Friday, November 10, 2017

The Root of Anger



This post was a writing assignment for my doctorate in Christian counseling. It is a slightly different direction than I originally planned for this blog but a friend suggested that I add it to Blessed to Be Broken. Anger is often an unresolved issue for those of us who have gone (or are going) through brokenness. It is usually a sinful anger that festers into bitterness. Both anger and bitterness must be resolved if we are to be vessels useful to God.

The Root of Anger

The first thing we need to realize is that not all anger is sin. Many times, in the Old Testament, God was angry. In the first chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the children of Israel that God was angry with them for refusing to trust Him and enter the Promised Land. In chapter four God was angry with Moses. In chapter nine God was angry with Aaron and the children of Israel for making and worshiping the golden calf. First Kings 11:9 says, “And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice.” Psalm 7:11 says, “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” Idolatry makes God angry.

                Though the Bible doesn’t directly say that Jesus was angry in Matthew 21:12-17 (also John 2:13-22), His actions in making a scourge of cords and driving out the money changers, turning over their tables, tell us that He was likely very angry. John 2:17 says, “And His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.’” Strong’s definition of the Greek word zēlos is “properly heat, that is, (figuratively) ‘zeal’ (in a favorable sense, ardor; in an unfavorable one, jealousy, as of a husband [figuratively of God], or an enemy, malice).” Jesus was angry because they were putting the love of money above love of God. They were not giving the Temple as God’s place of worship the reverence God demanded.

                In Isaiah 42:8 God says, “I am the LORD: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.” In both Old and New Testaments, when we see God angry, it is because people try to take His glory and either give it to idols or keep if for themselves. This was the sin of Lucifer that resulted in him being cast out of heaven. It is the sin he tries to get people to perpetuate in themselves.

Though one of the qualifications of a bishop (pastor) is to not be “soon angry,” (Titus 1:7), we are also told in Ephesians 4:6, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Anger becomes sin when its roots are in our offended pride. It is when our pride is offended that we react with revenge and sins that the Bible condemns. Gossip, back-biting, slander, lying, and all sins of the tongue that we do in anger come from offended pride. It is offended pride that responds with “I don’t deserve this” attitudes. It is offended pride that says, “I should be treated better than this.” It is offended pride that lashes out in defensive words that hurt others. It is offended pride that seeks to harm others whom we have perceived as keeping us from getting what we think we deserve.

                The biblical way to combat offended pride is found in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” Again in 1 Peter 5:6 we are told, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” When we humble ourselves before the Lord, we accept the fact that He is in control, not us. We realize that it is up to Him to exalt us in the eyes of others; and when He does exalt us, it is for His glory, not our own. When we realize that we belong to Him, we do not need to attack those who verbally hurt us. We can walk away from situations where we would normally lash out in anger. We can choose to respond to those who would hurt us in ways that glorify God, instead of trying to “return fire” at their attacks.
               

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Not My Will But Thine Be Done


I haven’t written anything for a while because I’m going through another period of brokenness. There is something that I believed was God’s will that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. Once again, I am learning to say, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

Elisabeth Elliot said, “The deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”

I do not believe that this desire of mine was just me wanting my own way. I believe that there was something God wanted me to do and I may have misunderstood exactly what I was supposed to do.

I have heard preachers share an illustration that explains what I mean. A farmer was out plowing his field. As he plowed, he prayed, “God, what do You want me to do?” He looked up to the sky and saw in the clouds the letters, P. C. “Preach Christ,” he said to himself, so he went out and preached the gospel anywhere and everywhere he could. No conversions happened under his preaching and he returned to his farm dejected and asking God why, when the message to preach Christ had been so clear. God answered him, “You were supposed to plant corn.”

God had a job for me to do. Though the difference wasn’t as far-fetched as the difference between planting corn and preaching Christ, what I thought I was supposed to do wasn’t exactly what seems to have been God’s plan. I’m not altogether certain my job is done but it seems like it is. It is difficult and heartbreaking to let go of what I was so certain was God’s plan but I must face the reality that maybe it isn’t. Maybe I was just planting a seed for someone else to water and harvest.


“Not my will but Thine be done.”

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Whatsoever you do


Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

In this verse Paul gives a simple rule to direct Christians in making choices about things that are neither commanded nor forbidden in the Word of God. His rule is this: Do WHATEVER we do TO THE GLORY OF GOD. This is a general rule, not limited to the eating of meat offered to idols, of which he had been writing. It is a rule applicable to all other actions. The reasonableness of this rule is seen in Proverbs 16:4, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself.”  Our purpose in life is to bring glory to God.

First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” We are not our own. Our bodies and our spirits belong to God. The Greek word translated spirit is pneuma (pnyoo'-mah). Its literal meaning is, “breath.” By analogy or figuratively it means the rational soul or mental disposition.

