Advice From a Dad

Listen, my son (my child), to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching.
-Proverbs 1:8 (4:10, 20; 5:1,7; 7:24, 8:32, 19:27, 23:19)

I picked up a book by Robert E. Carey: Daddyisms ‘Lessons from my Father, Lessons for my Children

From the back cover:

DADDYISMS is an easy read for people seeking reassurance that doing the right thing is still the salve that soothes our soul.  Timely advice is woven through each brief chapter in both serious and humorous tones.  At times irreverent, but always to the point, the stories are written from the heart…

Here are the first 53, my notes are in parentheses.

  1. The two most important things you can say to your children are, “I love you”, and “No”.
  2. Showing up is half the battle.
  3. The most important things in life are your health, your friends, and your credit.
  4. Successful people work at it.
  5. If you draw a line in the sand, make sure it isn’t crooked. (Principle is more important than winning)
  6. When in doubt, smile. (Smiling sincerely encourages others and builds connections)
  7. Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no.
  8. Before making a big decision, take 8 hours of sleep and mix it with patience.
  9. Try to be the first to forgive and the last to give up.
  10. A man stands tall when he stoops to help a child.
  11. Because each child is an individual, they need individual attention.
  12. Never go to bed angry with your kids or your spouse, they may kill you in your sleep.
  13. If you think your teenager is angry, you are probably right.
  14. If you expect gratitude from your children before life has kicked them in the teeth, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
  15. Why didn’t life’s problems hit me when I was a teenager and had all the answers?
  16. Try your best to be as loyal to your family and friends as your dog is to you.
  17. Don’t give your child ultimatums.  Give him a choice and teach him to choose wisely.
  18. If you think you understand your teenager, you may not be listening.
  19. The greatest sin of all is hypocrisy.
  20. Trust is the bridge that connects us to those we love.
  21. This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you, unless I use a belt. (Tush & hand only)
  22. Love is inexhaustible, patience is not. (People do lose patience and get angry)
  23. Procrastination can end more dreams than an alarm clock.
  24. Everybody eats sh__: some with a shovel, some with a spoon. (Everyone has losses, suffering)
  25. Screw me once, shame on you.  Screw me twice, shame on me.
  26. He/she is beginning to believe his/her own press clippings. (Keep yourself grounded)
  27. A little religion never hurt anyone. (Love the Lord and do the right thing)
  28. Beware of the person who doesn’t like dogs or small children.
  29. Hang in, hang on, and hang tough. (Perseverance and courage)
  30. Don’t drink too much, don’t drive too fast, and don’t smoke.
  31. Sometimes silence is louder than anything you say. (Silence is golden)
  32. The best way to be the life of the party?  Ask about others and listen.
  33. Yesterday is over, gone forever.  Tomorrow never comes.  Makes today look pretty damn good.
  34.  The greatest regret won’t be over something done, but rather something not done.
  35. Fear and greed are the great motivators in life. (In the world and in you: learn to control it)
  36. Birthdays are great, they defy gravity. (Learn celebration)
  37. If you try something and it works, do it again and again and again.  If you try something and it doesn’t work, learn from the experience.
  38. When it comes to business, the bottom line is the bottom line.
  39. When crossing the line, don’t trip. (Goal setting)
  40. If you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, you’re gonna crash.
  41. It’s always easier to focus on a written goal.
  42. The greatest gift we can give our lover is love.  The greatest gift we can give ourselves is peace of mind.
  43. We had to listen before we learned to speak.
  44. The best place to look for a helping hand is at the end of your arm. (Self control)
  45. When the instructions say ‘easy to assemble’, don’t count on it.
  46. The hardest job in the world is killing 8 hours. (Do-nothing jobs are worse than productive long hours)
  47. In most romantic relationships it takes two to make it work or screw it up.
  48. Pulling in opposite directions causes rope burns. (Know when to hold or walk away)
  49. Nickles, Dimes, and Quarters! (Learn money, budgeting)
  50. Never die in a down market. (Long-term approach)
  51. You have not failed until you give up.  Don’t give up and you won’t fail.
  52. When each side believes it stands on the moral high ground, compromise is impossible.
  53. When your teen asks a question, try answering with a question.

Asking God For Help

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

-James 1:4-6 (NIV)
I want to talk about asking God for help.  We continually have challenges in life that stretch us beyond what we know to do.  And we must learn to ask God for help.
When we ask God for help, it is not like asking someone to lend us a hand.  Asking God for help is availing ourselves to God’s goodness, grace and love.  Asking God requires my listening and following God.
Asking God means that when God answers, I must follow.  God makes a way for me, with him.  This is very different than my asking God to help me do things my way.
God is always expanding my awareness and experience in him as I walk along in life.  And this is what asking for wisdom from God is all about.  I am asking God how to do something I can not do.
Life serves up a challenge and I am not doing well with it.  I might say, honestly, “I can’t do this”.  The next step is to ask God for help, saying, “How can I do this?”
James brings up this issue, because his whole letter is a catalog of wisdom from God, that James wants to share with his audience.  The original people who James was ministering to had real problems.

