For further reflection...
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
This post was written by Henri Nouwen. You can find his website here: henrinouwen.org
Dying is a gradual diminishing and final vanishing over the horizon of life. When we watch a sailboat leaving port and moving toward the horizon, it becomes smaller and smaller until we can no longer see it. But we must trust that someone is standing on a faraway shore seeing that same sailboat become larger and larger until it reaches its new harbor. Death is a painful loss. When we return to our homes after a burial, our hearts are in grief. But when we think about the One standing at the other shore eagerly waiting to welcome our beloved friend into a new home, a smile can break through our tears.
For further reflection...
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
This post was written by Henri Nouwen. You can find his website here: henrinouwen.org
Jesus is not a sad victim of a fallen world or a victim of a gruesome plot. Good Friday is not a tragedy but a triumph. The perfect plan that God set in motion in the Garden of Eden is now finally coming to fulfillment. God wanted us, his imagers, to bring the world back to the Garden of Eden, but we couldn’t. We tried. We kept creating false gods. We kept wanting to be independent from God, thinking we could do it without Him, but we can’t. Only He can bring peace and redemption.
Think of Passion Week as a chess board. He was thinking outside the realm of two dimensions. God was playing in 3-D where Jesus' contemporaries were playing in 2-D. The Pharisees thought they “had” him, that they were in control, manipulating the "pieces" (checkmate).
But they lost the game before they started, primarily because they were playing based on their own understanding (reason and rules) and not trusting in the Lord, by faith (what they couldn't see). The Pharisees couldn't see the moves that God was making, had made (in the past) and would make (in the future).
Jesus managed every situation, every person, allowing events to happen to get Him where He needed to be – nailed to the cross – for my salvation.
As I move forward and look into the future, Jesus is already there. He is already moving pieces around (or allowing them to be moved around) in different dimensions. My obedience to Him, my surrender and Lordship, and abiding with Him will bring me to the place He wants me to be and transform me into the person He always intended. Just like with Jesus, the point is to get me to where He wants me.
The dimensional aspect is that I may need to allow God to reconcile things in my past that I am holding onto, that I feel are dear to me or just wounds that prevent me from moving forward – to take advantage of whatever it is that Jesus is creating for me in the future. (Jesus tried to get the Pharisees to reconcile their past) God is viewing the totality of my life from His 3-D perfective, while I can only see 2-D. Why? Because God is outside of our time and space…
We can look at the future as “next week”, “next year”, and so forth, but as I contemplate Scripture, I can see that God was “playing 3-D chess” over thousands of years.
Yes, I may have to go through trials, similar to what happened to Jesus on Friday. I may have people deny me; I may have family and friends deride me, say bad things about me, even abandon me. All things Jesus went through on Friday. All this may happen to me. If I consider myself a follower (disciple) of Jesus, why wouldn’t I have a similar “Friday” in my life?
Sunday’s promise is my spiritual Promised Land -- better than I can imagine!! I’ve never been there before, but he gave me the GPS – the Holy Spirit. Now all I have to do is sync with Him and follow Him as He leads me to live the abundant life He planned for me.
This post was written by Disciplers Training International.
You can find their website here: disciplers.org
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Ephesians 5:6
Paul continues to encourage the church in Ephesus to avoid the pagan practices of the world. This city was full of pagan worship, especially in regard to the goddess Artemis or Diana. The great temple was in the middle of the city, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Notice here that God is not upset at the sinner, but at the one who might, through deception, try to hurt those who are growing in their faith. These are the people who may have been mocking the new believers or trying to distract them into other types of worship. They had empty words, a faith that would leave people with nothing. The souvenir salesmen in Ephesus were furious because the Christian revival was cutting into their business. One can imagine that they began to come up with elaborate schemes to get the people back to Diana’s temple and to investing in worthless trinkets. These were empty words which drew people away to destruction and selfish gain for those hawking their goods. These were the ones who face the wrath of God; those who are willing to allow their own selfishness to bring about the fall of others.
Those who intentionally deceive God’s innocent children make God angry.
