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Posts Tagged ‘Anger’

 

Prairie Creek 2016 2

Guys, have you ever wiped your eyes and said to a buddy, Man, I sure feel better after a good cry?

And you say to me, You’re joking. Right?

But ladies, I’m sure you remember your last good cry, and it made you feel better, didn’t it?

“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27 NAS).

God made us male and female—uniquely different, but made for each other. And nowhere does this emotional difference exemplify itself more than when a man and woman are thrust into the throes of grief.

Men are fixers by nature. But guys, you can’t fix her this time. Only God can. You can’t make her tears go away, and your worst nightmare haunts your nights and days—you must travel through your own savage grief jungle of emotions and feelings. So most men do what to them seems proper—stuff those emotions deep in their hearts so they won’t have to deal with them. But, every grief stuffed will explode one day, like a shaken up Coca Cola, and it will be messy. Stuffed grief morphs into anger, depression, and countless other destructive emotions that traps and isolates the one suffering.

Meanwhile husbands, you’re left with a wife who bursts into tears every time she looks at you, or at a picture, or has a memory of her loss. A song, a TV commercial, or a flower can send her over the edge. And you don’t know what to do. So you attempt to ignore her tears, slap on a tough exterior, and a move forward attitude. Or at least that’s what you think will happen.

Pressure Cooker.jpg

But her tears don’t stop, because that’s how God made her. The pressure of sorrow and the fiery heat of loss shove women into the quagmire of grief. Female tears are like the regulator on a pressure cooker. Perhaps your grandmother had one—heat causes pressure to build inside the pot until the regulator jiggles off steam so the pot won’t explode. Tears are the regulator of grief, else the woman in your life will detonate.

Statistics show a high percentage of marriages fail after the death of a loved one, because the marriage partners don’t know how to grieve. And when their loss is a child, the rate of a failed marriage rises into the 75 to 80 percent range.

My mind travels to the couple in Orlando last week and the unspeakable, horrific, tragedy they experienced when their two-year-old was snatched and killed by an alligator. Unfortunately, when grief moves in reason and sanity flee. In our fallen state, humans seem to need to cast blame—even when there’s no cause for blame.  Couple blame with guilt, and anguish and you have a recipe for disaster.

But this couple’s marriage doesn’t have to fail, nor does yours, if you will seek help and learn how to travel through this dark and desperate valley together—but apart.

Space, coupled with understanding, is the key.

Every grief is unique, because people and relationships are unique. A father has a different relationship with his son or daughter than the mother does. Each are necessary. Each are good. But each are different. So it stands to reason the two parents would experience a different journey through grief.

Give your spouse permission to grieve in the way that brings them comfort. And that will probably mean spending some time apart—walking through this darkness together—but sometimes apart. Your wife may need to listen to the recording of the funeral many, many times. The recording may do nothing for you. Or your husband may need to spend time each week at the grave site—something that gives you the creeps. Give your mate permission to do whatever it takes to find comfort during this dark time.

Wives, schedule days with girlfriends who are comfortable with and can relate to your tears. Girlfriends who will cry with you. Then come together with your husband at the end of the day, in order to mesh your paths and plans together for the future when the time is appropriate. But assure and reassure each other of your never ending love and commitment to each other.

Keep your expectations as close to your reality as possible. None of us think or discern well during those early days of grief, but the lurking problems  can be reduced to manageable size if your expectations linger in close proximity to the reality of your loss.

In other words, wives, don’t expect your husband to sit with you for hours and watch you cry. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. No. The reality is he’s not ever going to react the same way you do.  Expecting him to join your boohoo times will leave you clutching unrealistic expectations, which will make you angry and make him more likely to avoid you like the plague.

Husbands don’t withhold hugs of comfort from your wife when she weeps. I promise your comfort won’t extend her tears, she requires your approval and understanding to move forward.

Guys don’t seclude yourself in your shop, den, or binge on hunting and fishing without explanation. Acknowledge to your wife this is how you deal with the overwhelming loss you are experiencing. Silence won’t make grief go away, but men need more silent time than women during this process.

Schedule time to talk. Openly. Honestly. And lovingly about your feelings. Please don’t be afraid of feelings. Darkness and ignoring one another morphs emotions to unmanageable, but exposing these little stinkers to light diminishes them. The very best way to accomplish this delicate balance is to find a GriefShare Support Group near you. Go to www.griefshare.org and click on Find-A-Group. Type in your zip code to locate a group nearby and go. Together.

You can’t ignore grief. You can’t go around, over, or under grief—you must travel through it. Together. There is life after grief. A good life. But it takes work, patience, and love. And yards and yards of time.

 

“Remember my afflictions and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore, I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore, I have hope in Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:19-26 NAS).

 Coming Storm 2

DiAne and her husband lost both sets of parents and a
 twenty-eight-year old daughter within a five-year period.
 She has led GriefShare Recovery Groups for the past
thirteen years and often blogs about grieving. Click
on articles from August 2012, September 2012, October, 2012
https://dianegates.wordpress.com/

 

 

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“Look at those people, honey!” I pointed out the kitchen window. “Are they silly, stupid, or just not paying attention?”

My husband peered out the kitchen window. “Can’t they see the road’s closed?”

Missing the Warnings

“Obviously not. And here comes the school bus too. Gracious, you can see that barricade and those large orange signs from the top of the hill, but they keep coming and are forced to turn around. I vote for stupid.” I ran to slip on a pair of jeans and a shirt and grab my camera. “This would make a great blog; don’t you think?”

