Category: pastors

Spirituality and Depression by Ken David Stewart


Episode Five

What is the relevance of spiritual faith to a depressed person?

My short answer would be that it absolutely necessary for recovery, but that it is also a two- edged sword.

The purpose of this chapter I will be primarily talking about Christianity. I will also talk about the role of twelve step groups a little later in the chapter.

I must point out that I am a Christian and have been so for the greater part of my adult life. I was not brought up in a church going Christian family, although I think that my father believed in God. In some sense, I might have been a Christian as a young boy, although I didn’t verbalize the prayer of salvation because I had never heard it and wouldn’t have known what it meant. As kids growing up the nineteen fifties and early sixties, we were blessed that the public school system was favourable towards prayer and the daily reading of Bible stories. As all my elementary school teachers included these two routines following the playing of Oh Canada, the Canadian national anthem, I assumed that it was mandatory for my elementary grade teachers to lead us in the Lord’s prayer and to read to us from a book containing Bible stories.

I now think that because of these two spiritual exercises practised by the public school system I came to believe in God. In reality, I cannot remember a time where I doubted God’s existence. I was probably not a saved, born again Christian, but could definitely be considered to be a believer. This does not mean that I always tried to walk out the Christian lifestyle. There were many times in my life when I didn’t.

I didn’t officially get ‘saved’ as it is termed in Christianity until I was twenty-seven years old. This occurred only because an ardent local minister came to my mobile home to witness to me. Ironically, this was not the first occasion would someone tried to lead me to the Lord.

Around two years earlier, a young Christian couple came to my apartment to share the Good News of the Gospel with me. During this occasion I was not receptive at all to hearing about Jesus. I only recall that the man who tried to witness to be me was called Hugh and for years after I felt sorry for the way I treated these young evangelists.

Hugh, if by some miracle, you have been reading this blog post or listen to my podcast show, I want to sincerely apologize for my behavior that evening. I just want you to know that you planted a seed and that I became a born-again Christian two years after you witnessed to me.

This has entirely nothing to do with today’s topic, but I just looked up at the calendar on my desktop computer to see that I am writing my first draft of this blog on July 14, 2017. On this day or date, I should say, that in 1966, I was at the Winnipeg Arena watching the Rolling Stones in concert. I can recall that my ticket cost fourteen dollars, the Rolling Stones only played for twenty-five minutes, with sound transmission coming through  their woefully inadequate Vox amplifiers and that the girls screaming from the audience almost drowned out The Rolling Stones’s music.

Now back to my original topic, depression and spirituality. My whole thesis is that the depressed person has to one degree or another lost hope. The answer, of course, is to regain the lost hope or possibly experience hope for the first time. That’s where Christianity comes in. The Gospel message offers the guarantee that if we have truly given our life to the Lord, when we get to heaven we will enjoy an eternal and wonderful life.

There are certain theological streams that seem to contend that this is about the only promise that Christians can count upon and that this only occurs after physical death and the end of our earthly life.

Although this hope can be very comforting, I was also looking for hope during my earthly lifetime. I was never quite satisfied with a Christian theology that implies that our life on earth was just to be tolerated as we attempted to live a holy life, but that for the real reward, we would have to wait for heaven.

 

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Episode 23 of Winter Dreams by Ken David Stewart


Episode 23:
One morning, Misty’s mother, Sheila Roberts was doing her morning devotions. As a devout Christian, Sheila had long established a habit of having a quiet time with the Lord before she started her day. Her devotional time included reading from her Bible, praying for herself and others as well as remaining quiet and waiting for God to speak to her. Today, Sheila heard the Lord speak to her spirit, “Sheila, I’m going to do a great work in your husband, Lloyd, because I love him very much. I am asking you to include Lloyd in your prayers every day.”
Sheila did not hear an audible voice, but she knew in her heart that she had heard from God. After the incident at the rock concert during the summer, Sheila had been thinking about Lloyd. By this time, she had forgiven Lloyd for allowing his daughters to get involved in a dangerous situation. She had loved Lloyd at one time, but since she became a Christian and Lloyd didn’t, Sheila felt that her husband would have a negative influence on their children. She could not say that Rick was a bad person. In many ways he was a good man but she could no longer tolerate his immaturity and his harmful addictions. What she really wanted was a Godly husband and Lloyd certainly was not. Sheila decided to call her pastor Randy Neufeld to discuss with him what the Lord had told her.fantasy 13

Episode Nine Of The Pastor Murder Mystery


049Episode Nine of The Pastor Murder Mystery:

Shortly after Melissa closed the door to David’s study his phone rang. It was Meredith Jordan and she was upset.

