Hidden Anger Checklist

Mask, Anonymous, Face, Panel, Internet, Commitment
Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

But that is not how you came to know Christ, assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity.
-Ephesians 4:17-27

Checklist for Hidden Anger

1. Procrastination in the completion of imposed tasks.

2. Perpetual or habitual lateness.

3. A liking for sarcastic or ironic humor.

4. Sarcasm, cynicism or flippancy in conversation.

5. Over-politeness, constant cheerfulness.

6. Frequent sighing.

7. Smiling while hurting.

8. Over-controlled monotone speaking voice.

9. Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams.

10. Difficulty in getting to sleep or sleeping through the night.

11. Boredom, apathy, loss of interest in things you are usually enthusiastic about.

12. Slowing down of movements.

13. Getting tired more easily than usual.

14. Excessive irritability over trifles.

15. Getting drowsy at inappropriate times.

16. Sleeping more than usual — maybe 12 to 14 hours a day.

17. Waking up tired rather than rested and refreshed.

18. Clenched jaws — especially while sleeping.

19. Facial tics, spasmodic foot movements, habitual fist clenching and similar repeated physical acts done unintentionally or unawares.

20. Grinding of the teeth — especially while asleep.

21. Chronically stiff or sore neck.

22. Chronic depression — extended periods of feeling down for no reason.

Author Unknown

Why God?, Honesty, Anger, and Lament: Psalm 74:1


A Maskil of Asaph.
God, why have you abandoned us forever?
Why does your anger smolder at the sheep of your own pasture?
-Psalm 74:1

I learned and taught not to ask God why.  But here it is in scripture.  We have permission to ask why.  But we don’t have a license to judge God. 

The negative on the why question is that God won’t usually answer that, but what he wants to do is to reveal himself to us (his character) in our situation.  It is natural to cry out, “Why?”, when a bad thing happens; and that is what we have here in Psalm 74.

A Maskil of Asaph.
Why have you rejected us forever, God?
Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?
-Psalm 74:1

Psalm 74 is a brutally honest prayer, by someone who believes in God’s power to restore, and is a true patriot; but is honest to God about the bad way it is, right now.

(I wrote about Asaph, and an introduction to Psalm 74, in my post, Psalm 74:8)

Why have you rejected us forever, God?

Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?
-Psalm 74:1

Notes from Don Williams:

There is a moral order after all, and God is to be known in judgement as well as redemption.  This means that life is no neutral zone where the will of God is inoperative.  Rather, life is a battle zone where the will of God and the will of human beings (and the devil himself) are in continual conflict.  Thus Israel experiences not God’s indifference or her own ambiguity, but she feels God’s judgement when the roof falls in.  As Augustine puts it, if we reject God’s mercy we are only left with His wrath.

Commentators identify this psalm as a corporate lament.  When the roof falls in upon us, we are not to despair and indulge in the nihilism of the age.  Rather, we are to pray.  In Jesus we know that beyond God’s judgement is His grace.  Here is our covenant, sealed in the Savior’s blood.  And as God restores His church we too will praise Him.

(Don Williams, The Communicators Commentary, 1989, Psalms 73-150. )

Why is this verse and this whole psalm and many others like it, in the Bible?  Is God a rejecting God and does God get angry with his people?

Is Jesus different than the Father, or the Holy Spirit?  Is God the Father prone to grouchiness?  Are pictures, projected images of God, that aren’t exactly accurate; allowed to be part of inspired scripture?  Is God so secure with himself that he permits us to misunderstand who he is?

Does God love us so much that he cares more about our being honest than being correct?  Isn’t religion about being righteous, “right-ness”?  Self-righteousness is the antithesis of a loving relationship with God.
God wants us to come as we are and let him make us righteous.  Becoming devoted.

God’s religion for us is devotion to Him, with a growing spirituality, where we are being transformed by Him, in an ongoing relationship.  In this, we are friends and lovers of God.  Friends and true loves are honest with one another.  This is what God has always had for us.

We want to be honest to God, because honesty is the basis for an intimate relationship.  God already knows how we hurt and what we feel.  When we tell Him it helps us and gives Him pleasure.  Friends and lovers tell each other what is bothering them.  It’s odd not to share problems.  All that is to say that we can tell God how it is, straight up.
Examples:

“Why have you rejected us?”

“I am depressed!”

“I want to be married!”

“I lost my job!”

“I have no church!”

“I can’t find a good church!”

“I am sick!”

“We are divided!”

“My calling was aborted!”

“People hate me!”

A Maskil of Asaph.
Why have you rejected us forever, God? 

Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?
-Psalm 74:1

Are you still mad at us and are we still in a time-out?  There is a way to say this, to God, that is not blasphemous, that does not take God’s name in vain.

There are things we can not know or can not understand. But we can always ask. We are allowed to be disappointed and even angry. We just can’t judge God.

Questioning and being very upset are what you do with someone you love and you know loves you.
It would be odd not to.

“Johnny Get Angry”, is a song that conveys how anger is a form of true love. Passivity and indifference are not love. We sometimes have sharp words and argue with those we love. The couple who never fight may not have a very passionate marriage.

God’s anger at his kids is not abusive or hateful.

“Esau I hated”, means, “that guy did something very distasteful to me.”  It’s like hating brussel sprouts or hating hypocrisy.  It is normal to be angry with someone you love.  God is that way and he made us to be lovingly angry too.

If God is angry with us, it is based on his love, his care.  And we want to know why, because we love him.  

To not ever become angry with someone either means you don’t care or there’s really no depth to the relationship.  We get angry about things relating to the ones we care about

Christian couples may delude themselves that fighting looks bad (is unspiritual), so we don’t.   What’s the result?

But God does get angry at us and he models us getting angry at one another.  There is healthy anger (good and godly), and unhealthy (destructive and sinful) anger.  It is written, “Be angry and sin not”.  But, we live in an angry society and it’s the destructive kind called rage.

Learning how to be angry is part of learning how to love.  I remember a lady who said she was, “going to get up in God’s face”, and tell him how upset she was.  Some people were taken aback by this statement, but she was expressing healthy anger towards someone she loves deeply.

God is love.  But God also gets angry.  If we think God is angry, we might want to ask him about it.  Are you angry and if so, why?  “Those whom I love, I rebuke”.  The rainbow is a symbol of???  (Genesis 9)

There is a proverb that says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love”.  This is wisdom from God and how God wants us to function with one another and towards him.  Flattery is a great sin.  Real worship is not flattery, but raw, honesty.  The highest form of worship is lament.

We ought to tell God the truth.  We can’t get healed or get a plan on what to do next, if we do not start with honesty.  God is not a person who has, “things he doesn’t want to hear”.  He actually wants to hear you tell him the things you are afraid to say, that are offensive to you.