The message from James is: “Now that you are a Christian, you have a lot of problems”.  The message, “Come to Jesus and you will no longer have problems”, runs counter to the book of James.

Here, in chapter 1, is the first of four times that James is going to mention wisdom in his letter.  About the theme of wisdom, Brian Simmons writes: “His letter could be considered a wisdom sermon, for the style is similar to the Proverbs.  Throughout his letter James taps into the long tradition of Jewish wisdom and applies it to various practical topics for wise Christian living.  He recognizes wisdom as necessary for trying circumstances; it involves insight into God’s purposes and leads to spiritual maturity; and God is the source of all true wisdom.”(1)
A good way to understand the whole message of James is to read the whole thing in one sitting.  If you had just done that and then circled back to chapter one, you would have probably noticed that James contrasts God’s heavenly wisdom with earthly wisdom that can be demonic.
Some Christians are afraid of the idea that there is a demon behind every bush.  But the demonic and the dark powers are a reality and they influence how the world functions.  And people who are not walking with God come under the influence of the demonic.
The Christian who is not growing in godly wisdom through a living relationship with God is vulnerable to all the demonic traffic of ideas that is going through the air and it is only natural that they may adopt these ideas and pet them and feed them and believe in them.  They are not from God but are opposed to God.
Before we ask for wisdom and before we realize we are having trouble and need help, we need to understand that our faith is being stretched and grown through persevering under trials.  James says that we are all in a maturing process.  Over the years, I have met young and old believers, who resisted the idea of the long process of maturity.
I will never forget a man, who I was in a class with.  The instructor was sharing a model on the whiteboard of how people grow and mature.  This man shared with the class, with stars in his eyes, how God had taken him through all of these steps in just one night.
This brother was the oldest person in the room and a full time minister, who planned on getting a Doctorate, after finishing his Masters degree in Christian counseling.  And he was arguably the rudest, most selfish student in our class, based upon how he treated others.  Later in the program, several students openly confronted him, during a group sharing session.
I share that story, because many people want overnight change and do not want a long growth process.  But perseverance and learning godly wisdom usually comes from a lifetime lived, walking with God and asking God for help.
God does touch us and heal us.  We can have a life changing experience with God.  But maturity, mature faith and a godliness that has God’s character usually takes time.  We can most definitely be touched by God, but not have very good fruit in our lives, because the cultivation of that fruit occurs in a process over time.
Perseverance means that we have persevered.  We have walked through the severe circumstances:  Circumstances that tried us and tested our faith.  Our faith has been refined. 
Part of perseverance is to ask God for help.  And asking God for help takes humility.  I already mentioned that when we ask God for help, we have to be willing to follow God.  If you are asking God to “give you a hand”, it is not going to work.
That person might say, “I have asked God for help over and over and he just seems to ignore me!”
Are you asking God to lend you a hand, or are you humbling yourself and availing yourself to God changing your life, through the help he gives you?
We need wisdom,  We need God’s wisdom to be godly people.  We have to be in the habit of asking God for help, which involves constantly humbling ourselves, saying, “I don’t know”, and even, “I have no idea”.  Then we ask for wisdom, for advice, for God’s perspective.
If you get in fights with people, if you are hurt or offended by people or you are mad that you are not getting your way; be prepared and don’t be shocked when God says, “You are wrong”.
If you are in the maturing process and you are going through your first world problems and you decide to start asking God for help and you discover that asking for help is not asking God for a hand, but coming under God as God and asking God to be God in your life and give you help as God: you are probably going to hear or sense, “You are wrong”.
God who loves you, will tell you that you are wrong, just like how Jesus told his disciples they were wrong.  “You are wrong”, does not mean you are bad or unloved, but means you don’t get it.

A person who never acknowledges they are wrong is a small person and may become a psychopath.  That is not a person to follow or that you want to be.

