your child eats healthy meals. If this side effect does not go away, talk to your child's doctor. Also talk to the doctor if you have concerns about your child's growth or weight gain while he or she is taking this medication.
  • Sleep problems. If a child cannot fall asleep, the doctor may prescribe a lower dose of the medication or a shorter-acting form. The doctor might also suggest giving the medication earlier in the day, or stopping the afternoon or evening dose. Adding a prescription for a low dose of an antidepressant or a blood pressure medication called clonidine sometimes helps with sleep problems. A consistent sleep routine that includes relaxing elements like warm milk, soft music, or quiet activities in dim light, may also help.
  • Less common side effects. A few children develop sudden, repetitive movements or sounds called tics. These tics may or may not be noticeable. Changing the medication dosage may make tics go away. Some children also may have a personality change, such as appearing "flat" or without emotion. Talk with your child's doctor if you see any of these side effects.
Are stimulant medications safe?
Under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe. Stimulants do not make children with ADHD feel high, although some kids report feeling slightly different or "funny." Although some parents worry that stimulant medications may lead to substance abuse or dependence, there is little evidence of this.
FDA warning on possible rare side effects
In 2007, the FDA required that all makers of ADHD medications develop Patient Medication Guides that contain information about the risks associated with the medications. The guides must alert patients that the medications may lead to possible cardiovascular (heart and blood) or psychiatric problems. The agency undertook this precaution when a review of data found that ADHD patients with existing heart conditions had a slightly higher risk of strokes, heart attacks, and/or sudden death when taking the medications.
The review also found a slight increased risk, about 1 in 1,000, for medication-related psychiatric problems, such as hearing voices, having hallucinations, becoming suspicious for no reason, or becoming manic (an overly high mood), even in patients without a history of psychiatric problems. The FDA recommends that any treatment plan for ADHD include an initial health history, including family history, and examination for existing cardiovascular and psychiatric problems.
One ADHD medication, the non-stimulant atomoxetine (Strattera), carries another warning. Studies show that children and teenagers who take atomoxetine are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than children and teenagers with ADHD who do not take it. If your child is taking atomoxetine, watch his or her behavior carefully. A child may develop serious symptoms suddenly, so it is important to pay attention to your child's behavior every day. Ask other people who spend a lot of time with your child to tell you if they notice changes in your child's behavior. Call a doctor right away if your child shows any unusual behavior. While taking atomoxetine, your child should see a doctor often, especially at the beginning of treatment, and be sure that your child keeps all appointments with his or her doctor.
Do medications cure ADHD?
Current medications do not cure ADHD. Rather, they control the symptoms for as long as they are taken. Medications can help a child pay attention and complete schoolwork. It is not clear, however, whether medications can help children learn or improve their academic skills. Adding behavioral therapy, counseling, and practical support can help children with ADHD and their families to better cope with everyday problems. Research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has shown that medication works best when treatment is regularly monitored by the prescribing doctor and the dose is adjusted based on the child's needs.
Different types of psychotherapy are used for ADHD. Behavioral therapy aims to help a child change his or her behavior. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events. Behavioral therapy also teaches a child how to monitor his or her own behavior. Learning to give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting, is another goal of behavioral therapy. Parents and teachers also can give positive or negative feedback for certain behaviors. In addition, clear rules, chore lists, and other structured routines can help a child control his or her behavior.
