Can I love the Lord and love Halloween?

There is a misconception that being a Christian is boring and puts an end to fun, adventure, laughter, and joy. It’s sad, really. If only we realized that God’s dream for us is so much bigger and more spectacular than any of our wildest dreams, what an amazing life we could have! God has more laughter, more silliness, more adventure & thrills, and more uninhibited joy for us than we could ever imagine!

Have you ever watched The Wonder Years? It was a TV show starting in 1988 about growing up in the 60’s. I watched the show when it first came out and I have been watching it again on Netflix. Childhood and adolescence is such a common experience no matter when your childhood was. It struck me as I watched the show how some things never change.

There always seem to be common threads like . . .

  • the bigger kids always picked on the littler kids
  • there has always been the popular crowd
  • cheerleaders have always dated football players
  • summer romances were always short and sweet
  • best friends were the best
  • kids could hardly wait until summer vacation
  • gym class was dreadful and humiliating

I wonder if you would agree that when you’re growing up things seem so complicated. However, looking back, we realize that they were actually so very simple.

One of the things in my life that brings me back to my childhood is Halloween. This time of year warms my heart. I love fall, and I love Halloween. I always have.

I love ghosts hanging from trees, and big pumpkin trash bags filled with leaves. I love cool, crisp nights around a bonfire. I love a full moon and windy days where it Cloth_Ghost_hangingseems like it’s raining leaves. The feelings, flavors and smells of Halloween are just delicious! Candy corn, caramel apples, and donuts with apple cider . . . . what could be better?!

Halloween was really special for me in my childhood.

My brother used to go all out decorating our house for Halloween. That was his holiday to shine. We had homemade tomb stones in the front yard, ghosts that were rigged up to fly down in your face, a creepy man-thing on a rocking chair, and scary music with flashing lights. That probably seems like no big deal now, but It was quite a spectacle back in the early 80’s. The neighborhood looked forward every year to seeing what he would do.

I have such fond memories of those times! It was exciting, thrilling and just plain fun.

I don’t have a problem with celebrating Halloween as a Christian. Some people that I know and love do, and I respect them and their convictions. We don’t have to agree on everything. However, we must respect all of our brothers and sisters and not cause them to stumble.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.   1 Corinthians 10:31-33

Halloween is no longer about witchcraft, evil spirits or focusing on ‘the dead’. A few people may focus on these things, but most of us don’t. Witches and witchcraft, as seen at Halloween, don’t exist anymore. I would imagine that witchcraft today looks very different then when Halloween began.

Halloween in 2015 is a time to . . . . .halloween1

  • let your imagination run wild
  • be someone completely different
  • hide behind a mask
  • be silly and have fun
  • be out in the community with neighbors
  • watch scary movies

So much in life is difficult, hard, and heavy. If we really count the cost, it’s not easy to follow Jesus. True disciples of Christ will likely experience difficulty, trials, division, rejection, danger, and isolation. There is definitely a cost to following Christ, and it is high.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:26-27

Therefore, we must find joy in the everyday. We must enjoy the blessings God has for us here on earth. Let’s trade our sorrows for being silly and let’s run around the neighborhood looking ridiculous! It’s ok to decorate your house with silly skeletons, spiderwebs and wicked witches on broomsticks. It’s ok to go to haunted houses and scream at the top of your lungs. It’s ok to stuff your face with candy. Give yourself permission to enjoy Halloween.

Green-faced witches with big hairy warts who wear long pointy hats only exist in our imaginations, on Halloween and in the movies! These things do not represent Satanism; they do not represent witchcraft; and, they do not represent sorcery. It is simply something fun that we do at Halloween and then forget about until the next year.

What I love the most about Halloween is the aspect of community. When else throughout the year does everyone come out of their homes at one time and fill the streets? It is a way to get neighbors talking to neighbors. It is community!

Halloween can be a good way to be in the world but not of it. It can be a great opportunity.

We cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit in the world if we completely disassociate from it. We don’t want to become so different than our neighbors in every way that we have no credibility whatsoever. The world is not going to be drawn to Jesus by seeing a weirdo. They will be drawn to Jesus by seeing Jesus in us. We must show them that we are not that different than they are.

If other people see you joining them, instead of judging them, their hearts are more likely to be open. Laughing together with someone can create a bond, and potentially, open a door.

You may live in a neighborhood that already has great community where neighbors come out and talk to each other dailly; a place where neighbors choose to live lifeNeighborhood-2 together. I do not, however. We pretty much keep to ourselves, unless we happen to catch a neighbor outside and are forced to wave!

It’s bad, I know!

I would like to say that everyone else in my neighborhood is a recluse, but I am the shining light of Jesus to my neighbors. But if I did, my nose would start growing. Or, I might get struck by lightning! In the spirit of not wanting to invite calamity, I’ll confess.

Being ‘neighborly’ is not something that I have ever been very good at. Truth be told, I basically don’t like people a whole lot. I once said to my sister-in-law, “I would be a perfect Christian if it weren’t for people!” We laughed hysterically at the absurdity of what I said. However absurd it may be though, it is very much how I feel. Social things are a struggle for me.

I know, you are thinking, ‘Umm, but you are a Christian, shouldn’t you love your neighbors?!” And, the answer is, Yes! You may then ask, ‘How can you be a Christian without loving your neighbors?’ The answer is, I can’t!!

Loving our neighbors and telling them about the good news of the gospel is central to our Christian faith . . . to my Christian faith. Therefore, I must love people.

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:39

I am always working on and repenting for my failures in this area, and my gracious God is so patient with me. Still, I need to do better. This is something that I will have to work on my entire life. I am an introvert, so this never comes easily to me.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1

God and I have a good thing going. Our times together are amazing. There is nothing like someone as small and insignificant like me being in the presence of the almighty God. It’s crazy! I can be totally vulnerable and naked with Him and still be totally loved and accepted. Sometimes I wish that I could stay there, just He and I, forever. But I can’t. At least,not yet.

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.  1 Peter 2:11-12 (The Message)

We have to get off of our knees at some point and tend to the people around us. We must be a good wife, or husband and a good mother or father. We must love our neighbors and care for the messy people in our lives. We have to be His hands and feet to a lost world. We are called to feed the poor and stand up for the oppressed. And, when we get slapped, we must turn the other cheek. And get slapped, we will!

I am also a fan of The Walking Dead. You could say that my taste in movies and television is a bit dark. I love alien movies, end-of-the-world scenarios, and disaster movies. And, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. It is just fun, and silly, and relaxing.

Nor do I have a problem with the Harry Potter series. Everybody loves a good story. And that’s what they are, just stories.

Human beings are creatures made for stories. God has blessed us with such beautifully sophisticated minds, that it would be a crime not to use our imaginations to the fullest. It is amazing what some people can think up!

What do parents do when they put their young children to bed? What do kids beg for? They want you to read them a story. Reading is so good for their developing brains. But, stories are also good for their soul. They tickle, and tease, and spark our curiosity.

It is the responsibility of each of us as individuals and as parents to gage the affects of Halloween, and the books and movies that we are exposed to. As long we and our kids are grounded in Christ, and realize that this is just make believe, a story, than it is harmless.

Just as Satan can use movies and books for his purposes, so can he also use church, scripture, priests, and ministries. He’ll pervert anything he can get his hands on to deceive and destroy. That doesn’t make what he uses inherently evil.

IMG_2594-1Scripture rebukes false Gods such as Baal or Asherah Poles, witchcraft and casting spells, practicing divination or sorcery, and doing evil. Scripture also rebuked nations that did detestable things like sacrificing children to false gods.

I will destroy the cities of your land and tear down all your strongholds. I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells.  Micah 5:11-12

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.  Deuteronomy 18:10-13

He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.   2 Chronicles 33:6

I don’t do any of these things at Halloween, and I hope you don’t either.