Missing the Warnings 2

Hubs grinned. “Don’t make any enemies. Folks might not like you taking their picture and calling ’em stupid.

We live in a small subdivision off a country road with only two ways in and out. The Texas Road Department has been working on our stretch of road since way before Christmas. They’ve been diligent to put up signs for detours and closures—big signs—that can be seen from far away.

I glanced up again and the school bus ripped right by the road closure sign and then had to back up a long block to turn around. Sigh. Not one person paid any attention to the warning signs.

Missing the Mark 4

But don’t we all do the same thing as we zip through life? Somehow thinking we’re immune to the consequences of not following warnings.

God spent a great deal of time recording His warnings and the consequences of bolting through the barricade. Yet we don’t even take the time to educate ourselves on the words the Spirit of God breathed to the prophets, to Christ Jesus, to His disciples, and to us. He warned us over and over again, and what do we do? Race down that closed off road, believing we are going to be the only one who makes it through the barrier unscathed.

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He warned Ancient Israel, and this warning still screams at Americans, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls” (Luke 11:17 NAS). And what have we done? Elect and re-elect a president who is sprinting toward the finish line with the label of the most divisive president in U.S. history.

“For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16 NAS). Yet the divorce stats within the church are basically the same as couples outside the church.

The Book of Proverbs tells us, “Do not associate with a man given to anger or go with a hot tempered man” (Proverbs 22:24 NAS). And what would we call the front runner on the Republican side in the upcoming election?

Romans tells us, “Do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together with other believers” (Hebrews 10:25 NAS). But many say, I work all week, I’m tired. I’ll just watch church on HDTV—Hmm.

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness” (II Corinthians 6:14 NAS).  Another warning gone by the wayside—the believer is always going to change the unbelieving date…until they fall in love. Then what are they to do? God is not a cosmic kill-joy. These warnings are to keep His children from plunging off the cliff.

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The Word warns, “Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32 NAS). I don’t see any exclusions for rush hour on the freeway, do you? And listening to the local news confirms we live in a very angry society.

“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8 NAS). I’m old enough to remember Sunday Blue Laws, and I can say with certainty, we never missed a meal or went to church naked because the stores weren’t open on Sunday. Sunday afternoons were family days.

What warning barrier have you catapulted over? Which warning signals have you ignored? We have all sinned as individuals and as a nation. “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10 NAS). Remember, God stands ready to forgive our sins, but the consequences of disregarding God’s warnings remain.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His Holy name. For the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting. And His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5 NAS).

Praying

 

 

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It’s Spring in Texas and farmers are plowing ground, getting ready to sow seeds. Seeds that will produce whatever they plan to harvest in the Fall. If it’s a good year and we get a balance of enough rain and sunshine the farmer can reasonably expect a bumper crop. But once that seed is planted, the crop can’t change. Whatever seed germinates will produce after its kind.

Plowed Ground 2

We lived in Florida for a number of years and I promise, I’ve never seen cucumbers or tomatoes hanging from the limbs of that orange tree. Have you? Of course not, that’s against the law of reproduction commanded by God “In the beginning— “

 “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them on the earth; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:11-12 NAS).

But the old saying, “You get more than you sow and later than you sow,” is true. It’s a cyclical law of nature. And these same laws apply to our lives.

Anacortes Farm land

You and I are planting seeds today that will yield a greater harvest at some point in our future. So I ask, what kind of seeds you sowed last week? Or yesterday? Or today? Seeds of kindness or seeds of chaos? Seeds of hope or seeds of despair? In the process of life, we continually sow and reap. Every day. Are you satisfied with your harvest? If not, why not?

Do you know you can sow different seeds? Regardless of age, creed, or color, God stands ready to implement those seed changing attitudes and actions in your life and mine into a new and better crop. But perhaps you’re having trouble understanding and identifying what kinds of nasty seeds should be eradicated.

Reaping and Sowing

Seeds of anger, left to flourish, will choke out every other helpful and hopeful seeds your heart may attempt to cultivate. These stinky seeds must be yanked out by their roots. No tolerance. Because every day these boogers are left unattended, the second generation of anger seeds grow stronger and more resistant to extinction. And unfortunately, if left to reproduce, this generational crop will morph into bitterness.

God is very clear about this toxic crop.

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15 NAS).

Oh, but you say, you don’t know what (you fill in the blank) did to me. Maybe not, but I know what our Lord Jesus Christ did for you. And how fitting we should talk about this today, Good Friday, the day when Jesus, a little over 2,000 years ago, took every sin you ever committed against Him into His sinless body. He chose to take God’s judgment and punishment for you. He was crucified so God could forgive you.

Now tell me again why you can’t forgive everyone for anything they’ve done to you in light of what Christ forgave you for?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31 NAS).

Forgiveness isn’t a warm fuzzy. Nor is it a command to be best friends with the offender. Your anger and bitterness does no harm to the person who has wronged you. No, but it sure is a fatal disease for you.

I can tell you from firsthand experience forgiveness is a choice. A choice to obey God. A choice to release the subject of your vendetta and give it over to God. A choice to plant new seeds in your heart that will produce an abundant crop of joy and love and hope—for yourself and for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Plowed ground

Choosing to hold onto your anger renders what Christ did for you null and void. Is this the crop you willingly choose to produce? The crop you will one day give an answer for? The crop that prevents you from being all God intended for you to be?

