Category Archives: Thoughts

Death

For about two and a half months now, the only thing I have been really able to think of is my inevitable death. Every single day. And if I went a time without thinking about it, I’d get happy for not thinking about it, and then that would cause me to think about it. It was a horrible daily cycle. Every time it came to mind, it was with a finality. No heaven or hell. Just nothing. Everything about me, gone. All my thoughts and actions for naught, never to exist further. It was quite depressing to say the least. I would do best to distract myself from my thoughts. Many times I found myself internally yelling at my brain to just “shut the fuck up!” I hate my brain sometimes.

Going to sleep was no fun. Some night I would just lie awake, pondering.

And then, a couple days ago, it just stopped. My daughter was sick with a fever. She was miserable and didn’t want to be alone, so I went up to lie in bed with her to help her sleep. I still had the depressing notion of death and it’s finality of nothing on my mind at the time. And yet as I lay with her trying to comfort her so she can get some much needed sleep, something happened. Just as she dozed off, she said something to me. Now, for what would seem like an epiphany moment, you’d think I could remember what she said, but I can’t. I don’t know why, but for the life of me I cannot remember what she said. I do remember there was nothing profound or even religious about what she said, only that my brain suddenly changed. With her words, I smiled. There is a God and everything is going to be okay.

I know. It sounds blazingly stupid and I acknowledge that. I don’t know what was wrong with me. Perhaps it was a midlife crisis. As I often tell my wife, “I’m half over.” I don’t know what’s changed and I’m smart enough not to trust my feelings, but it’s nice to be okay with death and my destination once again.

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Daily Edification

A while ago I picked up the Treasury of Daily Prayer. At the time, I had difficulty understanding exactly how I was supposed to use it and eventually, put it aside, practically forgetting about it. In recent months and ever perhaps year or so, I’ve been slowly but surely attempting to simplify my life. It’s been a process, especially after having constantly added more and more into it over the years. However, I’ve been grudgingly re-evaluating my priorities and attempting to get rid of things I do not need or use. A delightful side effect of this is that things that once held great appeal to me hold it less so. When my time is free, I am now less likely to go after the forms of entertainment that I used to (although I still have my programs that I watch and games I like to play).

So when those free moments come, I find myself reaching for those items I have neglected. Namely the Book of Concord and the Treasury of Daily Prayer. Though I don’t get to them every day, I find myself far more engaged in the scriptures and understanding of my theology. Since I have been in the process of simplifying my life, I find I am much better able to focus and understand them, not being distracted my nonsense that may or may not even be there. To put it simply, I am finding it much more edifying that I have in the past. By this I mean I am seeing things that I would’ve simply read but not registered. I am coming to better understanding. As this becomes more habitual, I suspect that I shall better be able to focus on the scriptures directly, though I make no guarantees about Numbers. ūüėČ

I must say, this idea of simplifying my life came from minimalism. Though I am not advocating minimalism (believe me, I am no minimalist), it has a lot of great points. Once I started cutting the crap, I found I could better focus on the things that matter. Things like reading the scriptures and doctrines became a delight instead of a chore. Somehow roughly half an hour seemed to open up for me in the morning even though I still get up at the same time and follow the same routine. I suspect I was on my phone more than I would like to believe. Now when I see that I have time, I will take a bit of time before work to sit down with the Treasury of Daily Prayer or the Book of Concord if I have more.

I generally try to stay away from things that aren’t directly related to theology on here, but in this case I think I’ll make an exception. Cut some of the unnecessary crap from your life. Throw things away. T-Shirts, movies, etc. As stuff goes away, I suspect you’ll find things a bit more peaceful and it will become easier to get some daily edification. We all need it, and most of us don’t get nearly what we should.

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The Things We Get Away With

The other day as I was reading the Smalcald Articles, I came across a verse that struck me as pure truth. It was from the Third Part, Article II, The Law. Specifically it states:

Here we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit. All this failed because of the evil that sin has worked in humanity. For by the Law some people were made worse sinners, those who are hostile to the Law because it forbids what they like to do and commands what they do not like to do. Wherever they can escape punishment, they do more against the Law than they did before. Those are the unrestrained and wicked, who do evil wherever they have the opportunity.

Does the bolded portion not hold true for most? One does something they know is sinful. Uncaught, they are more at ease to do it again when the opportunity arises, sometimes going deeper into sin than previous event. I’m sure we’ve all done it in some form or another. Perhaps in minor seemingly insignificant sins or maybe even in sins that pose a danger to others. Nonetheless, it’s a frightening, yet provoking thought. What do we get away with? Do we even always realize that we’re attempting to get away with something we shouldn’t? Matthew 7:3-5 seems appropraite here.

3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‚ÄėLet me take the speck out of your eye,‚Äô when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

To see past the logs, so to speak, is difficult when one keeps tripping on them.

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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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