A Maskil of Asaph.
Why have you rejected us forever, God? 
Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?
-Psalm 74:1

This is an honest prayer.  We know that God does not reject his people forever, here on earth, in history.
But the psalmist felt this way and said it, wrote it, probably set it to music and invited others to sing a sad song.

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Here’s a link to article for the image just above:

Listen Up and Slow Down

My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 

-James 1:19-20

Listen up and slow down.

I grew up learning to interrupt people who were talking.  And I learned to think about what I was going to say next, while the other person was sharing.  I also would get to the end of my rope fast, in stressful situations.
But God changed me.  I ended up teaching listening skills at my church.  Not because I became the crowned expert, but because I became a listener.

My assignment for many years, was to listen to people tell their stories, over and over, and not to interrupt.  Today, I am still learning to listen, just ask my family.

And I want to hear God’s voice more than anything.  And God mostly speaks to me in the still small voice, that could be dismissed as a passing thought.  I am on a lifelong still cultivating hearing God and being still to hear God.
I wrote a blog a year or two ago about learning to be silent before God for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, while intentionally setting an issue in my life before him.  I think that being quiet before God is a very good thing and beneficial.
But throughout my life, I have mostly talked to God, and not heard much back.  And I have learned that God is a really good listener.  I have also come to believe that God really loves it when I talk to him.

One of the most loving things you can do for a person is simply listen to them.  God is love and God is a listener.

And God does not have a problem with my running through the same stories many times, asking about the same thing, or requesting something over and over.  He actually likes it.  And I think that God would like me to talk to him  more and listen to him more, even if I don’t hear anything back.
I believe that God sets the example for conversation, and is very quick to listen and very slow to speak.  God is patient and rarely interrupts and has perfect self control to speak when it is the right time.   And when talk to God and do not hear a response, it is rather an invitation to keep talking and listening.

And when I don’t hear God, I don’t have to fill in the blanks, but the silence is filled by what I know about the character of God.  God is love, God is good, and God cares.  He is merciful and kind.  He loves me.

What does it mean to be slow to anger?  It means forbearance.  Some people are irritated easily by everything.  They are not slow to anger.
There is extroverted and introverted anger, explosive and implosive.  Anger is not a bad thing.  We get angry when we feel a loss or injustice.  
James links speaking fast with with getting angry fast and says don’t do it.  Somebody says or does something and one person reacts while another one holds back and does not even have a need to react.
For example, when driving and someone gets out of their lane, we do need to react and hit the brakes of turn the wheel.  But the constant reacting to everything the other cars do is not good.
I was at a show, at Disneyland’s California Adventure park.  A man right in front of me, put his child up on his shoulders, as the show started, blocking the view.   I took it in a stride.  25 years earlier, I was a different person, at an Amy Grant concert.  I actually yelled, “Sit down!”, at the people that stood up, in front of us.

The admonition to listen up and slow down, is classic Biblical wisdom.  Other philosophers say similar things, like; “We have two ears and only one mouth, that we may hear more and speak less” (Zeno, the founder of Stoicism), or, “Without anger, speaking little, and listening much”, ‘is how a man might rule best’ (Demonax).

James’ command to listen up and slow down, is written in the context of his discussion of trials.  Remember that the letter of James can be summarized as, “Now that you have become a Christian, you have a lot of problems”.

Think about how we talk too much, in anger, when we face trials, troubles, or problems.  We wrongly respond by whining in simmering, bitter, vindictive anger.  Constant complaining is anger.

Instead of reacting in anger, with complaining, and acrimonious bitterness; James says to slow down.  Slow down your reaction, slow down your defensive comeback.  To be growing in righteousness means you don’t constantly defend yourself and demand your rights.

Human anger is when you go after people with words or deeds, without waiting, standing down, or listening.  That is not the way of Christ.  When you act merciless that is exactly wrong.

When Christians protest, they do it because they are angry.  Whether it is complaining about a petty slight or righteous indignation about the government’s handling of an issue.  We get in trouble when we have either an “I am more important than them”, or a, “We are right because we are following what the Bible teaches about this issue!”, self-righteous attitude that puts us on the throne.

We act like we are entitled to our wrath and we are not.  We conflate our interpretations of the Bible, which may be true, with our anger about an issue, giving approval, in our minds, to our quick words, and hot tempers.

And James says, “No, this is not the right way”.  Two examples, from recent times, of Christians who were angry for social justice; but slowed down their talk and their anger; while putting their beliefs into action are Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights movement and Operation Rescue.

Both of these groups did peaceful demonstrations.

Christians are sometimes angry people.  We fight each other and fight the world to get what we want.  And James says that is not the right way for us.

The command for Christians from James, here, is to listen more and talk less; and to stop having such a short fuse on your anger.

Cultivate listening skills.  Listen more.  Listen to people who are different than you

If you are a conservative, listen to liberals and seek to understand them.  And if you are a liberal, same thing.  Listen to the other side.  Listen to people who are on a different part of the church map or theological spectrum.  Listen to people from different races than yours or different cultures.  Just listen.

If you have anger towards people who are different than you, own that and confess it as sin and repent.  If you have a short fuse and complain about every time you are slighted in your life, be honest and admit that is not right.

Move from anger to listening.  See people you disagree with as people that have the image of God, whom God loves.  Move from angry, to tolerate, to celebrate.  And we do not tolerate or celebrate evil.  I am talking about people and what God feels about them and can do with them.

If it feels like a war, and in wars people kill each other, realize that is what you have in your heart.  Change from waring listening.

Even war has rules that civilized countries follow, that are guided by humaneness.  Enemy combatants are captured on the battlefield and not executed.  A lynch-mob mentality is injustice, fueled by unrighteous anger.

Take that same analogy and transfer it to trials and troubles in your life.  See everything that hits you as an opportunity for God to bless you.  When that thing happens to you, God has a gift for you (provision) attached to it.

Move from fighting it to receiving the gift from God and transforming it.

Look up a couple verses before, “be quick to listen and slow to speak”,  and see that God is the gift giver, in trials!  Let’s look at it:


Blessed is the one who endures trials, 

because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life 
that God has promised to those who love him.
No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” 
since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 
But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. 
Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, 
and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 
Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows. 
By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth 
so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: 
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 
for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

If we slow down and listen up, we can begin to find out what the gift is that God has for us in our personal trial.  Not listening, not seeking to discern, but instead reactively talking in anger; nullifies your ability to find and receive God’s gift to you.

We have a trial, and react and talk back, in anger, because we’ve been wronged and are hurting.  We are aggrieved and seek recompense.  And our focus and energies all go towards avenging and vindicating ourselves.  And we miss out on what God wants to do.

Listen up and slow down.

