The Gamut of Grief

Preface
What I am about to share was derived from my response to an email I received from a very good friend of mine who was encouraging me to allow “grief” to run its course. This may not make any sense to you, but I found that as I wrote it, it helped me process what I have been feeling over the almost 2 months since Dad passed away.

Coping with Grief
The thing I’ve learned in this grieving process; there are no real rules. Rule books go out the window. People tell you what they “think,” but you can’t “think” your way through grief. It’s a journey. Albeit, a journey we all dread. It’s very much a journey of the heart over the head. And the thing is…there’s no shortcut here. It simply is going to take time. At times I feel numbness, which I feel is more of a feeble attempt at a coping strategy for me. When the emotions well up, I take the time I need. Experts try to describe it and have even given stages to it. But honestly, there’s no replacement for going through it yourself. People try to console you, and I’m grateful for their love, support, and understanding. But, people that have been where I am now, are the ones I find the greatest comfort from. Everyone else can try to help, and I welcome their love, but those that have experienced this pain can relate; often without words. I have to admit, in the past I’ve lost loved ones (cousins, grandparents, and friends), but it’s NOTHING like losing Dad.

The Gamut of Grief

I just can’t sit and dwell on the loss of my dad, to do so would be to rob me and my family of what I gained from having such a great father. What’s amazing; with my dad, you can literally be crying one minute and the very next be laughing. While that sounds like a dichotomy of emotions, that’s just how it’s worked for me. People “worry” when someone loses a loved one if they don’t cry “enough”…I have…but each person expresses their grief differently. Crying helps, but is just one small aspect of the grieving process. There’s the heartache, the withdrawals, the emptiness, the loneliness, the anguish, the sleeplessness, the hunger loss, the denial, the anger, the doubt, the confusion, the questions…the list goes on and on.

Dad is Still Teaching Me
I thought with the passing of my father that I would no longer be able to learn from him; not true. I’ve learned a great deal from him even though he has passed on.

  • I’ve learned to listen more attentively.
  • Care more deeply.
  • Take more time with loved ones.
  • Linger longer with loved ones.
  • We need one another.
  • Our life isn’t about what we’ve done; it’s about who we’ve become.
  • Rather than be bitter about the moments you’ll miss – be grateful for the ones you’ve had.
  • To obsess over the joys you’ll never again experience, is to overlook the joys yet on your horizon.
  • When someone says their sick – even if you think they’re not, if they’re feeling it, be sympathetic.
  • Sometimes people can’t always put into words what or how they feel; they just need someone to listen and take them seriously.
  • You’ll never have enough time with a loved one – you’ll always want just one more moment, one more day, one more phone call, one more email, one more voicemail.
  • The things you’ll miss the most are the hugs, the warm embraces, the touch of their hand, the sound of their voice, the sound of their laughter, the excitement in their eyes, the times you laughed together and the times you cried.
  • The slowest thing to heal is a broken heart – sometimes it never completely recovers.
  • Don’t put-off saying what needs to be said.
  • There are just some things you will never fully understand…in this life.
  • Death and the loss it brings touches more than just the family of the loved one.

I Don’t Want to Get Over Losing Dad
This is going to sound strange, but I don’t want to “get over” losing my dad. I want the tenderness of his memory to make me still get emotional. Whether it makes me laugh or cry, I want the full impact of his memory to live on inside of me. Even if it hurts to think of him, I still want it. Even if it makes me cry for no reason, and at the wrong times, I still want it. My dad made me laugh more in his lifetime than some fathers could do in 10 lifetimes. The occasional bout with tears are a small price for the laughter he brought me…and continues to bring me when I least expect it in the fondness of his memory.

