Skrewtape’s stamp of approval

Imagine my horror, when I saw this on the dark web. It appears my post on worship has gone viral there after receiving the infamous Screwtape‘s personal stamp of approval.

At great personal risk, I have copied the text of Screwtape’s response to my post. I hope it will be beneficial to you. I know I learned a lot from reading it.

An image of my post on worship with Screwtape's stamp of approval

An image of my post on worship with Screwtape’s stamp of approval

To: My pathetic colleagues including the deficient Wormwood

From: the Inimitable Screwtape, Master of Daemons and Online Trolls

Another obscure post from another unknown blogger was brought to my attention. But it worries me slightly. Let’s use it as an example of how to avoid the good and focus on the bad. There is some risk associated with Mr. Darren’s self-righteous post, but I think we can manage it if we divert the discussions in the Parking Lot and bring in some resources from the Department of Discord.

Mister Darren starts off with some noxious clap trap about love, love, and more love. Do your best to divert anyone who happens along his blog post to skim over this part. Try to tease them into thinking this lovey talk is just the normal background noise of “churchiness” and not that he REALLY loves his church, his pastors (bleh I can hardly stand to type that word), or his youth. The word “love” stinks of the enemy, and real love is intolerable.

On to the juicy parts. I would have ignored this post altogether if Mr. Darren had not identified (accidentally, I’m sure because he doesn’t appear exceptionally bright) our two main techniques for deflating the power of worshipping the enemy – that is over emotionalism and under emotionalism. (Ugh! I hate admitting that anyone could actually worship … whatever!)

Cathartic excess and adrenaline has been one of our most effective weapons, and Mr. Darren has the gall to try to shine his little pen-light of a blog on our secret machinations. This has to be dealt with.

Likewise, he turns his little pitiful blog towards our bulwark of the disconnected recitation of mumblings that the enemy’s minions call the liturgy. He rightly points out that the words in those liturgical writings are noxious to us and are focused on the enemy.

But I’m not worried about the words in their liturgy or the words in their noxious praise songs. We have human nature on our side. And that is where I would like you to focus your efforts.

I am assigning Wormwood to lead this task. Hopefully, he won’t foul this one up.

Here is the plan.

If by chance someone stumbled upon Mr. Darren’s insignificant and pitiful blog, it is ok to let them read it. After they read it begin your work, thusly. Put the following questions into their ever-so-distractable minds:

  1. How many minutes are dedicated in a so-called worship service to their favorite categories: Contemporary vs Traditional vs Liturgical
  2. Did the worship committee pick EXACTLY the same number of contemporary songs vs old songs.
  3. Why is (organ, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, piano, drums) being used? NEVER let them listen unimpeded to the beauty of any musical offering! That beauty (bleh) is from the enemy and is very dangerous to us. Instead, get them to focus on every little missed note, off pitch, etc. These people are pretty pathetic so it is always easy to find distracting bits in the mix.
  4. Why is the pastor using that story, telling that joke, behaving that way, choosing that verse? This overly critical attitude of the “laypeople” is a new tool for us, and it is bearing some excellent fruit. Do your best to eliminate any respect of the pastors because they serve the enemy full time. There’s no telling what those fellas are up to. Especially dangerous to us are those pastors who pray together with each other and their leadership teams and who hold each other accountable. Our people cannot stand to be in the room when they are praying to the enemy, so we have difficulty knowing what they are planning.
  5. Why are we (or aren’t we) offering two worship services? We can operate effectively against the enemy in either of these situations so no matter what they choose to do, we can still distract the members to be bothered by the situation.

The one thing we CANNOT allow under any circumstances, and that is to allow the members of Faith Lutheran Church or any other church to ACTUALLY worship the enemy.

Although I couldn’t bear to read all the writings and analysis Mr. Darren pulled from the so called “holy” writings, I do know he got dangerously close to equating worship with selflessness and sacrifice. This is a very delicate situation, but Mr. Darren has given you the key to distracting a devout worshiper. Notice his martyrial tone. “I will be the one to sacrifice MY desires.” Oh brother! Take this over-dramatic selflessness and insert our secret sauce – pride.

