Sunday Sermon Series – The Man of Sorrows and Grief

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Isaiah 53

The Suffering Messiah or Servant is the Major theme of Chapter three. Matthew Henry divides it this way: The person. (1-3) sufferings. (4-9) humiliation, and exaltation of Christ, are minutely described; with the blessings to mankind from his death. (10-12)

In keeping with our ongoing Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series, the above artwork was in my inbox this morning and of course, just begged to be today’s feature sermon.

Last Sunday, we returned to Lakeshore Baptist Church, Pastor Don Elborne preached a sermon from 1 Peter 2:24 & Galatians 2:20, entitled;  “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”. In it, he reminded us of the old Black spiritual of the same name. If you have never heard it, here is the 1899 version (v.1-4), the oldest known written copy as passed down and likely the closest to the original.

1 Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (were you there?)
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh!
Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

2 Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? (to the tree?) Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

3 Were you there when they pierced Him in the side? (in the side?) Were you there when they pierced Him in the side? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they pierced Him in the side?

4 Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (were you there?) Were you there when the sun refused to shine? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

5 Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? * Added around 1907

6 Were you there when he rose from out the tomb? Were you there when he rose from out the tomb? O–sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;
Were you there when he rose from out the tomb? * Added around 1950s

No one suffered or grieved on earth more than Christ Jesus. Man cannot even begin to comprehend the weight of all sins bearing down upon him. The inability to grasp this should not deter in fact it should sour us to think about it frequently.


Sermon

The Man of Sorrows

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, March 1, 1873,

Scripture: Isaiah 53:3

From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 19


Other Resources:

Surely He Has Borne Our Griefs, John Piper

“Acquainted With Grief”, Oswald Chambers

Why is Jesus referred to as a man of sorrows in Isaiah 53:3

Made Righteous In HIM!

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/10/2021

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

Romans 5:6-8

We can think and talk long and hard on Christ’s deed at Calvary. Yet we too must be willing to Crucify our sins to be truly a follower of Christs.


Grace Gems

Crucify your sins

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(William Dyer, “Christ’s Famous Titles”)

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24

Crucify your sins
, which have crucified your Savior.

Did the rocks rent, when Christ died for our sins?
And shall not our hearts rent, who have lived in our sins?

Oh, that the nails which pierced His hands,
  should now pierce our hearts.

Oh, that they should wound themselves with their sorrows,
  who have wounded Christ with their sins.

Oh, that they who have grieved His heart,
  should be grieved in their hearts.

Oh, that I should be such a bad a child to Him,
  who has been such a good a Father to me.

My sins have been my greatest terror, and
  my Savior has been my choicest helper.

Oh, put sin to death, for sin was the cause of Christ’s death.

If someone killed your father—would you hug him and embrace him as your friend, and let him eat at your table? Would you not rather hate and detest the very sight of him!

If a snake should sting your dearly beloved spouse to death—would you preserve it alive, warm it at the fire, and hug it in your bosom? Would you not rather stab it with a thousand wounds!

And were not our sins the cause and instrument of Christ’s death? Were not they the whips that scourged Him; the nails, the cords, the spear, the thorns that wounded Him, and fetched the heart-blood from Him? And can we love our sins, which killed our Savior? Can a wife truly love her husband, and still embrace an adulterer?

We complain of the sins of Judas, and seem to hate them, and shudder at their mention. And can we love our Judas sins, which put Christ to death? And yet how many are there—who had rather have sinful-self satisfied, than to have sinful-self crucified.

Oh, sin is that mark at which all the arrows of Divine vengeance are shot!

Were it not for sin, death would never have had a beginning.
And were it not for death, sin would never have an ending.

Man began to be sorrowful, when he began to be sinful.
The wind of our lusts, blows out the candle of our lives.
If man had nothing to do with sin, death would have nothing to do with man.

Oh, did sinbring sorrow into the world?
Oh, then—let sorrow carry sin out of the world.

Of all evils, sin is the great evil. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23

Oh, sin is worse than punishment, banishment and imprisonment.

Sin kills both body and soul:
  it throws the body into cold earth rotting,
  and the soul into the hot Hell burning!


Devotional Thought for Today – 04/08/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part – VII

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Today’s post will be short because Entergy is about to cut the power to my neighborhood. They announced it yesterday as routine maintenance. We will pick it back up tomorrow (hopefully) when the power is restored.

Being grateful for your Grief may seem like an illogical ideal but we have some Biblical examples. Job and Paul come to mind. Paul is sitting in jail in Rome and in Philippians 3:12-16 writes I do not dwell on the things of the past but reach toward what lies ahead.

