Update on recent activity-Depression and the Church Conference

Thank you for your interest.  I am back with news of good  things happening with the Church’s integration of mental health issues.

Here is the recent conference on depression I worked on from October 2018. It was sponsored by Friends Church Yorba LInda, and the Christian Medical and Dental Association’s Psychiatry Section.

Here is the conference announcement introducing the day:

Lighting the Darkness – Depression and the Church

Friends Church, Yorba Linda, CA

Depression and/or sadness has become an epidemic in our society affecting large segments of our population, including adults, children and adolescents. It is often a medical condition treatable through a combination of support systems, counseling and medicine.  Unfortunately, in the Christian community, it is often viewed as a spiritual issue (not having enough faith, or not having the balance in our Christian life that God intended).  In fact, feelings of depression and/or sadness do not mean we are doing something “wrong” in the Christian life.  Because the world is not as it should be, due to the fall, a certain degree of sadness will always mark the Christian life.  We read in Scripture about Christ weeping and being sad. It is a normal part of the Christian experience.  In addition, because our bodies are not as they should be, the various parts of our bodies – including our mind – can be affected in ways that have nothing to do with us doing things “wrong”.   Christ in John 10:10 says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This would include both mental and physical healing and the use of medical resources where appropriate.

This conference brings together local Church leaders, distinguished psychiatrists and mental health professionals of the Christian faith, to provide education, spiritual direction and reduce the stigma surrounding those who suffer or support those suffering from the destructive illness of depression.  Friends Church, Yorba Linda, represents the Friends denomination with a legacy of faith in Christ and social action, including a legacy of advocacy for healing and reducing the stigma of mental illness.  The Christian Medical and Dental Association is a nationwide organization of over 19,000 Christian health care professionals, that provides resources, networking opportunities, education and a public voice for Christian healthcare students and professionals.  The Psychiatry Section of CMDA is comprised of psychiatrists with Christian faith who strive to promote fellowship and provide community to support and encourage Christian physicians in the practice of psychiatry, as they explore the relationship between their faith and professional practice. They also promote within the church the knowledge and understanding of valid psychiatric approaches to mental health and healing, consistent with Christ’s redemptive love.

Here is the link to view the conference.  Many were blessed and found it helpful.



Update on recent activity-Depression and the Church Conference

Mental Illness and Spiritual Crisis

The shock of being diagnosed with cancer is similar to the shock of being diagnosed with a mental illness.

When this happens, even a person of strong Christian faith can have a crisis of faith.  Experiencing an illness which causes self-destructive actions, psychotic perceptions or impulsive, bad choices can change life forever, and it is in the recovery from illness that faith and identity reforge life to a different level. This new level is hopefully more meaningful, leading to intimacy with God and a world that is more consistent with the tenets of the faith. This is not a simple path, as psychiatric and psychological treatment is not easy.  Recovery is also complicated by unexpected responses from distant as well as intimate life relationships, including those in the family and the church. These responses can either encourage recovery or divert healing, but they can direct the course for the rest of life.

This life experience has been described through time in different contexts and cultures. “Trials,” “sufferings,” “tests,” and “dark night of the soul” can be some of the ways believers have identified their experiences of mental illness.  The terms of psychiatry, and the successful treatments that result from medicine, describe these experiences in a scientific context that supports healing, but this medical science does not attend to spiritual struggles that take place during this “dark night.”  It is no wonder why mental illnesses comprise a majority of the top causes of disability worldwide.  Emotional pain and loss of function are more devastating when spiritual confusion and loss of life meaning is added to the struggle.

Questions of “why God,” “why me,” and “how can you let me suffer ” are just some of the painful cries that circle in the mind of a Christian while in acute mental illness. These questions are asked even by older believers with mature character and deeper spiritual understanding, including pastors and church leaders. This is not different from Job’s cries to God during his sufferings. The Apostle Paul’s “thorn” is an example of these spiritual struggles with a frustrated request for healing despite a victorious Christian life.

Relief from pain and restoration from illness are the hope of medical treatment.  When the relief from pain or restoration to former function is incomplete, the veil of “normal life” is lifted and the brokenness of life on earth is revealed. How then can God still be sovereign and loving? How can suffering be transformed to “delight” as described by Paul?