Angry words, thought or spoken, in haste do not produce God’s righteousness in us.  When any trial or negative circumstance happens to us, we need to put on the brakes on our words and slow down.  Instead of reacting in anger, we will lean into God, the Father lights, who has a good and perfect gift for us in this.

Listen up and slow down.

(re-edited for clarity and brevity at 17:19 on 7/5/18, PDT)
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Bibliography:

The letter of James and Peter, William Barclay
James, Ralph Martin
The epistle of James and John, Alexander Ross

When Leaders Fall, Be Civil

How the mighty have fallen!

-2 Samuel 1:19b, 25a, 27a
When an influential television evangelist fell, in the late 1980’s; some Christians celebrated.  The cheering was over that fact that God was cleansing his house.  
A better response is, “How the mighty have fallen!”  
David sang a song of lament and had the song distributed to all of Israel.  The song says, “How the mighty have fallen!”  This sentiment is the proper response when leaders, who had great influence, fall from grace, or are exposed in their hypocrisy, betrayal and sedition.
Remember that our brother or sister is never our enemy, even when they continually act like one and treat us as theirs.
The story of Saul’s death, that led to David leading Israel, in mourning and lament, rather than celebration; is recounted in 2 Samuel 1:9 to 2:7.  Saul was mortally wounded, but not yet dead.  An Amalekite man, someone living in Israel, but not an Israelite while still coming under the rules, regulations, faith and practices of Israel: this man killed Saul, at Saul’s behest.
The young Amalekite man killed Saul and then took his crown and royal armband.  He then journeyed to David’s camp and sought a meeting with David, to give these to David.  As soon as David received the bad news about the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, he and all his closest men went into grieving.
After a short time of mourning and fasting, David questioned the young man.  He found out that the man was someone who was living in Israel.  He was accountable to the laws of God, and should have known better.  David immediately had the young man executed for the murder of Saul.

Then he begged me, ‘Stand over me and kill me, for I’m mortally wounded, but my life still lingers.’ So I stood over him and killed him because I knew that after he had fallen he couldn’t survive. I took the crown that was on his head and the armband that was on his arm, and I’ve brought them here to my lord.”

Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and all the men with him did the same. They mourned, wept, and fasted until the evening for those who died by the sword—for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s people, and the house of Israel.

David inquired of the young man who had brought him the report, “Where are you from?”

“I’m the son of a resident alien,” he said. “I’m an Amalekite.”

David questioned him, “How is it that you were not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” Then David summoned one of his servants and said, “Come here and kill him!” The servant struck him, and he died. For David had said to the Amalekite, “Your blood is on your own head because your own mouth testified against you by saying, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”

-2 Samuel 1:9-16
Assisted suicide is not ok.  If an an authority gives an order that goes against God’s orders, we must obey God.  The right thing to do, for the Amalekite man, would have been to stand with Saul and defend him or drag him to shelter, if possible, so that he could die, if he was to die, in peace.
Everything the young Amalekite man did went against God’s laws.  The text makes note of the fact that he was both young and without excuse.  He lived in Israel and the prohibition against murder was well known, and he was young, which did not excuse him.  Perhaps the text is telling us, as the whole book of Proverbs does, that when you are younger, you need to be more careful to learn wisdom and leave folly and gain life experience and not think you know everything, when you do not.
Another notable feature of this story, is that David first mourned.  He mourned first, before trying to assign blame or make a judgement.  He only did the later after he did the former.
David, the warrior, knew how to cry.  That is a huge lesson for us.  Become a warrior, but grieve deeply, when appropriate.  Stoicism is not wisdom, Godly or Christlike.  
David neither reacted in anger nor went into stoic denial.  He mourned and fasted.
Then, after some processing, he interview the young man and had him immediately executed for murder.
David indicted the man from his own words.  You may not kill the one who is the Lord’s.
There was an extreme audacity in the man, in that he thought he was doing the right thing.  The right thing by God?  The right thing by David?  Saul?  No, no and no.
What he did was purely selfish.  It was mercenary.  We can surmise that he was looking out for himself.
He murdered and robbed a dying man, who had mental health issues and was loved by God and David.  The Amalekite was completely deluded to think that this was the right thing to do and that David would congratulate him.
We can become just like this guy and somehow deceive ourselves that sinfulness is ok in certain circumstances.  We kill people, often leaders, with our words.  And we rationalize that it is ok because that person is a heretic, or carnally sinful.
For some Christians, their favorite indoor sport is wishing for the death of leaders, whether Christian (even Catholic) or political.  If you are a self-identified Christian, look at what Jesus said about murder and how religious people commit murder with their words:

For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire. So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

-Matthew 5:20-4
Somehow, we fool or deceive ourselves into thinking we are on God’s side or God is surely on our side, when we bash, trash and kill someone with our words whom we deem to be under God’s judgement or we  rap on about how bad that person is.
When a corrupt leader falls from grace, is exposed, loses God’s protection and is ravaged by the enemy; that is not our time, our cue, to kill them and steal their jewelry and audaciously try to claim a reward.  No.  
David lived in the tension that we are all called to live in, of the prophetic future beckoning, while the present has not given way yet completely.  How to live into our prophetic destiny without ‘helping’ God and letting God develop you in that tension is what we are all called to.
David led the nation in mourning for Saul.  David knew he was called to be king, but the whole nation was not there yet.  They didn’t get that.  What they may have got and what they may have appreciated about David though, was his abilities as a worship leader, a poet, an artist and a songmaster.  
So, in that sphere of his giftedness where they did see him and appreciate him, he served them, the nation; by disseminating this song of sorrow and lament that also celebrated and said “good-bye” to Saul and is regime:

David sang the following lament for Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the Judahites be taught The Song of the Bow. It is written in the Book of Jashar:

The splendor of Israel lies slain on your heights.
How the mighty have fallen!
Do not tell it in Gath,
don’t announce it in the marketplaces of Ashkelon,
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
and the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate.
Mountains of Gilboa,
let no dew or rain be on you,
or fields of offerings,
for there the shield of the mighty was defiled—
the shield of Saul, no longer anointed with oil.
Jonathan’s bow never retreated,
Saul’s sword never returned unstained,
from the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty.
Saul and Jonathan,
loved and delightful,
they were not parted in life or in death.
They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.
Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet, with luxurious things,
who decked your garments with gold ornaments.
How the mighty have fallen in the thick of battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother.
You were such a friend to me.
Your love for me was more wondrous
than the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen
and the weapons of war have perished!