No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in the wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire. The greatest poets have “learned in suffering what they taught in song.” In bonds, Bunyan lived the allegory that he afterwards wrote, and we may thank Bedford Jail for the Pilgrim’s Progress. Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.

George MacDonald

Here are two articles I found helpful in this area:

Gratitude and Grief

Grief and Grace

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/07/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part VI

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Today we continue our series by looking at the third stage of the 5 Stages of GriefDepression.

Like so many other things Christians with enough faith should never get is depressed. At least that was the story we got told about my wife’s condition from a so called well meaning “friend”. Of course, this well-meaning person also was not a doctor and did no investigative questioning before blurting out the statement. I mention this not for sympathy, but to underscore the need for Chaplains and Ministers to make all due diligence in understanding the condition and history of those they are serving. I know with HIPAA this can be daunting but being well informed can greatly help in our care, comfort and counsel process.

I have yet to meet anyone going through the grief process that does not experience Depression in some manner. The obvious signs will usually manifest themselves as feelings of intense sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, and other very detrimental effects that may affect the individual. It is important to note that these can be sublime and hidden in some folks. Again, using my wife, for example, she suffered a stroke due to poisoning before we met. She suffers from depression that is treated with counseling and medication. Her response to loss, like the recent death of her mom, is “I’m alright” even though she clearly was not. Like most folks (estimates as high as 67% of people suffering from depression) She just tries to grin and bear it. My wife because of her medical condition processes things differently and we (chaplains/ministers) need to be on the alert for this and any out of the “ordinary” situation and know when we are in over our heads. Here is a good list of types of depression.

So, what is depression? First depression is not just being sad. I lost my wedding band a few months ago, I was sad (even a little afraid of what my wife would say 😀)) but not depressed. Depression is sad on super steroids. It is constant here is the clinical definition:

The clinical definition, based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), is “a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth.” This definition excludes grief after mourning.

Before we move on I think it would be helpful reminder to list some of the things that one could encounter as a Chaplain/Minister in the Grief process that could lead to depression:

  • Trauma
  • Painful past experiences (PTSD)
  • Chronic Pain
  • Incarceration
  • Job loss or cut in pay
  • Financial problems
  • Parenting concerns and raising respectful, resilient kids
  • Loss
  • Life-changing illness
  • Marriage/relationship issues

The second thing to note about depression is that is often MISDIAGNOSED. Far too often healthcare professionals and Chaplains/Ministers are quick to say someone who has experienced one of these issues is depressed. Many times they are simply melancholy, which means intense sadness but a far cry from clinically depressed.

Another thing that might surprise some is that stage 2 (ANGER) can rear its ugly head here again. Let me explain, folks can socially withdraw a clear sign of depression setting in, if you try and force them out of that they can become hostile. Other symptoms of Grief/Depression include:

  • Can’t concentrate or think straight
  • Restless and anxious
  • Poor appetite/ Weight loss
  • Sad demeanor
  • Dreams of the deceased or even talks to them
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Can think of nothing but the loss, illness, or event…
  • Makes up reasons for the loss, many don’t make sense
  • Dwells on mistakes, real or imagined, that he or she made with the deceased

The last thing I have learned about this stage of Grief counseling is in this stage of Depression, where folks begin to address feelings that have been put off (consciously or unconsciously) such as abandonment, helplessness, loneliness, fear, despair, agony, etc. These are things that they did not look at during the stages of denial, anger, and bargaining.

I am not a professional Licensed Christian Counselor/Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist, if dealing with my wife’s condition has taught me anything, it is I need to be involved and I need to leave much of that stuff to the professionals.

The Tree Planted By Streams of Living Water (Psalm 1) - YouTube

Psalm 1:1-3

As the Psalm says, we can be that care comfort, and wise counsel of the Lord’s Law to those who are in need. I am convinced it is here that Chaplains/Ministers can have the greatest impact. Again offering the care, comfort, and (compassionate) counsel that God has called us to do.

A surprising response to “The Great Commission”

This was shocking and should be of serious concern to everyone calling themselves Pastor, Elder, Preacher, etc. James 3:1

In today’s Barna Highlight, we’re sharing another bite-sized finding you can use to become a more informed leader.

Just because a word or phrase is common in church leadership, doesn’t mean it’s common among churchgoers.

For example, half of all U.S. churchgoers (51%) say they are unfamiliar with the term “the Great Commission.”

(Also note when you add up the unfamiliar with the unsure and can’t explain, a whopping 82% have never heard of or do not comprehend Christ’s command to ALL TRUE CHRISTIANS.)

This surprising finding comes from Translating the Great Commission, a report we created with Seed Company

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/05/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part IV

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As we continue this series, today will look at the second stage of the  5 Stages of Grief, ANGER. I remember one being told that “a good Christian never get angry” and being a young immature believer I thought that to be true, NOT!!! Christ was angry, are we not to follow His example? The difference is He had and so should we righteous anger at things that were an abomination against the Law(s) of God. One of the best explanations for this can be found here.