If you can have the devout worshipers become proud of their devotion, then we can derail the whole enterprise.

That’s enough for now.

Don’t mess it up!

-Screwtape

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Your First Philosophy Book

For my fellow Ratio Christi Chapter Directors who have not studied philosophy, formally, yet…

This is a reblog of RTB Scholar Ken Samples recommendation of an introductory philosophy text. He makes a compelling case. I think I’ll buy it.

Here is an excerpt, but you should read the whole article and should subscribe to Ken’s blog.

“For several years I struggled to find a textbook that would buttress my diligent efforts to teach philosophy to young men and women in a challenging and stimulating fashion. By far, the best introduction to philosophy textbook I have ever seen or used is Ed Miller’s outstanding book Questions That Matter (hereafter QTM). Allow me to explore this work by mentioning five reasons why this book is a truly exceptional textbook in philosophy.
[continue to Ken’s blog to read the whole thing…]
-Darren

Reflections

My favorite way to spend the day

This current blog series on Reflections is intended to encourage Christians to read more vigorously by providing a beginner’s guide to some of the Christian classics in such fields as theology, philosophy, and apologetics. Hopefully a very brief introduction to these important Christian texts will motivate today’s believers, as St. Augustine was called to in his dramatic conversion to Christianity, to “take up and read” (Latin: Tolle lege) these classic books.

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This week’s book, Questions That Matter, originally written by Ed Miller and later revised with coauthor Jon Jensen, is not a Christian classic but rather an introductory textbook to philosophy. However, this is not just any textbook. This is, in my view, the very best introduction to philosophy text available today. Anyone interested in philosophy, especially Christians, should start their study of philosophy with this book.

Why Is This Author Notable?

Ed Miller holds dual doctorates in…

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Worship – a layman’s perspective

Originally penned on 8/30/2015. Due to the controversial nature of this topic I have sat on it for nearly two years. It’s time to post it and begin the discussion as carefully as I am able.

UPDATE: Be sure to read the comment stream on this post and look at Screwtape’s reaction.

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My Quandary

I am in a congregation that I love, serving youth and young adults that I love, living in a neighborhood that I love, and in a denominational synod that I love.

What is missing from that wonderfully blessed situation?

Worship

I have experienced contemporary worship since I left for college in 1987. I know all the words to every Michael W. Smith, Twila Paris, Amy Grant, Rich Mullins, etc. worship song. Nobody can say I don’t know the contemporary music associated with contemporary worship. I am also familiar with Episcopal (1968 – 1987), Baptist (UT 1987 – 1992), LCMS (1992 – 1997), Methodist (1997 – 2004), and LCMS (2004 – present) theology, hymnody, and worship styles. And by visitation, I have seen Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Assembly of God worship services as well as the myriad of student worship gatherings for the Baptist Student Ministries, the Wesley Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and CRU.

I have become convinced that these worship methods are strongly targeted to the emotional side of Christianity. I have been told many times by well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ – layman, laywomen, elders, and pastors that “churches with young people have these types of services”. I have observed this as well. But I have also seen that the laypersons’ Biblical literacy, apologetic ability, and knowledge of the basic theological tenants of the Christian faith are in a pathetic state of decay.

These two trends are related.

“What you win a person WITH, is what you win a person TO.”

– Ravi Zacharias, Christian Evangelist and Apologist

No matter what congregation you are in, pay attention to the next worship music “set” and you will see “the buildup”, “the climax”, and “the afterglow” with an occasional echo of the climax and afterglow. It is a very effective emotional technique. It produces predictable results for those who are drawn into the experience. They get lost in the experience – some laughing, some crying, some simply drowning in the endorphins.

I understand. The world is a crummy, fallen, and heartbreaking mess. We are crummy, fallen, and heartbroken. We need an escape. We need to feel absorbed in the glory of our Lord and what He has done for us. We need to forget the world and our sinful selves as we rest on the Lord’s atonement.

However, escapism doesn’t help me truly deal with Monday-Saturday issues. The Sunday morning high helps me cope. I might even get a midweek booster shot on Wednesday nights. But being won with emotionalism, I am left with emotionalism.