“There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. There throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths; and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18 NAS).

This is the description of a man/woman, boy/girl, without Jesus. Will this be the final harvest you bring to the Lord in light of His sacrifice for you? You can lay it down today, this moment, by choosing to forgive.

There is great news and bad news about this choice. The great news? The moment you purpose in your heart to forgive—it’s a done deal. The bad news? It’s a life sentence. Yes, because you’ve already given Satan a heads-up on how to sabotage you. So every time that enemy of old tries to punch replay on your old tape of whatever that so-and-so did to me, you immediately punch the off button instead and forgive them again and again and again—seventy times seven. Until Satan sees you mean business and leaves you alone for a season.

Will you choose to let the Word of God plow the hard ground of your heart, and allow the Spirit of God to plant new seeds, for a new harvest? What greater gift could you give our Lord this Resurrection Sunday than to accept His forgiveness and then forgive one (name them) who has wronged you? The Holy Spirit will be faithful to nourish those new seeds of Christ’s love, mercy, and hope in your life that will, if you continue to weed and feed the pasture of your heart, produce a bumper crop!

A Matter of the Heart

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Dagwood and his outrageous sandwiches?

 
A slice of this, a piece of that—anything he could find in Blondie’s refrigerator or pantry to pile and stack beyond his ability to bite. He could never have consumed these comic-strip sandwiches without some serious heartburn or possible ptomaine.

 
But don’t we do the same thing with bruised emotions, broken hearts, or pounds of unresolved anger? We collect a big ole bundle of burden and stack ‘em in the darkness of our hearts, ready to be piled on a monster sandwich-of-sorrow and toted with us 24/7 when we lose a loved one.

 
And we wonder why we’re done in? Why we can’t do anything but sob or rage? Why our blood pressure goes out the roof? Why we can’t get a handle on life and move forward. Because the loss of a loved one rips scabs off everything we’ve stuffed and hidden and clung to. And that toxic mix has soaked in the acid of anger and unforgiveness, sometimes for years, before morphing into the life-threatening quick-sand of self-pity from which we can’t cry, wiggle, or scream ourselves free.

 
Let me be concise: Every hurt, pain, scrap of anger, thread of guilt, or wad of deception you’ve stuffed and packed and carried on your life’s journey all these years will rear its ugly head and deter or prevent your working through the loss of a loved one, unless you purpose in your heart to deal with the whole muddle. One step at a time.

 
We weren’t created to handle the emotional, mental, and physical turmoil and bear up under such a destructive load. God made us in His image…body, soul, and spirit. And you can’t separate one from the other, even though we all try. When a portion of your heart hurts, the pain radiates to every portion of your being. Just like consumed calories spread over our whole anatomy, anger and pain and unforgiveness gobble up the landscape of our hearts, minds, and souls and end up catapulting off our tongues into the lives of others.

 
But this poison doesn’t remain sealed in tidy packages. It grows. And grows ‘til the anger has turned into bitterness and the refusal to forgive not only affects your relationships with others, it strangles your relationship with God. Left to fester, these two deadly roots of sin metastasize into emotional, spiritual, and physical disorders.

 
This past week our GriefShare folks drew their individual Dagwood sandwiches applicable to their grief and I would suggest you do the same. Think about the state of your heart and create a drawing that applies to your grief and all its emotions today.

 

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The rectangular shape on the bottom symbolizes the death of the person you lost. Every color strip indicates a piece of left-over anger, unforgiveness, secondary loss, past hurt, past grief, family dysfunction that you must add to your sandwich. When the left-over anguish comes to mind, if it still causes a twinge, slap it on the stack. The larger the pain the thicker the strip of color. Some may end up being burger sized. If there’s more than one death or loss, add an additional rectangular piece of bread (white fluff, of course). Then identify each slice you’ve added to your Dagwood sandwich-of-sorrow and list it beside your drawing.

 
How large is your sandwich?

 
How difficult and heavy is it to carry?

 
How long will it take you to surrender this load to Jesus?

 
God never fills full hands, especially those with fists clenched shut, screaming mine—trying to work through the ugly mess alone. I would suggest you take your drawing into the bathroom, close the door, and hold the drawing, with all the aches, pains, grief, and anger it represents, up to God and, speaking aloud, ask God to take this heavy load from you. Tell Him how difficult the chaos and despair is to bear. Choose to hold the stack tormenting your heart with open hands to the Father and give them all to Him.
And trust Him to take them from you. Don’t be an Indian-giver—asking God to take this turmoil then clutching the paper and tucking the stinky stuff back in your heart to fester and grow again. Let them go. All of them. You may need to make more than one trip to the bathroom to turn lose.
After you’ve given your sandwich-of-sorrow to God, ask Him to fill your hands with joy, thankfulness, and praise to Him! And He will answer your prayer, because He loves you, and He is faithful.

 
“Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NAS).

