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Thursday, 27 August 2020 16:52

Handling Anger

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Anger wells up when life seems unfair. Recently, a memory snaked its way back into my mind. That waitress was so rude, why didn’t management get notified. Instead I sat there and took it. Rehearsing the speech, I wish I gave I laid awake for hours. Friends that incident occurred years ago. Why did it slip in now? I don’t know but it was something I needed to get rid of.

After laying there for a while I heard this whisper “Why are you holding onto that offense?”

“Well, I don’t know.”

“What are you supposed to do?” The whisper continued.

“Forgive. I forgive that waitress for her insensitivity and the frustration she caused in me. Forgive me for hanging on to this memory like a dog with a bone. I’m so sorry Lord.”

Culturally acceptable, this emotion can cripple us. We allow the imagined argument to swirl around in our heads, feeling justified by the cause.

Ephesians 4:26-27 is a well-known verse among church goers.  “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” It is known but seems so hard to do. It is easy to point out in others but difficult to apply to ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even see the bitterness we are hanging onto.

Sweet old ladies welcome everyone, the mood of the room lightens when they are present. Without complaint emotions are faced and dealt with. Forgiveness can get easier with age but only if it’s regularly applied. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness which leads to an inhospitable environment.

There is a woman at my church who has survived a traumatic childhood. Her teenage years were spent in Germany during World War II. She lost a great deal. She came to the United States as a young woman and became a citizen. Now as an elderly member of our church she calls all of us family. She loves the Lord and lives in gratitude for the life He has given her. She is always ready with a hug and word of encouragement. She gives honest feedback but always delivers truth in love. Her presence invites others in as a strong example to those around her. She is a role model for me but scoffs at me when I tell her so.

When I am angry, I need to remember.

God is good

Vengeance belongs to Him.

The other person who made me angry is made in the image of God

The other person deserves God’s grace as much as I do.

Extending forgiveness benefits both of us.

Choose between a lighthearted or bitter future.

It seems easy yet human nature naturally embraces the trap of regurgitating past hurts. Return to the top of the list fight the urge to hold on lay it at the feet of Jesus. He reminds us that His burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30) Always ready for us, He call us, the weary, to Him.

 

Published in Devotionals
Monday, 27 July 2020 18:26

Worrier to Warrior

Philippians 4 6

 

 

Hannah moved back home in March due to Covid-19. Now twenty-one years old, our adult
daughter joined us in our empty nest. It took some adjusting but we are accustomed to our new
unit of three. At the end of this month she returns to Indiana as a senior in college. Our normal
August good-byes are complicated by a nation in turmoil and a pandemic. Will she be safe? Will
she be wise? Will the added stress trigger her anxiety?
 
Worries are not allowed to have free rental space in our heads. That space is to be used for
God’s word. Easier said than done but we are wise to listen to Matthew 6:27 (NIV) “Can any one
of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” That answer would be NOPE. We are to trust
Jesus with our thoughts. Psalm 9:10 (NIV) “Those who know your name trust in you, for you,
Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
 
For the most part all my thoughts are in place but occasionally, one goes skittering through as if
it has a will of its own. Especially at night, half asleep, when we should be at rest; they pester
us. Whether it is a nagging member of our to-do list or a worry that has no place there we need
the tools to shut it down. It needs a good cleaning but how do you do that?
 
2 Corinthians 10:5 in the NIV says “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself
up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to
Christ.” First, we must recognize we are to demolish them. Not hopefully we can demolish
them, nope. Remember warrior of God, this is your job and you have the tools to do so. (Judges
6:12) This applies to the worries, but it also applies to the list of responsibilities that don’t go
away. Rest is a necessary part of our battle plan. We are to command any swirling thought to be
quiet until morning. Take it captive – write it down. Revisit it in the morning. This will make it
obedient to Christ. With practice, our minds learn to stay quiet. I want to stress that this is
something we need to practice as a discipline.
 
Let’s look at Philippians 4:6 in detail. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about
everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (NLT).
1. Don’t worry.
2. Pray about everything. That literally means all things. Every detail matters to God and it
is ok to share it with Him. He will listen.
3. Ask God to provide for you and those you love. This is your time to fight. Remember you
are standing on the victory already provided for you. (Romans 8:37)
4. Thank Him. Gratitude is an amazing weapon against anxiety.
His promises will quiet the wayward thought. This takes practice. One of my favorite prayers is
simple. “I trust you Jesus.” Sometimes it is on repeat until His peace surrounds me and fills me.
Not because it takes repetition to get Him to answer but because I need to believe it myself.
Instead of worrying let’s turn it to a prayer of thanksgiving. She’s growing up so fast turns to
thank you Lord she’s able to go to school. He’s leaving home becomes thank you he has this
new adventure to follow his dream. They might not make it without me converts to thank you
they are learning independence. Through God’s grace we can quiet those pesky thoughts and
rest knowing God is in control.
 
It is not a one and done. This takes time and it is harder when life is difficult. We can feel fear
and worry, we are not to stay there. If this is an ongoing issue remember you don’t have to live
this way. There is no shame in getting help. Your mental health is as important as your medical
health; you're to live in freedom.
 
God is infinitely greater than everything. That is a huge statement. His power is boundless.
Creativity was birthed in His being. God is the source, the beginning – the end. You know this. I
know this. But do we live this way? In transforming into the woman He desires us to be we must
rely on His power. He can turn a worrier into a warrior. Does it surprise you that I referred to you
as a warrior of God? Who me? Yes, you. This battle is the internal battle we each fight.
Remember you are fighting from a place of victory. Do not give up! Keep fighting my friend.
Published in Devotionals
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 19:19

Assurance of Hope

Believing for things not seen

I clenched my hands in my lap as my daughter slipped into last place after swimming a difficult race. Once out of the pool, she sunk to the floor, her body heaving as she struggled to catch her breath. Come on girl, it wasn’t that bad. Teammates gathered around her. Should I go down there? I’ve never seen this in her before.

I’d just witnessed my child having the first of many panic attacks. It was a surreal experience, and it reminded me that as a parent, my ability to control my child’s world is an illusion. We could not fix this for her. Seeing my child spiral in her own mental health magnifies my own temptation to worry. As we escorted her back to health, she saw doctors and counselors and gained tools to battle this beast.

As a senior in high school, fear of the future fed her anxiety. Feeling pressured to determine a lifelong career, she struggled to balance her current responsibilities with the best choice to continue her education. We watched as her battle ebbed and flowed, her triggers unpredictable. Unbeknownst to us, this inner conflict had been brewing under the surface for years.

As senior year progressed, her growth in health and faith complemented one another. She took control of her diet and exercise. She questioned promises in Scripture, pressing into the One who created her. She began to understand the Holy Spirit guided her daily through this difficult journey.

She left for college one year into the healing process. Far from us, I cried myself to sleep. Could she do this without our daily support?

As her parents, we prayed and determined to trust Jesus. On particularly bad nights, I lay in bed and repeated “I trust you. I trust you,” until my own fears quieted and I drifted to sleep. Hebrews 11:1 reminds us our “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Our hope rested in Jesus: Even when we did not see her healing, we knew Jesus was at work.

Our faith rested in Jesus.

Our faith hoped for healing.

Our hearts knew Jesus was present even when we didn’t see the evidence.

His presence brought peace when our world seemed so dark.

Today, she is a thriving college junior. Her battle continues, but she wins most days. The healing we hoped for is gradually occurring. Her struggle developed her independence and growth in her own faith.

Our current world circumstances push at our faith to anger and fear but our faith doesn’t rest in what we see. Trust Jesus in the waiting. He brings peace and hope when circumstances feel out of our control.

Published in Devotionals
Saturday, 29 February 2020 14:49

Am I right?

A normal beating heart listens and learns when it is surrendered to Godpng

Our perspective influences our truth. I hear you yelling at me as you read this, “but truth is absolute!” I agree but culture, whether liberal or conservative, Christian or otherwise influences our beliefs. Stay with me here, as fallible humans we make mistakes. That includes the information we take in and process. There is no need for teachers and preachers if we knew everything perfectly. The Holy Spirit teaches us daily, our job is to learn, understand and apply the wisdom we gain. If we don’t the Bible says we have hardened our hearts.

You won’t find the phrase “soft heart” in Scripture. A normal beating heart listens and learns when it is surrendered to God. When we give our heart to God, He renews it to flesh from its hardened state. (Ezekiel 36:26). Over and over we need to allow this softening process because each of us can get stuck in a hard place.

Recently my husband and I vacationed in Virginia with the sole purpose of visiting historical sites. We visited Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown and Fort Monroe. Each location whispered truth to us from the past, their residents became real people as we learned their stories. The cultures clashed when people from European, African, and Native American descent struggled to live life. Each came with a different view on life and each reflected the events of their day through that lens. Now it is relatively easy to look back and determine that truth of their existence. Slavery is bad, slaughtering of people that are different is wrong, yet building a new life in a new home is courageous.

My first ancestor along with his wife, baby, and man servant, landed at Jamestown in 1623 to begin life in the new world. He developed a tobacco plantation and he owned slaves. Processing this information as I walked the land of historic Jamestown was difficult. How can a person own another person? How did he justify it in his mind? The sobering thought seeps from my head to my heart, this was his acceptable truth at the time. People used Scripture to justify the owning of slaves, yet they ignored James 5:4 (NLT) “For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

Am I accepting something because of the time and place I am living in? Do I use Scripture to justify any actions? We must each examine our truths and recognize what the justifications we make. Daily we must seek God for soft, healthy hearts that God renews.

History cries out to us to not make the same mistakes. “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance” Proverbs 1:5 (NLT) I hope you don’t see this as depressing but inspiring sifting information through the sieve of all of Scripture. God desires relationship with all people and we are called to love all people. Whatever your political bent recognize the face of the person on the other side, remember your identity and truth rests in Jesus, not in a voting record. Ignore the agenda, dodge the motive, and look for the heart beating life that reflects the image of God. No matter how hard their heart looks, don’t let it harden yours. Remember the words of John “Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].” (1 John 3:18 AMP) We reflect the heart of Jesus when we love those around us. 

 Dear Lord: Help us to see our own heart as you do. Whatever is hardening our hearts soften it. Anything in this world that influences us away from you bring it to light. Our hearts belong to you. May we each reflect your love to the world around us. We love you Lord! In Jesus Name, AMEN

Published in Devotionals