When we think about the salesmen of Ephesus we may nod our heads in agreement. Of course, that kind of behavior is extremely bad and they were bad people. The problem is that some of this behavior may be happening, even today, but maybe not quite as blatant. Whenever we sell someone on cheap Christianity, we are in danger of leading them down the wrong path, and of angering God.
It’s far too easy to tell people on a Christianity that doesn’t cost you very much. It seems that regular church attendance for discipleship isn’t that important anymore. Nor is tithing. Nor is helping other people come to Christ. Five minutes or less in prayer and devotions will cover you — no problem. Engaging in the practices of the world won’t be a stumbling block to you or to other vulnerable individuals!
Why are we believing these lies? Because we live in an instant and disposable world that doesn’t have high expectations for followers of Christ. And, unfortunately we are believing the lies and going astray, and this makes God angry. But it’s those who are perpetuating the lies that are frustrating God. Those in spiritual leadership in the church, both lay and clergy, need to be held accountable for the ways in which they are discipling others. There is a price to pay for serious discipleship; we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Empty words that sound easy will lead us nowhere.
Lord, the challenge to follow you faithfully remains before us day after day. Help us to follow you on this Lenten journey, living a life of sacrifice for your sake. Amen.
This post was written by Rev Carla Sunburg. You can find her original post here: reflectingtheimage.blogspot.com/2018/02/what-makes-god-angry.html
Passive aggression is a common behavior pattern that arises in all kinds of relationships. It’s always harmful, but in marriages, it’s especially painful.
Passive-aggressive behavior can be a simple as a dishonest, “I’m fine,” followed by a period of pouting and unpleasant behavior (slamming cabinets and drawers, angrily manhandling items around the house, giving you the silent treatment, etc.). Or it can go as deep as deliberate sabotage between spouses.
Luckily, these harmful patterns can be overcome with observation, self-examination, and the willingness to get help. And if you think your spouse might be passive-aggressive, there are ways to cope while you observe his or her behaviors. Let’s dive in.
1. LEARN TO IDENTIFY YOUR SPOUSE’S PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORS.
Every passive-aggressive person operates a little differently, but there’s one rule they all adhere to: they are not overt. They behave and appear to be outwardly supportive or content, but they consistently harm you or your relationship in ways that aren’t always easy to pinpoint. And deep inside, they might actually resent you.
In many cases, passive aggression goes much deeper than the common “I’m fine” scenario. If you think your spouse might have passive-aggressive tendencies, it could be helpful to ask yourself:
2. UNDERSTAND WHERE PASSIVE-AGGRESSION COMES FROM.
While there’s no excuse for any kind of aggressive behavior, it’s helpful to understand why your spouse is repeating these patterns. On a low level, passive aggression could be the result of your spouse’s fear to speak up and tell you what they want. Instead, they find underhanded ways of getting it, even if that means it could be hurtful to you in the process.
We commonly observe the following underlying issues in the couples we encounter who deal with passive-aggressive patterns:
3. ACCEPT THE SITUATION FOR WHAT IT IS.
Woodrow Wilson once said, “Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.” We believe this also applies to marriages. If you’ve determined that your spouse is acting out in passive-aggressive ways, you will have also realized that your spouse’s actions are not self-sacrificing. Rather, they sacrifice parts of you on a regular basis: your peace, your progress, and your success.
It’s painful to accept that your spouse is operating within a passive-aggressive pattern. After all, they act loyal, accommodating, and sacrificial. They say they love you, and might even brag about you to their friends and co-workers. But if you’ve noticed that your spouse then finds subtle ways to sabotage and undermine you, it’s time to trust your instincts and accept the reality of the situation.
The first thing to do as you accept this reality is to remind yourself that deep down, we all have the potential for acting in passive-aggressive ways. While this doesn’t excuse your spouse, it does help cultivate empathy.
Second, let go of how you think things “should” be. While ideally, marriage is meant to be a partnership and a safe haven for two people who love each other, there are situations and difficulties that require a different perspective.
