With truth being so subjective today in themainstream I thought it appropriate to look at what truth really is, or at least should be for true Christians and non-believers alike.
I have posted much on these verses (see below) in the past so today I offer an excellent article from Pastor John MacArthur and Grace to You Ministries from over a decade ago that is still on point today:
Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part X
Over the past 9 articles, we have looked at the basics of what a Chaplain/Ministerial duties or mission is (provide compassionate care, comfort, and counsel) and the Stages of Grief. We noted the importance of understanding what stage an individual is in so that we can better minister to their needs.
Today I would like to discuss some dos and don’ts that I have gleaned over the years. As a reminder, my primary duties as Chaplain have been with inmates (and ex-mates) and veterans, of that population however quite a few have had mental health, serious physical, terminal illness, or other issues that I hope to relate to all areas of Chaplaincy.
Some of the things I find most important when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DO’s (I put them in alphabetical order)
Affirmation – reassure them that the feelings of grief are normal and support them in the process.
Acknowledgment– Do not try and sugarcoat the situation. I am not suggesting we be blunt, rude, or anything of that nature. I am referring to the language that Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6.
Empathize – One of the best explanations for this I studied explained it this way; Pity: I acknowledge your suffering, Sympathy: I care about your suffering, Empathy: I feel your suffering, Compassion: I want to relieve your suffering. In short, empathy is sharing feelings of Grief with the individual, while Sympathy is feeling sorry for them. No one wants you to throw a pity party for them or feel sorry for them, they need you as a professional to provide Compassionate Empathy.
Listen – I do not care if you have to sit there for 15-20 minutes before they say 3 words, be willing to listen. everyone has a story and 99.9% need to tell it.
Listen without Judgement – Folks will not talk if they think you are going to censor their speech.
Truth – Always be truthful, if you don’t have an answer say so, do not “wing it” folks will see right through that.
Some of the most common MISTAKES I find when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DON’Ts (I put them in alphabetical order)
Advice – My advice to you is…, that is not our mission, they are going to get that from the Job’s of the world. Stick to the mission and use biblical counseling.
Assume – Never assume you know what they need, yes they need Care, Comfort, and Counsel, but I am speaking of the application of that here.
Cichés– They are in a better place now, It was God’s will, or At least he/she is not suffering. These may all be true but are of no help especially in the initial stages of Grief.
Criticism – Even unintentional, saying something seemingly as harmless as, I know but you can… tells them that you think they are doing something wrong and are criticizing or judging their actions. They are suffering enough we need not pile it on.
Mr. or Mrs. Fix It – Never promise what you can not do. Sometimes there are individuals beyond our help that need professional counselors.
Pity – See Empathize above
Story Time – Unless directly asked keep your war stories to yourself. They only distract from the issues at hand.
I hope these are a help, when I first became a Chaplain I was basically thrown to the wolves, with no training so I made many mistakes listed above. If you have anything to add to either list please comment below.
Heavenly Father, I pray that no unwholesome words would proceed from my mouth, but that the words of my lips and the meditation of my heart may be gracious and good. I pray that my speech would give compassionate care, comfort and counsel to those whom I meet. All the while giving honour to Your name by speaking the truth in love. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.
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
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 Masterwho 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.
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
This in part was sent to me and was too true not to pass on.
Would someone please remind me again how many of today’s Hollywood elite put their careers on hold to enlist in Iraq or Afghanistan? UH, Almost NONE.
The only one who even comes close was Pat Tillman, who turned down a contract offer of $36 million over three years from the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the US Army after September 11, 2001, and serve as a Ranger in Afghanistan, where he died in 2004. But rather than being lauded for his choice and his decision to put his country before his career, he was mocked and derided by many of his peers.
[I will add here, that while I have no real issue with anyone not enlisting, I have real issues with folks not supporting our troops. It is one thing to disagree with war efforts another altogether to disparage those fighting for your freedom to open your mouth.]
Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you that this is not America today than it was seventy years ago. And I, for one, am saddened. My generation grew up watching, being entertained by, and laughing with so many of these fine people, never really knowing what they contributed to the war effort.
Like millions of Americans during WWII, there was a job that needed doing they didn’t question, they went and did it, those that came home returned to their now new normal life and carried on, very few ever saying what they did or saw. They took it as their “responsibility”, their “duty” to the Country, to protect and preserve our freedoms and way of life, not just for themselves but for all future generations to come. As a member of a later generation, I’m forever humbly in their debt!
Click on the link below to see nearly 100 of the many Hollywood elitist who put it all on the line when it mattered.
On both a personal and societal level, victimhood is truly deadly. Nonetheless, our culture celebrates it.
Victim chic has taken over the culture and the political narrative.