Living a life of not asking for help and authentic help requests say, “what am I doing wrong?”, is a life of pride.  Asking for help, as in asking what I can do differently or what should I do, takes some humility.  God opposes pride and give grace to humility.
The issue of asking for wisdom without doubting is about perseverance.  That means that you burn the ships after you reach the island or burn the bridges, so that you can not go back to where God led you out of.
You can’t say, “It did not work, so we are going back”.  That is not faith or perseverance.
Abraham is the man of faith, in scripture.  He had a promise that took a very long time to be fulfilled.
Sarah did not have the encounters with God that her husband had, as far as the record of scripture tells us.
But they both had to wait.  And they made a mistake, to try to ‘help the promise come about’, that was not God’s wisdom.  But God still entered into their situation and redeemed it.
Maybe you are like Abraham and you are worried that you either ruined your chances or that somehow God has forgotten you.  Maybe like Abe, you have a wife or a husband that did not receive the promise like you did, but they nevertheless must live out your life in God, as a couple in covenant.
I am encouraged that despite Abraham and Sarah’s fumble, that intimately affected two other people, God still kept giving them wisdom, guidance and grace.  The point is that despite the flaws that were huge, the scripture says that their faith did not waver (Rom. 4:20-21).  Yes, I see them as one, a couple.
This is message on persevering in faith and asking for wisdom unwaveringly.  If you think that your faith is not pure enough, strong enough or laser beam straight enough; think again.  Decide to believe and keep deciding, keep believing in the one who is faithful.
Keep your confidence in God.  Make it a habit to not worry.  Do not worry about things God does not worry about.  Instead, ask for wisdom.
Generous grace is available every day to those who turn their humble hearts towards God.  Generous grace is available every day to those who humble themselves to ask God for wisdom.  There is always grace for today, but we have to avail ourselves to God’s open hand by humbling ourselves and asking for it.
Being ambivalent towards God or keeping your options open as you look around will destabilize your faith and your life.  There is only faith or unbelief and no neutral.  If you are undecided about God, that is called unbelief and you will not get or grow in wisdom or grace.
The place where James takes you is to become, like he was, a servant of God, in the service of others.  That is why we need to do all these wise things that James advises in his sermon letter.  You will know God, serve God and serve others, finding meaning and purpose.
Our destinies are called out and developed in the seeming darkness of troubles and problems in our lives.  Every single person has equal standing to be redeemed by God and employed in God’s service.
Ask God for help and find wisdom.  Make that your lifestyle.
1. Brian Simmons, Hebrews and James: Faith Works, The Passion Translation; pp. 67-8

Do Not Forget The Poor

Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.

-Psalm 82:3

God’s heart is for the poor.  Whatever emphasis that we have or our ministries have, we must never forget the poor.  Benevolence is something that all believers should have in common.

If you do not care about the poor, you have no connection to God.  God’s heart is for the poor.  The worst form of injustice is when the weakest people are not helped by those who have the power and resources to help them.

Your calling or your ministry could be any of a thousand things, but do not forget the poor.

You may be in any of the thousands of the different denominations, non-denominations, tribes or movements in Christianity.  But remember to not forget the poor.  God’s heart is for the poor.

You yourself may have a lot or have a little.  You may have many friends or a few.  You may be famous or unknown.

Just do not forget the poor.

Defend, vindicate, stand up for, be fair to, do right by and give justice to:

  • The needy, the poor, the weak ones, the helpless, the lowly and the defenseless ones.
  • The fatherless and the orphans.
  • The forgotten, destitute, the afflicted, the wretched and the oppressed people.
  • The disenfranchised, suffering and powerless children. 
God’s heart is for the poor.  Our hearts in God’s will be for the poor.  This is a marker of the authentic people of God.
A few New Testament passages and verses on serving the poor:

Luke 10:25-37; Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 10:1-8; Gal. 2:10; 1 Tim 5:3-16; Jas 1:27; 2:15-16

Valiant: Courage With Determination

“Now therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant, for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”
-2 Samuel 2:7 (ESV)
There is a crossroads that we come to in our lives, when we have to choose to be courageous or not.  One way or another, we are given the discernment of what the right thing is to do.  But to do the right thing will require courage.
There is a word, that we do not use much, that describes this very thing.  And that word is ‘Valiant’.  To be valiant is to show or possess courage, with a determination to do the right thing.
In the story that 2 Samuel 2:7 is a part of, to a group of men, David sends this word: “Let your hands be strong, and be valiant”.  The surrounding context of the story tells us that for these men to turn their allegiance to David, it will be difficult and dangerous.  And that is why David says, “Be strong and be valiant”.
To be valiant is to show or possess courage with determination.  Valiant to a word that is not in most of our vocabularies. To be valiant is to be brave and not cowardly.
Valiant people are the ones you want on your side.  And you call people that you are encouraging to stand with you to be valiant.
Valiant, valiance or valor are words that the writer of Samuel and the writer of Judges use to describe formidable warriors, who exercise the power of their personal strength.  Through Judges and Samuel there is war and there are warriors, and some people are described as valiant or men of valour: brave and courageous.
Valiance is also something you want in someone who is going to lead others.  For leadership, it is not enough to just possess godly wisdom and character.  A leader is a person who also has courage: “Having the courage of their convictions”.  This same Hebrew word, ‘ḥa-yil‘, translated ‘valiant’, in 2 Samuel, is translated, ‘able’, in Exodus 18:

But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They should judge the people at all times. Then they can bring you every important case but judge every minor case themselves. In this way you will lighten your load, and they will bear it with you. If you do this, and God so directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home satisfied.” 

Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. So Moses chose able men from all Israel and made them leaders over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.

-Exodus 18:21-5 

Here we have an illustration of the delegation of authority or leadership.  The people that should be selected to lead will fear God, be truthful, not corrupted by bribes, and bravely courageous.  This is an Old Testament, rough draft of the qualifiers for an elder in the people of God.

