★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Anger (Part 7) ★

Today we close our Temptation Series on how to avoid the Consequences of Anger.  It has been a great series that I hope you have enjoyed.  If this is your first time, permit me to recap the previous (7) posts.  We first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study about the danger of flirting with Temptation called:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding a Whole “LOT” of Trouble ★.

Then we looked at:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Alcohol and Drugs (Part 2) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3a) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3b) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gluttony (Part 4) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Compromise (Part 5) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gossiping (Part 6) ★

When planning out the Temptation Series, I purposely saved anger for the last post because of the toxic nature of this particular pitfall.  Every single person has felt the sting of this force whether as the receiver or as the one to fly off the handle.  Anger manifests itself in different forms and in varying levels of severity.  One of my favorite verses on anger comes from Proverbs 29:11 (NIV1984)

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” 

Now I say that it’s my favorite, but it is also quite convicting at the same time as I tend to give full vent to my anger or frustration when I feel I have been wronged or treated unfairly.  But the key is in the first word…FOOLS!  “Fools give full vent to their rage.”  What do the WISE do??  They “bring calm!”  (See also Ecclesiastes 7:9).  My hope and prayer is that God would open your eyes to see the danger of yielding to this monster!

A few weeks ago I was visiting family in New Jersey and New York and it was interesting to see how much I have changed since moving to Texas 10 years ago.  As I stood waiting on the curb at Newark International Airport, the amount of car horns repeatedly sounding off was evidence to the short fuse people have when they don’t get to where they want to go.  After being picked up, I then saw the effect of being “cut off” by other cars on my sister’s disposition.  Now she wasn’t experiencing road rage or anything near to the extent that we have been hearing on the news, but Anger definitely popped up!  Hahaha!  And though I thought I had overcome anger behind the wheel, I lost my temper as I was cut off in the pick-up line at my girl’s High School after I had landed that day.  This example is insignificant enough, but the pitfall we are focusing on today is one that if not contained can cause irreparable damage!  Anger is an all too common emotion that we all have felt, sometimes justifiably, but more times than not we unleash our hostility on those in our lives.  King David had this advice in Psalm 37:8-9 (NLT):

“Stop being angry!  Turn from your rage!  Do not lose your temper — it only leads to harm.  For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”  

Oh how true this is.  Growing up I saw how violent my father would get when he drank, and the hurt he inflicted on my mom.  For years my Father allowed the alcohol to consume him and when he found himself at the bottom of the bottle, his rage was released on her.  By the age of 5 my mom divorced him so she could escape from the abuse.  If you find yourself in that circumstance I encourage you to find help, here is a great resource: Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.

Click here if you would prefer to listen to the Podcast of this blog post.

The Bible has a lot to say about anger.  One of the most famous quotes about communication and conflict comes from James 1:19 which instructs:

This by far is the best advice anyone could heed.  I know myself that more problems have resulted when I failed to follow this counsel.  I have worked hard to change this tendency as I have been slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to get angry.  I saw this great quote that summarizes James 1:19 beautifully:

“You have two ears and one mouth.  Follow that ratio.  Listen more, talk less.”

I love that so much!!  How different would this world be if we did not allow our emotions to run wild?  I have been going through a Bible Reading plan call “Holy Emotions – Biblical Responses to Every Challenge” by Carol McLeod.  She made some very interesting observations that dovetail beautifully with what we are talking about.

“Your emotions travel 80,000 times faster than your thoughts travel.  Isn’t that amazing?   The tremendous speed of our emotional responses to life helps to explain why, even Christians, often tend to operate out of feelings rather than out of principle…If you continue to allow your emotions to rapidly yank you through life, you will always say things that are embarrassing, act in ways that are unbecoming, and never be the person that God intended for you to be.  You will end up having the effect of a rapid-moving, volcanic eruption that decimates everyone in its violent, angry path.”

Wow!  That was so true in my life both before accepting Jesus as my savior and regrettably after becoming a Christian as well.  I have worked hard to break the cycle of violence that was passed down from my father who witnessed the same behavior from his father.  Now I have never lifted a hand to my wife or kids but I certainly have been short with them and mean at times.  In the devotional Carol McLeod mentioned Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) which warns:

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

I have read that passage many times but she made this point that helped me see it in a whole new light:

“Your heart does not want to be guarded.  It desires to loudly express itself and all of its opinions.  Your heart is passionate about ventilating, vomiting and vocalizing every little feeling it has ever experienced.  The Bible never says that we are allowed to express everything that is in our heart – it simply says to guard it.”

