Anger is a two sided coin. On one side, there is righteous or holy anger. The other side of the coin is sinful and destructive anger. As Christ Followers, it is imperative that we understand the anger issue. Anger isn’t always sinful, but it always has the potential to be sinful.
“In your anger do not sin” Ephesians 4:26 is a verse that makes it pretty clear that we can be angry without sin. In fact, we should absolutely be angry about the things that anger God. Yep, that’s right…..God gets angry too. However, He isn’t like us…..His anger is always sinless and perfect. Our anger becomes righteous anger only when it lines up with God. Injustice, sin, dishonesty and devaluing life all anger our God, so we should absolutely get angry about these things. The point is that in that anger we are forbidden to sin. We have a choice. Out of control anger always ends up controlling us.
We see a stunning example of unrighteous and destructive anger in the Biblical book of Genesis. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Able. These brothers both offered sacrifices to God, but only Able’s was accepted by Him. This angered Cain immensely, and God lovingly warned him that his anger would destroy him if he didn’t get on top of it. Genesis 4:6-7 gives us this warning. God’s command to Cain was to rule over his sinful anger! You and I MUST get control of our anger. We must do something about it. Cain refused, and it led him to murder his own brother.
Unresolved anger sets up in our heart like a stagnant body of water. It begins to breed the bacteria and insects of bitterness, wrath and malice. It becomes destructive to the angry person and those around him. Don’t let this happen to you. Avoid the trap that Cain stepped into. Your relationships with others and with God will be better off when you deal with the roots of your anger and get the water of your heart moving again. This is a work that only God can ultimately do in our hearts. We must, by the power of the Holy Spirit, begin to get on top of our anger, before it gets on top of us.
God asked Cain a penetrating question; “Why are you angry?” It’s a question all of us must answer in order to begin the healing and transforming process in our hearts. Why are we angry? What the REAL reason? I challenge you today to look in your heart and truly answer that question. Once you’ve identified the infested pond of water, bust open the dam and get it moving. Deal with it. Resolve it. Get God involved by asking Him to help you. It’s this process that Cain refused but we must embrace.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve spent more time studying God’s Word.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve prayed more and worried less.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve been a good friend rather than trying to find one.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve eaten more veggies and less burgers.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve resisted hitting the snooze button so often.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve listened more and talked less.
In retrospect, I wish I gave more grace and less judgement.
In retrospect, I wish I looked after other’s interests more than my own.
In retrospect, I wish I would’ve taken more risks than always playing it safe.
In retrospect. What is you’re list? What is your “in retrospect”?
The book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s “in retrospect.” It’s a man at the end of his life writing his
book in retrospect. In it, there is both regret and hope. Realism and faith.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Live your life knowing that at some point you will look back on it in retrospect.
I live on the beautiful Gulf Coast where fresh seafood is in abundance. The water is blue, the sand is white, and the fish are wild! This means there is ample supplies for one of my favorite culinary delights, sushi, and I often partake.
My wife will not eat it today, but there was a time early in our marriage when she actually gave it a try. Although I give her credit for giving it a shot, I must point out that she really did it all wrong. My beautiful southern belle bride would take a knife in one hand and a fork in the other and proceed to gruesomely destroy the sushi piece by cutting it in half! Now, any sushi aficionado knows this crucial fact: sushi is made to be eaten one piece at a time.
Our lives are a lot like Sushi. God created us for a specific rhythm. We were made to live a sushi life, one day at a time. Now before you blow me off as simply stating the obvious, let me assure you of my deep conviction that most of us are actually living life completely off beat. You see, this life rhythm isn’t just a physical reality. It must become a mental and spiritual reality as well. The battle for God’s rhythm in our lives is waged primarily internally.
We all have two things pulling against our God given rhythm; the past and the future. Like two bullies on the playground of our lives, they do a terrific job of snatching us back and forth causing the dance of our lives to become a mangled mess of missteps. Some get stuck in the past with guilt and regret or nostalgia and revisionism. Others get caught up in the future with worry and anxiety or control and presumption. Both sides to this viscous coin become extremely destructive to the life giving rhythm God made us to enjoy. Whether it the past or the future, both of which we can’t fully change and control, if we get consumed by either we end up robbing ourselves of the amazing gift of TODAY! Each sushi bite of a day is a gift God has given you and I to enjoy, maximize, and fully live.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a series of blogs on this crucial subject. Join me in exploring what it means to live in the day by day rhythm that our Father created for us. Our lives can be so much more deep and full, but that cannot happen apart from God’s plan. I want to dance the dance of life, step by step and day by day. I want the same for you.
“Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Spring is my favorite time of the year. I happen to live in one of the most beautiful areas to enjoy this particular season. Here on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay in Southern Alabama, the azaleas are blooming and jasmine can be both seen and smelled. Pecan trees are exploding with green leaves and the mighty oaks are offering shade for picnics and walks. The sunsets on the Bay are brilliant and breathtaking. Sadly, all of this beauty often get’s overlooked. We simply miss the show.