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18

Of course in the grief process, the Anger with which we are concerned is slightly different. After the initial onslaught of emotions, including phase 1, denial, usually comes anger. Folks can be angry at any number of people or things and their anger can range from pent-up emotions to physical outbursts. Their anger is a result of their having lost control of the situation.

Some typical objects of anger are:

  • Themselves – Why couldn’t I help, I could have been there, I could have done something…
  • God -Why would God allow that to happen?
  • The deceased, or infirmed – How could they leave me?
  • The healthcare providers – They could have done more, they didn’t do enough, …
  • Hospitals – The VA *^#*^, We should never have admitted them there,
  • Anyone Offering Help – You don’t understand, you can’t know how I am feeling

Some Symptoms of Anger to look for are:

  • Irritability especially if it gets very bad
  • Ongoing preoccupation about what happened and why
  • Addictive or harming behaviors to self or others
  • Anxiety, Fear, Depression
  • There may be behavioral overreactions(outburst)

What can we do?

Again I can only go off my years first in counseling and then the practical application of all I learned when I have counselled others:

  • First is empathy and not simple sympathy especially in this stage. Someone who is angry even if not at you can easily turn on you (see last point above.
  • Second, allow the person to be angry, they need to get it out and not internalize it so it festers and grows malignant. Now of course we do not want them acting out harmful anger at themselves or others.
  • Try and ask probing questions, with grace and CAUTION, to get to the root of the anger, why are they angry, what is the true source of their anger.
  • If possible, offer to help them face the challenge, pray with them at a bedside, hold a prayer service, escort them to a funeral or gravesite, maybe speaking with hospital administration or a doctor…
  • Of course, if they seem stuck in the anger stage of grief, we need to make every effort to refer them to a certified Christian therapist, grief counselor, or psychologist.

Remember our job is to provide Care, Comfort, and (Short Term) Counsel while these individuals are assigned to us. We are not (at least most are not) long-term counselors, let us leave that to those professionals and be what God has called us to be Ministers/Chaplains.

Other Resources:

Dealing with Sorrow

Sunday Sermon Series – Resurrection of Christ

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Whether you call it Easter or Resurrection Sunday is not the crux of the matter. Today we celebrate our Risen Savior, Christ Jesus. There would be no other reason to celebrate this or any other day if He were not Alive. Whom do you celebrate and serve today?

Philippians 3:20-21

SERMON

Philippians 3:20-21 – The Power of Christ Illustrated by the Resurrection by C.H. Spurgeon

Other Resources:

The God of Peace Brought from the Dead the Good Shepherd by John Piper

Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/03/2021

My daughter is getting married today and y’all know how much I love these old dead guys 😉. So instead of another post of mine, I thought I would share some wisdom of theirs.

Grace Gems

Three rules for a happy marriage

(J.C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark” 1857)

Of all relationships of life, none ought to be regarded with such reverence and none taken in hand so cautiously, as the relationship of husband and wife.

In no relationship is so much earthly happiness to be found, if it is entered upon discreetly, advisedly, and in the fear of God. In none is so much misery seen to follow, if it is taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, wantonly, and without thought.

From no step in life does so much benefit come to the soul, if people marry “in the Lord.” From none does the soul take so much harm, if imagination, passion, or any mere worldly motive is the only cause which produces the union.

There is, unhappily, only too much necessity for impressing these truths upon people. It is a mournful fact, that few steps in life are generally taken with so much levity, self-will, and forgetfulness of God, as marriage. Few are the young couples who think of inviting Christ to their wedding!

It is a mournful fact that unhappy marriages are one great cause of the misery and sorrow of which there is so much in the world. People find out too late that they have made a mistake, and go in bitterness all their days.

Happy are they, who in the matter of marriage observe three rules:

The first is to marry only in the Lord, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing.

The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels.

The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/02/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part III

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Yesterday we looked at the Stages of Grief and the importance of understanding what stage a person is in BEFORE we began any attempt to provide care, comfort and counsel.

I thought I would take the time to look at those stages individually from a Biblical perspective and hopefully with some practical application.

What Does the Bible Say About Denial? Psalm 14:1, Matthew 10:32-33, Luke 9:23, 1 Timothy 5:8, 2 Peter 2:1. These verse cover what I believe to be the three major “denial” themes of the Bible, Denial of God, Denial of Self and Denial of the Truth.