-2 Samuel 1:19-27
There you have the example of the proper response and a hymn to the fallen leaders.
The last part of this story, that I want to touch on, is in the next scenes.  David asks God, “Now what?”  And God tells him his next move.  And David is anointed king, not over all of Israel, but just over the house of Judah.  
Then we have the report of the men who bravely buried Saul.  We know where David is headed and who he is, but many people at the time were slow to realize this and might have thought that another son of Saul was the next king.  David had to both be obedient to God and be diplomatic with those who were not on-board yet.
The lessons here are that David was bold and filled with faith, but he waited on God to open the doors; and that he was a bridge to the future and not an island that demanded others join him in God’s obvious will.  In other words, David’s feet were firmly planted in the prophetic future of his destiny, while at the same time, his hand was reaching out to others, in kindness who did not get it yet.
The final words in this section are David’s words to men who are grieving and coming to grips with David’s rise to power.  We know God is behind David, that David was God’s choice; but they do not.  And, we can only imagine that if David sat down with them and told them, “Guys, you’ve got to see that I am the one God has chosen!”, that they may not have believed him.
So, he is as kind as he can be and he does diplomacy maybe.  He says these words to these men, as he calls them to grasp the reality of what needs to happen and who he is, saying, “be strong and valiant”.  Why does he say that?  Because more civil war is imminent and he is encouraging them to choose the right side.
Here is 2 Samuel 2:1-7:


Some time later, David inquired of the Lord: “Should I go to one of the towns of Judah?”

The Lord answered him, “Go.”

Then David asked, “Where should I go?”

“To Hebron,” the Lord replied.

 So David went there with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite.  In addition, David brought the men who were with him, each one with his family, and they settled in the towns near Hebron. Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. They told David: “It was the men of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul.”

 David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “The Lord bless you, because you have shown this kindness to Saul your lord when you buried him.  Now, may the Lord show kindness and faithfulness to you, and I will also show the same goodness to you because you have done this deed.  Therefore, be strong and valiant, for though Saul your lord is dead, the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”


A lesson here is that God provides the opportunity to do the right thing, but often, people choose otherwise.  This led to the personal destruction for the Amalekite man.  Choosing to be on the side that opposes what God is doing with a person, and David is that person in the lesson of this story, will lead to your own pain, suffering and even death.
And we can not blame God, because God makes provision for our weakness.  Every day, people chose a side that is against God and they will suffer consequences for it that were preventable.  God made provision for them not to be deceived, but they said “no thanks” and drove into the ditch.
There is a way to respond when a leader falls from grace or is exposed.  And there is an improper way to talk, speak and write; that comes from a heart that is not right with God.
There are steps to follow and ways to discern what God is doing.  The first step is to be obedient to the ways of Christ living in me.  Jesus was obedient and kind and was an active participant in waiting upon Father and seeing and doing with Father what Father was doing.
David is “the man after God’s own heart”, said God (1 Sam. 13:14).  His number one thing was passion for God, personally.  Being king was secondary and God’s idea for him. 
David, like many of us, was a reluctant leader, as far as we know.  And he was a passionate God-seeker, musical artist at the genius level and a skilled warrior; who God chose to be king.  
The guy who had been on the hard road for quite a while, spoke out of his experience in suffering and becoming more courageous, when he said to potential enemies in the looming civil war, “be valiant”.  In other words, “You know what the right thing is to do, and it might seem harder and far more dangerous.  Search your hearts, be brave and do the right thing.”  That is what I think David was saying to people who were shell-shocked by Saul’s epic failure and what is next.

Silent Night, Holy Night

Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still.
Selah

-Psalm 4:4
The Psalms are the Bible’s book of prayers.  The Psalms teach us that God listens and we need to learn listening.  And the Psalms ask us to be brutally honest with God.
These are three things I have learned recently about the Psalms, the Psalms of David particularly.
Blessed rest and sweet sleep are connected to not sinning in our anger, open-hearted hurt process, living ‘honest to God’, and being in union with God, no matter what.
Psalm 4 has some advice about silence and anger.  When we are angry, we want to vent it out and a common way of venting is with words.
First of all, anger is not taboo.  We are allowed to be angry.  But be angry and do not sin.
Things like being abusive or destructive, being vengeful or vituperative, and just punishing others because you are angry, is wrong.  Anger is a secondary emotion.  We get angry when we suffer a loss.
Beneath the anger is hurt and sadness that needs expression and processing: grief.  The ungrieved losses that give rise to anger become bitterness.  The anger at your loss is understandable, but you must take the time to feel the pain and suffer your loss, feeling it and grieving it; in order to heal and not add sin to your loss.
The person who does not do this instead takes on the role of being forever angry.  That becomes their identity.  Instead of being for something, whether it is that they want to make something better, in a role or a job, they instead are the angry person, that is against something.  
We constantly have reason to be and opportunities to become angry, because we constantly face losses and infractions upon our will or plans.  But, we must learn how to have healthy angry, to be angry but not to sin.
For nice, Christian people, this might be hard.  The nice, Christian person’s ‘anger problem’ is not yelling or rage, but sadness and passivity.  The hurts of life that give rise to anger are suppressed into an inner sadness.
Silence is really what I want to share about.  It is a discipline of your self, to remain silent.  God is listening, but am I listening?
Go ahead and be angry, but also reflect on your loss and let it go.  In the silence, let the hurt that is beneath the anger, come up and out.
What I see is a discipline of taking your hurt self, your self who has suffered a loss or injustice, to God.  And the deepest and most profound and mature thing you can do is to take your self to the cross.  Bring yourself to Christ to be crucified with him (Galatians 2:20).
That thing you lost or you do not have that you want.  What was taken from you or that you think is yours that you do not yet possess.  You hurt about that and want God to give it to you.
You want breakthrough or breakout.  But, what God wants to give you right now is break-in.  God wants you and Him to be together right now in whatever space or place you are in.  That thing or situation you desire and hurt over so much that you’ve got all this anger about not having it.  And some of it even gets directed at God.
But you know God is good and God loves you and is a good Father.  So, you feel confused and you go back and forth, blaming yourself and consider blaming others who have blocked you or held you back.  And this whole thing you are in has affected your sleep.
Your worries and thoughts are keeping you up at night.  You sleep, but you don’t sleep well and you don’t wake up refreshed.
God wants to be with you where you are at right now.  Jesus wants to have table fellowship with you and communion (Revelation 3:20).
I have learned recently that the Psalms of David teach us that God listens and we need to listen better.  I have also learned that the one thing God wants, that God requires of me, it to be honest with Him, brutally honest.
And that is what Psalm 4:4 is about: being honest to God.  Sit on your bed or couch and be silent.  Let God speak and let the words of your heart well up, in silence and find their way into communion with God.
Go for the highest aim, the highest road; which is union with God.  And then let everything else in your life fall into place.  God is listening, so speak honestly; from a cultivation of your own listening to the inner regions of your heart.
Have no thing, no thought, no obstacle of resentment, disappointment, fear, judgement or hopelessness that would block your union with God, your papa.  Come as you are and sit in his lap.  Laugh, cry, snug and hug; be loved and let your destiny as his child be formed in you.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

The Journey into Union With God

I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself
where she places her young— near Your altars,

Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.
How happy are those who reside in Your house,
who praise You continually.
Selah

Happy are the people whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a source of springwater;
even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength;
each appears before God in Zion.