Therapists may teach children social skills, such as how to wait their turn, share toys, ask for help, or respond to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the tone of voice in others, and how to respond appropriately can also be part of social skills training.
How can parents help?
Children with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents and teachers to reach their full potential and to succeed in school. Before a child is diagnosed, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family. Parents and children may need special help to overcome bad feelings. Mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it impacts a family. They also will help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.
Parenting skills training helps parents learn how to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child's behavior. Parents are taught to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want to encourage, and ignore or redirect behaviors they want to discourage. In some cases, the use of "time-outs" may be used when the child's behavior gets out of control. In a time-out, the child is removed from the upsetting situation and sits alone for a short time to calm down.
Parents are also encouraged to share a pleasant or relaxing activity with the child, to notice and point out what the child does well, and to praise the child's strengths and abilities. They may also learn to structure situations in more positive ways. For example, they may restrict the number of playmates to one or two, so that their child does not become overstimulated. Or, if the child has trouble completing tasks, parents can help their child divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Also, parents may benefit from learning stress-management techniques to increase their own ability to deal with frustration, so that they can respond calmly to their child's behavior.
Sometimes, the whole family may need therapy. Therapists can help family members find better ways to handle disruptive behaviors and to encourage behavior changes. Finally, support groups help parents and families connect with others who have similar problems and concerns. Groups often meet regularly to share frustrations and successes, to exchange information about recommended specialists and strategies, and to talk with experts.
How is ADHD treated in adults?
Much like children with the disorder, adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments.
Medications. ADHD medications, including extended-release forms, often are prescribed for adults with ADHD, but not all of these medications are approved for adults. However, those not approved for adults still may be prescribed by a doctor on an "off-label" basis.
Although not FDA-approved specifically for the treatment of ADHD, antidepressants are sometimes used to treat adults with ADHD. Older antidepressants, called tricyclics, sometimes are used because they, like stimulants, affect the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine. A newer antidepressant, venlafaxine (Effexor), also may be prescribed for its effect on the brain chemical norepinephrine. And in recent clinical trials, the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin), which affects the brain chemical dopamine, showed benefits for adults with ADHD.
Adult prescriptions for stimulants and other medications require special considerations. For example, adults often require other medications for physical problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or for anxiety and depression. Some of these medications may interact badly with stimulants. An adult with ADHD should discuss potential medication options with his or her doctor. These and other issues must be taken into account when a medication is prescribed.
Education and psychotherapy. A professional counselor or therapist can help an adult with ADHD learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as a large calendar or date book, lists, reminder notes, and by assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork. Large tasks can be broken down into more manageable, smaller steps so that completing each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.
Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, also can help change one's poor self-image by examining the experiences that produced it. The therapist encourages the adult with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting, or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks.  NIMH

