Category Archives: Confessions

Reflections of Faith: Death

The downside to having a very imaginative and creative brain is that it at random seems to make you think deeply about things you don’t want to think about. Last night when I got into bed, for no apparent reason I was suddenly faced with my own mortality. This has happened to me at various points in the past, each of them equally unpleasant. The finality of death, regardless of faith, is always unsettling. In the Christian faith, death is unnatural, a result of our sin. There is a beyond, but that beyond is your final destination. In the atheist mind, death is it. There is nothing more. Either way, death is the great finality and something I have difficulty coming to grips with.

The other night, as I lie there in bed disturbing myself as I am wont to do, the common theme processed in my brain, unable to fully comprehend either of them. On the one hand, there’s that struggle we sometimes face as Christians, that part of the brain that says, “What if we’re wrong?” What if death is final and that’s it? As living organisms, we spend so much time being that it’s so difficult to comprehend not being. Even when we sleep, we on occasion have moments of lucidity. Have you ever been conscious while asleep and dreaming? I have, and it’s an incredible thing. Even if you’ve never been lucid while asleep, most of us have had dreams that we can remember when we awake in the morning. While dreams are usually totally separate from our actual lives (IE, what we are doing during our waking moments is not historically relevant to what we dream), the fact that we retain memory of them attests to the idea that we are still being. So the thought of not having stream of conscious is incredibly hard to grasp fully and at the same time, terribly depressing.

On the other side of the coin, there’s the final stop after death. As someone of faith, one would think that none of this would be an issue, yet the very fact that I ponder the previous paragraph makes me question my faith somewhat. Apparently residing somewhere deep inside of me is some level of uncertainty. Some may point to the very fact that I have these concerns as proof that I do have sufficient faith. They’re quite possibly right, though I still have difficulty accepting that knowing the evil that lives in my heart and the lies my brain likes to tell me. So what of the afterlife? A place of eternity, despite being in direct contrast to what I previously stated, is also incredibly difficult for us to comprehend. We see things end all around us on a daily basis. Movies, books, cities, people, stars, etc. Just as it’s hard to imagine my consciousness coming to an end, it’s also tough to imagine it never ceasing. Logically, everything has to end.

And at the same time, no it doesn’t. So a war wages in my head, an opposition among two forces that my brain cannot comprehend. Two radically different ends, once of which I will most certainly face and yet neither of which can I comprehend. It’s depressing and stressful at times. I often feel that when I struggle with this, I’m struggling with my faith. It’s to be expected though. I’m not sure how I’ll go, though it will most likely be from cancer. Apparently it runs on my birth father’s side. I’d like to think when my time comes, however, that I’m stronger in the faith than I’ve ever been. I’d like to go with a smile and saying, “See you on the other side. Don’t forget to bring beer when you come.”

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Actions, Minds, and Perceptions

Though the tale is amusing, it’s a good lesson about our actions and perceptions. Though my positive actions made this tale somewhat heartwarming, my negative actions (which may be partially what led to this) could’ve made this for a very different story. It’s good food for thought, and I hope you’ll head over to bradgrierson.com to read the whole thing.

bradgrierson dotcom

A week or so ago, we as a family were sitting down to a dinner. As it was, we happened to be consuming pizza. As we were eating, my wife and I were discussing our day as our daughter sat in her high chair eating her portion. As my wife conversed, we suddenly heard loudly from the direction of our child, “Oh God!”

We stopped suddenly and looked at each other, eyes wide with shock. I could tell by looking at my wife that she was thinking the same thing as I was. Our thoughts were, “Oh no! Our daughter must have heard one of us in some moment of frustration saying something we ought not say.” It was a perfectly reasonable thought. Everyone says things they wish they didn’t when they’re mad or frustrated and I don’t exactly have the most delicate tongue when I am such a state. This isn’t…

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The question of sin (4 of 4)

In this final installment of the series, The Question of Sin, Greg cuts to the heart of the matter and lays his cards out on the table.

Eilers Pizza

I remain in full unity with the doctrines of God as we believe, teach, and confess them in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). While I have been advocating some things with which many (not all) in the LCMS do not agree, and I believe the one study on gender dysphoria published by us is greatly lacking, there is no doctrine of the LCMS with which I am in disagreement.