-Psalm 84:2-7
The center of life is union with God.  We all have all kinds of things we are involved in and all sorts of relationships.  A common misconception is that life is about building things like a family, a business, a ministry, a following, a resume, an education or gaining wisdom, wealth or fame.
These are really the incidentals to life, that while being good and important, are not the center of life.  The center of life is union with God.  If we do not make union with God the center of our lives, we become off center, misguided, unhappy and discontent.
Psalms like Psalm 84 are not meant to be nor have the meaning of how wonderful it is to go to church, for Christians.  These songs are not about the longing and desire to get to corporate worship times.  Pieces like this one are prophetic poems about union with God in the life of the believer.
The courts of the Lord is God’s presence.  The psalmist tell us that in his next refrain: “My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”  The longing is not for congregational singing nor for contemporary worship, but for union with God who is the center of my life.
God is my source, my wellspring and my only hope.  That is who and what I long for.  That is who I must have and who I must and need to be with.
Without God, front and center, in my thoughts and affecting my heart; my life falls apart.  I have an overwhelming desire for God and to be with God.
Every day, there is an opportunity for all sorts of things to creep into my life and crowd out my relationship with God.  I never lose God, but sometimes these things turn my attention away from God.  And I don’t like that and don’t want that.
I want God to be front and center in my life, in my thoughts and in how I see, hear and feel life and the people I come into contact with.
The psalmist looks and sees the birds who have found their homes, in and on the temple of God.  He sees this as a powerful metaphor of living in God’s presence and making that your home where you create your own and give birth and raise your own families.
Next, the psalmist gives us a picture of how a life of pursuing God works in daily lives.  We are each on a journey, on a road or a pilgrimage to God.  We are all people on our way to heaven.
That is what life is about, being on our way to God.  Everything that we go through or that happens to us is raw material that is a bridge to union with God.  Since mankind fell, life has been hard; and every hardship is softened and transformed by relationship with God.
Being a believer has always been an inside job.  We are changed, transformed and live from the inside out.  The strength of the Lord is deposited into our hearts through grace and by faith, resting on God’s steadfast love or faithfulness.  From the strength God provides in a heart under His care, that has begun its journey, the life of the believer is lived.
The Valley of Baca is the place of weeping.  We all pass through places of sadness. We have losses: disappointments, failures, injustices, seeming silence from God, betrayals, sicknesses, setbacks and loneliness.
The valley of weeping is part of the journey.  There are three things to know about this place of sadness on our journeys:
  1. It is unavoidable.
  2. Our time there is finite.
  3. We get to take our sorrow and see it transformed, redeemed and recompensed.
When we encounter sorrow, how we respond is important.  Children do react and respond childishly, but adults need to face troubles in a grown up way.  “God, help me to grow up, before I grow old”, we say.
Being in denial or sinking into shame are two examples of the wrong way to respond to sorrowful circumstances.  Another destructive one is to get stuck in anger.  
We can not and should not avoid our valleys of weeping, because they are a place of transformation.  With every sorrow or thing that makes you sorrowful, there is a gift attached.  Where their is sorrow, we get to find wells of living water or springs of nourishment.
In the same place where we feel the pain of loss or disappointment, God has already provided sustenance and living waters.  A place of springwater is just below the surface in our valley of tears.  We just have to dig down and find it.
God never blesses us small.  God’s blessings are overflowing and there is always extra.  And that is the picture of autumn rains falling on us in that valley of tears.
The place of revival or renewal 
is in our daily routine lives 
as we meet with God 
in our circumstances of life 
that are sometimes sad.  
The place of revival or renewal is in our daily routine lives as we meet with God in our circumstances of life that are sometimes sad.  God puts a deposit in us at the beginning of our journeys and that deposit accrues interest and our benefactor puts in more deposits along the way.  But we also procure our find compensation that has our names on it, in the midst of the sorrows of our lives.
Bravery is called for for every adult saint.  We valiantly face our trials, setbacks and failures; and go forward, finding new grace packages in the place where we are lamenting.  And God transforms us into the image of Christ.
Even in the greatest of losses, that are shocking, God has reviving waters stored up for us.  God takes wrecked lives and transforms, renews, heals and redeems them.  The greater the loss, the greater the work that God has in store to recover us.
Our hearts are set on the journey of union with God.  We see the birds, raising their families, in and on the temple, as a picture of living our lives in, towards and to God; living lives of worship and service to God.  And then, we embrace the reality of small and large losses and sorrows along the journey and we discover that God has hidden help and sustenance waiting for us, to strengthen us; making us more godly.
Life is a journey into union with God.  That is the center from which life is lived and sustained.  

Joyful Living

My heart and soul explode with joy- full of glory!
Even my body will rest confident and secure.
-Psalm 16:9 (TPT)

What can I do to cultivate joy in my life?  What actions on my part bring me to a place where joy is birthed and flows out of my life?  What is the source of authentic joy from God?

Have you ever experienced joy, but part of you did not?  That part is like a Christmas light on a string that is burned out.  The electricity passed by it, but not through it.  The electricity touched it, but does not light it up, because it is broken.

Many people have broken places inside.  They experience joy or exhilaration and happiness, but there is a dead place that might be touched but not penetrated.

When we have unprocessed feelings, we can become blocked.  And our soul or our liver does not function properly.  Because of this, we can not experience the joy in life that God wants us to have.

Most of our inside parts of our bodies are hidden from our consciousness, until they cause us pain.  I have no idea if we ever feel our liver, like how we feel our stomachs or feel our intestines or feel our gall bladder.  But even though we do not see it or feel it, our liver is doing it’s job or hindered in doing it’s job, giving us benefits or problems.

The word rendered soul: “My heart and soul explode with joy” carries with it, the meaning of ‘liver’.  We are very comfortable with saying, “My heart broke”, or “My heart bursts with love”; and we are not referring to our vital organ that pumps blood, but to our emotional experience.  But, we do not say any such thing using the word liver, and yet it is also symbolic of something, to the ancient, eastern mind.

The liver is considered the “general” or “the chief of staff”, in charge of vision and strategy.  From the liver, come the drives of ambition and creativity.  The liver is the processor of our anger, which is normal and is a secondary emotion.

We get angry when we have a loss or when we are afraid or when we lose control.  When we have a backlog of life events that we need to release our anger over, then we end up with seething anger that is out of proportion with slights or offenses in our present lives or irritability.  And all of this might be happening inside us and possibly, unconscious.

