Sunday, February 24, 2013

Short Fuse

I’m pretty sure almost all of us experience a short fuse at times (some certainly more than others!), and though anger is a natural and sometimes even healthy emotion, do you ever stop and wonder why you sometimes get angry without any logical explanation? Anger stems from our emotions within; sometimes our anger is a quiet, bubbling bitterness or resentment at some small or large wrongdoing, and then there are times our anger explodes and can result into revenge and hurt even those who are close to us. It can shatter communication, tear apart relationships, destroy our joy, and sometimes even our health

The Bible has a lot to say about anger, and often relates it to a person who is without wisdom:

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” (Proverbs14:29)

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” (Proverbs29:11)

On the other hand, since anger is a God-given emotion (like so many other emotions) and is a natural, normal response resulting from a sense of being wronged, threatened, or hurt, anger is not always a sin. The type of anger that is not sinful is called “righteous anger”, and there are very appropriate times in our lives for anger: when children are mistreated or injured; when someone uses God’s holy name carelessly, when a loved one is betrayed or abused, etc.  But by God’s good grace we have principles and guidelines to overcome sinful anger and remain in control.

We can express righteous anger in a way that brings glory to God by…

Ø  Identifying the source of your anger

Ø  Attacking the problem not the person

Ø  Acting, not reacting

Ø  Being open and honest when communicating to solve an issue

Ø  Speaking the truth in love

Ø  Understanding that God is in control

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  (James 1:19-20)

The Lord is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)

Many people feel that anger is a natural human reaction; I don’t know about you, but personally, my spontaneous outbursts of anger (or better yet…my occasional short fuse) makes me feel guilty, pretty embarrassed, and miserable! Very often, the harder we try not to be angry, the greater is our failure! However, one thing I know for sure, no one can make us angry without our own consent, and we all need God’s help to ensure we maintain a longer fuse. We need to stop making excuses for our anger or bed temper and instead seek God’s forgiveness and help. Our frustration and temper doesn’t disappear overnight, it takes constant prayer, reading God’s Word, trusting His Word, and accepting responsibility. When we begin to respond and react instead in “Godly anger” we get rid of our temper, bitterness, and fury and begin to be compassionate and loving toward one another. Being angry isn’t always a sin, but what we do with our anger might be. And scripture tells us “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”, therefore we need to deal with our short fuse immediately and move past it as soon as possible.When we rely upon God through prayer, bible study, and His Holy Spirit, it can be overcome; we can’t stay angry if we obey His command!

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Have Some Fun!

“I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10)


Do these words describe your typical day?
How you begin your morning often sets the tone and your attitude for the day. Life can be disorderly or magical-depending on our outlook. One of the most effective and sure signs of the way our day is going to go is from the first thoughts that come into our minds when we wake up in the morning. And we can experience joy and have some fun with our day if we learn to start our day off right…overflowing with a joy that flows from a deep source so that we may fulfill the purpose that God has for us! The life He gives is abundantly rich, and the truth is…God wants us to enjoy life every day.

Have you taken Christ’s offer of life? God wants you to have some fun and joy now, not when
     F~feeling  happy and excited

     U~upbeat in every situation

     N~naturally cheerful to everyone we meet

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

It’s true that our typical day begins with stuff like going to work, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, taking care of children, etc…things that we may find monotonous and boring. But this is the ordinary, everyday stuff that God wants us to enjoy and have fun with! Imagine how much more enjoyment there would be in our lives if we chose to be content with everyday obligations and circumstances. If we are not putting joy and fun into even the ordinary and routine things we do, then people are not going to want what we have, and I am pretty sure we were anointed to live a normal life in an extraordinary way to bring honor to Him for all to see, We need to reclaim the fun and intense joy that we had as children, and so often lose as adults. Growing up and getting older doesn’t prevent us from having some fun with that same spontaneous and adventurous spirit that we had in our youths. The things we did as children, and all the things that made us happiest can bring us joy again today!

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

If you are too serious about everything, you need to lighten up!

Many of us are engaged in a lot of “have-to” activities, and we give up playfulness and fun to become more focused on our adult behavior. But sometimes we just need to take a break from our busyness, express and feel wonder and joy, let everything go, and live in the moment. Joy comes when we generate a happy and natural attitude, and is not dependent on our circumstances or obligations. As Christians, we should be characterized as people who have a joy that is overflowing, amazing, and abundant. We know that “the joy of the Lord is our strength”, so we need to bask in His goodness and grace and embrace His joy as our strength. There is always time to make room for lots of playtime in our grown-up world!