(Please do not dismiss my next few points because of any prejudice on your part against words like Liturgical or Episcopal. That is called the Genetic Fallacy and it prevents you from listening to my POINT because you disagree with my BACKGROUND.)

My earliest worship experiences were in St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, TX. This church uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and the liturgical portions were exactly the same Sunday after Sunday. Yet, it was deeply moving without being escapist. I learned to read the big words in those prayers as a child. I learned what inestimable meant. I learned what presume meant. I learned that I was a miserable sinner. It seemed fitting to have a formal “you” (Thou, Thy, and Thee) which was used for God (and God alone since we do not speak this way, today).

What made this worship meaningful to me? I wasn’t sure. After a few years in the Baptist church at UT I began to miss it. I was afraid my longing for it was merely nostalgia for my childhood. Then, I visited the Lutheran Church with my girlfriend (later we were wed there). I heard similar prayers and similar portions of the service with the same strange names – Agnus Dei, Te Deum, Hosanna, etc. Something clicked. I thought growing up that the liturgy of St Andrews was written in 1928. It was not.

Fast forward in my search. Seeing the same portions in the Lutheran and Episcopal service meant the service predated the split between those two. Later I saw the same upon visiting a Roman Catholic church, meaning the service predates the Protestant-Catholic split in 1500 AD. Imagine my surprise when I visited my Greek Orthodox friend’s church and saw the same portions of the service with even the same words in the Kyrie Eleison and Agnus Dei! This predates the East-West split in 1000 AD. I was finally able to pull the thread back to the 70 AD Liturgy of Saint James – brother of Jesus, leader of the first century church in Jerusalem.

  1. K. Chesterton was paraphrased by John F. Kennedy as saying,

“Don’t take a fence down until you know why it was put up.”

The passage he was paraphrasing is:

“There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.”

What IS Worship?

At this point, it is appropriate to ask “What is worship?”

  • Is it a purely escapist emotional experience, a few readings, a message, and some cut-and-paste parts from a loose order of worship?
  • Is it a stiff and stodgy recitation of words written by the forefathers of our forefathers?

Let’s take a detour from opinions and go to the actual words of divine scripture.

From the Blue Letter Bible website

Worship in Hebrew (shachah, Strongs #H7812 is translated in the following manner: worship (99x), bow (31x), bow down (18x), obeisance (9x), reverence (5x), fall down (3x), themselves (2x), stoop (1x), crouch (1x), misc (3x)

Outline of Biblical Usage

  • to bow down
  • (Qal) to bow down
  • (Hiphil) to depress (fig)
  • (Hithpael)
  • to bow down, prostrate oneself
    • before superior in homage
    • before God in worship
    • before false gods
    • before angel

And in Greek (proskyneo, Strongs # G4352 is translated in the following manner: worship (60x).

Outline of Biblical Usage

  • to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
  • among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
  • in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
  • used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
    • to the Jewish high priests
    • to God
    • to Christ
    • to heavenly beings
    • to demons

Jesus linked service to worship in response to Satan’s temptation. The word for service he used is letreuo, Strongs #G3000 in the following manner: serve (16x), worship (3x), do the service (1x), worshipper (1x)

Outline of Biblical Usage

  • to serve for hire
  • to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen
    • in the NT, to render religious service or homage, to worship
    • to perform sacred services, to offer gifts, to worship God in the observance of the rites instituted for his worship
    • of priests, to officiate, to discharge the sacred office

It is clear to me from the outlines and the usages that worship is about bowing down, prostration to God, and service to Him and His wishes.

There is no hint of an emotional high. That does not mean it is emotion-free.

I have often been moved to tears through the words of the various liturgical settings in the Lutheran Church and still when I go back and visit my childhood church home. The distinction is this. The words moved me to tears, yet they were not designed to move me to tears.

The words in that service were not written to move me through any emotional arc. My emotional connection to them is rooted in what they move me to say about myself, what they move me to say about God, and what God has to say to me in His Word.

In “wordy” worship, I am being won “with words” and thus I am won “to words”.

