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Paul Maxwell, “Let’s Stay: A Prayer for Suicidal Young Men,” Desiring God (Jan 14, 2017)

Mel-AHN-cho-ly /

We watched the movie Megamind with the kids a few Friday nights ago. Megamind is an alien who loved big words and pronounced them badly. He wanted to be the villain of metrosity (“Metro City”).

It was his pronunciation of another word, “melancholy,” that we kept chuckling about. He put the stress on the second syllable:

mel-AHN-cho-ly  
/mɛlˈɑnkəli/

We kept wanting to say to it aloud. Such a silly mishandling of “melancholy” lifts some of its sadness.

Preaching great and glorious truth in an atmosphere that is not great and glorious is an immense difficulty. To be reminded week in and week out that many people regard your preaching of the glory of the grace of God as hypocrisy pushes a preacher not just into the hills of introspection, but sometimes to the precipice of self-extinction.

I don’t mean suicide. I mean something more complex. I mean the deranging inability to know any longer who you are. What begins as a searching introspection for the sake of holiness, and humility gradually becomes, for various reasons, a carnival of mirrors in your soul: you look in one and you’re short and fat; you look in another and you’re tall and skinny; you look in another and you’re upside down. And the horrible feeling begins to break over you that you don’t know who you are any more. The center is not holding. And if the center doesn’t hold — if there is no fixed and solid “I” able to relate to the fixed and solid “Thou,” namely, God, then who will preach next Sunday?

When the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “By the grace of God, I am what I am,” he was saying something utterly essential for the survival of preachers in adversity. If, by grace, the identity of the “I” — the “I” created by Christ and united to Christ, but still a human “I” — if that center doesn’t hold, there will be no more authentic preaching, for there will be no more authentic preacher, but a collection of echoes.

John Piper, “Charles Spurgeon: Preaching Through Adversity,” Desiring God (Jan 31, 1995)

“Your Phone Knows If You’re Depressed”: Highlights /

Highlights of Mandy Oaklander, “Your Phone Knows If You’re Depressed,” Time.

“We found that the more time people spend on their phones, the more likely they are to be more depressed,” says David Mohr, one of the authors of the study and director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The researchers also found that spending lots of time at home was linked to depression — and that phone data like this could predict with 87% accuracy whether someone had symptoms of depression. …

Phone data were even better than the daily questions the users answered to predict depression test results. …

Depressed people, too, spent an average of 68 minutes using their phones each day, while people without depression only spent about 17 minutes on their phones. … “One of the things we see when people are depressed is that people tend to start avoiding tasks or things they have to do, particularly when they’re uncomfortable,” Mohr explains. “Using the phone, going in and using an app, is kind of a distraction.” …

Luther, “I have my worst temptations when I am by myself” /

Reformer Martin Luther once said, “I have my worst temptations when I am by myself.”

Roland Bainton comments in Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, 285 (paragraphing mine):

Seek out some Christian brother, some wise counselor. Undergird yourself with the fellowship of the church. Then, too, seek convivial company, feminine company, dine, dance, joke, and sing. Make yourself eat and drink even though food may be very distasteful. Fasting is the very worst expedient.

Once Luther gave three rules for dispelling despondency: the first is faith in Christ; the second is to get downright angry; the third is the love of a woman.

Music was especially commended. The Devil hates it because he cannot endure gaiety. Luther’s physician relates that on one occasion he came with some friends for a musical soiree only to find Luther in a swoon; but when the others struck up the song, he was soon one of the party. Home life was a comfort and a diversion. So also was the presence of his wife when the Devil assaulted him in the night watches… Manual labor was a relief. A good way, counseled Luther, to exorcise the Devil is to harness the horse and spread manure on the fields.

In all this advice to flee the fray Luther was in a way prescribing faith as a cure for the lack of faith.

Attributed to Michael Johnson, “Luther’s Prescription for Despondency,” Desiring God. Accessed December 16, 2010.

The original post is no longer available but I post it here because this 500-year-old advice is still useful.