When one suffers from acute mental illness, obtaining good mental health care is crucial for healing and returning to a functional life. For the believer, there is an accompanying deep search for spiritual meaning in the suffering. This requires holding on to our belief of a sovereign God, and experiencing His love above all else despite the pain.  Job’s ability to question his sufferings and not sin, and Paul’s ability to count his thorn as a delight are models for our response and spiritual direction.  Despite severe illness, as followers of Jesus, we can believe in a higher purpose to our suffering.  We hold in faith that God is more powerful, knowledgeable and more loving than our experience of pain and loss of a “normal” life.  With meaning, our suffering and disability can be overcome.  The “dark night” we experience can lead to a transformation of our brokenness, and as with Job and Paul, we can surrender to a life in deeper communion, empowered by Him.

Spiritual Lessons of a Historic Presidential Election, Part I: Communion vs. Nationalism

The 2016 U.S. presidential election has been emotionally painful for many people.  Part of this is a result of the dark and regressive campaigns run by both sides of the political divide.

Some have found the process so destructive that they feel the United States has been damaged by it. People desire communion, and nationalism can provide a limited sense of this. We can be comforted that we live in a great nation, and there is community in a national identity. Some now experience a feeling of loss of what they believed to be a godly national identity.  The recent election has been a powerful force towards disunity and fragmentation.

In losing the election, there is pain and fear in the result.  In winning the election, there is relief and comfort.  Both of these election experiences were deeply emotional, and the darkness of this world can use either experience to deceive and keep us away from the Light.  For those experiencing relief, there is deception in the comfort and reliance on anything other than our Lord. For those feeling fear and pain of the loss, there is comfort in the Great Comforter.  

If your “side” won, you are relieved and pleased that the future will bring a return of the country back to the “good” side. Of those whose candidate won, many believe that the United States has been and now will again be the best country in the world.  But as Christians, we always need reminders that darkness has free rein on earth. Despite the country’s God-honoring origins, Satan has always been here, working destructively to take his prey.  We want to believe that as Americans, we are good, safe, and justified. We desire unity in a national identity, but nationalism can be a dividing force against the people of other countries.  If we believe Americans are godlier than those of other nations, 1John 2:16 warns us against a worldly arrogance that can be a part of our nationalism. We are not godly based on our earthly citizenship.

If your “side” lost, it was a crushing and unexpected defeat, resulting in fear that the world will be unsafe and controlled by the “bad” side. But if we are in Christ, He is then with us no matter what country we belong to. Our citizenship is in heaven. Whether we live in the United States, Communist China, Russia, Mexico, Japan or Congo, if we are surrendered to Christ, we are in His communion. If we are His, then nothing can separate us from Him and His righteousness including our national identity or whoever is governing us.

Wherever we are, take comfort that God ordains our leadership and our governments, as in Romans 13:1-7. He is sovereign and no matter where we lie down and put our heads, we live daily, moment by moment in Him, which is a better reality than living governed by who we think would be the better leader.

Whether your “side” won or lost, or if you are sad that your United States is either changing from good to bad, or from bad to good, remember that God is our King, not a political leader, party or country.  They are under God’s domain and power, and He is ruler over them all. Don’t be deceived by the ruler of this world. Take comfort that what makes us good or bad, or righteous, is not our country, party or politics.  It is by His grace. God is sovereign and our communion is in Him.

Iron Sharpens Iron

Iron sharpens iron. This metaphor is from Proverbs 27:17, referencing the positive effects of relationships (so one person sharpens another).  Relationship is God’s message, and it is through relationships that He leads us to perfect our love for Him and others. But here on earth, God reaches us through relationship, and He works through redemptive process. He works through conflicts that occur in all relationships, through the process of repentance and restoration, to transform us towards Him.

We are drawn to relationship for love and communion. Community and communion are a natural human desire and part of our experience before the fall.  Relationship allows the Spirit to be actively present, as stated in Matthew 18:20. Relationships benefit us by providing encouragement, mentoring and modeling of good behavior.  Relationships also provide support and correction towards Godly pursuits and service. They allow us to practice Galatians 6:2, to carry one another’s burdens.