When I need mid-week strength, I don’t need my worship song playlist. I can be fed with the pure Word of God – strengthened and uplifted by the encouraging scriptures that have been incorporated in the order of worship and committed to memory by a lifetime of recitation.

“Come unto me all who travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.”

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

“It is more blessed to give than to receive”

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son, so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.”

And on, and on. (These scripture passages are at the beginning of Morning Prayer.)

One last point

Worship is about sacrifice, and sacrifice comes in many forms. For worship, we sacrifice sleep on the weekend, we sacrifice time, and we sacrifice our resources. Why is it when it comes to worship that we refuse to sacrifice our opinions about what matters in worship? Instead, we insist that WE are right and that OUR wishes are the only ones that will “keep the church alive” or will “bring in young people”.

It is unreasonable for me to ask YOU to sacrifice your opinions, wishes, desires, and yes, even emotional needs.

Unless a compromise can be found, I will do the sacrificing. I will continue to stay in a congregation that I love, serving youth and young adults that I love, living in a neighborhood that I love, and in a denominational synod that I love.

But when the cacophony and emotional arc begins I will sacrifice my preference and my need of meaningful and familiar words and hymnody. There will still be parts of the worship service that speak to me, in the readings, the sermon, the confession, absolution, words of institution, and the creeds. But even if the familiarity is taken away through weekly re-writes, I will continue to see this as my prostration, my worship, and my drink offering to the Lord. And if I get too hungry for the old words, I can always pull the LSB or Book of Common Prayer off the shelf at my house and have my own worship “service” alone with the Lord.

I do ask that I not be insulted by calling my worship “dead”. It is as alive as my Savior Jesus Christ.

Moving Forward with Hope

I appreciate our Pastors’ interest in opening the door to a discussion about worship. I would like to keep the ball moving.

Some objections to deal with up front.

The retort that people fall into a rote recitation is often used as an argument against using the service book for worship, but this is a problem with the worshipper not the words. Leadership should always encourage the congregation to engage the mind and heart when reading responsively.

The same observation can be made of people in praise services checking their phones or standing bored with their hands in their pockets during music sets. It is not consistent to use disengagement as a criticism of any form of worship.

The real issue for us is that there are two preferences in one congregation.

The Solution

The following suggestion would breathe new life into our congregation, because it is something that people have been asking for since 2005. For over ten years, many of us have been asking for a service that allowed us to know exactly what we were going to be doing and saying on Sunday morning so we could throw our full attention into worshipping our Savior.

This should not be seen in a negative light. This should not be seen as a defeat or capitulation to those immovable traditionalists. This should not be seen as creating two congregations. There are already two groups attending one service on Sunday morning and two different sets of voices on each type of music.

This should be seen as proactive service of the needs of those who need structure to their worship. This will also provide an outreach opportunity. I predict that the 8 am service will bring people in. I do not know of any no theologically conservative churches in Huntsville who have structured worship on Sunday mornings. Why can’t we provide this for the community? It is an unmet need that we can fill.

If you are worried about structured worship producing dead Christians, then I hope to allay those fears with my very life.

To worship one way or another is a matter of preference on BOTH sides. Please acknowledge that my preference is no less holy than someone else’s.

“19 Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. ” [Hebrews 10:19-25 HCSB]

Flexibility in this area by providing two worship forms on Sunday morning will greatly “promote love and good works”, and will express the concern we have for people who are “staying away from our worship meetings” (physically or mentally).

Please receive this long text with the grace and love that went into writing it. I hold NO ill will, nor do I want a worship war. I want peace in the congregation, and I want to proclaim Christ’s love in many ways each week.

Darren

The club no one wants to join

The club of those who have lost a husband, wife, child, parent, loved one…

My sister shared this post on Facebook, and it was good. I hope you will be comforted by it. I have blogged about this here, here, and here.

KCB.PJB

What to Say When Someone Dies, By Laura Munson

No one really knows what to say to someone when their loved one dies. You can say, “You’re in my thoughts and prayers,” and maybe that’s true. Maybe you actually know what to think or pray on that person’s behalf. Personally, I’m never sure.

