Tag Archives: anxiety


Read Matthew 6:25-34

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)

Anxiety is a serious human condition that every human being experiences in some, way, shape, form, and at differing levels throughout their lives. For some, it’s just some butterflies before a big audition or performance. For others, it is a crippling mental illness that shuts down peoples lives with a vengeance. For some, it is mere stress that comes and goes naturally on its own; for others, it is a hell they’ve been locked in for years if not their whole lives.

When it came out in 2022, I watched the movie Scream, which is the fifth installment in the Scream film franchise. For those who have never heard of or seen the films, the original was a witty horror film that was a loving tribute and satire of 1980s and 1990s slasher horror films. I recognize that is not everyone’s ball of tea, but I do find many a good moral tales and theological musings within the horror genre.

In fact, the whole premise of the Scream franchise is that there are certain rules that need to be followed in order to survive in a slasher film. First, you totally cannot have [premarital] sex. Once you do, you are as good as dead. Second, don’t ever drink or do drugs, or you are as good as dead. Don’t ever under any circumstance get over-confident and say out loud, “I’ll be right back”, otherwise you’re the next victim and your as good as dead. I would probably avoid thinking it too.

In the second film, the rules expand to Slasher sequels. First, the body count is always larger. Second, the death scenes are much more elaborate. There’s more blood and there’s more gore. Third, don’t ever assume the killer is dead. And there’s an unsaid fourth rull that carries out throughout the franchise: the orginal rules still apply…until they don’t. Fun right?

Well, after watching the latest installment, I realized that there is a common thread throughout all of these films, and in the horror genre over all. ANXIETY. Horror plays off of our own human fears and anxieties. For instance, in the Scream franchise, the anxiety of phone calls and of being stalked is what the film is using to invoke horror/terror within the audience. For some, phones are the greatest thing ever. For others, phones are hellish devices that they dread to use. It took me a long time to get over my anxiety about answering and making phone calls. I think that anxiety started in me when I was a telemarketer as a seventeen year old and they nasty, rude, and sometimes evil comments people would say to me. I have gotten better at that, but still it produces anxiety in me.

Then, add to that, the fear of someone stalking us and you’ve just taken that anxiety up another notch. When I was a young adult, I knew two people (one a minor, the other a young adult), who used pay phones to order pizza and have it delivered to an abandoned house. Many pizzerias turned them down, but one of them…the one me and my family went to as we knew the owner…didn’t realize the address was an abandoned house and accepted the order. When the delivery boy, who I was also friends with, couldn’t find the house, the owner went with him to help. They were both shot by the two mentioned above. It was a horror scene, senseless and bloody, as those two sat down to eat the pizza before leaving the scene.

So, horror films use our fears and anxieties to teach us lessons, often filled with morality and, believe it or not, theology. That is true; however, we live in a horrifying world that we have no control over whatsoever. In reality, this world doesn’t teach us anything and it is not just using our anxieties; rather, it is preying on them. The news and media, the banks and our financial situations, our broken medical system, our lack of any sort of hospitable immigration system, and a whole plethora of other things fill us with all sorts of anxiety. We don’t feel safe and we worry about everything all the time and all at once.

In our scripture passage, Jesus warns us against that. Prior to this passage Jesus revealed that one cannot serve both God and money. You’ll only ever serve one and not the other. Then he addressed the financial and economic anxieties of his time. While he does not bring in other possible anxieties, it is clear that this message applies to other circumstances as well. In verse 27, Jesus asked, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”, and in verses 33-34 Jesus teaches, “ Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

While the world offers us more trouble, fear and anxiety, Jesus offers us true and everlasting peace. He gets us as the recent television spots have been proclaiming to the world on major networks. Jesus. Jesus gets us. That’s not just crafty wordplay, but it is the absolute truth. We, as Christians, need to root our faith in Christ and TRUST him to provide us with all we need. If we do that, we will EXPERIENCE everlasting joy and peace.

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” – Charles Spurgeon

Lord, help me overcome my anxieties so that I many walk in your footsteps once more and root my faith deeply in you. Amen.

The Void

Read 1 John 1:5-7

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God” (Isaiah 50:10 NLT).