It is unwise to mess around with potentially evil or satanistic practices no matter how innocent it may seem. We must teach our kids to stay away from ouija boards, seances, mediums or anything that deals with ‘spirits’.

If the Holy Spirit is in you and your kids, you will know what is harmless and what is not.

So, if you are doing the bad things mentioned in scripture that anger the Lord, if you are doing detestable things, then stop it! If you aren’t, then go ahead and enjoy yourself on Halloween!

Below are some more scriptures on witchcraft, etc.

Galatians 5:19
3 John 1:11
1 Corinthians 10:21
Revelations 9:20-21
Nahum 3:4-5 Leviticus 19:26
Ephesians 5:11

Disclaimer → I am no scriptural expert. I will be the first to wholeheartedly admit that. And, I have been known to be wrong a time or two ;). I do, however, study scripture. And, this is how I see it, at least until someone proves me wrong!


Church, we have to get this right

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that he should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at his love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” ~Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel

I have some thoughts that have been nagging me for a few years. I find it so hard to know when to speak what I believe to be truth to brothers and sisters in Christ, and when to stay silent. Many have spoken out about the issue of church in this country. God has placed the state of the American church on my heart as well. My goal is not to simply add to the noise, not just to complain or criticize it, but to fight for it.

I am pained by the direction that I see American churches going. I fear that in such subtle ways, our eyes and focus may be moving away from Christ and His teachings, and toward getting the masses to come in our doors. Are we, as the church, staying true to God’s Word and furthering His Kingdom? Or, as so many megachurches emerge, is it a numbers game?

The church of today is very polished and attractive from the outside. No wonder people are flocking to it. But, we must look at what is going on inside. Is the Word of God preached unapologetically in truth and love?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. ”  Matthew 23:27

Church is more than a building. It is not this church or that church. It is not this address or that website. It is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is beyond the physical.

“What the church –the disciples gathered –really needs is not more people, more money, better buildings or programs, more education, or more prestige. Christ’s gathered people, the church, has always been at its best when it had little or none of these.”  -Dallas Willard, The Great Omission

We must not be married to our ‘church plans’. Christ is the head of church. How can a church be Christ-led if it is bound to a plan that we created?  If God tells us to move, and it conflicts with our plan, then what? Can having a long term plan breed arrogance and independence instead of DEPENDENCE on God?

Church has been on my mind lately. Oh, my soul is troubled. I just can’t shake this feeling that something is off. I can’t shake the feeling that maybe we can do church better.

I am troubled that our mission as the body of Christ might be compromised by our culture. I see how much like our society American churches have become. I would say that if we resemble the world too much in our churches or ourselves, we are on dangerous ground.

“Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”  Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Where is the tension with the culture that Jesus and the apostles experienced? Where is the upside down teaching of Christ that led crowds of people to cry out for His death? Where is the anguish that caused Jesus to sweat blood that night on the Mount of Olives?

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:41-44

I mostly see comfort in our churches. I don’t see people crying out to God; I don’t see people so broken by the sin of the world that they can’t speak; and I don’t see people groaning in prayer for the lost. Where is our anguish and sorrow for a world that doesn’t know Jesus?

We have to ask ourselves, ‘are we lukewarm?’

Becoming lukewarm needs be always on our minds as ‘the church’, just as pride must always be on our minds because we are human. God knows our tendencies as individuals and as the church. He laid it out in scripture. We must acknowledge our sinful tendencies so that we can fight against them.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:15-16

Most sermon topics revolve around being a better Christian, a better spouse, a better parent, a better citizen, a better neighbor or a better employee. These are all topics we need to be challenged on. However, I feel as though we neglect to preach on being a better church. We need to be examining ourselves to be ready as the body of Christ, just as a bride-to-be prepares for her wedding day.