Genesis 4:2-16 tells of the first man who failed miserably to guard his heart.  Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, brought an offering to God after a period of time; whereas his brother Abel brought the firstborn of his flock.  God did not have any regard for Cain’s offering which resulted in him becoming was very angry.  In verses 6-7 there is a truth that all of us need to learn today…

“The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’”  

God warned Cain that “sin is crouching at the door,” which just like a lion ready to strike, our Anger is no different.      

Unfortunately Cain did not resist the temptation and he ended up committing the first murder in history as a result of his bitterness and resentment towards his brother Abel.  As a result, Cain was cursed and became a “fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”  James 1:20 (NLT) instructs that:

“Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”

So if we call ourselves Christ Followers and earnestly desire to serve God, we must get a hold on our anger issues to avoid the consequences which may be more than we can bear.  I read this story a long time ago which has always stuck with me.  It is a great analogy on destructive nature of anger.

Just like the fence, when we give into the temptation of anger and open the perpetual fire hose of poison into our lives, we run the risk of permanently destroying the relationships we hold dear.  I shared Proverbs 18:20-21 (GNT) in the ★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gossiping (Part 6) ★ post but I believe it is bears repeating:

“You will have to live with the consequences of everything you say.  What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.”

But there is hope; we can start small in turning things around simply by following what Proverbs 15:1 (ESV) says:

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I have seen firsthand the difference when I answer softer than I want to.  This post has focused a lot on the heavy consequences of Anger and is a little more negative than usual but I think that is indicative of how dangerous it is to give into this destructive emotion.  But of course there are many benefits when you resist the temptation.  I love what Proverbs 13:3 (NLT) offers:

“Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”

When you control your tongue, you will reap the rewards of a long life!  In the moment it may feel good to give full vent to your anger but I think we can all agree that

“A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves a thousand moments of regret.”

Amen?  If you have grown up with Anger in your home or you are currently bringing it into the lives of those you love, you can break the cycle and the legacy that you leave.  But it will take work.  I encourage you to pray continually for God to intercede, study the bible for versus of anger (there are a ton), and study everything you can on the topic, the devotional by Carol McLeod would be a great start.  I will close with one last quote:

“I can ‘act’ like Jesus without prayer.  I can win an Academy Award for smiling sweetly and reciting kind platitudes while my heart is roaring and my mind is vengeful…Jesus does not desire for me to merely act like Him, but He longs for me to be like Him, and there is a decided difference.”  

If we call ourselves Christians, then we must actually work to become more like Jesus and not merely pretend!  As James 1:22 says:

To that end, Watermark Church in Dallas has a great Marriage Ministry class called re|engage which I shared (16) posts from what I learned a couple years ago, (Click here to read).  They had a supplemental lesson on Anger which at the end they gave these questions for reflection.  Regardless of whether you are married or not, these are applicable to everyone:

  1. How is your anger affecting your marriage and relationships with others today?  
  2. What are some beliefs, expectations, or past experiences that might be contributing to your emotions and which lead up to anger?  
  3. Relating to the scripture from James 1:19-20, why does your anger not lead to the righteousness that God desires?  

Action Item:  Share with your spouse or a trusted friend your desire to yield your anger to God and ask them to pray for you as you begin this process. 

I pray that if Anger has a hold on your life, that you will allow God to work on your heart to stop from yielding to this toxic temptation!  Change can happen; it did for me and it can for you!

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★ 

★ Re|Engage – Communication ★ 

★ Thought for the Day – Turn the Other Cheek ★

★ Thought for the Day – Are you a Good Listener? ★

If you want to go back and read all the posts in the Temptation Series (Click Here)

 

 

 

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – God’s Mysterious Plan Revealed ★

Well 23 days have passed since we rung in 2017.  We have a new President of the United States and there has been a little over 3 weeks to work on our New Year’s Resolutions that we promised that we would do…so how are you doing with those resolutions?  Have you kicked the mistakes and habits of 2016 yet?  In the post114-daily-dependence-kicking-the-habits-of-2016-away ★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★, I shared that I don’t believe in resolutions because they are pretty much worthless and that I was challenged to think of them more as “Commitments” instead because you either change or you don’t.  We all have choices before us on whether we want to continue in the same old habits or not.  Today if you are reading this and you don’t know the plan of God for your life, I want you to encourage you to open your mind and heart to what He wants to do in your life as you read this post.