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills before you shall break forth in singing and all the tress of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Did You Love Them?

We’ve all been there; someone has…

*Made an unkind or offensive remark*

*Betrayed our trust in them*

*Ruined and shattered our dreams*

*Left us behind for another*

*Inflicted physical or mental pain and abuse*

*Destroyed our confidence and self-esteem*

…and we are tempted to recoil, shut down, hold a grudge, and put up an invisible wall.

…But Jesus said, love them anyway…

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

Ouch…how can we possibly develop loving kindness for people who have violated or hurt us? It’s a challenge to love people who have ignored, betrayed, hurt, or violated us. Many of us would rather go to a place where we can feel safe and our wounds can heal; it’s much easier to put a wall around ourselves so that we won’t be hurt anymore. And for some of us, our natural response is to strike back; we want to even the score. And if we can’t strike back immediately, we certainly don’t let it go; we save an “I’ll get back at you card” in our pocket to be pulled out at a later date.

…But Jesus commands us to love them anyway…
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

God knows our weaknesses, and to love like Jesus we need to understand a simple truth; we may find it hard to have the power or the strength to live up to this obligation, but He has the power to do that; to love those who have hurt Him and His children. It’s His will for us too, and we must simply be willing to do it. The power is within us, we just have to make the choice on whether to seek revenge on those that hurt us or be willing to forgive and show love. Unconditional love is a new decision we need to make in every situation; and He has promised to give us the power we need when we do not have the strength to offer love. The promise is written in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God does not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and self-discipline.” We have been told to love; it’s not an option. And we have been given the ability to love with agape love; there is no other alternative. We are not only called to love, we are commanded to love.

… Jesus will ask, “Did you love them?…
“And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23)

Agape love is the reason we are able to love those who have hurt us; the spirit flows through us producing God’s love in us, so that we can pass it on to others whether they love us back or not. It’s a love that acts in an unselfish manner even when we don’t feel like giving it; we chose to consider the needs of others ahead of our own needs without demanding anything in return. We should love one another because it’s a reflection of who we are in Christ, indwelt by the spirit of God who is full of grace, truth, and love. Agape love is what the whole world needs; we were born with a craving for love and nurture, and we are commanded to pass it on. As we humble ourselves before the Lord and receive His love, we will find the freedom to look beyond our own hurts and love those around us. And when we demonstrate love and forgiveness to others, God unfolds His great love for us.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7)

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Are We Playing Games?

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men. If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Why are we so eager to impress people? Many of us are so eager to impress others with our friendship, gifts and devotion; we act and behave differently when we are with our family than we do with our friends and those we work with. But are we playing games with ourselves; are we being authentic and sincere when we go out of our way to make a good impression so that everyone thinks we are unique and special? Other peoples opinions matter to us, and we often wonder what others are thinking about us; we have this hunger to be needed and appreciated.

But I wonder…

Are we trying too hard?  How real to we keep it? Who are we really trying to impress? Doesn't the bible make it clear that we must seek to impress God alone?

Many people live their lives trying to impress everyone regardless of how stressful it can be or how unhappy it makes them. It’s only natural to try and please others, be accepted, and fit in with the group. We are taught in this life that there are winners and losers, and we want to be a winner at whatever cost. Sometimes I just have to smile in wonder at why some people try so hard to make themselves look good in front of others (not to be judgmental; I have certainly been in that position before!) But really…are we who people think we are, or are we just playing games? Does our need to impress others ever drown out our ability to hear God? He created us all with a purpose in mind, and that might mean that we define success differently than our family and friends, we might have different interests and tastes, or we might even walk down a path that others are not willing to follow. Being authentic means walking in faith and accepting exactly who God made us to be; it’s about being true to ourselves and practice what we believe regardless of what others might think.

“Each one should test his own actions. Then He can take pride in himself without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” (Galatians 6:4)

Trying to always please everyone can be an emotional trap when we are constantly worried about what we look like, how we behave, or what we have. And haven’t we all realized that there are just some people we just can’t please? It can be exhausting trying to be liked and accepted, always worrying about what others opinions are of us. That’s when the games begin, when we don’t have the courage to allow people to see the real person we are inside. But faith dares us to be who God made us to be, and He Himself has the ultimate say about who we are; we certainly don’t have to go out of our ways to impress anyone else. When we stop worrying about comparing ourselves to others we learn to connect with people by expressing our true self; we learn that there is no need to be someone we’re not. That’s when we can relax, drop everything that is false or untrue, and rejoice in being who God created us to be.

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