If you would like to read some of our reviews of our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, please go to:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Attention Deficit Disorder, Part 2

This is not copyrighted material.  It is from NIMH.

Who Is At Risk?

ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. The average age of onset is 7 years old.
ADHD affects about 4.1% American adults age 18 years and older in a given year. The disorder affects 9.0% of American children age 13 to 18 years. Boys are four times at risk than girls.
Studies show that the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD is increasing, but it is unclear why.


Children mature at different rates and have different personalities, temperaments, and energy levels. Most children get distracted, act impulsively, and struggle to concentrate at one time or another. Sometimes, these normal factors may be mistaken for ADHD. ADHD symptoms usually appear early in life, often between the ages of 3 and 6, and because symptoms vary from person to person, the disorder can be hard to diagnose. Parents may first notice that their child loses interest in things sooner than other children, or seems constantly "out of control." Often, teachers notice the symptoms first, when a child has trouble following rules, or frequently "spaces out" in the classroom or on the playground.
No single test can diagnose a child as having ADHD. Instead, a licensed health professional needs to gather information about the child, and his or her behavior and environment. A family may want to first talk with the child's pediatrician. Some pediatricians can assess the child themselves, but many will refer the family to a mental health specialist with experience in childhood mental disorders such as ADHD. The pediatrician or mental health specialist will first try to rule out other possibilities for the symptoms. For example, certain situations, events, or health conditions may cause temporary behaviors in a child that seem like ADHD.
Between them, the referring pediatrician and specialist will determine if a child:
  • Is experiencing undetected seizures that could be associated with other medical conditions
  • Has a middle ear infection that is causing hearing problems
  • Has any undetected hearing or vision problems
  • Has any medical problems that affect thinking and behavior
  • Has any learning disabilities
  • Has anxiety or depression, or other psychiatric problems that might cause ADHD-like symptoms
  • Has been affected by a significant and sudden change, such as the death of a family member, a divorce, or parent's job loss.
A specialist will also check school and medical records for clues, to see if the child's home or school settings appear unusually stressful or disrupted, and gather information from the child's parents and teachers. Coaches, babysitters, and other adults who know the child well also may be consulted.
The specialist also will ask:
  • Are the behaviors excessive and long-term, and do they affect all aspects of the child's life?
  • Do they happen more often in this child compared with the child's peers?
  • Are the behaviors a continuous problem or a response to a temporary situation?
  • Do the behaviors occur in several settings or only in one place, such as the playground, classroom, or home?
The specialist pays close attention to the child's behavior during different situations. Some situations are highly structured, some have less structure. Others would require the child to keep paying attention. Most children with ADHD are better able to control their behaviors in situations where they are getting individual attention and when they are free to focus on enjoyable activities. These types of situations are less important in the assessment. A child also may be evaluated to see how he or she acts in social situations, and may be given tests of intellectual ability and academic achievement to see if he or she has a learning disability.
Finally, if after gathering all this information the child meets the criteria for ADHD, he or she will be diagnosed with the disorder.
Some children with ADHD also have other illnesses or conditions. For example, they may have one or more of the following:
  • A learning disability. A child in preschool with a learning disability may have difficulty understanding certain sounds or words or have problems expressing himself or herself in words. A school-aged child may struggle with reading, spelling, writing, and math.
  • Oppositional defiant disorder. Kids with this condition, in which a child is overly stubborn or rebellious, often argue with adults and refuse to obey rules.
  • Conduct disorder. This condition includes behaviors in which the child may lie, steal, fight, or bully others. He or she may destroy property, break into homes, or carry or use weapons. These children or teens are also at a higher risk of using illegal substances. Kids with conduct disorder are at risk of getting into trouble at school or with the police.
  • Anxiety and depression. Treating ADHD may help to decrease anxiety or some forms of depression.
  • Bipolar disorder. Some children with ADHD may also have this condition in which extreme mood swings go from mania (an extremely high elevated mood) to depression in short periods of time.
  • Tourette syndrome. Very few children have this brain disorder, but among those who do, many also have ADHD. Some people with Tourette syndrome have nervous tics and repetitive mannerisms, such as eye blinks, facial twitches, or grimacing. Others clear their throats, snort, or sniff frequently, or bark out words inappropriately. These behaviors can be controlled with medication.
ADHD also may coexist with a sleep disorder, bed-wetting, substance abuse, or other disorders or illnesses.
Recognizing ADHD symptoms and seeking help early will lead to better outcomes for both affected children and their families.
How is ADHD diagnosed in adults? This will be the subject of ADD Part 3.
If you would like to read Attention Deficit Disorder Part I. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, ADD)?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).
ADHD has three subtypes:
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
    • Most symptoms (six or more) are in the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories.
    • Fewer than six symptoms of inattention are present, although inattention may still be present to some degree.
  • Predominantly inattentive
    • The majority of symptoms (six or more) are in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present, although hyperactivity-impulsivity may still be present to some degree.
    • Children with this subtype are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with other children. They may sit quietly, but they are not paying attention to what they are doing. Therefore, the child may be overlooked, and parents and teachers may not notice that he or she has ADHD.
  • Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive
    • Six or more symptoms of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.
    • Most children have the combined type of ADHD.


Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although many studies suggest that genes play a large role. Like many other illnesses, ADHD probably results from a combination of factors. In addition to genetics, researchers are looking at possible environmental factors, and are studying how brain injuries, nutrition, and the social environment might contribute to ADHD.
Genes. Results from several international studies of twins show that ADHD often runs in families. Researchers are looking at several genes that may make people more likely to develop the disorder. Knowing the genes involved may one day help researchers prevent the disorder before symptoms develop. Learning about specific genes could also lead to better treatments.
Children with ADHD who carry a particular version of a certain gene have thinner brain tissue in the areas of the brain associated with attention. This NIMH research showed that the difference was not permanent, however, and as children with this gene grew up, the brain developed to a normal level of thickness. Their ADHD symptoms also improved.
Environmental factors. Studies suggest a potential link between cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy and ADHD in children. In addition, preschoolers who are exposed to high levels of lead, which can sometimes be found in plumbing fixtures or paint in old buildings, may have a higher risk of developing ADHD.
Brain injuries. Children who have suffered a brain injury may show some behaviors similar to those of ADHD. However, only a small percentage of children with ADHD have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Sugar. The idea that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes symptoms worse is popular, but more research discounts this theory than supports it. In one study, researchers gave children foods containing either sugar or a sugar substitute every other day. The children who received sugar showed no different behavior or learning capabilities than those who received the sugar substitute. Another study in which children were given higher than average amounts of sugar or sugar substitutes showed similar results.
In another study, children who were considered sugar-sensitive by their mothers were given the sugar substitute aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet. Although all the children got aspartame, half their mothers were told their children were given sugar, and the other half were told their children were given aspartame. The mothers who thought their children had gotten sugar rated them as more hyperactive than the other children and were more critical of their behavior, compared to mothers who thought their children received aspartame.
Food additives. Recent British research indicates a possible link between consumption of certain food additives like artificial colors or preservatives, and an increase in activity. Research is under way to confirm the findings and to learn more about how food additives may affect hyperactivity.

Signs & Symptoms

Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. It is normal for all children to be inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive sometimes, but for children with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and occur more often. To be diagnosed with the disorder, a child must have symptoms for 6 or more months and to a degree that is greater than other children of the same age.
Children who have symptoms of inattention may:
  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty focusing on one thing
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Struggle to follow instructions.
Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:
  • Fidget and squirm in their seats
  • Talk nonstop
  • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
  • Be constantly in motion
  • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:
  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
  • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
  • Often interrupt conversations or others' activities.
ADHD Can Be Mistaken for Other Problems
Parents and teachers can miss the fact that children with symptoms of inattention have the disorder because they are often quiet and less likely to act out. They may sit quietly, seeming to work, but they are often not paying attention to what they are doing. They may get along well with other children, compared with those with the other subtypes, who tend to have social problems. But children with the inattentive kind of ADHD are not the only ones whose disorders can be missed. For example, adults may think that children with the hyperactive and impulsive subtypes just have emotional or disciplinary problems

Monday, February 10, 2014


Peshawar Victims

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:14b–15, NKJV).

Sometimes children are able to see truth in unencumbered, refreshing ways. Jesus loved children, and even challenged his followers to “receive the kingdom of God as a little child.”At VOM, we acknowledge the mandate of James 1:27 and have a unique interest in serving the underserved, especially children and widows living in areas that experience intense persecution. Pakistan is one of those places. For several years, VOM has been in active partnership with David C. Cook, a nonprofit organization dedicated to publishing discipleship resources to help Christians all over the world grow in their faith. Together, we have been able to distribute hundreds of thousands of “Story of Jesus” books in some of the world’s most difficult places. These colorful books, which are similar to “comic books,” introduce Jesus to children in a way that is very compelling. In fact, when I took a copy home to my own children, they were immediately drawn to it.

In July of 2013, two young girls in Pakistan received a copy of “the Story of Jesus” in their native language of Urdu. The Christians who distributed the booklets happily reported that these girls trusted Christ after reading these engaging booklets. Two more sisters were added to our family!

Just a couple of months later, on a sunny Sunday morning, two suicide bombers entered the All Saints Church compound in Peshawar, Pakistan. These Islamists waited until the services were over and the nearly 500 worshipers began to gather for a meal together. At 11:45, they detonated their suicide vests and killed 78 people and injured another 130. It was the deadliest attack on the Christian minority in the history of Pakistan.