We focus and teach on these things:

  • Are we seeking His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33)?
  • Do we take care of the poor and oppressed (Matthew 25:35-40)?
  • Do we feed His sheep (John 21:15–16)?
  • Are we fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)?
  • Are we loving our neighbors (Matthew 22:39–40)?

Many sermons on these topics have been given over the years. And they are vital if we are going to be faithful disciples. However, I believe that there are crucial areas that we neglect to address.

I feel strongly that we must be looking at what is going on within the walls of our churches. The church will never be perfect, but we need to be continually asking God how to make it better; how we can be better prepared for the wedding of the Lamb.

   For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
   and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
   and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
   was given her to wear.”  Revelations 16:6-9

  • Do we love each other within the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 13)?

Love is what it’s all about. If people can’t walk into our church and be blown away by the love that we have for each other, than we have work to do. People need to come into our sanctuaries and say, ‘No way! I’ve never seen a group of people love each other like that!’

  • Do we deal with relationships within these walls in a way pleasing to Him (Matthew 5:23–25)?

What does a church-goer do when they disagree with something the church is doing or have conflict with someone in leadership? What is the protocol?

What I believe most often happens is that person or couple will be agitated or have an offense with someone within the church, but they say nothing. As time goes on, they get more and more agitated, and their frustration snowballs. Eventually, they are so extremely disgruntled that they leave. They disappear from the church and are seen no more. A few months later, we ask each other, what ever happened to the so and so’s?

This is how it works at every church that I have ever known. If you have a problem with the church, you leave. And, you find another church that temporarily pleases you. Until conflict arises, that is, and the cycle continues.

People leaving their church when they are frustrated poses 4 problems:

  1. That person loses the opportunity to be refined by God (Zechariah 13:9) by walking through the painful process of facing that difficult relationship or situation
  2. The church loses the opportunity to be refined by God through that difficult situation
  3. God calls us, the church, to be unified (John 17:20-23)
  4. We are all ‘the church’, and if one of us has a problem, the whole body has a problem (1 Corinthians 12:26).

Our growth and maturity as a church is stunted if we settle for this way of handling conflict. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong.

  • Are we in this church dealing with pride among the body AND the leaders (Jeremiah 49:16, 1 Corinthians 8:2)?

I often thought what a challenge pride would be for those in a place of power or popularity. The enemy will gladly use a stage to throw his arrows of temptation. I truly believe that pride is the enemy of ministry. And, I hope and pray that you, as the leaders, have a plan in place to always keep this on your radar.

  • Are we making disciples (Matthew 28:19)?

The business of the church is to make disciples, and to make disciple-makers. We must ask ourselves these questions. Are the people in our church disciples? Are we, ourselves, disciples? Are we all making disciples? Are we all repenting? Are we all baptizing?

Let’s not just teach what Jesus commanded, let’s teach people to OBEY what Jesus commanded.

“Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have never decided to follow Christ.”   -Dallas Willard, The Great Omission

  • Are we caring for the weak and lowly within our walls as well as outside them (Ezekiel 34:3-4)?
  • Who do we most highly esteem in the church, the poor widows or the rich fools (Mark 12:41-44 & Luke 21:1-4)?

Jesus Christ didn’t look like a king. He was different than any leader of His day. He took nothing for Himself, He was not loud and aggressive. Do we as the church, put leaders in front of the people and on our stages that most resemble Christ? Or, do we put the most impressive, the most learned, the most credentialed, and the most attractive above others? Does the church choose its leaders any differently than secular society?

