I just returned from speaking at the Fort Wayne seminary. The topic, of course, was clinical depression. It was really a two part visit. The first part was speaking to a deaconess practicum class, and the second part was doing a “fireside” chat in the Commons with about fifty students and (if they had one) their wives.
I always feel like it is returning to the mother ship when I go home. No matter how much I like (or dislike) what is going on at the place, it is home in many respects for me. I feel the same way about Seward. I don’t really have many ties to Seward anymore, but it is still my school.
The visit itself was good. I got to catch up with some friends, etc. More importantly, I was able to speak to about fifty members of the student body (and their wives) about depression. It was basically the same schtick I have done elsewhere (if you want to order the talk, CLICK HERE).
What do you say to a group of men who are studying to be pastors about mental illness and depression? There’s a lot to say but I tried to keep it to a description of depression, why pastors are at risk, and ways to address it (either preventatively or in the midst of it). I don’t know if they liked it. Can you “like” a talk about clinical depression? But I believe it was and is important for them to hear, and pray that there are more opportunities to do the same.
What would you tell a soon-to-be-pastor about clinical depression? Why?
Thought I would let the dear readers know that I will be speaking at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne on
April 12, 2011
In the Commons
Concordia Theological Seminary
6600 N. Clinton St.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
The topic will be depression and the Lutheran pastor. You may go to the Facebook page for the event at
Let me know if you are coming. Thanks!
-DMR (aka Todd Peperkorn
Very often it seems like the only time I pray is when I am forced to pray. It’s like Job or Elijah. When things get SO BAD (in my perception at least) that there is no other recourse, then I will pray. Unless, of course, I don’t have the energy. So my prayers become much closer to a 911 call than an ongoing conversation.
I wish it were not so. I wish I were more disciplined in my prayers. But I’m not and I can’t seem to figure out how to do it. My prayers are weak and timid. They are fearful and uncertain. My best prayers come when I am too desperate to do anything else.
So often my prayers make me feel like I am a fraud. I project the air of quiet faith and confidence to my parishioners. I sit in the hospital with them, console them with the Gospel which I hardly feel like I believe half the time.
I think this is all too common with pastors. Faith and doubt go hand in hand. There can hardly be one without the other this side of the grave.
I think a part of the problem lies in feeling like prayer is a show. So often for pastors, because we are called upon to publicly pray for others, it means that the prayers we offer are half prayer/half proclamation. Prayers can offer comfort, and we pastors will use any trick in the book to sneak in a little Gospel. But this can lead to making prayer feel like a show. I have to have a “good” prayer, because they are counting on me.
How do you counteract this? What is the actual goal of prayer?
I’m sorry I have more questions than answers today. Some days are just like that.
-DMR (aka Todd Peperkorn)
(This is a copy of the article on my church’s web site.)
Messiah Lutheran Church is pleased to announce its first speaker in the IMPACT series. The IMPACT series is a series of presentations available to the community in conjunction with our fiftieth anniversary.
Our first presentation is entitled, I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression. Our speaker is Pastor Todd A. Peperkorn, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church. The title of the presentation comes from Pastor Peperkorn’s book of the same title, published in 2009.
Please consider joining us for this important topic. It is free of charge. You may follow updates on the IMPACT series through our Facebook page:
You may also indicate if you will be attending by going to the Facebook event:
We hope to see you there!
Last week I did a radio interview with my friend Gregory Berg on The Morning Show at WGTD in Kenosha. The topic was how to survive the holidays. I thought y’all might appreciate the interview. It’s about 50 minutes or so. Enjoy!
[I posted this originally at http://lutheranlogomaniac.com, but I think you might find it of benefit as well.]
December generally stinks for me on a personal level. I know, that’s not a really chipper pastor admission to make, but there you have it. Kathryn and I have had two miscarriages during this season, and December serves as a foreboding for January. Nearly bad memory I have about depression has its triggers in December and January. So for me, December always creates a longing to get away, to escape from my memories and to try and find someplace better. I want it to be better. I want to embrace the joy of the season and be happy, but it doesn’t play out that way very often.
That is why I love the collects, or short prayers of Advent. Each one of them has its own emphasis, but the first one really wraps it all up for me. Here it is:
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (LSB, Collect for the First Sunday in Advent)
What I so often forget is that in many ways I am my own worst enemy. My sinfulness is always at the door, always creeping around and trying to draw me into the traps which only Satan can lay for me. And tragically all too often, I succumb to those traps and temptations.
We don’t think of sin really as dangerous or or destructive, but it is. It threatens our relationship to God, to one another, and seems into every facet of our lives. Satan and sin are always at work, always trying to figure out what and who they can devour next. I don’t say this to cause fear, but first of all as a warning. We should never be surprised when sin messes things up. It is what sin does, and worse.
What this collect (prayer) reminds me of so beautifully is that God’s protection rescues me from my sins. No matter how badly I have screwed up. No matter how much I have contributed to all of my own problems, God is there for me. We pray that God would stir up His power to rescue. And God loves to answer prayers more than anything else.
He will deliver you from the threatening perils of your sins. He will deliver you. Perhaps one of our Advent Psalms puts it best, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15)
This Advent I would encourage you to sit back, recognize your own weaknesses and shortcomings and sinfulness, repent and receive God’s gracious word of forgiveness. But also recognize the weakness and sinfulness of those around you. They are trapped just as you are. God can use your forgiving words to make a difference in another hurting sinner’s life. What could be a better present than that?
Stir up your power, O Lord, and come. Come quickly, make haste to deliver me. Amen.
+The Lord be with you+
A reader pointed this out to me:
Bethesda, MD—Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. In a new study appearing online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), an international team of scientists, including researchers from the United States and Israel, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses.
I will have to digest this a little bit, but it does make a lot of sense to me. Incense or sulfur. I know which I would choose…
My only question is, should this be categorized under “natural remedies” or “divine remedies” or something else?
This is a little clip of the video from the Lutheran Catechetical Society from a couple weeks ago. You can order the video for $20 with shipping.
I had a reader pass this link along for your interest in benefit. What this means for those of us who suffer from depression is that there may very well come a time (sooner rather than later) when the medication to treat clinical depression will be much more specific and more more effective than it is right now. How great would that be?
Read this article and let me know what you think. Is this a pipe dream on my part?
Through the gracious energies of the Lutheran Catechetical Society, I am now happy to report that there is a video of my presentation that I gave to the LCS last weekend at Christ Lutheran Church in Normal, Illinois.
The LCS has been in existence for around five years, and they have high quality videos of a number of their presentations available. The video of my presentation is essentially a shortened version and commentary on my book, I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression, available from LCMS World Relief and Human Care. I receive requests for videos from time to time, and this is now where I will be pointing them.
If you are interested in having me come and speak to your congregation, circuit, women’s group, etc., about depression and the hope we have in Christ, please email me here.
Thank you to all of my friends in Indiana and Illinois! It was a wonderful weekend. God bless you!
-Pastor Todd Peperkorn