4. DON’T MAKE EXCUSES FOR YOUR SPOUSE OR JUSTIFY THEIR BEHAVIOR.
Part of accepting the situation for what it is involves not making excuses for your spouse’s behavior, to yourself or anyone else. Maybe no one else sees the passive aggression; in that case, train yourself to stop inwardly justifying it. If someone else observes the behavior and points it out to you, don’t try to explain it away.
People who behave passive-aggressively hate being “found out” more than almost anything else. If you have the opportunity to let your spouse know that you know what they’re doing, do it carefully. Stand up for yourself or anyone else affected by their behaviors. Being clear about what behaviors you will not accept may open the floor for some discussions about the patterns you’ve been experiencing (and it never hurts to seek out a good marriage therapist).
5. SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES.
It hurts deeply to accept that your spouse has passive-aggressive tendencies and might not always have your best interests at heart. Once you’ve come to terms with the dynamic in your relationship right now, start taking steps to set boundaries that protect yourself from further passive-aggressive behaviors.
Depending on the extent of the issue, you may have to start being selective about what you share with your spouse. Deep thoughts, feelings, and aspirations might not be safe to express. You know your spouse best, so use your judgment going forward. You may find that only certain topics need to be off-limits, rather than a broad change to your communication.
We know this is difficult to read, but now that you know you’re dealing with passive aggression in your marriage, it’s critical to protect yourself. Guard your boundaries and do whatever you can to get help–for both of you.
It will also be important to approach your spouse with vulnerability and empathy. You may not be able to get them to admit to their passive aggression, but you might be able to start a conversation that eventually leads to a discussion of feelings of inadequacy or loss of control. In this way, you might find opportunities to speak truth to your spouse’s abilities and talents, breathing life into those areas where they feel less-than.
With the right approach and professional support, you can overcome passive-aggressive patterns and build a happier, healthier marriage together.
This post was written by Drs Les and Leslie Parrott. For their original post, go to: www.symbis.com/blog/5-ways-to-cope-with-a-passive-aggressive-spouse/
Whether your spouse is pursuing a career promotion, a job change, or a personal goal, it’s incredibly painful to watch them set themselves up for failure. We want to help, so we throw ourselves into offering advice and assistance…only to realize we can’t change the situation. While we all self-sabotage at one time or another, some individuals seem to be caught in a pattern. If this sounds like your spouse, you’re not alone.
Self-sabotage is easiest to identify when your expectations (or in this case, your spouse’s) don’t align with your efforts—or the outcome. At the core, self-sabotage is rooted in fear, low expectations of yourself or others, and low confidence in your own abilities. In light of that, it’s important to understand that when your spouse self-sabotages, what you’re really seeing is fear in action.
You may have already pointed out the patterns you’ve noticed to your spouse, but that’s often not enough to influence the ongoing cycle he or she is trapped in. So while you can’t necessarily make your spouse stop self-sabotaging, there are things you can do to cope with the situation. Let’s dive in.
1. REALIZE THE OUTCOME ISN’T YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.
As married couples, we naturally become emotionally invested in seeing one another succeed in all areas. You love your spouse, so you want good things for him or her. You want to see her succeed in her business, or to celebrate with him when he finished his novel. So it’s hard to let go of that emotional investment when it’s clear that your spouse is creating a dire, self-fulfilling prophecy that will ultimately end in delay or failure of their dream.
When you want so badly to see your spouse succeed, failure affects you almost as profoundly as it does them. The fear of watching your spouse fail drives you to offer external motivation—which your spouse may or may not appreciate. If that’s the case, all you can do is reevaluate the situation to see what you can do to make things easier on yourself. And that begins by relinquishing any responsibility or ownership you might feel over the outcome.
2. DON’T BE AN ENABLER.
Let’s say your spouse has been talking for years about getting a better job with better pay, but her expectations aren’t proportional to her efforts. So you’ve taken it upon yourself to help her search online databases and fill out job applications…but you’ve noticed that she doesn’t do a thorough job with her applications, or lets them fall by the wayside completely. When you try to mention the problems you’re seeing in her follow-through—which lead to one rejection after another—she gets angry and accuses you of being picky and demanding.