“Pastor Noble. Something terrible has just happened. I just received a call from Seven Oaks Hospital. Marissa was taken to the hospital by ambulance. She is in Emergency right now and the doctor said that she is in critical condition. Mason and I will be leaving for the hospital right away. He is just outside warming up the car. Can you meet us at the hospital?”

For a moment David did not know what to say. He had to quickly break out of his deep and troubling introspections.

“Yes, of course. Tell Mason that I’m on the way to the hospital right now.”

It was December 20, 2014 and it was bitterly cold outside. David checked the weather app on his white ten inch Samsung Galaxy tablet. It read thirty-two degrees below Celsius with a wind chill causing it to feel like minus forty-five. The app was also warning of blizzard conditions.

David grabbed his white winter parka from the downstairs closet and told Melissa that Marissa Jordan was in serious condition at Seven Oaks. He told his wife that he didn’t know when he would be back.

“Be careful driving out there. It’s a blizzard out there,” Melissa said.

“I will,” David said as he opened the front door to his house and his face was immediately met with a painful blast of wind and snow. The snow seemed to have ice crystals in it that were cutting into David’s face. He ran back inside to grab his black balaclava.

When he got to his 2005 beige Chev Impala the engine would not turn over. He again went back into the house. This time to get his Motorizer that he had bought at Canadian Tire last fall. With his hands starting to freeze even through David’s gloves he managed to boost his car and the engine turned over. David was woefully in adept at most mechanical challenges but at least he had taught himself how to boost a car’s battery.

The Pastor Murder Mystery Episodes One to Nine Inclusive


Pastor

Episode One

Pastor David Noble shook hands with the young, attractive social worker as she was leaving his humble, cluttered office. He was planning to return to his tattered and torn executive chair when his phone started to ring. The pastor answered the phone while standing up. When he picked up the receiver all he could hear from the other end of the line was loud wailing. David Noble recognized the mournful sounds as coming from his son, Dexter.

“Calm down Dexter. Why are you so upset?”

Dexter was able to regain just enough of his composure to answer, “Mom’s dead!”

“What!” David managed to stammer as he grabbed onto his desk for support. He was afraid that he was about to faint. His ex -wife, Melissa, had divorced David three years ago. While they had been married David Noble was the well- respected pastor of a local church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

To say that the last three years of his life had been tumultuous was a great understatement. David’s life had quickly begun to unravel. Melissa had exhausted all of her emotional resources by the time their marriage had finally collapsed.

Up until the last year of her marriage, Melissa had never seriously considered leaving her husband. Although her marriage to David was not what she had hoped for it was still a better one than those of most of her friends. After fourteen years of marriage Melissa’s life with David had become intolerable.

Melissa first met David at a popular nightclub in Fargo. She was shocked when David told her that he was a studying theology at a nearby seminary. He didn’t seem to have the DNA of your average Bible College student. David drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes and would occasionally swear. Melissa noticed that David’s vocabulary included the usual profane words, including the f-bomb, but he never took the Lord’s name in vain.

David was the life of the party. His personality exuded youthful exuberance. He was a young man who had ambition and was ready to take on the world. Melissa found that she could not help being attracted to him but she had the uneasy feeling that she was like a fly being drawn into a spider’s web.

Episode Three

Donald Noble reached the chair in his office and dropped into it. The seat was soft and comforting. “Try to calm yourself, son. Where are you now?”

Dexter was sweating profusely and was taking deep breathes. He was sitting in a maroon colored Lazy Boy chair in his mother’s living room.