God said through the prophet Jeremiah: 114-daily-dependence-jeremiah-29-11

Jeremiah 29:11 is a famous Bible verse that you see all the time adorned on T-shirts and displayed on plaques and coffee mugs…(I even have one myself.)  It is a verse that I have been encouraged by and have shared with others to help comfort them in their time of need.  But have you even wondered what God’s plan is for you specifically?  The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 3:6 (NLT)…

“And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children.  Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”

If the term Gentile is an unfamiliar to you, it simply means a person who is not Jewish.  When the Jews rejected Jesus, the door was opened for everyone who is not a direct descendant of Abraham, the father of the Jews.  John 1:10-12 (NLT) says:

“He [Jesus] came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” 

You can also read more about it in Jesus’ “Parable of the Evil Farmers.”  Until this point there was a huge chasm between the Gentiles and Jews.  Jesus paved the way to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to Himself.  Psalms 133:1 says:

“How Good and Pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.”
“How Good and Pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

Regardless if you are a Jew or a Gentile, if you believe in Jesus, you are God’s people and He desires there to be unity in His Church.  Paul went on to say in Ephesians 3:10-11:

“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was His eternal plan, which He carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

People who are skeptical of church, or perhaps were hurt in the past by hypocrisy, or “holier than thou” attitudes question “why do I need to go to church?”  They justify it by saying “I can have a relationship with God on my own.”  Now while that is true that we can have a one on one with our Heavenly Father, the verse we just read is clear that the plan of God was “to use the church to display His wisdom.”  It is through gathering with other believers that our faith is strengthened and will grow exponentially faster than if we try to go it alone.  Charles Stanley said,

“No Christian has ever been called to ‘go it alone’ in his or her walk of faith.” 

And Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) furthers that point with this:

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

As the “church,” God wants us to leverage our relationship with those that are in our sphere of influence.  To encourage and build others up in the faith, which cannot be done in isolation.

Last weekend I was at my church’s retreat for the Junior High and High School students.  The keynote speaker was David Marvin from the “Porch” at Watermark Church who spoke on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.  He made this statement that has resounded ever since in my spirit,

“Every person you have ever looked at will live somewhere for eternity…either with God or without God.”

If you are a Christian, that is a haunting reality that should motivate us to want to reach those who are lost and far away from God.  For those of you reading this today who do not call yourself a Christian or maybe a better way to say it, a “Christ Follower,” I want you to know that God loves you so much.

114-daily-dependence-ephesians-3-you-area-loved-by-jesusAnd when you place your faith in Jesus, you will experience freedom like you never dreamed possible.  The Apostle Paul continues in Ephesians 3:12 with this truth:

“Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here.  I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

When you believe in Jesus, you have access to God like never before because until you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior the SIN in your life will keep you away from Him.  You may say “I am a good person,” but that just is not enough.  We are all sinners and have fallen short of what God desires for our life (see Romans 3:23.)  And with that access comes the unfolding of His plan in your life!

I love what Sandi Krakowski once said:

“God has an amazing plan for your life but it won’t automatically happen without your cooperation.  Partner with Him and create a great life!”
“God has an amazing plan for your life but it won’t automatically happen without your cooperation.  Partner with Him and create a great life!”

God is just waiting for you to take a step in His direction.  The invitation is open to you but you need to make the choice to follow Jesus.  If you want to start your relationship with Him today just go to this post, ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ and can read more about what this means and as well as a simple prayer that you can say to God that can start you down the path.  Just like a loving father, God is willing, ready and able to help us out whatever mess we have made of our lives.  (If you want to read more on the Father Heart of God just check out the “Parable of the Prodigal (or lost) Son” from Luke 15:11-32.)

Maybe you have made the commitment to Christ and have started on the journey to develop your relationship; I wanted to remind you of the truth of what Tim Keller said that:

“God invites us to come as we are, not to stay as we are.”

The amazing thing about God is that He will take us back regardless of the filth that we find ourselves in but the expectation is that once we have made the choice, we must continue to grow in our faith so that we can enjoy that new life!  Colossians 1:23 (NLT) says:

“But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.  The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.”

The Good News is this…God sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice and payment for our sins.  Through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection, a bridge has been created to restore the relationship with God WHEN we believe in Jesus.  (See also 1 Peter 3:18 and Romans 6:6-7)  And so like Paul, we need to be standing firmly in our faith and actively pressing on to learn and grow.  If we are not advancing in our walk with God, we are regressing or drifting away…One of my favorite John Wooden quotes which I will close this Thought for Today is….

114-daily-dependence-john-wooden-choices“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.” 

So the choice is yours today…Do you start a relationship with Jesus and be a part of God’s Mysterious Plan that will forever change your legacy and family tree?  Or if you are a believer already will you start today to pursue your relationship more fervently?  I want to challenge you to throw out the useless “resolutions” and “choose to commit” to a new trajectory so that you’re not repeating the same old habits from 2016 and regretting 12 months from now that your life is different from it was today!  Because “in the end, the choice you make, makes you!”