…Laura gives some great advice, and then she copies a letter into her blog that she wrote to her friend…

Hello, beautiful. I am thinking of you non-stop. Thank you for calling on me to be in your circle at this impossible time. I am not afraid of this, so I’m glad you called me in. I will be there for you. The books you asked for should be there by the end of the week. I will write some of the points I made on the phone here, since you asked for them. If my words on the phone were helpful, it’s only because you are open to them. I truly hope they help. Here is what has helped me and some of the people I know who have been through deep loss:

  • First of all: Breathe. I mean it. That’s your most important tool to stay in the present, out of fear, and to sustain yourself. You will find yourself holding your breath. Try to stay aware of your breath no matter what and keep breathing…in…out…in…out. Deeply if you can. Little sips when deep is too hard.

Read more… Reblogged from Huffington Post

I pray that you will reach the peaceful place that only comes from Christ. May he bless you and keep you and give you peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [John 14:27 ESV]

-Darren

Logically Questioning Strange Ideas and Controversial Theories

Another great post by Ken. Here’s a good quote from it, “Unfortunately, too often people who affirm strange beliefs and conspiracy theories in particular have not considered genuine challenges to their viewpoints.”

Reflections

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As a Christian scholar and logic instructor, I often get asked about my thoughts on strange phenomena, controversial theories, and alternative conspiratorial explanations. Through the years I’ve frequently been asked about such unusual things as UFOs, the apparitions of Mary, near-death experiences, and a host of conspiracy theories such as those relating to the JFK assassination, denial of the Holocaust, the so-called moon-landing hoax, secret societies, and various speculative end-of-the-world scenarios.

Not all of these topics are on the same level when it comes to their rational or non-rational basis and their evidentiary or non-evidentiary support level, but they are all unusual and highly controversial issues. Thus, before accepting any strange and/or controversial idea these topics need to be thought through carefully—lest we affirm belief in something that is false, misleading, or possibly even harmful. Of course from a Christian perspective a believer in Christ should also ask if certain…

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An atheist explains the real consequences of adopting an atheistic worldview

Worth Reading: Wintery Knight gives an interesting perspective of atheists on atheism.

WINTERY KNIGHT

A conflict of worldviews A conflict of worldviews

If you love to listen to the Cold Case Christianity podcast, as I do, then you know that in a recent episode, J. Warner Wallace mentioned a blog post on an atheistic blog that clearly delineated the implications of an atheistic worldview. He promised he was going to write about it and link to the post, and he has now done so.

Here is the whole the whole thing that the atheist posted:

“[To] all my Atheist friends.

Let us stop sugar coating it. I know, it’s hard to come out and be blunt with the friendly Theists who frequent sites like this. However in your efforts to “play nice” and “be civil” you actually do them a great disservice.

We are Atheists. We believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident. All life in the Universe past and future are the results of random…

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Diagnosis Grief is Okay

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6:50 AM – After morning hugs, I’m headed out the door to work.

She says, “How about Mexican for lunch? El Gordo’s?”

“Yes! Text me when you are ready to head that way.”, I say on my way out.

I love their El Pastor Quesadillas!

9:53 AM – Stomach growls. I eat the daily 10AM yogurt snack, and think of El Gordo’s.

11:02 AM – Still feeling snackish. I tell myself to wait. El Gordo is coming, and I can save up my hunger for the chips and salsa.

11:35 AM – It is officially early lunch time and the best time to leave work to beat the crowd to lunch. I pick up my phone to text her when it buzzes in my hand.

“Let’s save money and just eat a salad instead.”

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Noooooooooo!

I’m not sure about you, but I dial my taste buds into a certain flavor, and they can anticipate the goodness of it all for hours beforehand.

I can also be terribly disappointed at a change of plans once my taste buds have been set to a certain desire.

This is a microscopic example of the pain that comes from unmet expectations.

Most of our pain and grief comes from unmet expectations.

Let’s dive into the deep end of the pool, now.

Diagnosis Grief

  • One year ago, my sister called and told me about Ken’s cancer diagnosis.
  • In December 2016, my friend Beth Primm received a cancer diagnosis.
  • A few weeks ago, one of my Pastors received a cancer diagnosis.
  • And on and on and on…

Walking through these life-changing events with my friends and family, I have noticed a profound sense of grief following the diagnosis.