Of those verses the first in particular Ps. 14:1(AMP) The [spiritually ignorant] fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”They are corrupt, they have committed repulsive and unspeakable deeds; There is no one who does good. gets to the heart of Denial of God. We will definitely run into those in the ministry who are in denial of the situation and in denial of God. **Warning** that does not mean we should go off like a bull in a china closet and attempt heavy handed proselytizing. remember our goal, job, mission call it what you want is to provide care, comfort and counsel.

If I may divert for a moment, years ago before I converted and started going to church a relative said to me so now that your a “Holy Roller” I guess you think I am going to Hell? I said yup! How dumb a response, they were so upset they didn’t speak to me for a very long time. The point is we must chose our words carefully

Proverbs 16:23-24

23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

King James Version

The second theme Denial of Self is best summed up in Luke 9:23 (AMP) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple]he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. Even for someone who is not suffering the grief form some form of loss this can be a very hard subject to understand. What is Denial of Self and how do we/I go about it daily?

Questions like, have I not suffered enough are common and we must be ready for them. First and foremost Self-Denial is not about us, I know this sounds ridiculous but we are talking Biblical perspective, so it is all about God. We are denying our own desires, interests, and especially our understanding of things and relying solely on the Triune God. There are many times do not understand God’s ways and that is okay because my faith in His sovereignty comforts me. I can not answer the question posed above all I can share is the biblical perspective of God’s comfort, Grace, mercy, lovingkindness and most importantly sovereign control.

The last Biblical them here is that of Denial of Truth and the verse I chose for this is 2 Peter 2:1 (AMP) But [in those days] false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will subtly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. This is obviously a verse concerned with false teachers arise from the ranks of “The Church.” The underlined text is key, for they will deny the very Lord God whom they had claimed to know as true.

Whenever tragedy strikes in any form the very first stage of grief (I have always wondered why Shock is not first out i don’t write the manuals) is Denying what we know to be true. My loved one can’t really be dead, I can’t really have cancer, etc. What the individual knows to be true is so painful at that moment, no matter how logical they just can not accept it.

Many who are in this stage also deny the need for help even though it is obvious to us and others they need it. C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. How true, most folks in denial are in fear of the unknown, living without a loved one or facing that battle with the Big “C” it can be overwhelming and frightening. If we/they can deny the “reality” of the situation they can avoid the pain and suffering.

As a minister/Chaplain our mission is show sympathy while empathizing with the individual. Boiler plate statements like “they are in a better place” really do not cut it when someone is in denial of the event. Put yourself in their shoes, think how they are thinking what would you accept hearing, that?

Instead I think it prudent to remind them of a God who has promised to never forsake or leave us just as we are to let them know we will be there to help them through this grieving process. Again I can not emphasize enough in most cases we are the “Ministerial First Responders” not the long term pastoral custodians or counselors of these folks. Providing the immediate care, comfort and counsel that does not add to their (or their friends and families) pain and suffering has to be priority one.

RESOURCES:

GreifShare.ORG A six-week personal study for your journey from mourning to joy

Designed for those Grieving, I found it helpful tool to better understanding the GRIEF PROCESS.

Our Help for the Journey section provides daily reading and exercises to help you dig deeper into the grief recovery process.

The following from Ligonier Ministries I FOUND HELPFULL

Grief and the Christian

Good Grief?

Holy Grief

From Grief to Glory

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/30/2021

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Proverbs 15

Like all the wisdom books; Ecclesiastes, Job, Psalms, and, Song of Songs, the end goal of the Book of Proverbs is to demonstrate God knows best. His course of action(s) is always far superior to men.

Proverbs however goes about it a little differently, Job for example shows us wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice, while Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience.  Proverbs gives us short simple comparisons or contrasts usually between good and evil.

Our text for today, v.3, is a little different, it is a clear and definitive statement regarding the Sovereignty of God.

  • God sees, eyes of the Lord, therefore, knows everything – omniscient – Hebrews 4:13
  • God is everywhere, are in every place – omnipresent – Jeremiah 23:23
  • God stands guard over all creation, keeping watch on the evil and the good – Omnipotent – Jeremiah 23:24

Man can try an fool himself into thinking he knows best, but it is nothing more than lying to ones self. God and God alone is the true judge of “good and evil” He has set forth His moral law and all those who refuse to follow it, (Think Abortion, LBGTQ, Evolution, Etc.) will one day answer to Him.

The “Good News” is that all who repent and have Christ as Lord of their lives reap the reward of eternal life in the kingdom glory.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, help me to walk in Your light, understanding that most of mankind will refuse Your grace and mercy. Help me to always show them that self same grace and mercy. Help me to trust in Your Sovereignty, and no my ways, knowing Yours are always better. I pray for wisdom and knowledge to be a warrior for Your Kingdom and its glory. – Amen