All we seem to hear day in and day out are excuses as to why someone or some group can’t make it in America. We are told why they are held back; impeded or deprived of their rights and deserve compensation, government handouts, special treatment, or even reparations for events that happened hundreds of years ago…
Verses 1-7:God’s free gift of salvation is offered to all who will receive it. Those who are spiritually hungry and thirsty may come to eat and drink “without money” (or freely). He promises an “everlasting covenant” to the Gentiles like the one He established with Israel. His invitation to all men is clearly stated by the appeal, “Seek ye the Lord” and “call ye upon him.”
Verses 8-13:God’s sovereignty and omniscience are extolled by the statement that His “thoughts” (i.e., purposes and intentions), and “ways” (derakim, or “directions”), are “higher” than ours. –https://bible-studys.org/index.html
Our text for today comes from the latter, v.8-9, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
A few years ago an interesting press release hit my inbox, citing a recent survey by the Barna Research Group. It seems most folks do not know that some of their favorite biblical quotes aren’t actually from the Bible. See how much you know—which of these famous phrases is found nowhere in scripture:
“To thine own self be true.”
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“The truth will set you free.”
“God works in mysterious ways.”
The only phrase above that is in the Bible is “the truth will set you free,” in the Gospel of John. According to Barna’s poll, only 24% of adults knew that.
So what does that have to do with today’s devotional? How many times have you heard folks say the last one? Hundreds, maybe more, so unbiblical. Let us look at a few points:
When we say or agree with someone saying“God works in mysterious ways” we are acknowledging that God’s will can not be known for our lives. That the God of the bible is unpersonable, unrelatable, and by proxy uncaring. I don’t know about y’all but that is definitely not the God I read about in my collection of Bible’s no matter the translation.
Lord God, I come to you today denying that you are a God that can not be known, that all your works are mysteries and we are but puppets in this life. You promise to instruct me (Ps 32:8) in your ways and watch over me to ensure my walk, I pray your Holy Spirit will guide my path daily. Grant me the ability to serve in your will daily, with understanding and compassion. – AMEN
“God has no authority in the House of Representatives” was the quote filling social media, of course, it was false, and worse many “Christians” were spreading it. Mr. Nadler’s own words were dumb enough there was no need to embellish them.
Nadler on God: He’s ‘No Concern of This Congress’
There were a lot of powerful arguments against the Equality Act, but Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) resorted to the ultimate authority: the Bible. During an intense debate on the House floor, the Florida representative said it was time for his colleagues to hear the truth about the transgender issue. But Democrats aren’t interested in the truth — or God. And far-Left radical Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) didn’t mind saying so…
It is hard to imagine that France, long considered the most leftist-liberal of European countries would be concerned about growing leftist-liberalism in America.
French Postmodern Chickens Come Home to Roost
Recently, a New York Times article quoted a French government official as saying, “There’s a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities.’’ The article went on to explain that “prominent [French] intellectuals have banded together against what they regard as contamination by the out-of-control woke leftism of American campuses and its attendant cancel culture.”
But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’- Mark 10:6 (ESV)
Redeeming Gender in an Increasingly Gender-Hostile World
In 2015, Drag Queen Story Hour launched in San Francisco. Exactly what it sounds like – men dressed as women (often provocatively) reading stories (often provocatively) to young kids in schools or public libraries – the organization now operates across the country. “Dressing in drag” almost always involves exaggerated makeup, exaggerated hair, and gaudy, sexually suggestive clothing…
One of the best known and most quoted and preached Chapters in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the “Love Chapter.” Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit strategically places it immediately following all the teachings on Spiritual Gifts.
I for one am convinced this is purposeful, for I have met many a “Christian” claiming to have mighty gifts yet definitely lack that key attribute of Godly love.
Paul uses the following to explain this:
v.1-3– The gift of tongues while useful to communicate is a waste without Godly love
v.4-7– No matter the turmoil Godly love endures
v. 8-13– Godly love is eternal
In our text today v.6-7, Paul makes six (6) points:
Godly love never finds joy in doing wrong (iniquity)
Godly love DOES find joy no matter how difficult in truth
Godly love has no limit (beareth all)
Godly love believes all. Christians are not to be gullible but to compare all things against GOd’s Holy Word.
Godly love hopes for all thingsthat are the promises made by God to His elect.
Godly love can endure all things that are burdensome, tempting, and otherwise contrary to the flesh. John Gill says of this: that are disagreeable to the flesh; all afflictions, tribulations, temptations, persecutions, and death itself, for the elect’s sake, for the sake of the Gospel, and especially for the sake of Christ Jesus.
Are you using your gifts today with Godly Love?
Father God, I pray today that you will help me to put selfishness away and always seek to do all things with the Agape love that the Apostle Paul speaks about in First Corinthians 13. Help me daily to be the servant in your Army that can do your will for your Glory. – AMEN