Darkness can be interpreted in many ways, but it is almost universally understood to be a state we, as humans, do not want to exist in. One cannot see well in the dark and moving around when one cannot see is quite treacherous. In fact, since the beginning of time, people have referred to such a state as “being in an abyss” or being in “a void”. Definitively, this kind of void is a completely empty space, emptied of everything including light.

One of my favorite bands released an album during Lent 2021 called, Songs of Death and Resurrection. Demon Hunter is a metal band whose members are Christian, and this album was a collection of their ballads, each performed acoustically (including strings and piano). One of the songs on there is a song called Praise the Void. For Ryan Clark, who wrote it, the song is about people who believe there is no life after death and how they think that death will bring about an exit out of the darkness of life.

For Ryan, a Christian, this concept makes little to no sense. Jesus is the light in the darkness, and he is the ONLY one who can lead us out of it. His salvific work on the cross has given us the way out of the void we find ourselves in without God. Thus, when he sings the words, “Praise the void for this love, this wasted love”, he’s being facetious and using sarcasm to express how ridiculous he finds believing in “nothing” or in a “void” is.

As a Christian I, of course, agree with Ryan; however, a little while ago, I was listening to this song and I heard something else in the lyrics. They spoke to me in a different way than they had in the past. That is the beauty of art, it is created with a specific intent, yet it is always being interpreted by different people differently. As the lyrics entered my ears and swirled around my head and heart, they began to speak of a different void, one that I have been locked in before and could always find myself back there again. The void I speak of is the void of loneliness, of not fitting in, of not being valued or, at the very least, the perception that one lives in such a void.

In that moment, these words took on a whole new meaning to me: “But here in the dark I feel nothing, I see no one. No solace at all, we once heard the lasting call, but now I praise the void for this love, this wasted love. Praise the void for we found nothing is enough.” In those words, I was reminded of that empty feeling of being alone and abandoned, not feeling the presence of God and feeling rejected by the world…including those dearest me.

Some of that loneliness was real, some of it was perceived due to mental illness, but all of it felt real while in the void. The love…the wasted love…reminds me of all of the energy…the blood, the sweat, the tears…the countless sleepless nights and anxious days trying to get someone, anyone, to notice and LOVE me. In the void, that lasting call of Christ choosing and loving me seemed non-existent even though I could remember it and hope seemed elusive at best.

Yet, at some point, Christ broke through the void and the light led me out of the darkness and back to that lasting call. After all, it wouldn’t be lasting if it didn’t last, no? So, now I praise the void. Well, and this is perhaps where the interpretation weakens a bit, I praise God for the void. I praise God for the void because while I felt isolated in it, the void actually brought me closer to Jesus Christ. I praise God for the love…the seeemingly wasted love…because I still dared to love and that is NEVER a waste. I praise God for the void, because, in the end nothing (BUT CHRIST) is enough.

Of course, I still appreciate the original meaning of the song as I cannot wrap my head around believing that millions of years of human relations to a higher power has been somehow canceled out by nothingness, of which there is no scientific proof for either. But this new fresh interpretation has really been meaningful to me and I hope you find it meaningful too. Never be afraid to find new meanings in art or in life in general. God is speaking to us in ways that no human could ever predict, and the faithful will always be open to discovering new meanings in otherwise familiar things. Remember, authors merely write the words based off of what is on their heart; however, it is Christ who speaks through them with his lasting call.

“We become aware of the void as we fill it.” ― Antonio Porchia

Lord, help steer me away from the void and, when brokenness places me back in it, help lead your servant back to the light. Amen.

Summer of Love

Read Matthew 22:1-14

“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away” (Luke 15:7 NLT)!

Summer has always been a time I have looked forward to. As a child and teenager, summer meant that I was not in school and was free to stay up later than I could during the school year. As an adult, I long for Spring and Summer because those are the happiest times of the year for me. Let me reword that. I long for Spring and Summer because, during those seasons, I am the least depressed.

I am someone who has battled depression and anxiety my entire teenage and adult life. Perhaps I had it earlier than that; however, that is when I became aware of it. My depression and axiety are not gone during the Spring and Summer, heavens no. They’re both very much there; however, the warmth of Spring and the summer sun help to brighten my mood and make my days better than they are during the Fall and Winter.

It turns out that I not only do I have depression and anxiety, but I also have what is known as Season Affect Disorder (SAD), which is depressive disorder where the shorter days and lack of sunlight causes depression. For me, when Fall and Winter approach and the days get darker quicker, that causes my depression to be worse than it otherwise is.