  • Are we speaking truth to each other (Ephesians 4:15)?
  • Are we rebuking each other when we fall into sin (galatians 6:1)?
  • Are we searching for the lost (Luke 15:1-7)?
  • Are we choosing the narrow path (Matthew 7:13–14)?
  • Are we guarding against false prophets (Matthew 7:15)?
  • Are we denying ourselves (Luke 9:23–25)?
  • Are we servants of all, including servants to each other (Matthew 20:26–28)?
  • Are we focused on storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19–21)?
  • Are we preparing ourselves for Christ’s return (Matthew 24:42–44)?
  • Are we unified? Are we one? (John 17:20-23)

God has burdened me for the church. It is so often on my heart and mind. I fight so hard not to do or say the wrong things, that most times I do or say nothing. The tug-of-war within me is between the fear of being prideful or wrong on one side, and the fear of spending my life standing for nothing on the other.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

Don’t get me wrong, I love the church. It is this love for the body of Christ that fuels my passion. We don’t know the hour our Master will return, therefore, we must always be ready. I desire for the church to always be holy and blameless.

He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.  Ephesians 1:9-10

The truth is that each one of us is the church. It is up to all of us to fight to keep the body of Christ alive with the fire of the Holy Spirit. I know that I will always have things to repent of and work on until that glorious day the Lord Jesus takes me home. So it is with the church. We must be vigilant about keeping it pure and beautiful as the bride of Christ.

It’s time for revival in our churches! It’s time for an awakening! As church members, are we fresh with the fire of the living God in our bellies?  Or, is it ‘business as usual?” Church is a big deal, brothers and sisters. We have to get this right!

Jesus Wept: Allowing God to break our heart for what breaks His

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:22-23

One morning I spent time on my knees crying out to God. I was filled with sorrow and anguish. My soul ached within me and I was heartbroken. I don’t understand what you are doing, Lord. Should I be over this by now? Please tell me. Am I causing my own pain and distress? Is it me, Lord?

I anguished and I groaned in prayer.

I sometimes feel like the people in the bible who tore their robes and beat their chests. I anguish about my wretchedness, I anguish about the state of the church in this country, I anguish about my kids and the next generation, and I anguish over brothers and sisters in Christ who are thoroughly beaten down.

Why do I feel so utterly anguished about certain things? I ponder this question. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. What society and the current thinking tells me is that76569 there must be something wrong with me.

If I told people about my anguish they would probably look at me like I had three heads. They would probably be horrified and maybe call a priest for an exorcism.

God doesn’t want us to anguish does He?

With these questions came a crisis of faith. Not in the sense that I doubted God. I didn’t. I knew that God was who He said He was. I knew His promises were true and His Word was life and breath to me. No, my crisis wasn’t about God, it was about me.

It centered around these two questions: 1) Why do I experience such deep anguish? and 2) Is something wrong with me?

I haven’t really known what to do with my deep sorrow that I experience from time to time. In a society where pain of any kind is unacceptable, I feel weird and alone. It is more socially acceptable to avoid pain by any means possible than to walk through it.

Some common reactions to a person who experiences anguish might be

  • trying to talk them out of it, “it’s not that bad”
  • seeking to cheer them up, “come on, look at the bright side”
  • telling them how they are being too negative

Some might start avoiding that person completely. Nobody likes a ‘Debby-downer’.

A few weeks ago I saw a friend of mine from college. We went out to dinner and she filled me in about her life in the last 10 years. It was fraught with trials, difficulty, conflict, and trauma. Having known her a long time, I also knew that she had a less than ideal childhood. She never had much of a support system, and I felt bad for having lost touch with her through the years.

After the evening was over, I went home and collapsed on the couch. I was exhausted, almost heavy. It was like she unloaded some of her burden onto me. And, I physically felt it. I felt a little heavier and she probably felt a little lighter.

As the next few days passed, I continued to think about our conversation. I thought about how she was in such a difficult and confusing time. I thought about her experiences that caused her to feel unworthy and unimportant. I thought about how she had been treated so unlovingly by those around her. I thought about the drama in her family that she faced on a regular basis.  And, it filled me with sorrow.

At that moment, I realized how similar my friend and I were. We were both messy people who experienced anguish.

What do we do with messy people?

  • What do we do with people who have serious baggage?
  • How do we handle those who have had a hard life where things haven’t always worked out?
  • What do we do with people who aren’t always happy and upbeat?
  • What do we do with those who don’t have and may never have a strong family or support system?
  • What do we do with people who frequently wrestle with God and experience uncertainty?
  • What do we do with people who are in the storms of life?