By continuing to conduct your spouse’s job search for her, you’re enabling her to keep self-sabotaging. On top of that, you’re giving her a chance to blame you for her difficulties. Rather than continuing to “help,” it may be time to step back and stop doing the work for her. By acting as an enabler, you’ve made it comfortable for your spouse to continue her destructive pattern.
Sometimes, we have to learn lessons the hard way. In some ways, failure can be a great motivator; if you’ve found that your spouse won’t allow you to be a motivator, it may be time to step back and let things play out. It’s possible your spouse needs to feel the discomfort of rejection.
Recognize the situation for what it is, and don’t make excuses for your spouse’s actions. Ending your own enabling cycle will give you a chance to focus on your own goals while your spouse sorts things out for herself.
3. REINFORCE AND VALIDATE POSITIVE ATTITUDES AND ACTIONS WHEN YOU OBSERVE THEM.
When your spouse takes positive steps toward accomplishing a goal (like completing a book), that’s the time to give him positive reinforcement. Praise him for his accomplishments, however “small” they may seem. Always be receptive and engage in active listening, but really lean in to those positive moments when you sense he’s feeling good about the steps he’s taking toward his goal.
Rather than continuing to feed negative attention into those patterns you don’t want to see, pour your energy into your spouse when he’s taking constructive action. Be vocal, encourage, and celebrate when he rejects self-sabotaging behavior in favor of healthier behaviors. Let him see and feel how happy it makes you to see him taking positive action and displaying a can-do, persevering attitude as he pursues his dream.
4. GET TO THE ROOT OF THE FEAR.
If you think your spouse might be open to talking with you about his or her fears, get vulnerable yourself. You could say something like, “It makes me sad to see you struggling to achieve your dream. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?”
There’s no guarantee your spouse will open up, but if they do, it may present an opportunity to drill down into the fears that might be holding them back and causing them to self-sabotage. If you’re able to dig deep together, it may open the door for a breakthrough.
Not everyone is receptive to the idea of talking with a professional counselor or therapist, but if your spouse’s fears are deeply rooted and destructive, therapy could also provide your spouse with the tools he or she needs to cope with the fear—and succeed in spite of it.
BONUS: PRAY FOR YOUR SPOUSE.
It’s easy to forget that the power of prayer is healing and transformative. Don’t underestimate what praying for your spouse can do to improve the situation you’ve found yourselves in. While it’s hard to not take an active role in helping your spouse break the cycle, prayer is a great way to work on his or her behalf behind the scenes. Through prayer, ask for your spouse’s patterns of self-sabotage be healed, and ask for him or her to be given a healthier perspective on the situation they’re facing.
Don’t neglect to pray for yourself, either. It can be particularly helpful to ask for patience, perspective on the patterns you’ve observed in your spouse, and opportunities to take constructive action for yourself while you wait for the situation to resolve.
This post was written by Drs Les and Leslie Parrott. For their original post, go to: www.symbis.com/blog/4-things-spouse-self-sabotages/
To grow together as soul mates, you and your spouse need to tend to one another—and your marriage–on a spiritual level. Without working together to feed your souls, your bond will remain surface-level, putting your marriage at risk for falling apart when restlessness strikes. But when you anchor yourselves spiritually and grow your soul-bond with intention, you allow God’s presence to fill your relationship.
Spiritual nurturing can be achieved by building simple practices into your marriage, then making them habits. Caring for the soul of your marriage doesn’t have to be boring, monotonous, or complicated; on the contrary, the simplicity with which we can connect closer to God and one another is comforting and uplifting. Incorporate each of these practices into your marriage, and watch your relationship transform into something even more beautiful than it already is.
1. PERFORM ACTS OF SERVICE TOGETHER
Marriage has a funny way of showing us how selfish we can be sometimes–just in our everyday life at home. A healthy marriage demands that we put one another first, letting go of that selfishness. By doing that, we begin performing acts of service for each other.
But take that one step further: working together, as a team, to help others in a shared experience helps us deepen our bond with our spouse. When we do good for others, the acts pull us out of our own heads and our own life and give us fresh perspective on how it feels to truly show God’s love to the world. We become part of something bigger than ourselves.