The second point of the proverb is less obvious, but describes the workings of the Spirit using a relationship’s conflict and its restoration.  Conflicts in relationships are important events that can lead to spiritual growth. As trials and suffering can be transformative, relational conflicts, although painful, can be used by the Spirit towards sanctification.

Following the metaphor, sharpening is both destructive and creative.  Transformation of imperfect iron blades occurs at the contact point between the blades as they grind each other’s edges. This contact destroys the blades’ original edges as they are recreated as new and sharper.

In relationship conflicts, a similar process occurs, but the destructive grinding between people can produce growth and transformation. Conflicts can highlight imperfections in either person.  The Spirit can expose parts of us that are selfish, proud or unsurrendered to Christ. This can lead either to a relational impasse or a process of reconciliation. With commitment of will and the Spirit’s help, those who are in Christ can be convicted, humbled and brought to repentance. We can choose to grow, and ask for forgiveness and the relationship can be restored to a healthier and Godlier intimacy. Anyone who has argued and fought in marriage or other meaningful relationship can appreciate that after forgiveness and restoration, the relationship deepens.

Love is embodied through intimate attachments. Love is demonstrated in surrender and restoration, allowed by forgiveness. Not only do relationships enhance communion, their conflicts with restoration are embodiments of God’s redemptive work through Christ. Relationships, with their attachments and conflicts, are a vehicle for restoration and transformation, used by the Spirit to create and recreate us to a new creature, more perfect in Christ.

Carpe Diem, ADHD, and the Battle of the Moment


Experiences of mental disorders can reveal how God-given brain functions serve us, and how their absence affects our abilities to function in the world.  Suffering and healing from these conditions reveal how God transforms us, as He redeems us from or despite our illnesses and imperfections.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, (ADHD), is a mental disorder affecting concentration and attentional functions of the brain, causing difficulties in controlling one’s mental focus.  This condition can lead to problems in everyday living, not only in academic and intellectual pursuits, but also in social interactions, personal relationships, psychological development and spiritual growth.

Without good concentration abilities, people have trouble organizing, planning, dealing with emotions as well as being sensitive to the feelings of others. A person with ADHD has to work harder than normal to focus, as it is abnormally easy to be distracted.  If ADHD is severe, living life in the moment can be a struggle because we need to pay attention in order to live in the present.  For the severely afflicted, inattention can also block our abilities to prepare for the future.

Without ADHD, normal concentration and attention are more automatic. Our abilities to focus, evaluate the present and prepare for the future are taken for granted.  Making plans and organizing projects are not as much of a struggle.  But life is full of unpredictable and unexpected events, and we realize the future is actually out of our control.  That is when we can experience anxiety.

“Carpe Diem,” or “seize the day,” is a Latin saying, from the Roman poet Horace, encouraging us to live in the moment.  This saying was meant to draw people back to the present, to appreciate and experience life fully and attend less to an uncertain future.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us to live in the present, and not to worry about the future:

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?…
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Matthew 6:31,34 (KJV)

Jesus ministers to believers’ fears and anxieties brought on by trying to control our lives. He encourages us to let go of anxiety and give up trying to control the future.  He embodied a life of surrender to God, depending on Him not only to care for “clothing, food and drink,” but also direction, strength and rest.  Choosing communion with God allows us to focus on the present to battle “the evil thereof.” As we abide in Him, we have assurance that our future is secure in His care.

The spiritual battle takes place at the moment between self and surrender.  We choose either self-reliance or communion with God, surrendered to His sovereignty.  The outcome of this battle determines our spiritual growth.

With ADHD, paying attention to the present or planning for the future is not an automatic ability. Those affected often work harder to focus on the moment.  Fighting the spiritual battle for God’s communion, affected by ADHD, is like going to war without a strategic weapon.

Those without ADHD have the same battle, the struggle to balance responsibility for the future while abiding in God in the present.  Unlike those with ADHD, the balance is not complicated by the struggle for mental and emotional focus required to make well-considered spiritual choices.