When we aren’t avoiding them completely, we tend to say flippant things reflecting a spirit of ‘turn that frown upside down’. We suggest things like, the power of positive thinking. In other words . . . . Get over it!

We don’t want to hear the messy, sad stories. We don’t want to hear about complex problems that don’t have easy solutions.

We tend to embrace joy and reject sorrow. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, “Are we rejecting people, God’s beloved children, because they don’t always fall into the joy category?”

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  Luke 10:33-34

Scripture says that the good Samaritan:

  • took pity him
  • went to him
  • bandaged his wounds
  • poured on him oil and wine
  • took him to where he could get more help

This beaten, bloodied man would not necessarily have been pleasant, upbeat or positive. What if the good Samaritan had responded like this to the man on the road instead?

  • You’re not really hurt
  • Think positively
  • Turn that frown upside down
  • Shake it off

troubled-womanWhat if the good Samaritan would have said something cliché and walked away? Obviously, he wouldn’t be considered ‘the good Samaritan’, and the man on the road would never have gotten the help and attention that he needed.

Some people are just luckier in this life than other people. Some are valued, talented, loved by many, lucky in love, supported and generally have many successes. And, there are some that aren’t or don’t. The majority of us live somewhere in between.

Who is willing to fight for my friend? Who is willing to get in the mess with her and share in her anguish? Who is willing to be burdened with a complicated situation when they don’t have to be?

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  Isaiah 61:1-3

Who will anguish for a tortured soul? Am I willing? Are you? Will we leave these messy people outside the gates while we are within?

So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus.  Hebrews 13:13-15 (The Message)

I decided to do some research on anguish in the scriptures. I wanted to know who experienced anguish in the bible and what God had to say about it. As I did, I realized that those who have anguished are in good company.

David anguished.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.  Psalm 22:1-2

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise  Psalm 51:10

So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.  1 Samuel 30:4

Nehemiah anguished.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.  Nehemiah 1:4

Elijah anguished.

He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” 1 Kings 19:4-5

Hannah anguished.

So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary. . . . . . Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—
inconsolably.  1 Samuel 1:9-11

Paul anguished.

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race.  Romans 9:2-3

Even Jesus anguished.

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.  Luke 22:41-44

Then he (Jesus) said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Matthew 26:38

Jesus wept.  John 11:35

Could experiencing anguish be a part of becoming more like Christ?

I also found a blog post that stunned me called, A Call To Anguish by David Wilkerson. It was written by Natalie Nichols on the Shades of Grace Ministries website,

There, I found this 7 minute clip

This clip was based on a powerful sermon by an evangelist who passed away in 2011. He is the author of The Cross and the Switchblade. This clip moved me like nothing else has in a  long time.

I have listened to this clip several times and I still weep. And I ask myself, why? Why does it move me so much? Then God speaks to my heart.

The picture of someone so anguished, and burdened for the heart of God that they walk in heaviness like David Wilkerson in this clip is so beautiful. Preachers that speak with such anguish and emotion don’t really exist anymore.

There is nothing as beautiful to me as someone like my friend in complete anguish because their heart is aligned with the heart of God. It is an awesome thing when a person is willing to suffer for their God.

I started to think that maybe being in anguish was not weird or wrong. Maybe I was being more obedient to God than if I didn’t anguish. Maybe anguish should be a part of the life of a disciple of Christ.

So, maybe . . . .

When we allow God to break our heart for what breaks His, we are the very picture of Christ

Let’s consider getting into the mess with people, because Christ did.

Below, I have written out this clip from David’s Wilkerson’s sermon. Please excuse the grammar as this was originally a sermon not a text.

“I look at the whole religious scene today and all I see are inventions and ministries of man and flesh. It’s mostly powerless. It has no impact on the world. And I see more of the world coming into the church and impacting the church rather than the church impacting the world.