It is different than fear. Sure, fear is part of it, especially surrounding the severe treatment options of chemo, radiation, and surgery.

It is most assuredly grief.

One thing to note, here. I’m talking about Christians who are confident that death is a doorway to a restored body and soul in communion with Christ forever. Death is not the end of our “dash” as seen on a tombstone.

I have noticed, though, that the comfort of Christian hope can trigger an unnecessary layer of guilt.

I repeat, feeling guilty for grief is unnecessary.

Back to my silly lunch example.

I had set myself up with legitimate expectations. I was looking forward to lunch, to chips and salsa, and to delicious pork and pico. There’s nothing wrong with that.

When plans changed, I was legitimately sad. I won’t say grieved, because it was just lunch.

But when it comes to life – the life we expected – we grieve because we have lost something precious. It’s OK.

We wanted to see grandkids, nieces, and nephews graduate. We wanted to finish that book. We had planned to _______________________________________________________. The list is endless.

As Christians, we are not grieving the loss of life because life is not lost.

Instead, we grieve the loss of events.

It’s okay to grieve.

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced what has become known as the “five stages of grief”.  They are:

  1. Denial – This cannot be happening to me.
  2. Anger – Why is this happening to me? This should not be happening to me. Why is God doing this to me? Why would God allow this to happen to me?
  3. Bargaining – What can I do; what prayer can I pray; how can I pray; who can I get to pray; how many can I get to pray so that this won’t happen to me?
  4. Depression – I just do not care. At all. I’m done.
  5. Acceptance – Okay.

This is not a linear timetable. You can not put these steps on the calendar.

They pop up in asynchronous order, and each person is different.

Personally, I have flipped between anger and acceptance on a minute by minute basis like a flashing traffic light.

Knowing about these DOES help, though. It helps because it let’s us know that our emotional roller coaster is NORMAL.

Do not beat yourself up for being angry. And don’t beat anyone else up in your anger. 😉

Even the bargaining stage is not cause for guilt. Run to your Father in prayer. Jesus himself prayed all night long in the Garden of Gethsemane with tears and sweat.

[Mat 26:37-39 HCSB] 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow — to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39 Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

My point here is not to give a comprehensive post on the grieving process.

My point is to prevent you from adding a debilitating layer of guilt on top of the grieving process.

Let the Lord open your eyes to the experiences he is giving you on a daily basis in this beautiful creation with your lovely loved ones.

Shut down the “monkey brain” that chatters 24-7 about unrealized expectations.

Don’t let the inner voice fuss at you saying, “You are a Christian. You shouldn’t feel depressed. You shouldn’t be angry with God! You shouldn’t bargain with God. ”

These are lies. God can handle our emotional ups and downs. Take them to the Lord in prayer.

[Psa 6:6-7 HCSB] 6 I am weary from my groaning; with my tears I dampen my pillow and drench my bed every night.  7 My eyes are swollen from grief; they grow old because of all my enemies.

In context, David was running for his life from enemies with swords. Still, it is comforting to call an enemy an enemy. We have cancerous enemies. We have mental enemies accusing us of guilt for feeling sad. We can pray many of the prayers of David and receive the comfort that he received.

The Path Forward

Here is a short list of perspectives and actions that have helped me over the past few years.

  1. Thank the Father for the hope we have in Christ. This is the Big Picture.
  2. Relish the miniscule moments of happiness. This is the small picture.
    The unexpected phone call/text; an encouraging email; the song of a bird; the splash of a fountain; the touch of a loved one; the smile of a stranger; familiar hymns; favorite songs; the list is infinite in every moment. “[Psa 119:18 HCSB] 18 Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wonderful things from Your instruction.”
  3. Give yourself as much grace as Christ gave you. Don’t put on your neck a yoke of EMOTIONAL PERFECTION that Christ does not require. “[Eph 2:8 HCSB] 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.”

It was okay to miss my El Pastor Quesadillas. And it is okay to grieve over the unrealized expectations of future plans. But by God’s grace may he open our eyes to the blessings that attend a different path.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you on every different path.

Darren