Back to the story in 2 Samuel:  While it is clear to us that David was meant to be king and that God had rejected Saul, many people, ‘on the ground’ and ‘at the time’, did not get this.  The people had to come around or come to the realization, that David was meant to be their next king and was indeed ‘God’s chosen’.

It is ironic or perplexing for us today to read these stories and see people who are part of the twelve tribes, reject and oppose what we know to be God’s plan or God’s man.  These ideas go along with the saying today that, “God has no grandchildren”, or Paul’s words in Romans 9:6, “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.”

In other words, we are not born into faith.  We must choose and decide what we believe and who or what we will follow.  My son and your son or daughter must decide for themselves if they will follow Jesus.

David, plainly said or told his messengers to say, to the men of Jabesh-gilead, that he had been anointed king over Judah, after Saul’s death.   He blessed them and said thanks for what you did for Saul, that was kind, and he said that he planned to be kind to them as well.  In that context, David encourages them to be valiant, which means to show or possess courage with determination.

The context of this statement and David’s words, are that there was danger and uncertainty about how things were going to shake out.  Saul’s army or those who had fought for and were allied with the house of Saul and particularly against David, were still unsubmissive, insubordinate and at odds with David and what we, the readers today, see and read as God’s plan.

David is doing diplomacy with the men of Jabesh-gilead.  He said, “God bless you and thank you for showing kindness to Saul.  I am now becoming king and I will show kindness to you.  Be strong and valiant.”  They needed to be strong and valiant because they were in danger from the Philistines, and the Saul faction that was not behind David, would soon be knocking on their doors, asking or demanding their backing.

More of the story that helps us understand how difficult a situation that Jabesh-gilead was in, is the fact, told later, that it would be about seven years before other tribes would get behind David.  This snapshot, part of the larger story, takes place in a seven year, tumultuous window of time, where David is almost, but not yet fully, king of all Israel.

We know David is God’s choice, but in the story, David and our eyes with David, looks for, seeks and invites people to join him as ‘early adopters’.  And it is not simple or easy.  For seven more years, there would continue the last chapter of the civil war between the Saul loyalists and David.

What we learn is that David does not force himself on the rest of Israel, after Judah, but patiently waits for things to shake out.  David, who has already done a lot of waiting, has to wait some more.  David specifically waits on God to fully promote him.

In this context, David sent that message, contained in 2 Samuel 2, asking for support, and he encourages them to be courageous, and to do the right thing.

The word of wisdom in this story is applicable and relevant for us today.  To be shown or to realize what the right thing is to do, but not to do it, is cowardice.  But to have the courage of your convictions, and to do the right thing, in the face of opposition and unpopularity, is valiant.

To be valiant is to show or possess courage, with a determination to do the right thing.

We are called to be a valiant people.  And our war is not against flesh and blood.  We are a warrior people, doing battle against the devil’s schemes.

Valiance is to have courage to do the right thing in the face of adversity and opposition.

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.

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

Anger part 3: The Hidden Anger

Better an open reprimand than concealed love.

-Proverbs 27:5

Some angry people have hidden anger: repressed or suppressed anger.  This list can be found on many websites and no one seems to know who first complied it.  A few of the behaviors listed are different, on different versions of this list.

The list is not exhaustive nor exact.  In fact, I eliminated “has ulcers” as being one item.   Let’s just say that, “some people with hidden anger do this or have this.”  I believe this list is helpful in becoming aware of your possible problem with hidden anger.

It might be helpful to repeat that anger in and of itself is not bad.  We have anger when we have loss or hurt.  It’s like saying “ouch!” when we stub our toe.

Anger is bad, destructive, or sinful when we are angry much of the time.  On the one end of the spectrum, raging is bad: out of control yelling and screaming, possibly with harsh judgments or controlling and threats, possibly with name calling or cussing and cursing, including character assassination.  This is bad, unhealthy, sinful, and destructive: not ok.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who have buried, hidden, repressed, or suppressed anger that is unresolved.  They have a style of stuffing rather process and release.  Perhaps they were hurt, abandoned, abused at times in the past, by a shameless person who did not admit fault, and who often was a primary relationship to them that they needed for survival and could not get angry back at.

This list might help you to see that you have an anger problem.  If you “see it”, and can say “that’s me”, then you might say “now what?”, or ,”what can I do to not be this way?”; what I would advise is to get into recovery.  Find out what getting into recovery means for you.

Recovery is not something other than being a Christian.  To be a Christian is to be in recovery.  Paradoxically, Churches and Christianity are filled with people who are not in recovery.  What I am saying is that a person can have many of these items below operating in their life and be a Christian.

Recovery is intentional as is someone seeking healing, health, and to grow or become wiser.  Healing and recovery are also spontaneous, when we seek and live in Christ.  We will always be broken, weak people; even when we are in Christ.  But brokenness is different than carnal, fleshly, worldly, obsessional sinfulness that is rooted in unbroken willful sin.

