Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sin not in anger

Ephesians 4:26  Don't sin by letting anger gain control over you.

Anger is a difficult emotion to overcome.  Compounding anger with a sinful reaction is even more difficult to overcome.  Anger is defined by as "an emotion related to one's psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged or denied and a tendency to undo that by retaliation".  How do we control this powerful urge to sin in retaliation to the people and things that surround us everyday?  How do we as sinful creatures, train ourselves to respond in a non sinful way?

Yesterday was a lesson in learning for me.  I experienced an anger that was so overwhelming that I was speechless.  Looking back on that experience from the perspective of a new day, I see that speechless was in fact a good thing and most likely the holy spirit covering my mouth!  I had started my day with quiet time with the Lord, reviewing a scripture passage for a meeting with my small group.  The passage was Genesis 33:22-32 where Jacob wrestles with God.  As I read this passage, I thought of how blessed I have been.   We have jobs, health, a home, two working vehicles, four beautiful children and enough food to never know the feeling of hunger.  I was so thankful in fact, that I laughingly thought to myself, "I bet my time of 'wrestling' will come eventually".  It did!  By 8:30 AM in fact.  Didn't take too long for God to wrestle me off my high horse!

What started as a quick trip to the pediatrician for a sore throat in a 12 year old quickly morphed into a wrestling match on the table with a petite nurse, a mother, a large kid and 2 rather long q-tip swabs!  I could not believe my normally well behaved child and this wiggling, squealing monster were the same person.  Now I knew from past experience that this daughter of mine was afraid of strep tests, but this was beyond my wildest imagination.  We had discussed how to best do this test, and even pointed out that it would be less painful than dental shots in the mouth and getting your ears pierced (both of which she had done well at in the last year).  She was ready!  She sat right up on the table, assured me she would be fine and cooperative, and waited patiently...until the door opened and the nurse walked in!

Needless to say,(but I will anyway), I WAS ANGRY!  I was embarrassed.  I was ashamed that I could not control my own child better, ashamed that I obviously had not trained her well enough in obedience, ashamed that I hadn't anticipated this and left the younger siblings at home.  I mustered the ability to say one line, "Get in the car now"!  I couldn't speak anymore.  I couldn't find the words to express to my child what I thought.  Every word going through my mind was inappropriate for a christian mother to say to any child.  So I said nothing.  Nothing all they way to school to drop off the little ones, nothing all the way to the middle school to drop off the offending 12 year old, and nothing on the way to my small group where several christian women waited to discuss the bible verses from Sunday's sermon.

One of the ladies read through the scripture of Jacob and God wrestling, but the part I think of now as most significant wasn't the wrestling at all, but what God said to Jacob in changing his name to Israel. "Your name will no longer be Jacob.  It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won." (Gen. 32:28)   He won.  Perhaps not in the way we look at winning today, Jacob didn't pin God to the ground.  Jacob won because he survived.  He didn't die because of God's presence, he thrived.  Jacob could have chosen anger at God for his troubles, or selfishness when he went to meet Esau the next day, but he did neither.  After his encounter with God, Jacob choose humbleness.

So how do we train ourselves to not sin when we become angry?  With preparation.  Reading God's word on a daily basis will soften our hearts to situations that have the potential to be volatile.  Gathering with other believers who will hold us accountable for our actions, who give Godly advice to help us deal with the "wrestling matches" we encounter, and who stand in the gap praying for us.  Seeking the company of older, wiser Christians whose lives and behaviors we can see as examples even if they're not perfect.  By surrounding ourselves as much as possible with God's word and God's people, we will enable ourselves to reflect Him in our lives and in our responses.  By controlling what we put into ourselves through reading, hearing and association with others, we control better what comes out of us as well.  "Whatever is in your heart determines what you say", Luke 6:45

Determine this day, what you will put into yourself.  Will it be God's word, songs of praise, inspirational christian writing?  Will it be the supermarket checkout magazine, the top 40 music hits, the secular romance novel?  Who will you have lunch with today, the office gossip with an ear bending story, or the christian sister who will pray with you?  We are surrounded by many choices everyday.  Choose wisely.

"then choose today whom you will for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

Saturday, March 5, 2011

If you give a girl a candle.....

If you give a girl a candle, she might want to put it in her bedroom. If she puts it in her bedroom, she may want to set it nicely on her dresser. If she sets it on her dresser, she might notice that she needs to dust the dresser, so she will go to the kitchen to get a rag and some Pledge. When she gets the Pledge from under the sink, she might notice that the dishwasher is done and will begin to unload it. When she puts the plates away, she might remember that she is hungry and will get a box of crackers from the pantry. When she opens the pantry, she will see some tea bags and decide to make a cup of tea too. While she drinks her tea, she may read her bible and notice that the proverbs 31 woman quilts her own bedspreads.  She will think it would be nice to at least wash hers to make them smell fresh. When she gets to her bedroom, she will see that the laundry basket is full, so she will probably decide to wash that as well. When she removes the bedspread, she will probably want to change the sheets too, so she'll go to the linen closet to get the clean sheets. When she pulls out the clean sheets, she will see the new shower liner on the shelf, so she'll probably want to hang that. While she's hanging the shower liner, she may notice that the top of the shower is looking dirty. She will look under the sink to get the cleaner where she will notice that she is nearly out of toilet paper. She will probably want to go to the kitchen to add that to the shopping list. When she gets to the kitchen, she will see her plate and cup on the table so she'll want to put that in the dishwasher. When she opens the dishwasher, she will see that it's only half unloaded. She will probably be frustrated, but she will finish unloading it. When she reaches over the counter to put the cups in cupboard she will notice the box of crackers, so she will most likely put the box away too. She may become a little discouraged. When she returns the box of crackers to the pantry, she might notice the Pledge sitting on the shelf. She will wonder how that got there and will probably want to put it back under the sink where it belongs. When she opens the door under the sink, she might notice a stack of clean rags. With Pledge in one hand and a rag in the other, she may decide to dust. When she is dusting the coffee table, she might hear the buzzer on the washing machine. She will probably want to switch that to the dryer. When she opens the dryer, she may find a load of clothes waiting to be folded and put away, so she will take them to her room and dump them on her bed. On her way back to the laundry room she will see the Pledge in the living room on the coffee table. She will probably pick it up and take it with her to the laundry room in an effort to not forget to finish dusting. After she switches her laundry, she will want to go to her room to fold the pile on her bed. While she folds her laundry she will probably make stacks for each member of her family. When she is done, she will want to put the laundry piles in the right rooms for her family. When she puts the laundry in their rooms, she will probably notice the beds aren't made, so she will probably make them. While she's making them, she will probably wonder how long it's been since the sheets have been washed, so she will change them too. When she takes the sheets to the laundry room, she will see that she already has quite a pile, so she might decide to wait and let the kids wash their own sheets. She may now see the Pledge sitting on the shelf next to washing machine. She will probably want to finish dusting. While she's dusting the book shelves, she may see an empty spot on the shelf, and think that might be a nice place for a candle. Then she may remember the candle in her room. She may go to her bedroom to get the candle, where she will see that her dresser is dusty. She will probably dust her dresser, put the candle back on top, and then lay down for a nap because she is too tired to go find a match to light the candle. When she lays down on her bed, she may notice that there are no sheets, but as tired as she is, she simply will not remember why.

**inspired by “If you give a mouse a cookie” and my friend Rachel!