On many levels, it’s fulfilling to reach out to others, but it also nurtures our marriage and deepens our bond on a soul level. Reaching out in service to others cultivates intimacy between you and your spouse; not only does the act of service itself deepen your bond, the process of identifying and deciding which needs to fill and who to help also binds you closer together.
Some acts of service you and your spouse could consider providing include:
Performing acts of service for others doesn’t need to be advertised; it can be done in secret. And sometimes, secretly touching another life is more fulfilling than broadcasting your act to the world. Doing good in secret deepens the intimacy of the act, creating special memories you’ll cherish together for years to come.
2. WORSHIP TOGETHER
Worship is a dedicated time to slow down together, recenter your lives, stabilize, and renew your connection with God. When you worship together in community with other believers, you have a spiritual support system like no other. Couples who attend church together nurture the soul of their marriage.
Singing, praying, and learning from God’s word together revitalizes our spirits, and there’s nothing like coming together with friends who share our beliefs. Knowing we’re among other married couples and individuals who are also Christ-followers strengthens our resolve to remain strong in the faith ourselves, encouraging us as we move into the coming week.
We encourage you and your spouse to find a church home where you can anchor yourselves and establish relationships with other believers who will build you up and with whom you can take your spiritual journey. Worshiping together can transform our marriages, bring us closer to God, and teach us to love like Him.
3. PRAY TOGETHER
Married couples are happiest when they pray together, according to recent research by sociologist Andrew Greeley. They’re twice as likely to describe a high level of romance in their marriages, and they’re even more likely to report higher sexual satisfaction in their relationships than couples who don’t place an emphasis on prayer. In fact, frequency of prayer in your marriage is more important than frequency of sex in determining the health of your relationship.
Prayer connects us on a soul level, transcending superficial bonding and establishing us as true soul mates. You can stay busy in church and perform acts of service regularly, but if you’re not taking time to pray together, your marriage will suffer.
Prayer requires vulnerability; some couples are more comfortable will being vulnerable in front of one another than others. If you or your spouse has a difficult time with feeling uncomfortable with praying in front of one another, try reciting the Lord’s Prayer or dedicating a small amount of time every day for silent prayer together. The most important thing is to establish and practice that essential, soul-nurturing habit of communing with God together.
This post was written by Drs Les and Leslie Parrott. You can find their original post here: www.symbis.com/blog/3-ways-nurture-soul-marriage/
I want to talk to you a few minutes about the fullness of Christ. We read in the 1st chapter of John and at the 16th verse, these wonderful words, "And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." If this text means anything, it means that every grace that budded and grew and blossomed and bore fruit in the life of Jesus Christ, we are to have a like grace in our life. It means that whatever Jesus was full of, that. you are to be filled with, or whatever He was filled with, you are to be full of, and if we can find out what He was full of, then we will have no trouble in finding out what we are to be filled with. In making this discovery we will find the key that will unlock the door of the whole situation and let us into the storehouse of the fullness of Christ. Now in Col. 1st chapter 19th verse St. Paul says, "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." In this quotation we have a hint at what we are about to receive, and so we read again in Col. 2d chapter 9th verse where the apostle says, "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Now this text tells us that the triune Godhead dwells in Christ. Now in connection with this text in Eph. 3d chapter 17th verse Paul says that "Christ is to dwell in our hearts by faith." Now if the Godhead dwells in Christ, and Christ dwells in us, we will understand what He means when He said, "And of his fullness have all we received." But we will make that point a little clearer or some one might say, "Does the Godhead dwell in Christ?" And we say "yes," and prove it by these two Scriptures. First, in II Cor. 5th chapter 19th verse we read, "To wit that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." Now here is God the Father in God the Son and God the Son in humanity, and the Son in humanity is God the Father, reconciling the Father and the human family.
The next Scripture that we will use to prove that the Godhead dwells in Christ, is the third chapter of John and the 34th verse, we read that "God the Father gave not the Spirit by measure unto Jesus." That proves that Jesus Christ was so great that He could comprehend the Godhead.