Many Christians are not disciples, or rather, our idea of what a disciple is has gotten away from what the disciples were in the NT.  A disciple is not only a learner, but someone who leaves everything to become a learner.  Jesus said that each one of us, that want to follow him, is to “take up his cross”.

That means death.  What if we get it that being a Christian is about his cross and my cross?  His cross is an amazing thing – he died for our sins on the cross.  But what happens if I believe that, but I do not obey his command to take up my own cross?

Maybe I do not even know what that means.  Or maybe I do not want to know and I do not want that part of what it means to be a Christian.  What is a person who self-identifies as a Christian, but they do not obey what Jesus said and is written in the NT?

I will leave it to God to judge, but I do believe that this person is going to have more problems than they ought to have.  This person is going to have less spiritual health in their life.  This person is not going to have the vital, intimate relationship with God, that they could otherwise have.

Hidden Anger Checklist

1. Procrastination in the completion of imposed tasks
2. Perpetual or habitual lateness.
3. A liking for sadistic or ironic humor.
4. Sarcasm, cynicism or flippancy in conversation.
5. Over-politeness, constant cheerfulness, an attitude of “grin and bear it”.
6. Frequent sighing.
7. Smiling while hurting (bringing in the clown to protect us) .
8. Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams.
9. Over controlled monotone speech.
10. Difficulty getting to sleep or sleep throughout the night.
11. Boredom, apathy, and loss of interest.
12. Slowing down of movements.
13. Getting tired more easily than usual (anger saps energy).
14. Excessive irritability over trivial things.
15. Getting drowsy at inappropriate times.
16. Sleeping more, possibly 12+ hours a day.
17. Waking up tired instead of rested and refreshed.
18. Clenched jaws/grinding of teeth especially while sleeping.
19. Facial tics, spasmodic or tapping foot movements, swinging leg when seated, and tightly clenched fists (white knuckling).
20. Very stiff or sore neck.
21. Chronic depression, extended periods of feeling down for no apparent reason, and sitting around with a long face.
22. Being overly critical of everything and everyone.
23. Playing music loudly.
24. Unable to get people out of your head.
25. Rehearsing arguments in your mind.
26. Driving fast in an aggressive manner.
27. Putting more effort than required into physical tasks.
28. Being irritating towards others.

“This is not about rage . Rage is anger out of control and taking over your whole being.
This is about the feelings we call “irritation”, “annoyance”, “getting mad”, etc.
All these negative feelings share one thing in common: they are considered undesirable at best and sinful or destructive at worst.”

Do you often say, “it annoys me”, or “it makes me so mad”, or “it is so irritating”?  Do you constantly have a need to “vent” or maliciously gossip about others?

It is actually healthy and loving to tell a friend or a loved-one, “I am really angry at (or with) you”.  This was very different, when I first experienced this from a friend or mentor.  But I learned to hear

the love and caring in the statement.

It would probably be helpful to express the anger and then immediately express the hurt or loss suffered behind the anger.  When your angry friend or loved-one expresses anger, you can learn to “suss-out” what the hurt or loss is that is behind the anger.  This works best when there is a foundation of love already there, that the relationship is built upon.

I mentioned recovery, and discipleship.  I would also like to add that learning how to walk, including dealing with anger, is worked out or learned in relationship.  We have to have the vertical relationship with God, but to grow, we must have horizontal relationships with other people.

Who is your sponsor and who are you sponsoring?  Who is your mentor and who are you mentoring?  Who is fathering or mothering you (in a the good sense!) and who are you fathering or mothering?  Who is your safe friend and who are you being a safe friend to, that is even closer than a sibling?

Growth is worked out and happens in duos and trios, and sometimes in quartets, quintets, sextets, septets, octets, and nonets.

Hide Me From Horrible People’s Plans of Verbal Abuse

Hide me from the scheming of wicked people, from the mob of evildoers.

-Psalm 64:2
There are very bad people who have it in their minds to verbally abuse others with lies, gossip, slander, maligning, or cursing.  They want to shoot their abusive words at people in an ambush or surprise attack, for maximum damage.
We can pray for God to hide us from them.  
You can be visible, popular, or famous; and still ask God to hide you from wicked people and their schemes.  
The enemy, Satan, uses people; and people, inspired by the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13) plot evil against other people.  We need to maintain a relationship with God, where we have the humility, no matter how successful we are, to ask God to hide us from the plots, schemes, and plans of wicked people.
Being hidden from horrible, wicked people is a good thing.  Peter was hidden from Herod, in Acts 12.  Obadiah hid prophets in caves (1 Kings 18).  
Our Christian lives are now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  It is a blessing or blessed state, to be hidden in God (Ruth 2:12).  Hiding in God is equivalent to resting in God (Ps. 91:1).  
Hiding in God is the place of rescue from enemies (Ps. 143:9).  Have you learned to rest in God, when you are under attack?  Have you learned the principal of not having to clear your name, but let God be your vindicator, judge and arbitrator?
God’s shelter is a place of hiding from all that is said about you: slander, false accusations, malicious gossip, and every verbal abuse (Ps. 31:20).  We are in Jesus hands (Jn. 10:28).  We are God’s treasure, his jewels, that are hidden in him (Mal. 3:17).
Being hidden is also to not be glorious to the world, in the world’s eyes, but to be obscure (Jn. 5:41) and getting glory by being hidden with Christ in God (Jn. 5:44, Col. 3;3).  
The whole of the matter or the rest of the story, as told by Psalm 64, the text, “Hide me from the schemes of wicked people“, in context is this:
For the choir director. A Davidic psalm.