That I have some disagreement with my church body is not unusual. If you can find two LCMS pastors who agree on the practice of every teaching, even as they confess the same doctrine, then I’ll let you buy me a pizza to tell me about it.

In going public with my condition and my arguments, concern was expressed that I might lead some into sin, and that I might announce that transitioning is a fine and dandy thing. I have…

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Breaking Commandments: #5

I have a confession.  I break the fifth commandment probably almost every time I get behind the wheel.  I’m vile like that.  I don’t get in my car intending to murder someone, but man, poor driving really irks me.  Someone running a stop light, going too slow, suddenly turning without a blinker, all these things could cause a dangerous accident.  And don’t get me started if you do a poor job parking your car.  That’s just plain old rude.  So do I just straight up kill them?  No, but I might as well, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” Okay, so I’m defiled.  I could’ve told you I’m a wretched sinner.  What of it?  It’s not like I actually killed a dude.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

Alright, now that puts it in a slightly different light. And that’s where it stings.  No, I don’t go run the individual off the road and execute them, but the unnecessary anger that swells up inside me, I might as well have, because that’s just as bad if I actually did it. Why? Because the will and motivation were there.  Whether I actually act upon it is completely irrelevant.

I like how, in his small catechism, Martin Luther takes it a step further when he says, “We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need [in every need and danger of life and body].” So, not only is not being an evil maniac, even if only in thought, enough, but idly not helping one in need would be considered breaking this commandment. Wow. So much is put into perspective.

It really shows us our sin, doesn’t it, and why only through Christ there is salvation.

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Pray in good cheer and then some

I admit, I am very bad at prayer.  For whatever reason, I almost never do it except for Sundays at church.  Perhaps it’s a lifetime of not praying that I can attribute this too.  Old habits are tough to break and all that.  And then, if I do pray when I’m not in church, it’s usually because I’m having a rough time.  I know I’m not the only one.  So many of us pray only in times of trouble.  When life is going grand, when everything is awesome, prayer just kinda gets shoved to the side.  But that’s not how it should be.  Ephesians 6:16-18 says we should be praying at all times and in all circumstances.

Yesterday I had a wonderful day with my wife.  I went to bed happy, perhaps the happiest I’ve gone to bed in quite some time.  I was so grateful for such a wonderful day that I had to pray about it.  I had to give thanks to God for the wonderful day I had.  That’s a start.  But what about when I’m simply having a bad day?  Or a good day?  Or even a day that just kinda meh?  I am to pray then too as are we all.  In every trouble, in every joy, and in every situation, we should pray.  I need to get better at it, and I bet you do as well.

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A Statement of Generic Faith

Do you know what your church really believes?  If you don’t, you can probably check their website.  Odds are they have a page titled Statement of Faith or Our Core Beliefs or something to that effect.  Wow.  A whole page.  I’ve seen a lot of these Statements of Faith and they’re all about the same.

I believe in the holy trinity.

I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins.

I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Etc.

It’s usually just really basic stuff with a few extra things that differentiate them the other denominations, but generally nothing very detailed.  So how do you know what they really believe?  I mean, if you’ve got just a general blanket statement, how do you ensure all your pastors are teaching the same thing?  How do you keep unity?  How do you handle communion?  How do you trust that anyone in your congregation actually believes the same thing you do?

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This is my statement of faith.  You could probably kill a small child with it.  Your standard non-denominational statement, on the other hand, will at worst give you a mean paper cut depending on what kind of stock you print it on.  It’s cut and clear.  The Lutheran Confessions are something you can hold people to.  There’s no wiggle room.  You either agree or you don’t.    There’s no “I believe most of what it says, but the way they handle communion is a bit too much.”  If you don’t believe it all, you’re not Lutheran.

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Article XXI

From the apology of the Augsburg confession, these few sentences put into light the folly of praying to the saints.  To pray to the saints is to say that Christ doesn’t listen, he instead turns a deaf ear so much is his anger with your sins.  To pray to the saints is to say that while Christ died on the cross for your sins, man you’ve angered him enough that he’s not going to forgive you without someone in his ear who’s going to back you up.  My friends, Christ IS mercy.  No other mercy is going to cut it.

 

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