 

You may need hands on support in your quest for help, hope, and healing that only comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of the Spirit. Go online to http://www.GriefShare.org. to find the nearest GriefShare Support Group. Take your Dagwood Sandwich with you. The whole group has sorrow sandwiches, they just might not know they do—help them by sharing yours.
I

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“158.16 Disabled, incapacitated, crippled, disqualified, ham-strung, invalidated, disarmed, paralyzed. Hog-tied.” (Roget’s International Thesaurus, page 92).
If only you could feel the ache in my heart tonight over the state of our families, our nation, and the world. If only I could let you see what my eyes have seen and know there is help, hope, and healing, whatever your problem. If only I could convince parents you can’t teach your children what you don’t know. And your children will suffer the consequences of your ignorance of God’s Word.
There is no black church. No white church. No Spanish church. No Oriental church. No Indian church. No Jewish church. No Baptist DSCF3049church. No Methodist or Presbyterian church—we are ONE CHURCH—The Church. The Body. Made in the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer, bought and paid for by His blood that is red—just like yours and mine.
This is a volatile point in history and the only answer lies at Golgotha’s cross where the blood Jesus shed covers my sins and your sins. The place where like an onion He can peel away the stinky DSCF7673layers of hidden sin in our lives. Or the place where you choose to reject His mercy and grace and keep sloshing through the pig-pen of life—hog-tied by the enemy of your soul.
And make no mistake, from the White House to our house, we are hog-tied by a generational battle of anger and racial prejudice while the godly foundations of this nation are ripped, shredded and trampled underfoot. And people, black and white and all shades in between, are hog-tied, unable to discern and overcome the source of this chaotic ruckus.
Our judicial system of righteousness judgment is hog-tied. Our lawimage enforcement officials are hog-tied. Our educational and parental rights as Christians are hog-tied. And many congregations in this nation are hog-tied by preachers delivering false messages. Lies rather than truth.
The spirit of lawlessness is raging among us.
This past Sunday, in St. Louis, we watched that spirit at work when one of those sons of lawlessness stood on holy ground and stoked incendiary fires of damnation. He stood where God’s word should have been proclaimed and spewed lies. Lies spoken to incite God’s people to rebel against His instructions to His Body.
The sad part is those enticed believe every word these false prophets speak and knowingly or unknowingly choose to violate God’s command to love their brothers whose blood is red—just like theirs.

Hot in the Kitchen 4
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NAS).
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21 NAS).
The victim mentality lie has been perpetrated in our nation for at least fifty or more years. The mentality that says you can do anything you want because of the color of your skin or the way you were raised or what you have or don’t have.
This erroneous teaching taunts If it feels good, do it. Take what you want. Or do whatever your mind conjures-do it. There will be no consequences. And that lying voice inside answers, something in your background caused you to steal, bully, abuse, murder, sexual perversion—you’re not to blame. It’s someone else fault. Because the lie there is no God, no heaven, no hell, no accountability, and no consequences has been openly taught in our public schools and from some pulpits for over forty years.
On August 11, 2014, in Salt Lake City, Utah, a white, unarmed, twenty-year old, Dillon Taylor was shot and killed by a Salt Lake City black police officer. The officer’s name hasn’t been released. Nor have the false preachers gathered in Salt Lake City. Why? Because this event, plus countless others like Dillon, don’t fit the enemy’s false picture of victim mentality.
The civil war was fought over the issue of slavery, and if the enemy of God has his way, I’m afraid we will be deceived into another war or forced into a national or international police force. Because the erupting boil of racial prejudice continues to seep and spread poison, pushed by those in authority with a strange agenda, an agenda that gives Satan a stronghold in the hearts and minds of any who listen and agree, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.
This disgusting boil is sin. Sin that weaves throughout generational lines of all people and needs to be confessed and washed in the blood of Jesus. Forgiven. Cleansed. Healed. Restored.
But why has the enemy used this one sin to attack America over and over again? Because we’ve clutched and held onto pride, anger, hatred, and lack of forgiveness, allowing this fierce-some-foursome to fester and grow in our hearts. All our hearts. Either by choosing to do what’s wrong or choosing to do nothing.
We still allow white hoods to organize and exist in America. Criminals who hide in sheets and perpetrate hate, violence, and murder in the dark night of their hearts. And many stashed their hoods and sat in churches on Sunday morning after their despicable evil on Saturday night. I’ve seen burning crosses, fires, and the riots of the ‘50’s. And God rest His precious soul, Martin Luther King led and won many battles by his faith in our Lord God Almighty and his commitment to peace. Our nation must not digress and repeat such a horrific history.
Yes, we have bad cops, like we have bad people—of every ethnic group. And these rotten apples cast dispersion and doubt over the multitude of good policemen and good people.
But could there be something more sinister involved here? Like an evil spiritual force many refuse to admit exists?
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm—Stand firm therefore…” (Ephesians 6:12-14a NAS).
Have you believed the enemy’s lie that your anger is justified? Is God placing His finger in that ugly black hole in your heart where you’ve harbored pride, anger, hatred, or even evil against a brother whose blood is red like yours?
Can you worship one day then shrug, laugh or participate in those actions you know cause God pain?
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 NAS).
DSCF6601 013_edited-1So where do we go from here? Will you continue to allow yourself to be hog-tied by lies that pour from social media and the news? Will your tongue remain hog-tied when racists remarks leap out your mouth or the mouths of your friends and acquaintances? Will you speak out over injustices, regardless of race, in a peaceful, lawful manner? Or will you have the courage to rebuke them in Jesus name with the truth of God?

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“Angry?”

“Me, angry?”

My face heated and my heart twisted. “Well, yes… I have a temper, but my Dad had a temper too. Don’t we all?” My spirit squirmed.

I focused on the lane stripes zipping by on the black-top. Tension from my heart slipped to my foot and I shoved the gas pedal to theDSCF6475 floor, but Dr. Ravi Zacharias’s words echoed in my head. I always listen to him on my way home from Longview. This morning he related difficult relationships in his family when he grew up in New Delhi, India.