Creation is God’s show that we get to watch and enjoy. Theologians often call nature God’s “general revelation.” This means God generally reveals Himself to us through the amazing work of His creation. The songs the birds are singing, the breezes coming off of the Bay, and those gently swaying oak trees are all shouting and whispering that there is a Holy and loving God behind it all. God wants us to know Him and make Him known, and the wonders and beauty of creation are part of the language He uses to speak to us.
The first six verses of Psalm 19 testify to the revelation of God through His creation:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat (Psalm 19:1-6).”
Now, to be clear, the creation is NOT God. It is His handiwork. So, as we care for His creation and enjoy His creation, we can worship Him in a powerful way. No one on the planet should appreciate our surroundings more than those who call themselves by the Name of the One who created it all. Christians should be known for both our caretaking of the Earth and our exploration and enjoyment of it.
The problem is that our busy and technology driven lives have a disastrous side effect. We end up missing the show! We watch TV’s and computer screens rather than taking a walk and getting outside. We breathe in air-conditioned environments rather than jasmine saturated breezes. Our kids bury their faces in video games rather than bury their toes in the sand. I’m not against modern advancements, but I’m convinced they don’t compare to God’s handiwork.
So, during this beautiful season, don’t miss the show. Get outside and take a walk. Load your family up and have a picnic. Skip rocks on a bay, river, or creek. Find a beach and play in the sand. And while you’re enjoying the wonders and magic of creation, be sure to thank the Creator. After all, He put the show together for His glory but also for you to enjoy.
This week we have been reminded once again that our world is not a safe one, and that there is a very real presence of evil in our midst. As the horrific images of the Boston tragedy came across all our tv, computer, and phone screens the reality of life on Earth crept in on millions of hearts and minds. I’m not going to attempt to answer all the questions in a quick blog post, because I simply don’t have all of the answers. I do want to offer a few thoughts that I hope will be both truthful and comforting.
First, we need Jesus. Events like the Boston tragedy are harsh reminders of the fallen nature and depravity of humanity. From the moment sin entered the picture in the Biblical book of Genesis, our world and our natures have been twisted and corrupted. We are born with a nature that is bent away from our loving God and towards evil and sin. Sometimes this nature can result in massive violence and destructive behavior as we have recently witnessed. The truth is, we need a savior. Apart from the saving and redeeming work of Christ, we are enemies of God and will act on our fallen nature.
Secondly, we should all remember that life is so very fragile. The victims at the Boston Marathon got up that morning and headed out to have a beautiful and memorable experience. As they laced up their running shoes and walked to the starting point, they had no idea that their lives would change forever in a matter of a few short hours. The fact is that we just don’t know what’s going to happen in our lives from one day to the next. We must live in a manner that reflects our knowledge of the fragility and the gift of life. Don’t take a minute for granted. Live fully, because there’s no guarantee that you’ll be living at all tomorrow.
Lastly, we can take shelter in the truth that although we have very little control over the events in our lives, we serve a God who is in complete control. He promises that He works ALL things together for His Glory and the good of those who follow Him. No matter what is going on in our crazy and fallen world, we have hope in our God. He has a plan. He is in control. He is not caught by surprise. It is in the darkness of events like those in Boston that the blinding light of the Gospel of Jesus shines so very bright. Yes this world is fallen and evil, but there is hope and redemption at the foot of the cross of Jesus. We need Jesus.
I am currently leading our church, COTES, through a 4 week teaching journey called The Family Series. I’ve been excited about this because I’m extremely passionate about families. We live in a time where it seems that most of our culture and lifestyle is aimed at tearing families apart rather than building them up. I firmly believe from a faith perspective that there is nothing our enemy, Satan, would rather do than destroy our families. Why? Well, because families are a really big deal to God.
The concept of family comes from God Himself. You can easily see that the thread of the family runs throughout the entire scope of scripture from beginning to end. In Genesis, we see God declaring that it was not good for Adam to be alone. He then creates Eve, and subsequently commands them to be “fruitful and multiply”. God started the family! Of course, this is born out of the very nature of God. Our great God has always existed in a family/community environment. It’s called the Trinity! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have always lived in the most perfect and loving community that has ever been. We, being created in His image, are not designed to live life alone. We are made to live in families.
Human’s were created for a family. We grow, produce, and develop best in a family. The environment we’re in makes all the difference. A jet ski works best in the environment it was created for, which is water. Try to operate on a gravel road, and you won’t get far. You and I were created to operate best in the environment of family. This is why we all deeply long for safe, solid, loving community to live within.
Not only are our personal families important, but our extended spiritual family is important as well. This is the Church. Churches are organizations and businesses. There’s no getting around the fact that those two aspects are a part of every church. But they are NOT the primary function and purpose of the church. Churches are first and foremost families. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. That means we argue sometimes, get on each other’s nerves, and disagree. But it also means that we love one another fiercely, protect one another intentionally, and correct one another carefully. And, we serve one another while we serve the Kingdom and fulfill the vision for the church together. It is the family of God. Beautiful, powerful, and imperfect. Just like a good family should be. So, love and develop your personal family. Place your faith in the center of it. Also, love and commit to your church family. You were created for it!!