Unprocessed or unreleased anger causes headaches and a life that lacks drive or ambition.  A sick liver, metaphorically speaking (like a ‘broken heart’) results in a life that can not flow in the joy that Psalm 16 describes.

All of this is important, because God wants us to be able to live in joy.  Many people want this joy, but can not keep it going, because they have brokenness, dysfunction or blockage in their souls.  And the soul and the liver are metaphorically connected.

From a life that has a clean and clear soul, comes creativity, drive and ambition.  God wants you to create things.  God wants you to have the ambition to walk into your dreams.  God wants to see you driven to live the life that you have been destined to live.

This is all about your destiny, your inheritance and the gifts that God wants to give you.  This is not about works or ‘if I do this, then God will do that’.  This is just about walking on the path of love and blessing that releases explosive joy into and out of your heart and soul, for your blessing and to the glory of God.

With that in mind, let’s look at what David says, before he says that he is exploding with joy and has become full of glory.  And I am excited to see how The Passion Translation translates David’s words.

Lord, I have chosen you alone as my inheritance.
  You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion.
  I leave my destiny and its timing in your hands.
Your pleasant path leads me to pleasant places.
  I’m overwhelmed by the privileges
  that come from following you,
  for you have given me the best!
The way you counsel and correct me makes me praise you more,
  for your whispers in the night give me wisdom,
  showing me what to do next.
Because you are close to me and always available,
  my confidence will never be shaken,
  for I experience your wrap-around presence every moment.
My heart and my soul explode with joy- full of glory!
  Even my body will rest confident and secure. (Ps. 16:5-9)

  1. Inheritance
    • David chose God alone as his inheritance.  Whatever your earthly inheritance, take the stance, like David, of making God your inheritance.  Be so radical as to say, “You alone are my inheritance”.  Money is not evil, but “the love of money is the root of all evil”.  Do not love or lust for money.  Do not put love of money over love for God.  Always see God first and pattern the rest of your life after and under your love for, allegiance to and worship of God.  
    • Money or fame or power are never to be what drives the believer’s life or is the central organizing principle.  Loving God is the bedrock that we build our lives on.  Upon that, we live in contentment.  Joy is given beyond measure to those who make God their inheritance.
    • Since Adam and Eve’s fall, we have all lost the inheritance that God has had for us.  Our inheritance is restored in Christ.  We have to partner with God to receive our inheritances.  It is not automatic.  
    • We have to go after it.  We have to have passionate desire for it.  We have to pursue it to find it and receive it.  
    • God is restoring our inheritances to us.  We live in the paradox of going after our destinies but leaving the timing and the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of it with God.
  2. Walking with God
    • God’s pleasant path leads to pleasant places.   The key to a joyful life is to walk with God every day and all the time.  Loving God, being loved by God and then loving your neighbor is really what life is all about.
  3. Living in thankfulness
    • When we practice a life of walking with God, we also are thankful.  We learn that God is good and we are continually thankful.  Every day is thanksgiving and every meal is thanksgiving.  We learn that being thankful cultivates the presence of God in our lives.  
    • This is because thankfulness aligns ourselves with the truth of God.  Thanklessness is actually a sin.  And when we are not thankful, we shut out God and are making a statement that we do not believe in God.  
    • In matters about God and in matters of faith, their is no neutral, passive middle ground.  If we are passive or inactive about thanking God, it really means we are ungrateful and not thankful and do not believe.  To be continually overwhelmed with thankfulness is the normal Christian life.
    • If you are not taken aback at God’s generosity, you do not know him and you must not be walking with him and have not made him your sole source in life.  It is hard to be thankful if we have not already seen God as our inheritance and have begun to walk with him every day and in every way.
  4. Being counseled and corrected by God results in more praise
    • When we are secure in our relationship with God, then we can receive counsel and even correction from him and let it have its good and transformational effect on our lives.  When we are secure in God’s love, we learn to hear his voice at all times and are attentive to him.  When we securely walk with God, we can hear him say, “you are wrong”, or “don’t do that”, and feel no shame or badness, but only Father’s love.  
    • Having God be your father, your mentor, your guidance and your teacher of wisdom and your transformational teacher will cause you to praise him even more.  The child of God lives in a life of continual thankfulness and praise towards God.  We are already praising, worshiping and living in thankfulness when we come together with other believers.
  5. Explosive joy comes from a secure life in the Father’s love
    • Believers know God loves them and that is the bedrock of their lives.  Knowing God loves me gives me confidence in life.  All of my anger, from hurts, losses and fears is filtered by my soul that is in God’s hands; because I have given it to him and he has me.
    • I have nothing to fear, because God loves me.  I am secure in Father’s love.  I have no need to be offended or unforgiving, because I know I am loved.
    • I can take my life that I do not understand, and give it to God as an offering.  I can walk with God through the halls of my heart and soul, opening the doors to the rooms with pain inside, hurt or loss.  I can give everything that holds me back, known and unknown, to God, my redeemer.
    • I can say that God is my portion in this life.  I can say that God is my all and all.  I can say, “He loves me”.

These are some of what cultivates a life of joyful living.  This is some of what I can do to have joy.  This is part of how joy can explosively and gloriously permeate your whole life.

Preparing For The Rain

You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance.

-Psalm 68:9 (NIV)
The rain is coming.  But are we ready for it?  What can we do to get ready?
I would describe what we need to do is to have:
  • Open hearts
  • Outstretched arms
  • Eyes that are open
  • Shoes on our feet
  • Clean hands