His father was a well-know man in their city. A man held in high esteem by many, but a man with a horrible temper. Dr. Zacharias told about an evening his father’s temper had exploded, causing great discomfort and misery for his wife and children. But what pierced my heart was his mother’s reaction.

Dr. Zacharias, then a teen, suggested they go to a neighbor for help. But his mother said no. Her husband’s reputation would be harmed. She chose to be quiet and endure the discomfort. He repeated an old Indian saying his mother lived by.

“When your basket is bumped, what spills out defines your character.”

These words shot an arsenal of conviction into my heart. What comes out of me when I’m bumped? My mind shifted gears to a few DSCF6482days before. I had been bumped and what spilled out of me was oxygen-deprived-pond-scum that grew in dark isolated corners of my heart—toxic waste.

Oh, I’m usually fine when everything goes according to plan. When I feel good. When there’s enough of me to go around. When life is smooth and pleasant and you do things my way. But what are the mathematical odds for that being a consistent way of life?

So on that super highway at 80 mph, I faced, admitted, and confessed—I have anger issues.

Oh, that’s a too politically correct confession to leave staring at you and me on this page.

I’m angry! There. I admitted it.

Not the screaming, yelling in-the-moment rage. No. But the deep caustic kind that eats rust when expectations and reality are too far apart, leaving me frustrated with unrealistic expectations which lodge in my heart to grate, grind, and grab my peace.

So I pulled into the slow lane, turned the radio off, and asked God to show me exactly what He wanted me to know—something I should never do unless I’m ready to hear. And show He did. In HD. It was and is still painful.

My response to trouble, difficult situations, and conversations in the past has been to back the offender in a corner and verbally slice and dice, using words that twist the situation to my point of view so I end up the victor. Talking rather than listening. In other words, controlling the moment so I win—you lose.

Why? Because like you, I’ve grown up in a world where we are made to think success is based solely on money, power, and status. That’s a bold-faced lie and a wrong definition of success. But we’ve been indoctrinated to live in this fast and furious lane of life. Too much to do. No time to accomplish. Zero dependence on God and total dependence on self. A recipe for disaster, doomed to end in divorce court, criminal court, and/or counseling.

All because we’ve pushed God to the background, neglected His Word, and wedged ourselves in the driver’s seat.

Don’t look down your nose at me and say, “Well I go to church every Sunday. I pray and read God’s Word when I can.” Yep. So do I, and yet, how long are we out of church on Sunday before someone bumps us and we spew? If not on the outside, in those creepy-heart-corners to acidify along with the long list of offenses already stored there—waiting for a prime-time moment to slosh out with the next bump.

This past week I’ve come to understand the most dangerous type of anger is anger that hides, seethes, corrodes and turns into bitterness.

My younger brother was given the privilege of going to college. Didn’t know it at the time, but we were poor, and you know boys needed the education…blah, blah, blah. He didn’t make it through the first year and I was angry. Angry at him, angry with my folks, just plain angry. Even typing this account I feel my face heat. For years I held onto this anger. Nursed it, and reveled in self-pity and excused my faults. And all these years our relationship traveled a rocky road. But in His sovereignty, God allows situations in the lives of His children to wake us up and teach us, but how many times do we choose a tantrum rather than deal with the source of the anger?

We’ve birthed several generations of angry kids because we excuse behavior, lie to ourselves, and become mannequins of one another. WeDSCF6490 are an angry people. Devoid of humility, forgiveness, and thankfulness. Captured in self-deception and pride. And it’s contagious.

There have been moments of abject shame this past week dredging up and naming the well-kept bombing ranges of anger in my life. Scars from childhood. A broken marriage. Emotional damage I caused my children. The pain of broken relationships. Secondary losses occurring after our daughter died. All tucked away and allowed to fester. But this morning, as He always does, God led me to Ephesians 1:3.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

To the best of my understanding God’s Word said:

God has given me every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ. Everything I need to live life in Him. I’m good to go! He has given me the ability to exhibit all the fruit of the Spirit. And He says, “The fruit of the Spirit is…” Not the fruits are…I don’t get to pick and choose. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Gentleness. Goodness. Faith. Meekness. Temperance. But I must desire them. I must seek after and choose to learn to use what He has already given me. I am responsible, with the help of the Spirit, to pin-point areas of sin in my life, confess them, and turn away, because He has put my sins behind His back. They are gone forever. He promised.

One of the reasons anger seeds flourished in my heart are the psycho-buzz-words—unrealistic expectations. The truth is the distance between my reality and my expectations determined the size, meter, depth, and manifestation of my next explosion.
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Another person cannot fulfill my expectations, meet my needs, or satisfy my longings. The reality is everything I need and long for can only be achieved through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. All other relationships tempt me to latch onto unrealistic expectations which are Satan’s yellow-brick-breeding-ground for anger.
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God the Father instructs me, learn to do what is pleasing to the Lord. Then anger won’t be an overwhelming struggle. God issued the edict—I don’t have to stay bound in chains of hateful aggression. Not if I use the power He’s already given to name and forsake the sin. But I’ve often chosen to disobey Him and have grieved His Spirit.

“Be angry, and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil and opportunity”(Ephesians 4:26-27 NAS).