It’s all about Jesus. This is a very powerful statement that can usually be heard in pulpits and worship gatherings all over the world. I wonder, however, if we truly understand the depth and implications of this very true statement. I believe if we can wrap our minds more fully around this truth, it will be very helpful to every area of our spiritual lives.
First, the Bible and the Gospel are completely wrapped around the person of Jesus. Genesis to Revelation points to the Son of God. The Old Testament points forward to Him. The Gospels tell the accounts of His time on Earth. The rest of the New Testament points back at Him, while Revelation unveils a glorious future with Him. So, the Bible is all about Jesus.
The Gospel is the message of Jesus which is good news. The Bible describes this mighty Gospel in many ways, but I love how 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 sums it up as the “message of reconciliation.” In Jesus, God reconciled us to Himself. Jesus made things right. He evened the scales. The truth and reality of this message means that through faith in Jesus, we are made right with God. So, the Gospel is all about Jesus.
All of creation…..the Earth and the universe….it’s all about Jesus.
The Bible tells us that all things were created by Him and for Him, and that He holds all things together! During His earthly ministry Jesus said that if people didn’t worship Him the rocks would cry out their praises!! So, all of creation is about Jesus.
I could go on and on, but I want to make clear that even our mission is all about Jesus. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave his followers a massive mission. They would take His Gospel all over the globe beginning in their local area, but expanding to the region and ultimately the world. This mission was overwhelming to say the least. That’s why Jesus didn’t tell them to go on the mission first. He actually began by reminding them of WHO He was. “All authority” had been given to Him.
Jesus made it clear that even our mission is completely wrapped around Him. We can do what He has called us to do because He is who He says He is!! So, take heart today my friends. If you feel inadequate or unworthy and you don’t think you measure up, don’t worry. It was never about you anyway. It’s all about Jesus.
I’ve always been a fan of intelligent, quick, and tasteful humor. I grew up watching Saturday Night Live when guys like Adam Sandler and Chris Farley roamed its famed stage. While shows like this can be very funny and often offer unique perspectives on current events, the results can be dangerous. I really believe our culture has created several generations of people who find it hard to take anything seriously. We have increasingly become a culture of cynics.
The problem with unhealthy cynicism is that it can lead to an empty life. Cynicism can make you criticize everything and embrace nothing. Unfortunately this has quickly become the state of my generation and those behind me. Sincerity is an assumed mirage in the desert of our fake and artificial culture. Leaders of all stripes are automatically distrusted and considered dishonest and shallow. When something looks great there must be something wrong behind the curtain. This has developed an atmosphere of general dissatisfaction in many of our lives. If we don’t embrace anything, then we’re not fully committed to anything, which leads to life far below the standard I believe we were created to experience.
Cynicism and criticism often are two unruly brothers that like to run together. The cynic will most often voice his issues in biting criticism. Now, let me be clear: cynicism and criticism are not always bad. We should not be naïve or careless. The important question to ask is whether you are someone who offers healthy and constructive criticism or have you become a critic.
Do you find something wrong with everything? Do you always look for the negative instead of the positive? Do you offer as much praise and affirmation as you do criticism? These are important things that could help you decide if you’ve crossed that line. Cynicism can be dangerous, and we really need to guard against allowing it to become what we are all about. If you find something wrong with everything, the problem might be looking back at you in the mirror.
I’d like to share this great poem by Nadine Stair, who at 85 years old, looked back on her life and wrote these words. Hope you enjoy and are inspired!!
If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.5
By Nadine Stair
The principal of the boat is something I’ve observed and talked about for a long time. I grew up around rivers, creeks, and bays and I spent a lot of time on the water in boats. Me and my dad or my grandfather would go fishing close to the banks where the fish seemed to hang out. They would shut the motor off to keep from scaring the fish away and I’d take out a paddle and simply steer the boat along. Here’s the principal I learned: a moving boat is easier to steer than a boat sitting still. I know, I know….profound, right!! However simplistic it may be, it is very true.
If a boat is moving it can be steered with incredible ease by simply placing the paddle in the water and moving it ever so slightly. It truly becomes effortless to steer a moving boat.
This is not the case when a boat is sitting still. In fact, you really can’t steer it at all. If you try to steer while sitting still you just turn in a circle. Round and round you go….lot’s of movement, but no progress. Plenty of energy being burned up, but no intended destination is being pursued. Without movement, steering becomes really useless.
This principal is true in our lives as well. Many of us are steering the boats of our lives while they’re sitting still. We pray and plan and pray some more, but we never take a step in any particular direction. The Bible is clear that if we acknowledge God in all our ways He will direct our paths. This is a powerful promise that should be quite freeing to us as we sail the boat of our lives on the waters of circumstances and time.
We need to start moving!! I’m not downplaying the importance of prayer and planning, but at some point you must get going. Once your boat is moving, it will be much easier to steer it more precisely. Don’t continue putting off the very moves you know you need to make. The phone call, the letter, the conversation, the resume….get going!! Don’t get paralysis by analysis. Don’t end up stuck going in circles in your life ending up nowhere. Do something!! Get moving and listen closely to the direction of God. You won’t regret it.