In October, I received word that the two young sisters who received “the Story of Jesus” during the July distribution, and began to follow Jesus, were killed in the attack on that bright Sunday morning.

The death of children is especially tough, and many of the victims from Peshawar were women and children. There are never easy answers for difficult situations like this. They serve as vivid reminders of how fallen our world is. But, we do not mourn as those without hope! We believe that “while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:6–7).

As you look at the photograph of these two young girls, please remember their families in prayer, along with the other families who lost loved ones in this attack. Pray also for those who plotted this attack. May God’s glory be manifested in all of the chaos that continues in this area.    Finally, please pray with us that God will guide us as we do our best to minister in that difficult place.

This post originally appeared on the Persecution Blog. Dr. Jason Peters serves in VOM’s International Ministries department, traveling frequently to meet with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. He lived overseas for five years and has ministered in more than 30 countries as diverse as Cuba, Nepal, Iraq, Nigeria and Indonesia. He and his wife, Kimberly, along with their five children, count it a great honor to serve with the persecuted church.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Is God with you in the dark?

This is an edited re-blog. Don't miss the research links below.

If your brain has been assaulted by an endogenous (biological) depression you probably will feel deserted and forsaken. Dr. Theodore Mauger M.D. says, Many of the physiological expressions of the soul are in a very special part of the brain called the Limbic System. This system is ..involved in reflex responses to emotional (affective) arousal. { {Pine Rest Today, The Illness of Mental Illness, Pine Rest Marketing Department, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1990.} Mauger also says, one specific sign of knowing that your connecting with someone is that the lachrymal sac under the person's eye will swell. The sac swells as a reflect of the limbic system. If you are depressed in a clinical sense, you will have an inability to relate to others. Robyn has often commented that when I am depressed my eyes have lost their luster.

Another result of this failing of the limbic system is an inability to feel God's pleasure or to see His Face. This is what theologians call, Desertion of the Soul. The Puritans called this inability to feel God's sensible presence, desertion. However theologically speaking it is better called apparent desertion. This expression is a more accurate term.

Jeremiah felt this when he wrote I am the man who has seen affliction Because of the rod of His wrath. He has driven me and made me walk in darkness and not in light. Surely against me He has turned His hand repeatedly all the day. He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, He has broken my bones. He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship. In dark places He has made me dwell, Like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer... My soul has been rejected from peace ; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, "My strength has perished, And so has my hope from the LORD,Lamentations 3:1-8 and 3:17-18.

In the first verse of Edwin Mote's hymn, The Solid Rock,he spoke of where the tried believer's trust should be,  in adversity and prosperity. He stated, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name. The word "frame" meant, a feeling or affection. We dare not trust in these "frames" but in Jesus' name, who is the the Author and the Finisher of our faith.
Mote again says, When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace. Also here some theologians argue that darkness cannot hide the face of God, so they insert when darkness seems to veil His lovely face... Darkness in Scripture is not always a metaphor of sin.
For instance look at Isaiah 50:10, Who among you fears the Lord and
obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God

Again, in Psalm 139, 11,12, we are told,
If I say, Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night, even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

John Piper's Eight Guidelines for Tough Leadership Decisions


I assume in the following that the “Leadership” (board, eldership, pastoral staff, etc.) are of one mind in a shared vision. At Bethlehem Baptist Church, Desiring God, Bethlehem Urban Initiatives, and The Bethlehem Institute, this vision is “We exist to spread a passion for God’s supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”
With that assumption, the following guidelines are intended to guide a pastor or elder or director in writing recommendations that will help the Leadership (and, if appropriate, the congregation) understand, approve and act on significant suggested courses of action. I don’t mean that all these guidelines must be followed for every decision the Leadership must make. They apply to more major proposals—the kind that will be costly or will affect many people in important ways or may seem to the Leadership different from an assumed path. In these cases, thorough, careful, Biblical persuasion is needed. The assumption behind these guidelines is that at every point truth is paramount.