Does that mean we’re going to be perfect all the time? No, not in this lifetime, but remember the words God used, “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” God knows my heart. And my heart desires to crucify the anger I’ve allowed to reside in me. To live each day in a manner demonstrating to others what God has done in my life and invite them to come, taste, and see that the Lord is good.

What’s the desire of your heart? Is Jesus your reality? Next time you’re bumped what will spill out of your heart, somersault off your tongue, and pollute all those within your sphere of influence? Or will you choose to run to God’s mercy seat for “help and hope in time of need?” But the decision must be made each day—before the explosion occurs. Daniel “purposed in his heart” before the meal was served, he would not taste defiling food from a pagan king. Will you?

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The Sentinental Star’s headline screamed: EXECUTIVE ORDER SIGNED. JEWS TO DIE. EXECUTION DATE: THIRTEENTH DAY OF THE TWELVETH MONTH. Seizure of property and possessions. Commander –in-Chief and VP sit down to drink. City in confusion.

How would you react? Would this order have crossed your line in the sand?

If you are a Jew, what must you do?

Mordecai tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, walked downtown, wailing loudly and bitterly in front of the Citadel.

Think about the citizens of Susa. Some of the condemned folks were their neighbors. Their friends. Some taught their children in school. And some were local bankers and shopkeepers. The order was law. This was real. There was no recourse. People were going to die—all Jews from Ethiopia to India.

Unknown to the Commander-in-Chief, his wife was a Jew. The question of her nationality had never been discussed.

But Mordecai knew. And he refused to be silent.

Imagine the sound of weeping and wailing throughout the city, and the pandemonium. Or perhaps the Gentiles said nothing.

If you turned on TV tonight and a similar executive order had been signed into law, what would you do? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility—remember the Crusades? Remember Hitler? And in Joel 3:1-2, the prophet talks about a time just before the Day of the Lord when God tells us He will bring Judah and Jerusalem again into captivity.

Does the Church today have a heart to weep? A heart to fast? A heart to wail and put on sackcloth? Have we forgotten how to seek God’s face as a congregation? Or will we sit, like those German Christians, turning up the organ’s volume and singing louder so we don’t hear their screams?

Susa’s Secret Service kept the public away from the royal family. So Hadassah sent a servant to Mordecai, asking what was wrong.
Mordecai sent her a copy of the morning news and ordered her to intervene with her husband. He sent this message:

“Do not imagine that you can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent…relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place … and who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14 NAS).

Yes, Queen Esther sent word back to her uncle, asking him to assemble all the Jews in Susa and to fast for her for three days and nights. She and her maidens were going to fast also. And then she uttered those courageous words:

“And thus I will go in to the king which is notDSCF4320 according to the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16 NAS).

Christians what will it take to break our hard hearts? How much worse is it going to have to get before all of God’s people fast and pray for our nation? Yes, Jesus is coming, but it’s going to get real nasty on planet earth before that event. And we are to be standing firm, making disciples ‘til He comes, not hiding in the shadows, hoping not to be noticed.

God tells us in those last days all nations will rise up against Israel. America’s current leaders are well down the path of turning against Israel. One swipe of the pen could end that relationship and place our nation under God’s curse:

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee—” (Genesis 12:3 KJV).

In the final chapters of the Book of Esther, we see how God answered His people when they humbled themselves and fasted before Him. And how those who cursed the Jews were indeed cursed.

Whatever experiences God has allowed in your life have brought you “to such a time as this.” Will you remain silent? Or will you speak up, imploring the King’s favor for His people? Have you contemplated your line in the sand? Will you be courageous enough to stand firm in the principles of God’s Word? Drawing that line and agreeing with Esther, “If I perish, I perish.”

“And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (Daniel 11:33 NAS).

Next week: The rest of the story.

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“You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you sure can keep ‘em from building a nest there.”

Mama’s voice still resonates in my ears and I can see her stern expression as she repeated her reprimand for any type of unbecoming behavior I displayed during my teen years.

Now I’ve never allowed these winged creatures to build nests inDSCF2525 my hair, but I’ve sure built some nasty nests in my mind.

Little by little, bit by bit, I collected trashy anger, strings of pain, and lint balls of jealousy and carefully poked them into the dark corners of my mind. I harbored those fragments of left-over animosity and replayed the tape—over and over again.

Ever done that?

Or have you captured broken twigs of disappointment and leaves of shame to feed the growing tangled nest of emotions? And tucked them away ‘til you were trapped in an emotional time-bomb of depression and self-pity dragging you into a quagmire from which you could not extract yourself?

Let me explain.

We live near a wetland area where eagles nest. Cameras set up by the wetland officials revealed skulls of ducks and skunks left in the nest. Nests are temporary shelters for baby birds to grow ‘til they can fly, not permanent homes. Nasty places filled with particles of animal remains, bugs, and unspeakable refuse. And the refuse we pile in our mind is no different and just as nasty.

God created us in His image and in the 15th Chapter of John gives us the cure for our self-destructive hoarding habits. Jesus said:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:4-10 NAS).

In these six verses Jesus tells us to abide in Him ten times. And He gives us conditional promises if we do and lays out the consequences if we don’t.

Are we to have a part-time home in the tangled mess of past heartaches? Absolutely not.

Abide is the Greek verb meno and means to stay, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.

Oh my, could that be why God’s people are in so much trouble? Why our families are falling apart? Why our nation is on the brink of disaster? We fail to stay, dwell, endure, remain in Him, in His Words, in His commandments, in His love.