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Update: The 3rd year my father’s passing, August 7, 2011 has come and recently there have been friends and family who have lost loved ones.  As a way to remind myself of the lessons, and to encourage others, I decided to update and re-post this article. My prayer is these words bless you and that you feel not only my hand in yours, but ultimately the Lord’s Hand of comfort most of all, as you join others on this journey I call the “Gamut of Grief.” ~ Rodger Mangold

The Answer is Still Hope

Daily we’re bombarded in the media with disturbing headlines…

  • Gradually, the freedoms of our nation are being chiseled away in the name of security.
  • Our unemployment rate is at an all-time high, while the value of our dollar is at an all-time low.
  • Consumer confidence is at an all-time low, while prices for things are at an all-time high.
  • The divorce rate is at an all-time high.
  • The murders, shootings, and stabbings, litter the front page of every morning paper.
  • Abortion continues to be legal.
  • Political corruption is rampant in our government officials.
  • The Muslims have declared war on the western world
  • The US has declared war on terrorist countries
  • Iran wants to bomb Israel off the map
  • There’s genocide being committed in the Dar Fur region
  • Every day we hear about famines and droughts taking lives
  • Natural disasters, rather than bringing out the best in people, have brought out the worst, with looting, pillaging, price gouging, and hidden political agendas.
  • Every day another drug deal goes bad
  • Every day another child dies in a drive-by shooting
  • Every day another school or place of business gets shot-up
  • Every day another terrorist threat is discovered
  • The children and the elderly in our country continue to get the short end of the stick
  • Justice seems to favor the criminal
  • Our prisons are over-crowded
  • People are losing their homes
  • Banks are going out of business

Yet, everyday people get up and do their dead-level best to keep their chin up. The odds never seem to be in their favor. What on earth (or in Heaven) could ever breath hope back into people’s lives? What if anything could remedy the pain of feeling of being violated?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” I Co. 15:19.

  • This world doesn’t need a powerful political figure…
  • This world doesn’t need a powerful political system…
  • This world doesn’t need more money, more programs, or more tax breaks…
  • This world doesn’t need more change, just for the sake of change, what this world needs is HOPE!

Peter said in his first epistle (3:15) – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

The answer is hope! Let’s point people to the real hope that spans beyond this world – it’s the hope that drew Christ to the Cross at Calvary…YOU!

As long as there are “YOU’s” in this world, there is hope…

  • People whose lives have been forever changed
  • People who have been given a reason to carry on
  • People who have drank from the freely from the well and now have living water flowing from their own souls
  • People who have everlasting joy and peace
  • People who have hope

While hope is one of the greatest of all commodities on the planet it’s futile if it’s not shared with others. People everywhere are waiting, knowingly or unknowingly, to hear a message of hope.

If you’re born again of the water and of the Spirit, you contain the hope that humanity needs in earthen vessels. Let’s not withhold this hope from mankind.

Jesus read a passage in Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Jesus was the fulfillment of this Old Testament prophecy, but today, the Spirit of the Lord is not just “upon” us…He’s in us; reaching out to a lost and hurting world through us! It’s up to us to complete the mission Jesus started, until the day of His return!

A Star-spangled Thank-you to Our Soldiers

The thundrous booms, showering crackles of light, and the piercing whistle of fireworks are enjoyed by millions of blue-blooded Americans each year as we celebrate our independence on the 4th of July. These spectacular displays of light, color, and sound inspire us while bringing to remembrance the courageous men and women who fought to protect our country’s liberties and freedoms; many paying the ultimate price.

For the soldier the “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” aren’t necessarilly cause for celebration as much as they are a call to duty. Plumbs of smoke, and the earth rumbling beneath their feet brings a soldier to a state of readiness. Rapid gunfire, roadside bombs, and fellow soldiers falling at your side are grim realities for our brave servicemen and women. Sleepless nights, frightening memories, and post traumatic stress disorder, are ever surfacing reminders, while your enemies may no longer be physically present, their ghosts forever haunt the landscape of your life. Their lives will forever be affected, their perceptions, and perceptions of them, forever altered.

This Independence Day, as you “OOOO” and “AHHH” over the brilliant displays of light, color, and sound, pause to reflect upon the sacrifices of those who braved the “perilous fight” to make such displays of pride and patriotism possible. As God’s Word implores us all, “Give honor where honor is due.” Whether in the Airforce, Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserves; past, present, or fallen, on behalf of the entire Mangold Family, here is a heart-felt thank-you for all you have done and sacrificed to protect the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!”