“I’m at Mom’s place. I was just coming over to pick up her Camry. She was having some problems with her car and asked me to take it into the Toyota dealership to have it checked out. Mom didn’t answer when I knocked on her door. After I’d waited a couple of minutes I opened the door, walked in and called her name. Still no answer. I started checking all the rooms in her house until I came to her bedroom. The door was partly opened and I could see Mom lying against her bed. Her throat was slashed and there was blood all over her tee shirt and jeans. It was horrible, Dad.”

“So what did you do next, son?” David picked up a pencil and started to tap the eraser end against the palm of his left hand.

“I called emergency. They told me that an ambulance and the police would arrive shortly. Then I phoned you.” Dexter started to cry.

“You did everything right, Dex. I’m on my way to your mother’s house.”

David was in a state of shock and was running on automatic pilot. He climbed into his white Ford Taurus and started the frantic drive to Melissa’s house. The pastor still loved his ex-wife and he began to fervently pray that Melissa was not already dead.

As he drove down one of the main thoroughfares, a torrent of random thoughts flooded David’s mind. He thought about the divorce. For the most part David blamed himself for the breakdown of his marriage.

After their first meeting at the nightclub David became very infatuated with Melissa. He couldn’t seem to get her out of his head. He knew that a great deal of what he was feeling for her was lust. He kept thinking of her long, golden hair, her long shapely legs and a smile that could light up the darkest room. David was head over heels in love. The drive to her house usually took about half an hour depending on the time of the day and the traffic. David raced to her house and arrived there in just over twenty minutes.

When he attempted to enter the home David was stopped by a young attractive female police officer who asked him to identify himself.

Episode Three

Donald Noble reached the chair in his office and dropped into it. The seat was soft and comforting. “Try to calm yourself, son. Where are you now?”

Dexter was sweating profusely and was taking deep breathes. He was sitting in a maroon colored Lazy Boy chair in his mother’s living room.

“I’m at Mom’s place. I was just coming over to pick up her Camry. She was having some problems with her car and asked me to take it into the Toyota dealership to have it checked out. Mom didn’t answer when I knocked on her door. After I’d waited a couple of minutes I opened the door, walked in and called her name. Still no answer. I started checking all the rooms in her house until I came to her bedroom. The door was partly opened and I could see Mom lying against her bed. Her throat was slashed and there was blood all over her tee shirt and jeans. It was horrible, Dad.”

“So what did you do next, son?” David picked up a pencil and started to tap the eraser end against the palm of his left hand.

“I called emergency. They told me that an ambulance and the police would arrive shortly. Then I phoned you.” Dexter started to cry.

“You did everything right, Dex. I’m on my way to your mother’s house.”

David was in a state of shock and was running on automatic pilot. He climbed into his white Ford Taurus and started the frantic drive to Melissa’s house. The pastor still loved his ex-wife and he began to fervently pray that Melissa was not already dead.

As he drove down one of the main thoroughfares, a torrent of random thoughts flooded David’s mind. He thought about the divorce. For the most part David blamed himself for the breakdown of his marriage.

After their first meeting at the nightclub David became very infatuated with Melissa. He couldn’t seem to get her out of his head. He knew that a great deal of what he was feeling for her was lust. He kept thinking of her long, golden hair, her long shapely legs and a smile that could light up the darkest room. David was head over heels in love. The drive to her house usually took about half an hour depending on the time of the day and the traffic. David raced to her house and arrived there in just over twenty minutes.

When he attempted to enter the home David was stopped by a young attractive female police officer who asked him to identify himself.

 

Episode Four of The Pastor

“I’m David Noble, the pastor of New Beginnings Church. I’m Melissa’s husband and Dexter’s father.”

As soon as David could get these words out of his mouth he saw the police officer get jostled out of the way by a team of paramedics. A young athletic looking paramedic spoke up.

‘Where’s the victim?”

“She’s in the bedroom. I’ll take you there,” Dexter said.

When the paramedics entered Melissa’s bedroom they could see that Melissa had bled out from the deep and wide slash to her throat. Her clothing and the once grey rug were now saturated in blood. They tried to get a pulse but were unable to find one. Two of the paramedics took turns performing CPR on Melissa but she remained unresponsive.

The young paramedic asked Dexter to return to the living room. Dexter took a seat on the sofa next to his father.