Open Hearts
Be reconciled.  Get reconciled with God, with yourself and with others.  Do not have anything against anyone.
Forgive everyone, starting with God. Make sure you forgive yourself.  Get rid of, cleansed of all bitterness.
This heart work may require set aside portions of time now to become aware of your heart problems and get free, get reconciled and purge yourself of spiritual toxins, waste and obstructions.
You may have need of heart warming or palliative care from other people right now.  Your heart disease may be killing you or immobilizing you.  Find out how to reverse the disease and get well and be well and receive from God.
Some hearts are damaged and not functioning properly.  People with these hearts are barely living and walking slow, with chest pain at times.  If this is you, seek open heart surgery immediately, from the great physician.
Be honest about your heart.  Take time off of work and check yourself in for surgery.  Sign all the papers and give Jesus everything and then let him heal your heart.
There may be people you need to talk to or see for reconciliation.  You may need to write a letter to them.  Your being reconciled to them does not mean that things will suddenly be like they were in the past.  Do not insist on that or think you have failed when it does not.
The key is for you to be reconciled to all the people that you have had anything against.  Release them from charges you have held against them.  Cancel their debt to you.
Now you are free and they are free.  If they did want to be close to you again, but they are unsafe for you or are just on a whole different path in life, you can lovingly decline the offer, without there being anything negative about it.  
The matter of the heart is to be loving: love God, love yourself and then love others as you love yourself, based on God’s love for you.  In that picture, there are many people that we can not be close to, but we can be reconciled to and hold nothing against them.  
We can not be close to some people, even many people.  But we can be reconciled to them and be willing at any time to be closer to them,  if they become safer to be around, based on God’s love in their life.
The rain is going to fall on us, if we avail ourselves to being under it.  And the main place that the rain goes into is our hearts.  Our hearts are living reservoirs or aquifers for the rainfall.
A person who has a closed heart or a calcified, dry heart; may stand in the rain and even dance in the rain.  But they will have little lasting effect from the rain and will not be able to carry the rain to others for any distance.  
The main place where the rain has lasting impact and can be held to give to others is in the heart.  Our hearts must be ready.  Building a man made container to catch, hold and dispense the rain of God sounds like a good idea, but that is not what God wants and is wrong headed.
Get your heart ready.  Get your heart right.  Get your heart healed. 
The rain of God comes upon the whole body of each person.  But it only changes lives when it comes upon and into a person’s heart.  And it is through our hearts that we live out Christ’s life and share life with others.
Get your hearts ready.  Set aside the time now to get your heart right.  Stop being distracted and get real about your heart today.
There is a time when it is too late.  And you can miss it.  An opportunity for you is imminent and you can choose to miss it if you don’t get yourself ready.
Outstretched Arms
Begin today, if you are not already doing so, to be a person who reaches out.  Reach out to give and reach out to receive.  Be less independent and more communal.
Reverse your style of estrangement and isolation from others.  Sharing is a key component to the Christian life.  Share your needs and meet the needs of others.  
Stop being needless.  If you are ‘the minister’ in your family or community, start letting others minister to you.  You may be the most gifted one, but realize your need for others, for the life in them, for you to be cared for.
Humble yourself by asking for assistance.  Delegate things to others where you have been controlling.
The impact of the coming rain will be spread and multiplied through the web or matrix of our relationships.  This is God’s design.  Today, we can be prepared for being missionaries by just being connected to those around us, right under our noses.
Stretching out our arms to touch and be touched by others is preparing a network that God can build upon.  Many of us are like the little boy, who only had a small lunch in a basket; but he offered it to Jesus.  The Lord takes our small things and multiplies them.
It is a grave error to not honor the small things we have and participate in them, offering them to the Lord.  The person who does nothing and offers nothing is a person who has a heart problem and can not be used by God, transformed by God and blessed by God.
We must do business in our very small circles, with our very small provisions or influence now and bless people in tiny ways, if that’s all we have got.  All you might have is a smile.  Then give that smile.
We need to extend out arms now to others, so that they will be extended and in service, as bridges and aqueducts; when the rain of God falls.  When the downpour happens, we don’t want to then lower our bridges and open our aqueducts and figure out how they work.
Now is the time to stretch out your arms.  Now is the time to reach out to others.  Now is the time to become available.
Now is the time to figure out how your open door policy is going to work or function.  Now is the time to make a path to your door that people can walk on.  Now is the time to venture out of your hiding place.
Eyes That Are Open
After we have got our hearts right and are stretching ourselves to reach out and be available to be touched by others, we need to learn to see.  I grew up in a revival church, where we learned to close our eyes when we worshipped, to focus on God, undistracted.  I also learned to pray for people, hands on, with my eyes open.  I also learned to see with my spirit.
We need to live with God and others, with our eyes open.  Jesus is an eyes open person.  He saw people.
Jesus heart is always wide open to his Father and his eyes are always open to people.  We need to cultivate Jesus style in this.  Some of us do not see people.
Some of us are always struggling to see God and miss all the people.  Some of us are mostly preoccupied with seeing ourselves and with how others see us.  Many of us pass through life with our eyes closed, blocking out the people in the world.
To get ready for the rain, we need to cultivate and learn to live with our eyes open to other people.  We need to learn to be seeing God with our hearts and to be seeing people with our eyes.  We need to not just look at people, but see them with our hearts.
Meet people’s eyes.  Look into the windows to their soul.  Learn to do this.
Jesus can look people in the eyes and ask them, ‘What do you want?’, or, ‘What would you like me to do for you?’, and we can learn to do that too, as we walk with him in the world.
We so often see people as being in our way.  We so often see and look to see people who we want to get something from.  Instead of this, we need to cultivate Jesus style of seeing people and coming as servants and not to be served.
This is why Jesus said, “Open your eyes and see the harvest around you”.  That is what we all need to do right now.

Shoes On Our Feet
Many of us have the wrong shoes on our feet.  We each need to have our feet fitted with gospel shoes.  Many of us are walking through life in an angry rampage and completely misrepresenting Jesus and the gospel of peace.
Take an inventory of your shoes.  Are you wearing the shoes of Jesus or something else you have fashioned?  Do your shoes stomp and kick, allure and purr or are they functional for the bringing of good news to people?
Your shoes can be high fashion, open toed or closed, sandals or boots, athletic or dress up.  What matters is where are your feet taking you?  Your shoes are about where are you prepared to go and what are you prepared for.
One person carries the good news, wearing stilettos; while another person carries the message wearing flip flops.  God fits two people differently, but they have in common that they are prepared to share the good news.  We all need to take care to be ready to share the gospel every day in many different ways, just as we put shoes on when we leave the door of our homes.
Clean Hands
Many of us need to wash our hands.  We have lived lives where we have been doing all sorts of unholy, undignified and unchristian things with our hands.  Two big ones are what you type or text and your pointing your finger in judgement at others.
Christians also take part in many sinful activities that are participated in through using their hands.  The, ‘Cleanse your hands you sinner’, message of James 4:8, is a message to Christians.  It is not meant to condemn, but is a loving admonition to ‘Knock it off’.
Many Christians, from the first century to today, have lived double lives.  We have lived as Christians but not as Christians, in the same lives.  The word of the Lord to us is, the rebuke of, ‘Stop it!’
We must stop living on two paths and only cultivate the path of Christ in our lives.  Churches should stop having recovery groups and become recovery groups.
Many people disqualify themselves from being Jesus’ hand, because of their hands.  Some have shame and guilt and see no way out of double lives.  But there is grace for escape, deliverance and emancipation.  
Many people who name Christ also need deliverance.  Nothing to be ashamed of, but something to be glad of that is a blessing.  We shouldn’t be embarrassed about deliverance, but humbly receive freedom.
If our hearts get made right, if our hearts become cleansed, we will live a different way, exemplified by what we do with our hands and fingers.  Many people do not need deliverance, but need to just begin to learn to walk in Christ, and the naughty stuff, even addictive behaviors will change and just fall off their lives.
Jesus and critters can’t live in the same house.  Our job is to open up every room in the houses of our lives to God and welcome him to live there.  Even in the basements and the belfry.  

Happiness, Anger, and Your Liver

  • Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rests securely. 
  • That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous; yes, my whole body will rest in safety.
  • This is a good life—my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy, and my body is at rest.
    Who could want for more?
  • So my heart rejoices and I am happy;  My life is safe.
  • Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.
  • Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
  • Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.

-Psalm 16:9 (HCSB, CEB, MSG, NET, NIV, ESV NKJV)

A secure person has healthy emotions –  healthy happiness and sadness, joy and anger.  Our heart is the seat or inner place of our love and our liver is the seat or inner place of our anger.  Healthy, normal people experience love and anger, and because of this, they walk securely.

Having God’s protection, living a life of worship towards God, loving your neighbor, declining to live in idolatry, making the Lord your life, receiving and living in your inheritance in contentment, receiving counsel from God even while sleeping, and living in 24-7 intimacy with God.  These all lead to or produce the fruit of a secure life, from the inside out, symbolized by a healthy heart and liver.

David says that three aspects of his life are good, and I looked at seven different translations, because the second part, aspect number two, is translated differently, in different translations.  He says his heart is good, and something else is good, and that his flesh, body, or life is good.  That something else is translated:

  • my spirit
  • my mood
  • my soul
  • I
  • my tongue
  • my whole being
  • my glory
The King James has “my glory”, as does the NASB and many other older translations.  But we simply do not say, “my glory rejoices”, today; so translators had to choose other words.  It probably tells us that the Hebrew is difficult or obscure here.
I found a note, in the NET Bible notes, that makes the case that this word, and they translate it “I”, is synonymous with liver.  Again, we do not exclaim, “my liver rejoices”, so no English translation says that, but the writers of the NET Bible notes make the exegetical and anthropological case that this is what the original statement meant.
We have to remember that we are in the West, but David and the other authors of the Bible lived in the East.  Sometimes people do fear-talk and say, “watch out for those eastern religions”, and  I imagine they have in mind Hinduism and Buddhism.   But Judaism is from the middle-east, and is closer to China and India than to London, New York, or Los Angeles.
Even though Continental Europe is closer than those, it’s western, modern ideas of psychology and medicine will not help us with Hebrew as much as looking at Eastern anthropology.  And, from Chinese medicine, we find out some things, from the eastern mind, about the liver.
Some of our bodies’ organs are connected to our emotions.  It is believed that the liver is connected to our anger.  How you feel, deal with, or process anger is connected to your liver.  When we have a weakened liver, it is more difficult to deal with anger.
Overeaters or compulsive overeaters often eat because something is eating at them, which is often anger or resentment.  Alcohol and drugs, including Tylenol, are hard on the liver.  Ironically, people take drugs and alcohol to cope with anger, and actually weaken their body’s built-in anger processor. 
Anger is a secondary emotion or a reaction.  Anger is healthy and normal.  A robust life includes healthy anger.  David might have been such a person: a passionate warrior who had fiery anger that regularly was processed through his inner man or liver.  He had a bright light, we could say.  He might have been a person who changed the atmosphere in a room or place, just by his presence, which included his passionate, fiery personality.
Anger includes irritability, resentment, and frustration.  We get these, but we do not stay in these, but process them; which is the inner role the liver plays in our body’s emotional processing system.  If we do not process or allow our system to process, or if our system is blocked somehow, and we can not process the anger that comes, then we have a back-log of anger and we become angry easier at smaller annoyances in our lives.
Headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, stomach, and spleen problems can be the result of anger backed up in your insides.  There are actually about 100 conditions that could be connected to your liver’s health.
The liver is the blood filter.  The liver stores sugar, for energy.  The liver works for the growth and repair of the body’s tissues.
The liver is in charge of your body’s peripheral nervous system.  People with dysfunctional livers have difficulty relaxing and with balance.  Dysfunction also results in lack of drive, ambition, and creativity; and feelings of anger: frustration and rage for no reason.
The liver and gallbladder work hand-in-hand.  If one is unhealthy, it affects the function of the other.  A healthy life-style for one is helpful for the functioning of the other.
Most of these things are the negatives of an unhealthy liver.  But, in Psalm 16, David says, “my liver is great!”  So what are the positives about a healthy liver, that David must have been experiencing enough to say this?
In Chinese medicine, the liver is “the general”, or “the chief of staff”.  The liver is the general in charge of strategy.  We are talking about vision, planning, and creativity.  
A person with a healthy liver is vibrant in their kindness, benevolence, compassion, and generosity.  This reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit. A healthy liver function, according to Chinese medicine, results in the feelings of ease, harmony, and peace.  
The macro functional idea of the liver’s role is to make you go somewhere, to set you free to be creative, to live going out, up, and forward.  “Carpe diem!”, with peace, is what your liver wants to say.
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Bibliography

Net Bible, Liver
The Liver Doctor: Your Emotions Can Effect The Health of Your Liver
What Are The Seven Emotions?, by Shen Nong
Liver: Wood-energy yin organ

Some Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?

We must meet hate with love.

I’m talking about a type of love which will cause you to love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. We’ve got to love.

Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.

The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of. No matter what he does, you see God’s image there. There is an element of goodness that he can never sluff off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it.

I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.

There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. You just begin hating somebody, and you will begin to do irrational things. You can’t see straight when you hate. You can’t walk straight when you hate. You can’t stand upright. Your vision is distorted. There is nothing more tragic than to see an individual whose heart is filled with hate. He comes to the point that he becomes a pathological case. For the person who hates, you can stand up and see a person and that person can be beautiful, and you will call them ugly. For the person who hates, the beautiful becomes ugly and the ugly becomes beautiful. For the person who hates, the good becomes bad and the bad becomes good. For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does. You can’t see right. The symbol of objectivity is lost. Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater. […] when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody. Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

Jesus is not an impractical idealist; he is the practical realist.  I am certain that Jesus understood the difficulty inherent in the act of loving one’s enemy. He never joined the ranks of those who talk glibly about the easiness of the moral life. He realized that every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God. So when Jesus said “love your enemy,” he was not unmindful of its stringent qualities. Yet he meant every word of it. Our responsibility as Christians is to discover the meaning of this command and seek passionately to live it out in our daily lives.

Let us be practical and ask the question: How do we love our enemies?  First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one’s enemies without prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words “I will forgive you, but never forget what you have done” never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing totally for his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, “I will forgive you, but I won’t have anything further to do with you.” Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can ever love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.

Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry.’ I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher. And what I’m doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man.

Here are two of his sermons:

‘Love Your Enemies’ November 17, 1957

“Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool” August 27, 1967

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