But that isn't all: when we think of the fullness of Christ, the very statement means even more than we have named. For we read again in Col. 3d chapter 3d verse, "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Then we understand what Paul meant in 1st Cor. 1st chapter and 13th verse where he said. "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." And further we read in Luke 1st chapter 15th verse where the Lord said to the disciples, "For I will give you a mouth and a wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist."
Now we have noticed a few things at least to show what it means to us to be filled with all the fullness of Christ. Again we notice when we think of the fullness of Christ and that we are to be filled with everything that was in Him, that He was full of gentleness, and if the Book means anything, it means that we are to be gentle as He was gentle. Again we notice that He was full of patience. He never manifested a spell of impatience. He was patient with Pontius Pilate when He was on trial for His life, and He was patient when Peter drew his sword and cut off a man's ear; He was patient with James and John when they wanted to call down fire and burn up people who did not want to hear Jesus preach. So you see if we have His fullness, we will have a good supply of patience. He was also full of purity. Not an unclean word was ever uttered by the Son of God.
He has been called the "Lily White" Christ and if we are full of what He was filled with, we will have in stock a large supply of purity. Christ was filled with the spirit of charity. We read that He gave His life for the world, and His clothes to His enemies, and His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. So if we are filled with what He was full of, we will have plenty of charity toward the other fellow.
Robinson, Reuben A. (Bud). The Collected Works of 'Uncle Bud' Robinson (Kindle Locations 3804-3833). Jawbone Digital. Kindle Edition.
Two men may be in a lifeboat, and both being in the boat are therefore equally safe; yet one may be full of fear, because he understands neither the qualities of the boat nor the principles upon which it is constructed; he sees the waves rolling, and he fears he shall be drowned; while the other man, well acquainted with the principles of construction and knowing also those laws by which it is governed, has peace because he is confident.
So it is with regard to the character of the Lord Jesus. If you have been taught by the Spirit of God to know who Christ is--to know the preciousness of His blood--to know its saving power--to know its superiority even to Satan, then you may rest under His shadow with great delight, and perfect confidence and comfort.
But, at the same time, if you are truly trusting in Christ, although your faith be feeble, you are no less secure. The timid man is as safe in the boat as the courageous man, because they depend, not upon their frames and feelings, but their safety consists in the fact of being in the boat.
So shall who are really trusting in the Lord Jesus are equally secure, although there may be great differences in the power of faith.
J.W. Reeve, M.A., page 19 in One Thousand Evangelistic Illustrations, edited by Webb, A. (1924). New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers
"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'"
Matthew 8: 23-27, NIV
We are accustomed to thinking of water as “good.” After all, it covers most of the earth (around 71%) and is also essential for health – our bodies can live much longer without food than without water. Those of us who fish or snorkel know that amazing and exciting things can be found in the exploration of water.
However, water can also be frightening. A basic human fear is a fear of drowning. There are things in the water, especially in the depths, that can cause us great harm. Floods, hurricanes, and tidal waves can do tremendous damage to property and to life. The seas have historically been a source of mystery and have evoked frightening tales from Moby Dick to Jaws.
In Genesis 1:1, the Spirit of God “hovers over the face of the deep.” God’s Spirit conquers the chaos of the dark waters and brings about life. In the New Testament, Jesus calms the raging storm (Matthew 8:23-27), and He also comes walking on the stormy waters in the presence of the disciples, who are frightened on a boat (Matthew 14:22-33). Despite the mysteries and fears that water evokes, God demonstrates His mastery and His calming presence regardless of how rough the waters become.
Perhaps the final sign of God’s conquering the mysterious deep is that the universal Christian sign of a relationship with God is baptism! We step into the waters of baptism without fear and allow the waters to overtake us because the most frightening part of “the depths of the sea” – death – has been defeated. Our baptism is the sign and seal of God’s ability and willingness to move us from fear to faith, from death to new life.
As the new calendar year begins, let us join together to celebrate new life in Christ, and to pray for those who have not yet experienced the defeat of sin and death. Let us pray for more to come to the waters of baptism, publicly declaring the cleansing by the Holy Spirit of sin, guilt, and death.