God, hear my voice when I complain:

  • “Protect my life from the terror of the enemy.”
  • Hide me from the scheming of wicked people.”
    • “From the mob of evildoers.”
      • “Who sharpen their tongues like swords.”
      • “And aim bitter words like arrows.”
        • “Shooting from concealed places at the innocent.”
        • “They shoot at him suddenly and are not afraid.”
      • They encourage each other in an evil plan.
      • They talk about hiding traps and say,
        • “Who will see them?”
      • They devise crimes and say,
        • “We have perfected a secret plan.”
      • The inner man and the heart are mysterious.

But God will shoot them with arrows;

  • Suddenly, they will be wounded.
  • They will be made to stumble;
  • Their own tongues work against them.
All who see them will shake their heads.

Then everyone will fear and will tell about God’s work.

  • For they will understand what He has done.

The righteous one rejoices in the Lord and takes refuge in Him.

All those who are upright in heart will offer praise.
God has a plan.  God sees.  God hides us and protects us.  God deals with people who say and plan horrible things towards his people.
We do not need to vindicate ourselves.  If we give in to the need to do so, we will end up spending all our energy on it and also end up down in the mud with our muddy accusers.  We need to abide in, hide in the Lord.
Don’t be shocked, surprised, disheartened, or devastated when you are ambushed by verbal attacks.  Learn humility and meekness.  Learn how to love your enemy (human persons).
Hide in God.  Let God protect you and fight for you.  Let God vindicate you.  Let God be your vindication.
When attacked, go deeper with God.  Ask for hiddenness.  Face God when verbal attacks come your way.
You will be betrayed, slandered, maligned, maliciously gossiped about, lied to, called names, made fun of, taunted, threatened, cursed, and cussed out.  Do you still want to be Jesus’ disciple, Abba’s child?  I hope so.
“Come to Jesus, get saved, and you won’t have any more problems”, is not the gospel.  You will have more problems, but more solutions, grace, and unspeakable joy in life everlasting that begins now.  You will have hope that you didn’t have before.  You will peace that you never thought possible.
There are rainbows with the storms and there is rock that you with stand strong on in the storms.  Perseverance and contentment will be your way of live in the love of God.
Every negative that comes your way, including horrible people dogging you with verbal abuse; is an opportunity to receive a blessing from God.  Being hidden in God is our birthright, part of the whole package in Christ.  Every negative should turn us towards God, who provides for his kids.
You have a testimony and you are a testimony to the onlooking world of God’s goodness.  You are an epistle, a letter, a story about God’s redemption that is ongoing.  “Let me tell you what God has done and is doing in my life.”  
God does “show and tell” through our lives, as examples or what he does and who he is.  There is a time in the future when everyone will bow to God (Is. 45:23, Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10).  God is in the process, about the business, of encouraging people to come to that place, now, in this life; through his work in our lives.

Anger part 2

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent?