“I’ve got some terrible news for both of you. Melissa is dead.”

Pastor Noble covered his face with his hands and began to weep. Even though he was sitting down he felt dizzy and disoriented. Who could do such a horrific thing to his wife? David couldn’t think of anyone who disliked Melissa.

The thought crossed his mind that this tragedy probably wouldn’t have happened had he and his wife still been living together. An almost tangible wave of guilt overcame David.

After he graduated from seminary David had mixed feelings about becoming a pastor. He had always been an intellectual, enjoyed studying The Bible and engaging in theological debates with his professors and fellow students. Still, David felt that something was missing. He knew about God but he doubted that he had a personal relationship with Him.

Just prior to graduating from seminary David married Melissa. Nine months later Dexter was born and David now had a family to support. Fortunately. David was very ambitious and charismatic and was offered a pastoral position in a Baptist church in an affluent suburb of Winnipeg just one month after his graduation.

Episode Five of The Pastor

One year earlier:

David arose at four o’clock in the morning after having another dark night of the soul. Lately he had been having too many of these. While working at his office at Brownstone Baptist Church, David was now experiencing panic attacks. He would begin to feel disoriented and become very agitated. He would pace the room walking back and forth like a caged hyena. Bill would perspire profusely and would have trouble catching his breath. He felt like was being tormented by demons.  Although he was alone in his office he would hear voices in his head. The voices would speak to him and say things like. “You’re a fake pastor David. You don’t really have a strong belief in God. Admit it David, you are really an agnostic. Your faith wavers from day to day and from hour to hour. If your congregation knew this they would fire you as their pastor and they’re beginning to get suspicious. You can see it in their faces when you are preaching your message on Sunday mornings. You should do the right thing. You should tell them the truth, spare yourself the humiliation and quit your job.”

David began to shout, “Shut up. That’s not true!”

Episode Six of the Pastor:

All David knew was that he had to get out of his office. He desperately needed to get away from the church and his family. David dashed out of his office with a look of pure terror on his face. His secretary, Julie, barely had time to say, “Pastor Noble, what’s wrong? Where are you going?”

David did not answer. He made a mad dash for his red 1999 Mercury Sable. The pastor started up the engine and was soon out of the church parking lot. He was now functioning on automatic pilot and took the fastest route to Pembina Highway. David was headed for the Canada/US border. The voices continued to mock David. “What are you going to do now David? Run away to the United States? Leave your job and desert your family? What kind of man are you David?”

David talked back angrily to the voices in his head, “Go to hell! You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you were under the same intolerable stress that I have to endure you’d crack up too.”

Episode Seven of The Pastor Murder Mystery:

Melissa Noble was vacuuming the stairs in her house when she heard the phone ring. She sighed but was actually happy for an excuse to get a break from the job at hand. The canister of her vacuum was very heavy and Melissa’s back was giving her grief.

A few years ago David had bought her a brand new Filter Queen Majestic vacuum cleaner. This was really an expense that the young couple could not afford but David was the victim of an ambitious and somewhat unscrupulous vacuum cleaner salesman. When David had mentioned that his wife suffered from allergies to their cat and dog the salesman was quick to point out that a new Filter Queen Majestic would greatly reduce his wife’s symptoms. He went on to sell David on purchasing a new Defender air cleaner that he said would further alleviate his wife’s misery when used in conjunction with the new vacuum cleaner. In fact, seeing as the Nobles were the last prospects of the day he would offer them a substantial discount if they purchased both items this evening. The salesman made a point of saying that he would not be able to offer them this discount tomorrow and that he would probably get heat from his manager for offering them this deal at all. He stated that because he was having a good day he would throw in a complete supply of Filter Queen accessories for free.

As David was very concerned about Melissa’s health he extracted his American Express card and the salesman closed the deal. The Nobles were now the proud owners of a top of the line vacuum cleaner and air cleaning device. They were also now close to three thousand dollars in debt but Melissa’s allergic reactions to their furry pets was soon to be manageable.

Episode Eight:

Fortunately, Melissa was close to the bottom of the stairs when the telephone rang. When she picked up the phone it was the church secretary, Julie Olson on the line.