I have read these words many times, but three weeks ago conviction stabbed to the depths of my heart and soul. I was not abiding in Jesus.

Had I missed Sunday services? Of course not, but once in the car on the way home my mind shifted gears. Did I neglect to pray at night? No. I always mumbled incoherent thanks for the day and His blessings before my eyes closed. Didn’t I? And I always read that little devotional blurb at night.

Dr. Paul David Tripp says, “We trouble our own trouble.” And that’s exactly where I had lived for months. Troubling my own trouble. Choosing to spend more and more time in the nasty nest of anguish, plucking at lint and strings, wondering why I couldn’t soar with the eagles.

DSCF4307 “Today I start a new chapter in my life.
I close the door to the past and open the door to the future, take a deep breath and step into my new life.”

Abiding in Jesus is a choice we must make every day. And I’m so grateful God’s mercies to us are new every morning. His love never fails and His arms are outstretched to those whose hearts are toward Him. Jesus’ blood washes all my sin away and He fills me with His joy.

What about you? Where are you spending your time? Abiding in Jesus or sinking in a nasty nest of anguish? You don’t have to keep traveling the same painful road. Give all your heartache to Jesus and abide with Him. He’s waiting. Just for you.

“Brokenness is realizing He is all we have.IMG_0013
Hope is realizing He is all we need.
Joy is realizing He is all we want.”

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I have a younger brother—eight years younger. During my teen years, he resided in brat mode. One spring morning the windows were open and little brother’s loud voice rang out. Outdoors. Underneath my window. Reciting my diary.

The little varmint had swiped my secret treasure and was sharing it with the neighborhood. I immediately petitioned for parental power, “M-o-o-om! Get ‘im.”

If he wasn’t doing brat, did I enjoy my brother? No, I ignored him as a necessary nuisance. Just like I’m apt to ignore God. But like me hollering for Mom, when things aggravate, hurt, or frighten me, I shout “Get ‘em God,” and assume that the Holy God of the Universe is my go-to-guy in times of trouble.

At least that’s what we’ve all fooled ourselves into believing.

We’ve mistaken His patience for tolerance and His mercy for acquiescence. Ignoring Him when times are good and demanding His appearance when we can’t make it through the dense fog of grief, the brick wall of financial problems, or the heartache of family chaos. Then we turn to Him and whine.

We’re in good company, the prophet Habakkuk did the same thing before Babylon invaded Israel in 597 B.C. He experienced the same things we are experiencing in 2013. Probably worse. The temple goers were acting just like the non-temple goers. Judges were making unjust decisions—money bought favorable rulings in those days too. The governing class was downright corrupt. And robberies, murders, and psychopaths—just like our world today—filled the local news.

Righteousness was a joke, truth stumbled in the streets, and the desire to be holy? Oh, give me a break—just like today.

In Habakkuk 1:2-3 the prophet cried out:

“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear? Even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save. Why does thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? For spoiling and violence are before me; and there are that raise up strife and contention…”

But Habakkuk slapped his hand over his mouth and said:

“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.”

Habakkuk knew God and was aware of his position before Him.

Do we? Do we realize there is a time to turn off the spicket of our groaning and complaining? Do we bow before the might, power and sovereignty of the Lord God Almighty, realizing everything comes from His hand—the good, the bad, and the ugly—because He is Holy, Righteous, and Just. He see’s the whole picture and He’s in control. We’re not.

In Chapter Two, God answered Habakkuk. And the prophet’s finger pointing was turned back on his own people. Yikes! Do you suppose if we quit griping and sat silent before Him, God would do the same with us? Would we listen?

I’ve spent a lot of years in front of the TV—finger-pointing. I grew up in the fifties and sixties, the time when the church went inside and shut the doors to keep the bad stuff out. Guess what? We are the bad stuff and it came inside with us.

God told us to “go tell and stand firm.” He didn’t say, “circle the wagons and hunker down.” We are suffering the consequences of our failure to obey. The church, like the Israelites, has become like the pagan, idol-worshipping, world. We want enough of God to dodge hell, but not enough of Him to be holy. To be transformed into the image of His only Son, Jesus, but just a little bit. Not complete transformation.

America has been sent warning after warning. God calls, “Return to Me so that I may return to you.” And we turn a deaf ear.

Habakkuk asked and God gave him a vision of what was to come. And come it did—in wide-screen, surround-sound, HD.

Chapter Three records Habakkuk’s response. He prayed. And the closing sentences of his prayer should require us to zip our lips and ask ourselves “Could I make Habakkuk’s confession of faith in God and really mean it?”

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

This is not a fictional assumption of what’s to come. Just turn your TV on this morning and watch the pictures of the Philippine Islands last weekend. The terrifying loss of life and the devastation of their land, in just a few short horrific hours, could have happened anywhere in the world. Not by typhoon, but perhaps by fire, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, tornadoes. Or war.

Principles of truth in our nation cannot stand without righteousness. Principles of righteous cannot stand without justice and judgment. This nation was built upon these cornerstones. America’s foundation is anchored in the truths of the Word of God and belief in the mercy and grace provided by the death of our righteous Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. But over half of our people have taken pick-axes to this foundation and are chunking God’s truths on the trash heap.

When the foundation of a nation crumbles, the people perish.

What about you? Your family? Your church? When the grocery shelves are empty, and there are no crops in the field, and no sign of provisions on the horizon, will you still confess that the Lord God is your strength and Jesus is your Lord?