If you are interested in learning more on the Grace of God, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Accidental Existence? ★

 

Or if you want to deepen your relationship check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

★ Thought for the Day – Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★

 

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★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

ReEngage - Lesson 05I would like to start off reviewing Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) …

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but
Two [HUSBAND AND WIFE] can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three [WITH GOD AT THE CENTER] are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” 

When you read this scripture and look at this picture below, do you agree with it?  How can you apply this to your marriage?
Ecclesiastes 4:12 is a fundamental scripture that can be applied to marriages for the importance of teamwork, not only for husband and wife but also with God in the mix.

As we talk about forgiveness, it is critical to realize that without God working within us individually and in our marriage, we will stay in the crazy cycle of conflict.

Lesson 5 and 6 focused on this Principle:  Extend Grace and Forgiveness.

There’s that word again…If you have not noticed yet there is a running theme, Grace is a central driver in any good marriage.  This week was the practical application of how Grace is expressed through forgiveness.

In Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB), Jesus is teaching about The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant…

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

What does Jesus’ response mean to you and your marriage?  Do you think that He meant you only need to forgive your spouse up to 490 offenses or something else?  There are 3 things to gleam from this…

1.  Peter wanted to know ‘how many’ times until he could stop forgiving someone but
2.  Jesus is more concerned with the why’ behind forgiveness.
3.  “Jesus is saying: Don’t keep track.  Don’t keep score.”

The why can be summed up with this Andy Stanley

“The one who benefits the most from forgiveness is the one who grants it.”  

Do you believe that?  If you do believe that there is a benefit to forgiving, then why is it so hard?  Lesson 5 was all about Forgiveness, in the book, the main idea of Lesson 5 was:

“You have been forgiven everything by God’s Grace; therefore, you are able to forgive your spouse.”

I love the definition they gave on What forgiveness is…

“At its most basic level, forgiveness is the decision to pardon an offense and give up the right to be repaid.”

In the reading they discussed “What Forgiveness is Not.”

  1. Forgiveness is not forgetting.

“Rather than forgetting, forgiveness is remembering your commitment to forgive. It often is a choice you will continue to make when not if the feelings of hurt and disappointment return.”

  1. Forgiveness is not reconciling.

“Reconciliation and forgiveness are two separate processes. You can forgive without reconciling, but you cannot reconcile without forgiveness. Forgiveness is instant, but trust will take time to rebuild.”

  1. Forgiveness is not condoning.

“It simply means that they no longer owe anything for the pain and hurt they have caused you.”

  1. Forgiveness is not a feeling.

“If you wait until you feel like forgiving, you never will and you won’t re-engage with your spouse and experienced a death depth and richness that your marriage can one day half.  Forgiveness is a choice you make, sometimes in spite of how you feel.”

  1. Forgiveness is not just about the person who hurt you.

“Forgiveness has limited benefit to the one who caused pain. But the longer you hold onto the hurt the longer their actions continue to have negative effects in your life.”

Forgiveness primarily benefits you, the one who has been hurt. It really is a gift you give to yourself.

What I have learned going through this book is that our childhood can have an effect on our marriage in how we interact with our spouse.  I had posted ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★ earlier about my father that you can see here, but I wanted to share this story with you in more detail.

I never really had a relationship with my father from the age of 12 years old.  I carried that hole in my life until I was 36, when God placed it on my heart to reconcile with him.

Just like we have been talking about, I had to choose to forgive him for the abuse I witnessed against my mom and choose to forgive the hurt of all the subsequent years of him not wanting to be in my life.  Though we had no relationship for most of my adult life, I am thankful that before he passed away, we reconciled and had a year and a half together.

The best part is that through God’s amazing grace, I was privileged to lead my father to the Lord 6 months before he died!  He is in heaven but that probably would not have happened if I was not obedient to God to forgive my Dad and extend God’s Grace to Him.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) says:

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

The reading made this great point that we need to always remember!

“We had a debt to God that we could not pay. Christ forgives us completely, yet we have the audacity to not forgive our spouses.”

Is it difficult to forgive your spouse? Do you struggle with this?  I love this what the Lesson 5 gave as the two options we have.

ReEngage - Lesson 05 - Fork in the Road of Your Relationship

“Each day you stand at a fork in the road of your relationship.

Your first option is to hold onto the hurt, disappointment and frustrations, which will almost always lead to anger and bitterness. This is a dead-end that will make you miserable.

Your other option is to begin to forgive and re-engage with your spouse. Left untreated, anger and bitterness often take on a life of their own.”

Do you see that as being true in your marriage?

“When we forgive and are forgiven by our spouse it helps us understand the nature of God’s forgiveness.”

In the book they made this statement:

“Your relationship with Christ and your marriage simply cannot move forward without forgiveness.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) says

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

And Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT) says:

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

So if we are commanded to forgive, and we don’t, there will be consequences, we will not be forgiven.  Assuming no one wants those consequences, check out the next post from Lesson 6 called ★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness In Action ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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