“Hey Melissa. I’m worried about Pastor Noble.”

“Oh, why is that?” Melissa asked.

“He left the office a few minutes ago and drove off in his car. He looked very troubled and like he was in a great hurry to leave the church.”

“Did he say where he was going?”

“He didn’t say a thing to me Melissa. It’s not like the pastor to leave the church without telling me where he was going and when he expected to be back. I even checked his Daytimer but he didn’t have any appointments scheduled for this afternoon.”

“That is strange. Maybe he got a call from the hospital that one of his parishioners wasn’t doing well and that he needed to see them right away. I’ll tell you what Julie. I know that he has been visiting some people at Grace Hospital. I’ll call Grace and ask if David is there. The staff there all know David because he always makes time to chat with them. Thanks for giving me the heads up.”

Melissa Noble hung up the phone and walked over to the peach colored sofa in the living room. She felt guilty about lying to Julie. She wasn’t going to call the hospital. She doubted very much that that’s where her husband went.

Melissa had known for a while that something was not right with David. He wasn’t the David she used to know. He had become very agitated of late and found it hard to concentrate on anything. When Melissa tried to talk to David he would appear to be disengaged from the conversation. He often didn’t remember what she had just said to him.

David was now spending most of his evenings locked away in his study. He told Melissa that he had some important things that he was working on and that he didn’t want to be disturbed. After a couple of hours Melissa would knock on the door to the study and ask David if he would like some coffee and cookies. When David finally let his wife in she noticed that he didn’t have any books or papers on his desk. He would be sitting in his black leather office chair staring out of his window. When Melissa asked him if anything was wrong David just shook his head in denial.

Episode Nine of The Pastor Murder Mystery

When he was still in seminary David Noble had all the markings of a great pastor. One of his greatest natural assets was his ability to connect with a congregation on a deep emotional level when he was preaching. David did a lot of research and prepared his sermons well. When it came time to preach David was jacked up and was ready to deliver a sermon that was so captivating that his congregation would wish that he would preach longer. David was often tempted to do just that and give his parishioners what they wanted but he knew the rules and so did his elders and deacons.

As Brownstone was a Baptist Conference church that meant that sermons would end on time and would be no longer than twenty-five minutes. David often wondered about this sermon time restraint but was told by his elders that this was the way it had always been.

He recalled one of the deacons telling him, “Look David, keeping your sermons short and to the point benefits everyone. Most people’s attention span isn’t that great. If you go over the allotted time most of them won’t take in what you’re saying anyway. It would be a waste and would just get our members frustrated. Plus, everybody is pretty hungry by twelve-fifteen. Face facts David. Most Christians don’t want to spend their whole Sunday in church. For you Sunday is a working day. For most other people its half their weekend. People need to go home and relax.”

David had to admit that this was a fairly logical explanation for a rule that he didn’t like or agree with.pastor 1

The Pastor Murder Mystery Episode Nine


Episode Nine of The Pastor Murder Mystery

When he was still in seminary David Noble had all the markings of a great pastor. One of his greatest natural assets was his ability to connect with a congregation on a deep emotional level when he was preaching. David did a lot of research and prepared his sermons well. When it came time to preach David was jacked up and was ready to deliver a sermon that was so captivating that his congregation would wish that he would preach longer. David was often tempted to do just that and give his parishioners what they wanted but he knew the rules and so did his elders and deacons.

As Brownstone was a Baptist Conference church that meant that sermons would end on time and would be no longer than twenty-five minutes. David often wondered about this sermon time restraint but was told by his elders that this was the way it had always been.

He recalled one of the deacons telling him, “Look David, keeping your sermons short and to the point benefits everyone. Most people’s attention span isn’t that great. If you go over the allotted time most of them won’t take in what you’re saying anyway. It would be a waste and would just get our members frustrated. Plus, everybody is pretty hungry by twelve-fifteen. Face facts David. Most Christians don’t want to spend their whole Sunday in church. For you Sunday is a working day. For most other people its half their weekend. People need to go home and relax.”

David had to admit that this was a fairly logical explanation for a rule that he didn’t like or agree with.

pastor 2