“Carpe diem,” as Christ provides opportunities each moment for redemption in our brokenness and fallen nature, for a deeper communion with Him.

Time to Redeem


Birthdays, anniversaries and New Year’s celebrations are ways to mark the passage of time, valuing achievements as well as what has occurred over the past year.  Resolutions are a way to remember and set goals to use the time wisely in the coming year. Unfortunately, we usually forget these goals all too soon, as resolutions quickly “fall by the wayside.” But time is a valuable gift, and it is often wasted.

He made everything appropriate in its time. He also placed eternity within them—yet, no person can fully comprehend what God is doing from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ISV)

In mental disorders, time is a crucial requirement in healing of both relational conflicts as well as inner psychic disorders.  In no other disorder is the perception of time as severely disrupted as it is with the destructive effects of emotional trauma. Before medical training, I first learned about the connection between the experience of time and emotional trauma from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse Five.  In this story, the main figure Billy Pilgrim suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by his experience of the bombings in Dresden during World War II. Traumatic experiences of the war suspended his sense of time, causing him to reexperience the bombings throughout the book with “flashbacks” of memories.

In real cases of traumatic stress disorders, “flashbacks” do occur.  During these flashbacks, one feels the same painful experiences suffered during the trauma, while being emotionally “transported” back to that time.  The psyche attempts to repair and recover one’s broken identity to be whole again. It can take time and professional help to heal the broken inner parts of one’s identity that traumatic life experience has fractured. Healing requires time to regain mastery and safety as psychological wholeness is restored.

Traumatic experiences are not the only way we are broken in our psyches or in our relationships. Brokenness is part of our nature as men and women in a fallen world. Sequential time was lovingly created by God for both our spiritual and psychological redemption. This redemption includes sanctification as the process by which the Spirit heals and draws us to God.

The Spirit works to heal fractured parts of ourselves as well as fractured relationships, bringing us towards reconciliation and growth. The Spirit uses time to lead us to healing and wholeness. This includes psychological as well as relational wholeness.  It includes finding and choosing Christ’s salvation.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope.  When you call out to me and come and pray to me, I’ll hear you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I’ll be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I’ll restore your security and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I’ve driven you,’ declares the Lord. ‘I’ll bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.’        
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (ISV)

God created time for our redemption. Time gives us the space to heal, grow and develop a closer relationship with Him.  A New Year’s resolution can help us remember to use the year for continual redemption and a closer walk with God.

Paradox of Trying to Be Good

paradox windows.jpg

“Paradox” is a term used to describe contradictions in life.  Living with paradoxes is part of the Christian life. It is a phenomenon that provides a useful tool for spiritual growth. As a Christian, living in this world but not being of this world requires an awareness of how polar opposite God’s perspective is from the world’s view. The concept of paradox gives us a clearer awareness of that great divide. One example of a paradox is the spiritual destructiveness of “trying to be good.” If we try to be good, we sink deeper in sin. This is a paradox, but if we are aware of it, we can make healthier choices in life and relationships.

“Trying to be good” is different from trying to be in God’s will. In relationships, it is different from loving others as ourselves. “Trying to be good” is a way we build up our own pride at the expense of others. When trying to be good is more important than considering the wishes or needs of the other person, we are relating by attempting to control the other.

The sin of trying to control others can occur when it’s more important for me to try to be a “good Christian” than to respect and love the other person in the relationship. If all I want from you is to give you the gospel without thinking or caring about who you are or what you can hear, it could be experienced as the opposite of loving. It is really my selfish needs that I’m caring for, not the needs of the other. This is not a loving process. It is using the other person for a self-serving benefit.

This process leads others away from us, the Church and possibly God.  We can want the best for others, and in the name of Christ, we “do” to others.  This is not always wrong.  The difference appears subtle, but there is a major difference of the heart.  It is sin when we engage in a “savior fantasy,” enjoying the role of being a savior instead of submitting to the one and only Savior. Taking a controlling role of savior supports the world’s perspective of self-focus and pride.

Surrendering is the key to loving. It is the opposite from being controlling, and as it releases control of the other, surrender creates freedom. The love of 1 Corinthians 13 comes from being a follower of Christ, in a surrendered, selfless gratitude.  Love of our Savior is the motivation, not the pride of acting as someone’s savior.