Glorifying God in our bodies should be fairly easy to figure out. Dress modestly, not to reveal your body or seductively attract others (1 Timothy 2:9). Sex is not love and sexiness is not beauty. Don’t get drunk; drunkenness is sin (Ephesians 5:8). Don’t overeat; gluttony is sin (Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 23:21). There are some things that aren’t directly mentioned in Scripture that can be listed here because we know they harm our bodies: smoking, not getting enough exercise, and eating things not good for us, just to name a few. (I’m not a health food nut but we do need to be knowledgeable about the things we eat, such as things known to cause cancer or have low or no nutritional value.)

Glorifying God in our spirits (rational soul, minds) isn’t really hard to figure out either. The music we listen to, the TV and movies we watch, the books we read, the things we look at or read on the internet, … anything that goes into our minds through our five senses. If it doesn’t glorify God and draw us into a deeper relationship with Him, we should not allow it to enter our minds. Granted, there are times when we cannot control some things we listen to, such as music in grocery stores or doctors’ offices. Those cases would be a good application of 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”


In short, we are not to follow the world’s opinions of beauty and self-gratification. We are to search the Scriptures for God’s thoughts on these things and apply those Scriptures to our lives, our behavior, and our choices. Know the Scriptures. Obey the Scriptures. It’s not easy but it is simple.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Christianity is More Than Saying a Prayer


How many of us have known or heard of pastors, evangelists, and churches who try to get people to say a prayer just so they can count tally marks of the people they have "led to the Lord"? Pushing people to make a choice isn't necessarily a bad thing. In Joshua 24:15 Joshua told the people of Israel, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve ...” Jude 23 says, “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” But unrepentant people who say a prayer are just going through the motions, whether it’s because their emotions have been stirred or to just get someone to leave them alone. Saying a prayer without repentance, a true life changing choice to obey Christ, does not make you a Christian.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, His first sermon to the crowds was, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mat. 4:17) The Greek word for repent is metanoeō (met-an-o-eh'-o). It means “to think differently or afterward, that is, reconsider.” In other words, it means to change your way of thinking to God’s way of thinking. We cannot pray a “sinner’s prayer” – or for that matter, be baptized – and keep living a life of sin. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we cease living for ourselves and become His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). Titus 2:14 calls Christians “a peculiar people.” It says, “(Jesus) gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” In 1 Peter 2:9 we read, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God chose us to show Jesus to the world and we can’t do that if we are no different than the world.

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” Again in John 14:21 He said, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” James tells us, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, ‘Thou hast faith, and I have works’: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18) Though works do not save us, they show the change that Jesus makes in us. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” However, verse ten says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” We are not saved by good works or by our own merit, but after we are saved “by grace through faith” in Christ Jesus, God plans for us to do good works for Him. We are His representatives and therefore must act like it. First John 2:6 puts it this way, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”

A simple sinner’s prayer says, “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and have broken Your laws. I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my life. I choose to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.” No matter how many times we may pray this prayer, if we don’t follow through by surrendering our will to God’s will, by being obedient to Christ’s commands, by allowing God to turn us 180 degrees, we are not Christians. This prayer must be followed by a surrendered and obedient life or it makes no difference at all.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

What is a Christian?

"Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car." Too many people label themselves as Christians without knowing what it really means and without guiding their lives by the Bible. A Christian is not one who merely attends church. A Christian is not one who merely believes that God exists. (James 2:19  "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.") A Christian is not one who merely reads the Bible, even if he knows what the Bible says "inside out, upside down, and  backwards." You can know all the right things to say, all the right terms to use, all the "rules" to follow, and still not know the God of the Bible. 

A true Christian is one who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This means that he realizes that he is a sinner. He admits his guilt in violating God's law, disobeying the precepts of God's Word, and neglecting known duties God has set forth in His Word. (Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”) He agrees with God's Word that he deserves death and hell. (Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.” Revelation 21:8 “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”)  Knowing this he has repented of his sins. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of conduct. Jesus preached repentance. (Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Luke 13:3 & 5 “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”) The Apostle Paul preached repentance. (Acts 26:20 “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”) 

A true Christian believes that Jesus is who He said He is and He is the only way to Heaven. (John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”) He believes that Jesus died for his sins according to Scripture, and that He was buried and rose again on the third day. Because he believes in Jesus, he can have the gift of eternal life and be free from the condemnation, judgment and wrath that is upon his life. (Romans 10:9-13 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”)

A true Christian has made Jesus the Lord of his life. Lordship is letting God have complete control of your life and the choices you make, guiding your life by the Bible and the example Jesus set for us. (1 John 2:3-6 "And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.")


Second Corinthians 13:5 says, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" If the above paragraphs do not describe you, then you are not a Christian. None of us are perfect but Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." Paul's example was this: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14). That calling is to be like Jesus. If you are not striving to be like Jesus, "examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith."