boiling point: anger

Just like water comes to a boiling point and steams, so does a mans emotions. Anger is a God-given emotion intended to help one solve problems. There are many examples where people use anger to solve their problems in a godly way (Galatians 2:11; 2 Samuel 12; John 2:13-18). The Bible describes anger as a passion (orge, Ephesians 4:26; James 1:20; Mark 3:5) and an agitation boiling within with an outward result (thumos, Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28; Ephesians 4:31).

According to the Bible, anger is not a sin: God becomes angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5; John 3:36), and believers are commanded to be angry and not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). Anger is good, since it is manifested righteously by God. However, anger is an emotion that mankind can selfishly abuse, therefore, anger becomes a sinful response to problems in our lives.

There are many ways in which people deal with anger sinfully. Some do not admit that there is a problem and they clam up (Ephesians 4:26-27). Some lash out in rage and they blow up (Proverbs 6:34; 14:17). Some stir up anger and strife in others (Proverbs 15:1, 18). Some become destructive and destroy anything that gets in their way (Proverbs 22:24-25; Proverbs 27:4). Some retaliate by getting even (Romans 12:17-21). Anger becomes sinful when it is motivated by selfish desires, when God’s goal becomes distorted (1 Cor.10:31; Rom.8:28-29), when the emotion lingers (Eph.4:26-27), and when it attacks a person rather than the problem (Eph.4:15, 29). These are all ways that one can deal with anger in a way that is not God’s way.

What is God way of dealing with anger?

  1. Admit that you are not handling anger biblically and confess it to God and others involved (Proverbs 28:13).
  2. See God in the problem (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28-29; James 1:2-4).
  3. Make room for God’s wrath, and do not play God (Genesis 50:19; Romans 12:19).
  4. Communicate to solve your problems (Romans 12:18; Ephesians 4:15, 25-32; Proverbs 15:1).
  5. Act to solve your part of the problem (Romans 12:18).

By dealing with your anger in God’s way you become God’s kind of person.

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meet the taters

The Tater’s family are a memorable family. I was introduced to the highly dysfunctional Tater family and their ongoing saga through Travis Huseby at Checkpoint Bible Camp. Here is a glimpse of the Tater Family:

Uncle Common Tater

He is no common Tater!? Common has the gift of gab. He makes a living in broadcasting and is good at communicating. He is certainly a chatter box outside the press box. He always has a story to share, and people are interested in hearing him ramble about random happenings.

When you get to know Common you will quickly observe that he does a lot of talking, but not a lot of walking. His bark is louder than his bite. In fact, he is a Sweet Tater, never saying anything bad about anyone. He is certainly a people pleaser. Common could be a mighty spokemen for God’s glory, rather he is ashamed of the gospel of Christ [Romans 1:16-17; 10:14-17].

Speck Tater

Speck is the father of the family. He is intelligent, dedicated to his job, pays the bills, but is not particularly outgoing on the home front. He is the dad you see on the sidelines. Speck is not doing much to support his Tater’s, much like his father Hesi Tater. He is one dud of a spud.

Speck, as Pa-Tater, needs to get off the bench and into the game before time runs out and life has past him by. His family is his most important responsibility. His greatest impact as a father is to train up his children in the ways of God [Proverbs 22:6], and modeling Christ’s through his loving and committed marriage. This cannot be done by passive spectating [Ephesians 6:4], but by active husbandry and priority parenting.

Ima Tater

Ima is the decorated daughter of the family. She is no darling. She models and mimics the world. Her friends often sway her opinions. Roe Tater, her best friend, switches boyfriends weekly, complains about not having enough, and brags about spoiled habits. She is swoon by current fads, trends, and teen idols [aka: Idol Tater].

An idol is anything you worship, and what we worship we become. An idol can be a material possession, a feeling, a person of interest, a place of comfort, or anything that captivates your heart. The Bible says to imitate Christ [1 Corinthians 11:1], and to destroy all idols before they destroy you [Isaiah 40-49].

Agi Tater

Agi is the always angry son who must have inherited the spicy Irish Tater genes. He tends to mash, scalp, or fry any Tater that gets in the way of his plans. His parents blame his bad behavior on Iri Tator, a bullish friend at school.

Agi is self-centered, never wrong, and a big-headed boaster. When things are not going his way you will surely hear about it. Can Agi gain control of his anger? Anger itself is not sinful [Ephesians 4:22ff]. In fact, anger is a God-given emotion that can be used for glorious means in defeating sin and choosing righteousness. Followers of Christ can learn how to control their anger [Titus 2:11-15].

Regurgi Tater

We all call him, Reggie. He is the younger brother [aka: Tater Tot] who tends to tattle tail. He hurls up information quicker than a baby spews up their bottle. Reggie’s feed off of gossips and lies for his own satisfaction [1 Peter 2:1]. The tongue is like a wild fire. A little spark can do a lot of damage [James 3:1-12].

In the Scripture the word often referring to regurgitation is meditation. The Bible says as followers of Christ we must meditate on God’s Word by: reciting it [Psalm 119:11], reviewing it [2 Timothy 2:15], and renewing our minds by it [Romans 12:1-12]. When we think about God’s Word and chew on it we are reminded that other people are created in God’s image and defaming them offends God.

Gravi Tater

Gravi is the mama of the spud bunch. She is large and in charge. If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. Big mama has control and stay out of her way. Everyone agrees that she takes after her father, Dick Tater. She can certainly be a Sweet Tater when she wants to be. Even as her family is falling apart, she finds a way to contribute by butting herself into everybody’s business. She could be using her magnetizing clout to bring everyone together in unity [Ephesians 4:1-16].

The Tater family does have serious issues. If we were honest we probably see some of the Tater family in our families. My suggestion is that the Tater’s go to Counsel Tater [aka: Pastor Ed U. Tater]. Their they will discover the root issue is sin. Sin is like a bruise or spoil that needs to be cut off or it will infect the the Tater if not the batch of Tater’s. Unfortunately our sin affects others around us, especially those in our immediate family or church [cf. Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12]. Deal with sin swiftly by lovingly confronting it and helping in the change process. Through God’s grace the Tater family can begin to learn from their Creator how to live in His image [Genesis 1:26-27].

a fruitful look at forgiveness

We have defined forgiveness as a decision to treat an offender as if the offense never happened at all. Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is an event, not a process [i.e. Jesus on the cross]. Forgiveness is not forgetting, rather it is not dwelling. Forgiveness is like taking a trash bag full of pain and hurt and throwing it away. However, many people like to go to the dump and dig through their old dirt, but that gets you more messy and stinky.

The Bible paints a picture of forgiveness as a tree with deep roots and healthy fruits. The Bible uses this illustration to say that what comes out of a man’s mouth shows you what is in his heart [cf. Luke 6:43-46]. The root of the matter is the heart. The fruit is our behavior. Ephesians 4 gives a practical principle of how to test the quality of fruit by getting at the root issue. God has not called us to be fruit inspectors; rather we are to be root investors.

When I hold onto unforgiveness I will produce destructive fruit [Eph 4:31].

We often ignore or fail to realize the cost of unforgiveness. The cost of unforgiveness is loss of intimacy with God, loss of relationship with others, and stunted spiritual growth [i.e. put off—bitterness, rage, anger, etc.]. If I do not deal with my ungodly anger quickly it will soon be snowball that ends in a deadly avalanche.

I want you to get a real look at forgiveness [Is.55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”]. This is not just a passage about the bigness or smartness of God, in the context it is about His forgiveness. You see we measure our forgiveness with a yardstick: Are they worthy of my forgiveness? And how much am I suppose to forgiven them? God’s forgiveness cannot be measured or compared to our view of forgiveness. Our forgiveness is so little compared to God’s. We cannot conceive the boundaries on God’s forgiveness.

When I unleash forgiveness I produce delightful fruits [4:32a]

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” When I put off the fruits of the old man and begin to live as the new man Christ created me to be I begin to bear fruit that is in His likeness [cf. Gal.5:16ff]. His image has rub off on me. You cannot fake this kind of fruit for long. It is the result of an intimate relationship with the maker and sustainer of the universe.

Growing up my grandpa Dale had a few apple trees. The apple tree didn’t produce much. It just produced dry, wrinkled, brown and mushy apples. Let’s say gramps decided to fix the tree one year. He went out to the tree with trimmers, a staple gun, stepladder and a box of apples he bought from the store. He cuts off the bad apples and puts on the new store bought ones. Did he fix the tree? Stapling apples will not help because they will just rot too. Forgiveness that doesn’t reach the heart [roots] does not last. Cosmetic changes never satisfy. Are you stapling fruit? You can know if you are forgiving person if you have the freedom to give your best, most, and greatest to God and others without reservation.

Why do I need to be forgiving? What is my motivation? [4:32b-5:2]

“As God in Christ forgave you…” When I forgive I am most like God [cf. Matthew 6:12]. I want to be forgiving because I realize how much I have been forgiven. Stop for a moment. Think about all God has forgiven you. Are you amazed? How can you not be impacted by that truth? Think about those you are having a difficult time forgiving. How can God’s forgiveness motivate you to forgive today?

I am certainly no trekkie, but in conclusion we are going to take forgiveness through to the fourth dimension. Here is how we must deal with unforgiveness: First, defer to God. All forgiveness is from God—He is the final frontier [John 20:22-23]. Second, decide to take the initiative. God gives the grace, and you must you decide to enter the race [cf. Lk.15:20; Rom.12:18]. Third, disengage from your emotions. Even if you don’t feel like forgiving that is not an option [Gal.5 “fruit of the Spirit”; Is.43:25]. Fourth, the final dimension is to deliver your enemies to God through much prayer [cf. Luke 6:27-28].

pride: a beast in hiding

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Pride. It is a real beast that hides in the darkness of our mind waiting to devour us from within. Many do not know the telltale signs they are suffering from the sly and stealthy beast of pride. Consider the following list of hidden forms of pride:

1. Insecurity. Insecurity is the root of many unhealthy and ungodly behaviors. It provokes us to want the lavish praise and attention of others. Pride is often motivated by one’s unmet need for self-worth. Focusing on the worth of Christ and security in Christ is a must to avoid pride.

2. Got to play the trump card. Do you know someone who has a hard time being wrong? This is a symptom of pride (Galatians 6:3). A person who needs to be right has an exalted view in themselves and think they are too-sexy-for-their-shirt. In religious circles, the need to be right is frequently said through statements like ‘God told me’ or ‘God showed me’, which are simply prideful trump cards.

3. In a state of arguing. Those who argue their point of view, especially to those in authority over them, are allowing pride to be their pet beast. At the root of their argument is a belief that they are right and the other is wrong, period, argument done [like a turkey at Thanksgiving]. It is sometimes appropriate to advocate for a point of view or position, but there is a thing called tact.

4. More invested in being heard than in hearing. When one develops a pattern of needing others to listen to them rather than first hearing others, pride is a motivating factor. I’m going to bust out in one of my most favorite raps, “Alright, stop, calibrate and listen… ” [Vanilla Ice] Listen, hear, it is not a brand new invention, rather a humble way to communicate with other human beings.

5. Blowing up and clamming up. Ungodly anger is pride. In anger that blows or clams one will often justify their position and blame another for the wrongdoing. Justification of self leads to denial of our own complicity or wrongdoing. Deal with your anger and quit blaming others for it.

6. Irritability and impatience. The root of impatience in my life is pride. When we are unable to be patient with another and are irritated, it demonstrates a haughty view of self. “My time and talents are not worth your investment.” We feel that our views, time or needs are more important than the other persons.

7. Lack of submissive attitude. Submission is the voluntary placement of oneself under the influence, control or authority of another. Pride says, “I can do it better than they can. If I were in charge things would be different.” Maybe so. Yet when one pledges their submission to you or another, yet is critical or bucking that authority, then pride is in coming out of hiding [like words about our President].

8. Who do you think you are–attitude. Have you ever worked or lived with someone who won’t receive any negative or corrective feedback? This is pride. Were Adam and Eve were confronted by God in the garden they passed the blame-buck. Own up to confrontation and learn from it.

9. Receiving correction but do not changing. Some receive correction and say thank you for the feedback, but never change. This too is pride. The individual is placating and people-pleasing, nodding their head and telling you what you wanted to hear but not really taking the feedback to heart. Ones ride with prevent them from truly changing.

10. Boast about your badges. A good friend of mine requires everyone to call him ‘Mr.’, saying that he has deservedly earned the title. Demanding that others call you ‘doctor’ or ‘pastor’ or ‘sir’ is usually a way of making you ‘one up’ and them ‘one down’. This shade of pride hungers for approval and starves for recognition, “Hey, look at me dad? Look at me son? Look at my long list of credentials, crowns, coronations…” Pride fuels the requirement to respect the badge.

11. Stubbornness. Pride exerts one’s own will and is not easily persuaded, difficult to handle or resistant. The root issue of stubbornness is willfulness, which is ‘I want what I want when I want it’. You think you have rights, well are you willing to give up your rights for another?

12. Comparisons and competition. 2 Corinthians 10:12 makes it clear that comparing oneself with others is foolish. “I wish is was more like…I wish you were more like…” How about, “I wish I/you were more like Christ!” Comparison is a form of competition. The motive of a comparing heart is pride.

Pride is a powerful beast that wants to control you. Be careful to let him in your cave. Once he is in he will be at home to stay, and it is difficult to sweep him away.