Since the fall, we lost our communion with the Perfect and Holy One.  In that separation, Adam chose to “know” good and evil, and became judge.  We do not have God’s omniscience, so we are imperfect in our understanding.  We judge incompletely. We try to attain salvation through our own perfection, but fail.

If I speak in the languages of humans and angels but have no love, I have become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing. Even if I give away everything that I have and sacrifice myself, but have no love, I gain nothing.
1 Cor 13:1-3 (ISV)

We see God’s wisdom in His Word. He foreknew our inability to fulfill perfectionism.  He encourages us away from the world’s delusion of self-fulfillment and pride.  He points us away from the world and draws us toward relationship and love.  He draws us to Himself.

Adore Him with Awestruck Wonder

awesome light.jpg

A big part of the Christmas season and tradition includes Christmas music. Aesthetic experience is a powerful modality with which to commune with the Spirit.  Music and lyrics provide both emotional connection and spiritual truths.  Through aesthetic experience, we can have a more direct worshipful experience in awe and adoration of the birth of our Lord.  John Francis Wade’s “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and Kari Jobe’s “Revelation Song” are two examples of music directly connecting to the experiences of adoration and awe of God.

The words adoration and awe describe the response to being in the presence of God. We know that God is the One who freely gives us unending and unfathomable love.  As we try to feel adoration for Him and experience awe of Him, we find that it is not automatic. Adoration and awe are not responses we can easily turn on or off.  These experiences need to be cultivated and nurtured over time. The level of adoration and awe we feel parallels the depth of our understanding of who God is and how He loves us. They are the responses of our soul’s communion with God.

Deepening our knowledge and understanding of God comes from the maturing of our heart, which includes our emotions. Maturing our emotions comes from persevering over time through trials and suffering, leading us to a deeper communion with Him. The heart grows deeper through life lived surrendered to the Spirit. Communion is the prize achieved through ongoing spiritual growth.

Alternatively, knowledge of God’s Word gives truth, revealing the nature of God’s relationship with us. We understand He created time in order for us to grow to Him and be redeemed. We know He sacrificed His Son for us. We are taught the depth and breadth of His love for us. Knowledge elevates our understanding of who God is, also bringing us to closer communion with Him.

Both intellectual understanding and emotional connection are needed to appreciate more of who God is. This appreciation requires thoughtful and emotional vision to see His expansive agency.  We learn and glimpse part of His unending capacity to love. As we draw closer to Him we become more aware that God is bigger than what our thoughts or our emotions can capture.  We see Him incompletely through our minds and hearts, through our thoughts and feelings.  We see Him by His light, to know Him more fully, to more deeply feel His love.  This is love too big, undefinable and unthinkable. He is too big for us to fully comprehend.

As we know Him more fully, as we feel His love more deeply, we can then respond in awe with adoration, to glorify Him.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people who enjoy his favor!
Luke 2:14 (ISV)

Merry Christmas

Approaching Evil


Evil is bombarding us and in the news on a daily basis.  There is a rising fear in the world that is compelling.  The media is amplifying this fear, as are the politicians, who use these events for personal gain.  How can Christians combat this fear?  How do we stand apart from the world and respond with God’s assurances?  How does psychoanalytic understanding help us to rise above fear and fulfill the challenge to be set apart, and love our enemies?

We know we are to claim the peace of God, letting our hearts not to be troubled.  We are assured that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.  We don’t need to be anxious, as God will not bring us trials that are too strong for us to confront.

When we see evil acts, we assign evil to the person who performed the evil. This seems logical. We judge, yet we judge with a fallen nature and limited wisdom. We judge despite the result of the fall, knowing good and evil, but not being God.

This is a natural reaction.  The reason we react so easily this way is due to a psychological process called “splitting.”  This is a primitive immature mental process, that all of us appropriately used as young children. It describes our reaction of seeing things as either good or bad. It is the foundation for the development of complex ways of thinking. With wisdom, we progress from seeing only “black and white” to seeing “shades of greys.”  As adults, we mature and grow in understanding. Judgement of good and bad becomes more complicated. We see that life is not simple, and we are not perfect.  With maturity, we take responsibility for our failings. We look beyond ourselves for justice and perfection. This comes with Christian wisdom, as we understand and surrender to the Spirit of God.

