Tag Archives: anger

Martin Luther on Tribulation

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Those speak foolishly who ascribe their anger or their impatience to such as offend them or to tribulation. Tribulation does not make people impatient, but proves that they are impatient. So everyone may learn from tribulation how his heart is constituted.

Martin Luther

I’m going off theme here, because I found this quote and I really like it.  These days we might be inclined to substitute “stress” for tribulation.  How do you behave under stress?  If you become angry or impatient, doesn’t that mean the person you’re really angry with is God?  Doesn’t it show a lack of obedience and submission to His will? Isn’t it sin?  Our sin, not somebody else’s?

My problem with stress is different.  I’m likely to worry, fret and sometimes become so overwhelmed I have trouble making a decision or moving forward at all.  This is sin also, just a different kind.  It’s boils down to lack of trust in God’s goodness.

Maybe you’re reaction is different from either of these.  You may have a different sinful stress behavior, or you may be mature enough to let go and let God in times of suffering.  For most of us, it’s something with which we have trouble, something we need to work on. We will experience trouble and tribulation.  The Bible tells us that is certain. We can grow through these times, or we can keep repeating the behaviors that get us nowhere.  Behavior that hurts others and hurts us.  Luther’s right.  Our reactions are our own and we need to take responsibility for them, and learn to do better.  They reveal where we are spiritually.  Next time you’re stressed, take a look in the mirror.  Do you like what you see?

 

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What I see.

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When it comes to witnessing, I’m thinking some wise, much-older-than-me person passionately and articulately explaining to those who don’t know, just what Jesus Christ is all about. And almost magically channeling God Himself as a crowd gathers round’ in awe. Over to the side in a dark corner, I watch, and I just know I could never be that guy, (Or girl). But witnessing can be evangelizing in the literal sense of the word. I’m begging to learn that I don’t have to be a savant genius christian that knows everything all the time to share God’s love.

“ . . . for My strength is made perfect in weakness,”

Literally through watching, observing, learning, and growing in faith, then sharing my experiences, and adhering to God’s word in action, I can be evangelizing without knowing it. Not that I don’t mess up. I do. A LOT. Still, I know that the same God that created the universe in six days can certainly use me if that’s what he wishes to do.

Now in full disclosure, I’m an adult who’s led a fairly ‘sheltered’ life and not had it all that hard; relatively. My parents loved and provided for me and my siblings to the best of their ability, and I cannot rightly complain about them.

At the same time, I have seen things that have shaped me as human being. I have heard stories and testimonies of others that, sometime later on, I may share with all of you. Terrible things. And I remind my children (in part because of these experiences) that they need to guard against what they see and hear. Those things cannot be unseen and unheard.

One of the things that I’ve seen I think I need to share now. It’s glued itself to my psyche. Bonded with my soul and vividly shows itself like a brightly preserved image painfully reminding me that this world needs good people and simultaneously echoing the anguish of a child that deserved better.  I see a child staring at his adult authoritative figure, as innocent looking as a Norman Rockwell painting. Yet, he had just caused a huge ruckus on my bus which was now parked on the side of a dirt road.

He had just lashed out violently at anyone unlucky enough to be in his path. Pushing, hitting, kicking his way around. I had managed to keep him away from the others now that I was parked. I didn’t hurt him. I didn’t yell at him. I simply put my body between his and the others. I let him climb over the top of the bus seat a couple of times. I even let him hit me. I told him he could hit me all he wanted, but no one else. (He was small it didn’t hurt.) Soon, the school security guard arrived. Who was quite stern. And then my boss, also stern. And my boss is the taller-than-I female he was guiltily staring at. She told him she’d be taking him off the bus. And then I believe God guided me to inform him of something. “She’s not going to hurt you.” I said.

Here is where yet another image was burned into me leaving a permanent mark. I saw a frustrated, broken child break into tears, and put his small arms around my boss’s neck as if he was simply giving her a hug because he was glad to see her. His face now buried into her shoulder, she carried him off and drove him away.