When everything you’ve put your trust in: your home, your possessions, your job, your health are gone, will you still find joy in the God of your salvation? And will you trust Him to give you the strength to walk with Him upon His high places. Or will you still be hollering “get ‘em God?”

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I know you’ve heard the following statement a jillion times. “People are the product of their environment.” Some folks wear that statement like a badge of honor, but that’s not necessarily true.

We all know people who came from wonderful homes and someway, somehow, they took a one-eighty and ended up destroying their lives. And then there are individuals from terrible circumstances who determine to endure and learn to live joy filled, successful lives.

In either situation, everything depends upon your heart, your choices, your character, and your God.

The year was 1921 on a snowy Christmas Sunday morning in Sebrell, Virginia, Christine Bell Davis arrived in this world. She was sixth in a line of thirteen children—seven survived.

If success depended on environment, my Mama would have been a failure before she began. Her mother was married five times and their home was a movie epic titled Dysfunction. Yet a determined will to prevail filled my mother’s young heart from the beginning.

In her later years Mama wrote a book for her children and grandchildren, a legacy to show how different life was in pre-World War II years and beyond.

The first two husbands provided for the family and life, while not affluent, was certainly average or above. But as the list of husbands grew life changed. Especially as their income slipped below the poverty line. And one of Mama’s old quotes certainly applies here: “When money problems come in the front door, love goes out the back.”

At age nine, Mama, her parents, and five children (at that time) walked from Augusta, Georgia, to Jacksonville, Florida, on the promise of a job for the current step-father. That was the summer of 1931. And, if you remember, the stock market had crashed in October of 1929. The depression was in full swing and the country was in chaos. People had lost their homes, their savings, and their jobs. There was no money for bus fare. No car to drive and even if they had a car, no money for gas. No. Money.

They ate when food was offered by kind farmers, slept on bare floors in empty houses along the way—no electricity or running water. But even then the hand of God was on my Mama. This rag-tag group made it safely to Jacksonville. Finally. Mama has no idea how long the journey took other than a long, very long time.

Old deserted St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville was used to give shelter to the needy. And they were needy. The family set up housekeeping and Mama was allowed to enroll in school again. But after so many moves and never finishing a grade, she was placed in the second grade. However, Mama was a good student; and, in spite of several more moves, she skipped portions of the third, fourth, and fifth grades and by early 1934 she was back with her proper age group in sixth grade.

The following year, without explanation, her mother sent her to a small town outside Jacksonville to live with an unknown family on a farm. She didn’t remember their names and never knew why she had been sent away.

When she returned home the following year the family was falling apart. Another husband was in the home and several children had run away. My mother’s mom took a job in a small community near Jacksonville and took their younger brother with her. But she left Mama and her eleven year sister in the care of their seventeen-year-old sister. Three girls alone, with no money. Not wanting to care for them, the elder sister put the younger girl on a bus and sent her to their mother. Then without telling my Mama, the older sister left.

Mama was thirteen, by herself and frightened. She found a distant cousin, with five children of her own, who made arrangements for Mama to attend a camp for underprivileged children for two weeks. But this lonely thirteen-year-old had to walk three miles to catch the bus for camp.

When she returned her mother placed she and the eleven year old sister in the Parental Home for Girls and their brother in the Boys Home. Mama admitted being angry, but also said it was the best thing that ever happened to her. Again, God was in charge of Mama’s life. Keeping her safe. Providing situations and people to nurture endurance and strength of character in her and teach her life skills.

The next few years were secure, happy years, and Mama excelled.
But the year Mama was to be a senior in high school her mother took her out of the Parental Home and was told she must work to help provide income for the family. There were no social services to intervene. You obeyed your parents.

A couple of years after that Mama met my Daddy and the rest is history. They married, had two children, three grandchildren, and lived together fifty-five years ‘til Mama’s death.

This godly woman taught her children the principles of God’s Word by the way she lived and treated others. Mama loved to sing and cook. Her favorite sayings: “Actions are caught—not taught.” And, “If you don’t want to get in trouble—don’t be where trouble can happen. . .” have stuck in my head through the years and I’ve passed them on to my children and grandchildren.

We weren’t a wealthy family by the world’s standards but she and Daddy provided a secure home for my brother and me. They cared for us and loved us and their grandchildren.

In the final months of her life Alzheimer’s had robbed Mama of almost everything. She was in the hospital when I called to check on her one evening. The nurse said Mama was groaning about something and they couldn’t find out what was bothering her.

I asked the young woman if she was familiar with church hymns. She said “yes,” so I asked her to go, lean down close to Mama and let me know what she was saying. It must have been four or five minutes before the nurse returned. I could tell she was weeping, when she gasped, “I can’t believe it. Your Mama isn’t groaning. She’s singing Amazing Grace.”

Mama knew God’s Word and held onto His Truths. She knew first hand: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NAS).

Could you have weathered a childhood of destitution? Dysfunction? Despair? How about your children? If all their toys and cushy way of life was suddenly snatched away who or what would they cling to?

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NAS).

And He promises, “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3 NAS).

Through all the trials and heartaches Mama’s heart was fixed on Jesus. And she served her Lord by helping others. She refused to allow her environment to define who she was. She chose to trust God in the terrible circumstances and endure the trials He allowed in her life. And today her heart is at peace with her Lord. Her King. Forever. Just like Jesus promised.

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