God bless our Troops and God bless America!

Pastor Rodger D. Mangold and Family

Lame Game of Shame

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

Adam and Eve Meet Guilt and Shame

Prior to this portion of scripture, Adam and Eve wouldn’t have dreamed of trying to hide from God. Hearing the voice of God meant an opportunity to visit with the Creator. I’m sure it would seem each encounter with God brought with Him another blessing; a new tree from which to eat, a new flower upon which to gaze, a new creation for which to praise Him. Today was different. God’s presence brought dread!

Why was this day different? Guilt, shame, and fear had reared their ugly heads and now knowing they had disobeyed God, Adam and Eve were going to face punishment. Nothing had ever died before, but they knew death was the punishment for disobedience. Like children, they ran and hid only prolonging the inevitable.

Effects of Guilt and Shame

We learn that the wages of sin are death (Rom. 6:23). Sin destroys and leaves death in its wake. One of the weapons it uses is guilt. Guilt can destroy us from within. It can interfere with our ability to gain closure, healing, and overcoming power over the effects of sin. God knew that sin would cause separation. The moment sin came on the scene, our human instinct was to hide. Hide from what? Or, hide from whom? God himself! The very one that could provide healing, forgiveness, redemption. To God’s dismay, blood had to be shed. Calvary’s price must be paid. The Lamb must be slain.

Deer in the Headlights

For us, we’ve spent the better part of our existence fighting our nature to give in to self, sin, and even Satan. We know down deep these are wedges between ourselves and a benevolent, yet righteous God. Guilt leaves us feeling unworthy of a relationship with our Creator. Guilt, a close cousin to fear, immobilizes us. Like the proverbial deer in the headlights, we tense up and freeze. “What’s my next move?”

“Do I try to cover it up with fig leaves?”

“Or, do I run to the arms of my Heavenly Father and say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me nothing.”

We learn that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). We also know, that once we’ve come to Christ, those immobilizing effects of guilt, shame, and fear should no longer rule our response to sin. Romans 8:1 says, “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The caveat here is, we must walk in the Spirit (capital “S”) God’s Spirit, and not after the flesh. I John 1:9 reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

He Called Us Friends

II Corinthians 5:19 states, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” God is all about reconciling with humanity. He wants to once again have the close companionship and relationship with His creation. Jesus, God in the flesh, said it like this, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:13-15). Does that sound like a God who is willing for anyone to perish?

In Closing

Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son paints a beautiful picture of God’s willingness to restore us back into His good graces. The son could have wallowed in the muck of pig slop, but even he realized, his daddy’s servants lived better than that. We went from hiding among the trees, and wallowing in the slop, to outstretched arms of grace and mercy. Guilt will keep you hiding and wallowing in the mud. Love will get you seated back at the Master’s table.

The remedy that worked at Calvary, still works – the sinless blood of Jesus Christ. It’s by the Lord’s mercies we’re not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is HIS faithfulness. God is all in favor of you returning back into His good graces. Don’t turn a deaf ear to the overtures of Grace. Don’t spurn the love of your Heavenly Father. Don’t cower beneath His outstretch hand. A life time of being callous to God’s tender wooing will lead to the outcome we will dread – eternal separation from the very one who died to save us!

Behold Thy Mother

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. John 19:26 – 27

The battered and bruised body of Jesus hung between Heaven and Earth; a grim picture, too grim for the other 11 disciples, but not so for John and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Yes, there are other stories of heroic women throughout the bible, but Mary stood at the foot of the cross and watched her promised son, the prophesied “Savior of the World” draw his last breath. But, just moments before his death, Christ would lay aside the burden of sin for the world, lay aside the shame, pain, and agony of the cross, ignoring the piercing of the nails, the crown of thorns, and the pending battle with Death, Hell, and the Grave, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his beloved mother.