Almighty God, you delivered your chosen people from slavery in Egypt, through the waters of the Red Sea, and established with them a covenant of your unfailing love. Mercifully grant that we may be delivered from the slavery of sin through the new covenant, and obtain the promise of eternal life which you have given us in your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ.
(Adapted from the Australian Prayer Book)
This post was written by Charles W. Christian who is managing editor of Holiness Today. You can find his original post here: www.holinesstoday.org/into-the-water
Eph. 4:25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Paul continues to educate the church as to her role as a community of faith. Most certainly this is in the development of Christ-like disciples and a recognition that we are responsible for one another. It is in this context that he takes on the topic of anger. Most have interpreted his words in verse 26 as referring to righteous indignation. In other words, there are some things about which Christians should become angry. That’s not quite the case because Paul really is just talking about good-old anger that we experience when someone has done something wrong, usually, to us. It’s actually a warning that in the midst of this situation you may respond with anger, but don’t let it go too far. Don’t let your anger get the best of you and lead you into sin.
What follows is a prescription for dealing with the anger. A Christ-follower is to try to make peace, even with those who may have aroused him/her to anger. Go to that individual and try to be reconciled, and do it immediately, even before the sun goes down. This is because Paul understands what happens when we begin to fume all night long. A dark cloud begins to envelope us and — we give the devil a little space. That space begins to steal our joy and so we don’t give in to anger. Anger leads to evil talk, and often to tearing down other people. Again, the dark cloud enters when we succumb to negativity but there is a way to fight it — by speaking with grace. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we begin to push him out by giving ground to negativity. Deal with your anger and bitterness and instead, respond with love, forgiving the one who has hurt you, because we know that Christ has forgiven us.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Something just sets us off and we know that we have been wronged. In the US there’s a new commercial out for cold sore medication. The person with the cold sore is obsessed with this sore and believes that the only thing everyone sees is the cold sore. They can’t hear conversations because all they know is that they have a cold sore. They become unaware of others around the because they have a coldsore. Life becomes consumed with dealing with the cold sore. And in the same way, we can be offended and become angry. Instead of being present in the moment, we think “angry!” We try to read and the words pass before our eyes, but we don’t know what we have read. Our mind is busy rethinking the conversation and we are “angry.” We lay down at night to go to bed and the only thing that goes through our mind is that we are “angry” as we rehearse our potential responses over and over again. If we don’t deal with the anger we can become obsessed and our joy is stolen from us.
Anger can easily destroy every good thing that God wants to do in and through our lives. I don’t think that Paul was saying that it’s easy to deal with anger. He determines to specifically address the issue. Followers of Jesus Christ should speak to one another in holy love and admonish one another to work through their anger. Paul knew the pitfall of anger was sin.
I like the way that Paul moves into the positive and gives us resourceful ways in which to deal with anger.
Angry — share something with someone who is needy. It’s hard to stay angry when you discover that there are people dealing with issues larger than yours.
Angry — spend a whole day not saying anything negative. Always say good things to the people around and you and build them up. Be intentional!
Angry — share grace with someone who needs it. Don’t be judgmental because Jesus has extended abundant grace to all of us.
Angry — recognize that you can let it go so far that you will grieve the Holy Spirit. Now that’s getting into dangerous territory so allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you in your pain.
Angry — be kind to the next person you encounter. Speak with tenderness to that customer service agent on the phone who is not responsible for your flight delay!
Angry — think about how much God has forgiven you, and then forgive the one who has hurt you.
No one ever said that this would be easy, but it’s part of the Christian journey of discipleship. As followers of Jesus Christ we must learn to deal with our sin, individually, and corporately. We have a responsibility as a community of faith to shape one another through our anger and pain. The church is the body of Christ where all emotions are experienced, and when the body is healthy, there is natural healing. This is God’s plan for Christ’s body — the church.
Lord, may anger never steal my joy. Amen.
This post was written by Rev Carla Sandburg. You can find her original post here: reflectingtheimage.blogspot.com/2018/02/lets-talk-about-anger.html
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