I drove him to school one more time. This time in a suburban with no other passengers. We spoke as if nothing happened. And something I remember him saying, that I can’t unhear, was that, I wasn’t as angry as his mom. I didn’t understand, so wanting to encourage a relationship I told him that all moms got angry sometimes. After that he was silent. And I’ll never forget his thoughtful little face looking out the window.

I went back to his house one other time. They said he had an appointment so I didn’t get to drive him to school. Then, when asking my boss about picking him up again, I learned that I would not be doing that anymore. His parents were now in jail, and he and his brother were now in his grandmother’s custody. He and his brother were victims of physical abuse. I think about him almost daily. And he is the only student I’ve ever shed a tear for.

Yet here this memory stands, as a witness to me, and now you. And I believe my boss and I gave that boy a glimpse of what it meant to be loved. For a moment in time he saw kindness when my boss carried him like mother would. And he was witness to our patience and gentle examples. I pray that those things are what sticks with him. And even though I can’t tell you his name, I think sharing his story may cause someone else to have just a little more patience with that ‘difficult’ child in their life.

I don’t know how God is planning to use me. And I still say I’m not very good at witnessing in the traditional sense. But I do know I can type a little better than I can speak, and I can share in this way what I’ve seen as I try and set a good example.

Unoffendable

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This week I took some books out of the library on forgiveness, so that I can immerse myself in our theme for the month.  The first one I picked up is Unoffendable by Brant Hansen, who is a Christian radio host.  His basic premise is that Christians should strive to become “unoffendable.”  In other words, we should have a mindset that allows us to forgive  others in advance.

Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better

Here’s a quote:

“Whenever there’s an injury to a relationship, a hurt, a broken heart, or even a broken thing, and you are willing to forgive, you are saying ‘I got this.  I’m going to pick up the bill for this.’

This is, of course, precisely what God has done for us.

Hansen is absolutely right:  we hear it every week in church when the pastor announces the forgiveness of our sins.  It’s not a reward for our confession, it’s a statement of what has already taken place.

When we give up our anger, Hansen says, we are making a sacrifice which allows us to love others in unexpected ways.  (Isn’t it amazing how our monthly themes are all fitting together?)  He also maintains that when we choose ahead of time, “before conversations, before meetings, before our day begins–to be unoffendable, we’re simply choosing humility.” When we give up our anger, when we put other first, when we admit that we don’t understand their feelings and motivations, we have come to the place where we can minister to and serve them.  Isn’t that what the Christian life is all about?

So what do you think?  Can you spend some time each morning praying to be unoffendable all day?

How Should a Reborn Christian Think?

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Michele talked about how a reborn Christian should act, but if you spend some time with the Scripture, you will find that not only should we act a certain way, we should think a certain way.  Jesus himself says in Matthew 5:27-28.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

There is a rather well known story about an Indian grandfather and his grandson.  The grandfather tells the child that there are two wolves inside of him:  one is compassionate, generous, loving.  The other is cruel, selfish, angry.  These wolves constantly war within us.  The boy asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”  His grandfather tells him, “the one you feed.”

The thoughts and feelings we feed are the ones that will manifest themselves in our lives.  Lustful thoughts are likely to lead us into lustful actions, maybe even adultery.  Angry thoughts lead to quarrels, division and violence.  Anxious thoughts lead us to distrust everyone, even God.

Of course, there is a remedy for this and it is also in the Scriptures.  Listen to these verses from Romans 8:5-6:

“…those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  To set the mind of the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Here’s another verse from Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

In case you’re wondering how to set your mind on something, it’s really pretty simple:

.”….whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

If I spend the day thinking about how my husband (or friend, or fellow church member) ignores me, hurts my feelings, doesn’t do what I think he or she should, what will be likely to happen?  Next time I see that person, I will probably let them have it!  I will behave in angry, vengeful ways. Maybe I will gossip about them and try to undermine them with others. If, on the other hand, I dwell on that person’s good traits, and try to understand their behavior in light of their life, I will end up praying for them, being helpful to them,  and even (guess what) loving them!

Once again from Romans (what can I say, it’s the book I’ve been studying)

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit …If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

Today I’m going to try to live like the reborn person I am.  I’m going to banish the bad wolf and set my mind on what is right.  I’m going to put on Christ.