-Genesis 4:6
There is a lot of anger in the world.  Christians are angry.  Love is supposed to be our forte, but so many of us are more seething and simmering with anger than experiencing and being love.
The first instance of anger, in the Bible, is the story of Cain.  In anger, he killed his brother.  We don’t just have that fact, but the story is about hurt or jealous rivalry, with God attempting to intervene, and Cain making the wrong choice, even after an encounter with God.
In our lives, we might feel justified in our anger.  We would say that this or that happened and it might have been brought about by a certain person in our life, whom we become angry with.  What is very unfortunate is that as a Christian, we retain the anger, the bitterness, and the unforgiveness toward the other and wonder why our Christian life is not joyous, fruitful, or filled with peace.
Imagine that in the midst of your fretting and fuming, that God shows up and asks you, “Why?”  We might immediately repent or we might not listen and not answer God, and continue in our anger.  The latter is what Cain did what we often do today.
We make the mistake of living Christian lives, ignoring God.  It is a mistake to live, forgetting that Jesus promised us he would always be with us.  When hurtful things happen to us, God is there in all his goodness, love, and grace towards us; but to live in God, we must choose to practically walk with him and receive from him, which is the essence of the Christian life.
We have the same heavenly Father that Cain had, who is concerned for our welfare.  God comes to each one of us and says, “Why are you furious?”  The lesson is to tell God your hurt.
Anger is a secondary emotion.  It is a reaction.  Anger comes from hurt or loss.
Cain was angry with his brother.  Cain’s anger was not resolved through connecting his hurt heart to God, and grew into judgement of the worst sort.
We get angry because our need is not met or we suffer injustice.  Whether we were purposely sinned against or we just did not get something we hoped for, anger that grows into bitterness, rage, and unforgiving judgement is not justified.  We can develop an angry style if we continually view our relationships from a demanding point of view that is irrational.
Some people enter into all of their interpersonal relationships with demands for validation, love, and acceptance.  When their unspoken demands are not met, they experience rejection and respond with anger.  The root of their problem is not with all these people, but in themselves.
Self love is the foundation from which we love others.  It is not loving to constantly be offended  by people for not validating us.  I can not function in relationships in a healthy or whole manner if I do not love myself.
When I am continually taking offense at others for their not meeting my demands and become angry at them, with a folding arms and pouting style; I am not loving them.  And the reason we adopt this style is because we do not love our selves.  God designed us to love him and love ourselves, then love others unconditionally.
When a hurt happens in life and we feel it, we might get angry.  We can decide to stay angry and even get angrier.  Or, we can feel the hurt.
When we feel the hurt, that might be uncomfortable, but feeling can lead to healing.  Anger does not lead to healing, but disconnects us from our pain and our relationship, with the other, with our selves, and with God.
Part of the process is to feel it and validate the pain, hurt, or loss; without resorting to judging and punishing someone else.  We often need to forgive.  We also might need to negotiate the hidden demand that resulted in the hurt.
Was I or am I making an unrealistic demand on others that ends up hurting myself?  Is there room for me to grow in self love, so that I can love others, and might I need to cultivate that self love through letting God love me, and seeing myself as a loved person?
Some of the practical ideas here are from:

Caring Enough To Confront, by David Augsburger; pp. 36-40


My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,  and do not give the devil a foothold.
-James 1:19-21, Matthew 5:21, Ephesians 4:25-27 (NIV)

Photo: Pixabay
Are you angry?  Did you get angry today or yesterday?  We have opportunities to get angry all the time.  
Is anger good, bad, healthy, or unhealthy?  Is there righteous anger? Do I have a right to be angry?
The Bible mentions anger many times and James has a word on anger.  He shares a piece of wisdom about anger: that our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
Behind this admonition and the hearers of it must have been folks who had an angry style and thought they were on the path to righteousness.  We use the words “self righteous” as a negative description of someone who has religious pride in themselves and in their spirituality including lifestyle and knowledge.
This is a word to Christians who have anger mixed in with their Christian lives.  Irritability is a sign of weak spirituality and not of Christ’s life in your life.  Quick anger is also a sign of immature self-contentedness.
We can also have anger in our spirituality that goes above and beyond anything God calls us to.  From the first century, up to today, there have been people who kill others, because of doctrinal differences.  This begins with words and words come from an unrighteous heart.
Jesus makes the connection in Matthew 5, that murder stems from unrighteous anger.  We don’t have a right to that kind of anger.  Specifically, Jesus equates calling someone an “idiot” (you fool or good for nothing), as equal to murder.
In other words, calling people ‘idiots’ is not ok.  Calling yourself an ‘idiot’ is also not ok.  When we are tempted to do so, it is time to be reconciled to God and to be reconciled to that person.
When I think of anger, my mind goes to James 1:20, which says that our anger does not produce the righteousness of God.  I want God’s righteousness.  I don’t want to be self-righteous, but I want Jesus’ life in me.
James does not say that we don’t get angry.  We do get angry.  He says not to fool yourself that anger is part of the Jesus style or God’s life in your life.
Then, we have Paul’s words, in Ephesians 5, that tell us, “In your anger, do not sin”.  The literal translations say, “Be angry and do not sin”.  How do we do that?
We do have things that happen to us, just about every day, that can and do spark us to anger.  With both small and large offenses, we do feel the “Ouch!”, which is the natural reaction to being hurt.
After the experience or expression of hurt is the crucial step to take so that we do not sin.  
Are you ready?  
You experience anger, which is irrational: it is just a feeling or emotion.  It is actually a secondary emotion: a reaction.  The primary emotion is the hurt.
Beneath the anger is something and we need to feel and express that.
If we do not feel it, then we are disconnecting from it and disconnecting from God, others, and ourselves.  I can tell you all about what they did to me or how I was ripped off and it is all true.  I critique, level charges, accuse, judge, and make sure I get my story out there; but in so doing, I am disconnected from my pain and there is no redemption for me and no reconciliation.
There is another way of telling your story and telling it truthfully and for healing.  And that is to express the loss, the sad and the bad, the shame and the fear, the hopelessness and the emptiness.  That is honestly, transparency, and authenticity.
In the moment, in the midst of the feeling of anger, we must turn away from criticism, blame, and judgement.  We must not yield to the temptation to set ourselves up as judges and mete out punishment.  We must not take on the role of “prosecutor” or “accuser” of the other party.
You might say that there is no way I can not do that, because what was done to me was so bad, so hurtful, and so grievous.  I would say, I understand that you feel pain.  Passing judgement through criticism and blame, just reacting to the offence will not heal you, but make it worse.
We need to experience the pain, the loss, the sadness, and shame; with God.  We need to open the door of our hurting hearts to God.  That will heal you and bring wholeness.  
We might need another believer to be a priest to us in these times, helping us connect with the hurts and open our hurting hearts to God, and find a deeper connection, for healing.
When you “vent”, which is a term we use (venting), are you expressing criticism and blame, making the case against your offender?  Or are you connecting with your sadness, loss, pain, and even shame; and expressing that to the other?
When you have a loss, an injustice, or a person in your life that seems to be standing in your way to God’s best for you; you have a bad feeling.  You have to steer that feeling towards God and surrender the hurt, the confusion, the loss, the disappointment, to God and let God into that space.  You have to choose to turn away from anger, from judgement, criticism, and blame.
When you do this, you get yourself free and you allow God to move, to bless you, to compensate you.  If you choose anger as a place you live, you are choosing stuck-ness.  It is a cul-de-sac that you stay in, until you choose the “feel it and heal it” way of getting better instead of bitter.