1. Pray without ceasing.

That is, bathe every part of the process of decision making in prayer. This will be largely invisible in the early stages of dreaming and conceiving if the proposal is coming from one person.

2. Meditate on the Word of God all day.

The person or group bringing the proposal should be in the Word, ponder all aspects of the proposal from the standpoint of God’s Word, and saturate all thinking and communicating about the proposal with parts of the Word that show the wisdom of the proposal.

3. Gather true information related to the proposal.

Ideas for the future can be mistaken and unwise for several reasons. One of them is lack of relevant information: cost, people to be involved, skills needed, impact on other priorities, possible perceptions and reactions, possible outcomes in-sync with or out-of-sync with the vision.
Gathering this information involves research and imagination. One must put oneself forward into dozens of situations and imagine what the proposed reality will be like in order to have some idea of its implications. These implications are part of the information that must eventually be shared with the Leadership. The more of such information is brought to the table in advance, the more confident the Leadership will be that the proposal is workable and wise.

4. Think through as many implications of the proposal as possible.

This step overlaps with the previous one and adds “thinking” to “gathering.” Thinking requires time and energy and imagination and raw materials of information. It is hard work. It is solitary work. It requires writing, since the connectedness of thoughts are lost if they are not written down. And it requires rewriting, since the first set of connections that one sees must usually be adjusted as other thoughts come to mind. Thinking is analytical, imaginary and constructive.
One must analyze how things will work, how people will think, what costs will be, what skill will be needed, how all these will affect what already exists, and how all of these relate to each other.
All along this process, imagination is required. The most persuasive leader will have the best imagination of what the future will really look like and how everything will relate to everything else. The success of his proposal will hang largely on how well he has used his imagination to foresee the implications of all that he is proposing. The quality of his leadership will be seen partly in that he has already asked and answered the questions the Leadership will have. This does not happen without hard thinking in solitude while writing.
Fruitful thinking must also be constructive. That is one must apply one’s mind to construct an integrated whole. It will not do to simply share fragments of an idea with the Leadership. If we want Leadership to affirm our idea for the future, we should bring them a coherent, unified picture of what it looks like. This only happens through constructive thinking. This is often the hardest work. It forces us to do the kind of tough thinking that saves Leadership time and effort.

5. Write the proposal including a coherent and orderly presentation of the proposal, an explanation of it, the implications and the rationale.

First, state the proposal clearly and briefly in a few sentences.
Second, explain the proposal. That is, unpack its terms and make sure that it is clear.
Third, spell out the implications: people involved, time commitments, expenses, effects on present practices and people, etc. Foresee and state fairly and answer as many objections as you can.
Fourth, give a compelling rationale that would justify the implications and link the outcomes to the Vision.

6. Give copies of this written proposal to the Leadership sufficiently in advance of the meeting at which it will be considered.

Avoid pressure to act without adequate time for discussion and prayer.

7. Read the proposal to the Leadership or read a coherent summary of its key parts at the meeting when it is to be discussed.

Most busy people will not have the details in their mind when they come to a meeting and will need to hear the written proposal or a well-prepared summary of it. It is almost always a mistake to try to “talk one’s way through it” as though that would save time. Generally, it does not save time and is harder to follow than a simple reading or a well-prepared summary. In addition, by jumping around in the paper, one often loses the listener who cannot follow. If significant things need to be added to the paper by means of a “walk through,” the written proposal was probably not thorough enough.

8. Seek a thorough discussion of the proposal with all the Leadership urged to participate in the discussion. Allow the head of the Leadership group to guide the discussion to appropriate action.

The person bringing the proposal should be a well-prepared advocate, but not usually the leader of the discussion. After the presentation, he should speak when asked questions or given permission but not dominate the discussion. He should encourage the Leadership to give themselves to prayer and the Word in the process.

John Piper
John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God's call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary and the University of Munich. For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books, and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.

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