I see the music taking over the house of God. I see entertainment taking over the house of God. Obsess with entertainment in God’s House, a hatred of correction and a hatred of reproof. Nobody wants to hear it anymore.

Whatever happened to anguish in the house of God? Whatever happened to anguish in the ministry? It’s a word you don’t hear in this pampered age. You don’t hear it. Anguish means extreme pain and distress; the emotions so stirred that it becomes painful. Acute deeply felt inner pain because of conditions about you, in you, or around you. Anguish. Deep pain. Deep sorrow. Agony of God’s heart.

We’ve held on to our religious rhetoric and our revival talk but we’ve become so passive. All true passion is born out of anguish. All true passion for Christ comes out of a baptism of anguish. You search the scripture and you’ll find that when God determined to recover a ruined situation He would share His own anguish, for what God saw happening to His church and to His people. And He would find a praying man and He would take that man and literally baptize him in anguish.

You find it in the book of Nehemiah. Jerusalem is in ruins. How is God going to deal with this? How is God going to restore the ruin? Folks, look at me . . . . Nehemiah was not a preacher, he was a career man. This was a praying man. God found a man who would not just have a flash of emotion, not just some great sudden burst of concern and then let it die. He said ”No. I broke down and I wept and I mourned and I fasted. Then I began to pray night and day.

Why didn’t these other men, why didn’t they have an answer? Why didn’t God use them in restoration? Why didn’t they have a word? Because there was no sign of anguish, no weeping, not a word of prayer! It’s all ruin!

Does it matter to you today? Does it matter to you at all that God’s spiritual Jerusalem, the church, is now married to the world? That there is such a coldness sweeping the land? Closer than that, does it matter about the Jerusalem that is in our own hearts? The sign of ruin that is slowly draining spiritual power and passion. Blind to lukewarmness, blind to the mixture that is creeping in.

That’s all the devil wants to do is get the fight out of you. And kill it. So you won’t labor in prayer anymore. You won’t weep before God anymore. You can sit and watch television and your family go to hell.

Let me ask you . . . . Is what I just said convicted you at all?

There’s a great difference between anguish and concern. Concern is something that begins to interest you, you take an interest in a project or a cause or a concern or a need. I want to tell you something I’ve learned over all my years, of 50 years of preaching. If it is not born of anguish, if it had not been born by the Holy Spirit, where what you saw and heard of the ruin that drove you to your knees, took you down into a baptism of anguish where you began to pray and seek God.

I know now . . . . . oh my God do I know it. Until I am in agony, until I have been anguished over it. And all our projects, all our ministries, everything we do . . . where are the Sunday school teachers that weep over kids they know are not hearing and going to hell?

You see, a true prayer life begins at the place of anguish. You see, if you set your heart to pray, God’s going to come and start sharing His heart with you. Your heart begins to cry out – oh God Your name is being blasphemed! Holy Spirit is being mocked! The enemy is out trying to destroy the testimony of the Lord’s Faithfulness. And something has to be done.

There is going to be no renewal, no revival, no awakening, until we are willing to let Him once again break us. Folks, it is getting late, and it’s getting serious. Please don’t tell me, don’t tell me you’re concerned . . . when you’re spending hours in front of internet or television. Come on.

Lord, there’s some need to get to this altar and confess ‘I am not what I was, I am not where I am suppose to be. God, I don’t have your heart or your burden. I’ve wanted it easy. I just wanted to be happy. But Lord, true joy comes, true joy comes out of anguish.

There is nothing of the flesh will give you joy. I don’t care how much money, I don’t care what kind of new house, there is absolutely nothing physical that can give you joy. It’s only what is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when you obey Him and take on His heart.

Build the walls around your family. Build the walls around your own heart. Make you strong and impregnable against the enemy. God that’s what we desire.”

A Call To Anguish clip by David Wilkerson,

A Call To Anguish, the complete sermon,