Identity: God’s and Your’s

Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.
   But Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?
   God said, “I’ll be with you. And this will show you that I’m the one who sent you. After you bring the people out of Egypt, you will come back here and worship God on the mountain.”
   But Moses said to God, “If I now come to the Israelites and sat to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they are going to ask me, ‘What’s this God’s name?’ What am I supposed to say to them?”
   God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. So say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” This is my name forever; this is how all generations will remember me.
-Exodus 3:9-15 (CEB)

Picture: Pixabay

Do you have an identity?  I mean a way that you identify yourself.  We might say that we are a self-identified _____.

Moses did not identify himself as a deliverer or even as a leader.  He was just a shepherd, had a family, and lived among a group of people.  In the very distant past, he was in Egypt and had a sort of career and lifestyle that did not work out.
When Moses is confronted by God and called, he asks, “Who am I?”  We might ask the same question.  Perhaps our identity puts us at odds with others and we don’t know how that opposition will work out.
Moses is perhaps coming from a place of humility when he asks, “Who am I?”  God is restoring him to his calling that did not work out and that Moses had probably given up on.  Instead of saying, “What took you so long?”, or, “You bet I’m your man”, Moses says, in a sense, “Who me?”
I reluctant leader is better than someone with a puffed up idea of themselves.
I don’t see God coddling Moses and explaining how he is the one to lead, to go, to confront Pharaoh.  What God does say is, “I will be with you”.  Your identity will come from God being with you.
That is the key to your identity.  Wherever you have come from, whatever your weaknesses, struggles, or disqualifying traits; your identity is that God is with you.  We get too wrapped up in or tied down with notions of this or that being our identity, and so we say we can’t be with these people and those people are opposed to us.
Like Moses, we might say and others might say of us, that we are  not qualified.  But, God’s says, “I will be with you”.  Imagine being ‘qualified’, but not having God with you.

So, I think that we get too caught up in identity that is outside of just being God’s vessel.  Only God qualifies and disqualifies, ordains and denies.  We need to view others with a spiritual point of view, instead of a worldly perspective (2 Cor. 5:16).

“Who am I?”, is the wrong question.  The real issue, is, “Is God with you?”  And I don’t mean, “God on our side.”  I do mean, “Are you coming in your ‘sent-ness’ by God?”

The better question is, “Who is this God?”  Is God your idea, your explanation, or your ‘teaching’?  Or is this God, the living, being, real God who is.  Not, ‘was’ or ‘will be’; but is.

God is “I Am” because God is being, God is, and God is active.  This is especially important to realize in situations where we have suffered long, and where we assume things will never change and will stay crooked.  It is not true, because of God; who is “I Am”.

God is always alive, always actively involved and knowing what is going on, and always attentive.  God today is the same God who did things in the past.  God does not change and is the same as when he was faithful in the past.

There is no special dispensation of unfaithfulness.

Every day is a new day and a day of possibilities.  Even if or when it does not happen, God is active.  God’s loving, compassionate mercy is always alive and active.

We are broken failures like Moses, but God is that God is, and God is faithful.  Some have given up and believe that bondage is permanent, but God is getting ready to deliver.

The story of God is that God is active and relentlessly alive.  God is always working, being, living; and caring for us.  We can turn away from God, close our eyes, ears, and minds; distract ourselves, delude, and deceive ourselves with things that are not true about God.

But, God is always there, always here, always near.  How close we are to God is our choice.  The cultivation of the relationship is our choice.

God is a living person, the I Am.  God is alive.

Your identity is wrapped up in God.  Each of us have personalities, talents, gifts, and destinies that differ.  But God is the same to each one of us as Father.

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