But it is human nature to judge others. This is destructive.  If we see others as evil, we use their fallenness to build up our pride, denying our own brokenness. We deny them grace, which is not loving. This human reaction sets up a division of condemnation between “us” and “them.”  We set ourselves apart as self-righteous and in the process, we lose communion with the Spirit.

As Christians, we are called not to judge.  We are called to love others, including our enemies.  Evil comes from powers and principalities, including the power of the evil one who encourages splitting.  Evil takes glee in seeing our immaturity, encouraging us to judge others. This undoes our witness as purveyors of God’s love.  We are then not set apart from the world. We continue in pride and isolation, which keeps us vulnerable to fear and anxiety. The powers and principalities including the media and some politicians, benefit from our fears.

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you will become children of your Father in heaven, because he makes his sun rise on both evil and good people, and he lets rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you greet only your relatives, that’s no great thing you’re doing, is it? Even the unbelievers do the same, don’t they?  So be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:44-48, (ISV)

We are called to love our enemies.  Splitting is an immature response, and the evil one loves immaturity.  Evil drives our pride, which disconnects our communion with others and the Holy Spirit.  It leaves us alone and vulnerable to fear, back to the anxiety of the world.

So when we see evil, pray.  Pray not to give in to splitting, not to judge others, and pray for help to see the log in our own eye.  Return to communion, avoid self-righteousness, connect to the One who promises comfort and justice. Pray for protection from evil, and pray for wisdom to love our enemies as fellow sinners.

Smashing Pomegranates


Pomegranates used to make me groan. Sure, the seeds were juicy, but tearing the fruit apart is hard work to get to the intense blood red-colored seed. It’s a lot of work for a few tasty seeds. Seeing the pomegranate during the holidays recently brought me to an image of the fruit crashing into a cement wall, exploding into a thousand pieces.

Like the pomegranate, people appear consistent and whole from the outside. Like the fruit, with hundreds of seeds compartmentalized into different sections, we have a complex inner structure, divided by different experiences, memories and feelings. Our inner self is a whole which is made up of many different identities.

We see this when we are in different settings. At church, work or in private, we behave with different morals and motivations. Our language at the ballpark may be different than how we speak in our chamber of commerce. Our behavior in our computer life may be different than our behavior in our Sunday school class. Our actions with spouses, children, neighbors and coworkers demonstrate different parts of who we are and how mature psychologically and spiritually those parts can be. At times we can be mature and admirable, at other times childish and vile.

We are a whole identity, the overall picture of many good and bad identities, the godly and not-so-godly. These different parts added together make up who we are as a whole.

We grow and mature our inner parts as our environment, our physical and emotional state, and the state of our relationships prompt us to make choices. We are prompted by trials and sufferings that affect who we are emotionally as well as spiritually, leading us to choices that bring us closer or more distant from God’s will.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 (ISV)

God sees us as we are now, how we’ve been in the past and who we will be in the future. He sees all of us, including our individual parts as well as the whole, throughout time. He loved us when we were not yet born, and when we were not yet believers in Him. He loves us through time, and He shapes us. He intervenes in our lives, providing us with the relationships and situations which shape growth and development of all of our parts, towards a more mature, more whole child of God.

Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.
Psalm 139:16 (HCSB)

The pomegranate has many biblical references as well as a long Middle Eastern history, spotlighting it for a spiritual metaphor. Its hundreds of seeds, many compartments and clusters, represent our many inward parts that are subject to redemption and growth. It can also remind us of the patience of God who redeems every immature part of us so we can know Him more.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Psalm 51:6 (NKJV)

As we undergo conflicts, suffering and trials, we endure and make choices. As we endure, the Spirit transforms our different inner parts, just as God ripens the clusters of pomegranate seeds to a sweet and unique taste. So we grow to Christian maturity, towards a more complete and whole created person, a pleasing offering to God.