On this Mother’s Day, and every day, it would behoove sons and daughters everywhere to set aside the tanked economy, the war on terror, the latest political scandals, the rising gas prices, and the sheer stress of life, to ensure the women who are responsible for our births into this world are acknowledged, thanked, and appreciated for their selfless sacrifice and dedication. In this passage it’s as if Jesus was saying, “Mom, you’re gonna be alright.” If Jesus took the time while carrying the weight of the world’s salvation on his battered shoulders to entrust the care of his mother to one of his most trusted disciples, surely we could take the time to daily entrust the care of our mothers to our Heavenly Father through prayer, love, and support. May all our lives as sons and daughter pay fitting tribute to the precious lady we call, “Mom.”

Ant on a Mission

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Proverbs 6:6

As springtime blossoms, we see evidence of new life at every turn; flowering buds on trees, Robins nesting, Sparrows singing, and the return of summertime’s pesky insects. Proverbs points us to one such insect that has been around since the dawn of time and has over 12,000 different species – the assiduous ant! Known for her industry, the ant is ever searching for food and water sources. No time for luxury or frivolous pursuits, she’s always on a mission!

Solomon was contrasting the sluggard with the industrious ant, but as Christians, what’s our take-home message? Have we become like Aesop’s lazy grasshopper, basking in the temporary pleasures of this world, flitting from one blade of grass to another seeking enjoyment and pleasure? Or, are we like the laser-sharp-focused ant who never forgets she’s on “Mission from God?” We’ve been commanded to go into all the world preaching the Gospel of Christ’s Death, Burial and Resurrection. An ant builds a colony, numbering in some cases in the millions. Let’s make God’s Mission our mission. Let’s work the harvest while it is day, and colonize for the Kingdom of Heaven.

II Timothy 3 warns us all, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (NASB)

Serminutes Has a New Home – Serminutes.com

My new concept for sermonettes, called “Serminutes” – One minute spiritual “pick-me-up’s” for busy Christians, has its very own site now called, you guessed it, Serminutes.com. I know there’s a ton of material out there vying for your attention, and I don’t want to burden you with yet another place to visit, but Serminutes aren’t quite what I envisioned for my personal blog. Plus, I felt like they deserved their own home. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Thank you for visiting. Have a happy and blessed day – Rodger

Also, feel free to follow @Serminutes on Twitter 

What’s a “Serminute?”

A one minute spiritual pick-me-up for busy Christians!

When I first started preaching I was tasked with the challenge of preaching not sermons, but “sermonettes.” I’m not certain who coined this word, but my understanding of it means a “bite-sized” sermon that doesn’t take a lot of time getting your point across. I’m definitely not a man of few words. Words are my paint, and paper my palette. So, trying to narrow my words yet get something meaningful across has proven to be quite an undertaking. You know the world we’re living in is face-paced and if you can’t get your fastfood meal in under a minute, you’re tapping your foot. I am aware of that so I’ve devised a plan for you to get a small devotion with a big meaning!

The idea isn’t new and has been embraced by several of my Facebook Friends as “sermonettes.” Of course, you’re only allowed 420 characters. I’ve allowed myself 500 characters (see Revisions below) and dubbed my little snippets “ser-minutes” as a play on the word sermonette or a “sermon in a minute.” It takes me a decent amount of time some days to write these, but it will only take you about a minute to read and hopefully be blessed and encouraged.

Now, for the next little while welcome to the 500 character sermonette I like to call “Ser-minute.” Enjoy the one minute spiritual pick-me-up for busy Christians!   – Rodger

Revision on 4/4/11 – Changed the scope to include 500 characters vs. 420…needed a little more wiggle-room. Hey, it’s still under a minute! Enjoy and God bless.

Revision on 5/4/11 – We’re evolving here folks! We’re doing our level best to confine our creativity and miniaturize our messages, but as we advance we’re seeing a need to broaden our definition a “tad” further. We’re going from a “character count” to now a “word count” format which will be 200 words or less. It’s still a nugget, and well below the “long-winded” writing I’ve been known to do in the past. So, since these are self-imposed guidelines, I’m expanding slightly, but my over all “ONE MINUTE” Mission has not changed. Serminutes – Sermon in a Minute. Thank you for reading and God bless!