So, as was aforementioned, I have always looked forward to Summer and it is durinng the summer that I get creative and have fun, especially in ministry. One such example of this is the current worship series that I am in the midst of, entitled, Summer of Love. During this series, we have explored what it means to be a part of God’s Kingdom. We learned about what it means to be loving friends, a loving community and even a loving family as a way of witnessing to the love of God as well as inviting more people into God’s Kingdom.

Pastor Todd “warming up” for Sunday Worship!

With a title such as Summer of Love, I had to do something fun and creative and, as far as I could see it, I could only really choose one theme: 60’s Hippies! I was going to decorate the santuary up like it were Woodstock minus some of the inappropriate elements. That means our sanctuary was beautified (in my humble opinion) by tie dye tapestries, wallflowers, peace signs and LAVA LAMPS! YES! We purchased two lava lamps and had them a-flowing during worship. As for me, check out the picture above and the one here as well. I was dressed like a hippie.

It has been maximum fun; however, it also has been a living testimony to the vibrant presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Reflecting on my own life and my own personal struggles, I must say that we can live our lives in a perpetual Summer of Love with the help of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is possible and God wants that for you and I.

How, you might ask? Well, by placing our faith and trust in Christ who promised we would never be left alone no matter where in the world we are! No matter your situation, no matter what season in life you are in (literal or metaphorical), Christ is with you and LOVES you. God has placed loving friends, community, and family around you. If you find that you are lacking those things, dig deep to see where they are in your life and also be open to God leading you to those things.

Once you realize God’s love for you, that’s HIGH that is hard to kill and certainly hard to contain. You will want to share that LOVE with others in ways that make them realize their inherent value in God. That is what God calls us to in Christ…to a perpetual summer of love where we are free to express that LOVE as creatively and joyfully we wish to! Friends, God has invited you to a never ending PARTY…who’s ready to join? See ya there!

“All we are saying is give [love] a chance.” – John Lennon, altered by Todd Lattig

Lord, help me to grow in your love so that I might bring others into your Kingdom. Amen.

The Sermon, part 21: Anxiety

Read Matthew 6:25-34

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)

bigstock-business-concept-53939776Today’s passage often gets read as a friendly suggestion by Jesus to those gathered around him. After all, Jesus cared for his followers and for people in general, right? He didn’t want to see them all stressed out and worried about what they will or won’t have. So, in concern of people’s stress-levels and heart health, Jesus was telling people that they should live an anxiety-free life, right?

What’s more, sermons on this text are often crafted around the notion of faith. If you trust God, you’ll have nothing to be anxious about. If you trust that God will provide for you, and if you seek first God’s Kingdom, God will give you what your heart desires. Many a “prosperity Gospel” message have come straight from today’s passage. Christ wants you to trust and have faith in God, and then God will bless you in ways immeasurable.

Unfortunately, both of the above paragraphs miss the mark. First, Jesus was not a self-help teacher who was instructing people on ways to reduce their stress. That is a very 21st century way of understanding the Gospel. There was plenty to be anxious of in Jesus’ day, and Jesus himself was not immune to it. In Gethsemane, Jesus was so anxious about his imminent crucifixion that he began to sweat blood. This is a medical condition called Hemtridosis, in which extreme physical and/or emotional stress cause capillary blood vessels to rupture and literally bleed out of one’s pours. Sounds, like a stress free and fun time, right?

This may all seem a bit facetious, but the reality is that we often interpret Jesus as if he was some sort of self-help guru who wanted nothing more than to teach you how to, as Joel Osteen puts it, “live your best life now.” To go with more Joel Osteen book titles, just for the fun of it, Jesus is not teaching you that “you can, you will,” nor is he teaching you that “it’s your time” to “break out” and “make wise choices” in your life. Think about it, conventionally speaking, was it wise for Jesus to resist the religious and world leaders of his time, or to roam the wilderness with a ragtag bunch of hooligans he called disciples? Was it wise to hang out with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners? Was it wise to flip the money-changing tables in the Temple? Was it wise to befriend Judas, and was the crucifixion Jesus’ “break out” moment?

It’s time for Christians to understand that the Gospel is not about worldly, prosperity, but about God’s justice and the establishment of God’s kingdom.  It is also time to realize that Jesus’ words against anxiety were not a friendly suggestion aimed at making us live longer and more productive lives; rather, they are a prohibition against anxiety itself. This prohibition is not just for the rich who worry about their worldly possessions and the loss of things that they have, it is also a prohibition for the poor who worry about the things they don’t have.

What’s more, it is important to stress that Jesus is not addressing people who have anxiety disorders. People who suffer from such anxiety need loving support, counseling and healing presence, not condemnation by self-righteous bigots and holy rollers. Jesus’ prohibition is not against people who suffer psychologically in ways they cannot help; rather, he is talking about the kind of anxiety that is produced by the fear of losing what one has or the desire to have more. This is not just directed at individuals, but also at the church. I can’t tell you how many times I seen local church’s, as well as the global church, worry about what the future holds, fiscally speaking. Whether we are talking about individuals, or the church, what we worry about becomes what we worship. The object of our anxiety becomes our idol, consuming all our attention and energy.

Whether one has plenty or little, Jesus is telling his disciples not to be caught up in the anxieties of material loss or gain. To do so betrays a lack of trust in God who provides us with everything we’ll ever need. It also takes us away from what our true purpose is, to love our neighbors as ourselves and to love God with our whole being. It takes us away from our true purpose of seeking out the Kingdom of Heaven, and the seeking out (and even fighting for) God’s justice (aka righteousness) in the world.

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” – Rev. Charles Spurgeon

Lord, help me to trust that you supply and equip me with all that I need. Amen.


Read Mark 4:35-41


“Cast all your anxiety on [God], because [God] cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Jesus-calms-the-seaFor anyone who has been living in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, you know what kind of a winter this has been. From Arctic Vortex temperatures to tons of snow, ice and sleet, this winter has not let up and it doesn’t look like it is going to anytime soon. Depending on who you are and weather or not you like winter will tell how exactly you are handling this; however, for those of us who have to brave the elements in order to go to work, or to go to conferences, or to go anywhere, all of this weather can be quite a bit stressful and intimidating.

And the stress isn’t just related to our own travels. My wife works an hour away from where I live. She is a registered nurse and has to go to work regardless of the weather. People’s lives depend on nurses showing up and performing their duties. I know that in winter storms, I get particularly stressed out when she is driving to or from work. There are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties. Will she make it to work okay? Will she make it home okay? What happens if she gets stranded somewhere on the road? What happens if she crashes and dies? How will I ever even begin to explain that to my children? What will my life be like if that were to happen?

The worries and the fears can certainly add up in such situations. Now, some might call me a worry wort, some might say that I’m making a big deal out of nothing; however, there are also a good many people who went out in storms, died and never came home. That reality exists, and the possibility of it happening to anyone of us is also a reality. So, for those of us who do get stressed out, know that you are not crazy for being worried. It is a natural reaction to stressful and unsettling stimuli, to get clinical about it.

With that said, what good does all of that fear do? Is it saving your’s or your spouse’s or your children’s or your parent’s lives? Is it ridding you of the situation? Is it helping you to remain focused and calm? Is it lifting you up and providing you with clear and rational thought? Of course, the answer to all of those questions would be no. When fear spirals out of control, it can paralyze us and leave us in an even worse state than the actual circumstances we find ourselves facing.

Jesus understood the meaning of fear and, without a shadow of a doubt, he certainly was stressed and fearful of the many circumstances befalling him. Yet, he also was a person of profound trust. He was a person that was able to give everything, including his fears, to God. Did that take away his fears? Did that take away his stress? Did that relieve him of his circumstances? Nope! But what it did do was give him the peace and the courage he needed to face his fears, to face his stress, and to face his circumstances.

God is asking you to place your faith in the power that God has to get you through your circumstances. Notice I did not say around or beneath them. But God can and WILL get you through them. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, KJV). Remember, that God is ALWAYS with you. And since God is with you, what do you have to fear? So, fear not for God will see you through any and every storm that comes your way.


“Leave it there, leave it there, take your burden to the Lord and leave it there. If you trust and never doubt, he will surely bring you out; take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.” – the refrain from Charles Albert Tindley’s hymn, “Leave It There”.


Lord, I put my trust and my faith in you. I take my fears and anxieties and give them all to you. Give me strength. Amen.