Friday, October 28, 2011

God Never Disappoints

We have been through some difficult seasons in the past 7-8 yrs, and especially the past 9 mons. A lot of hard things, and some things that came back on us again.

I'm so very thankful for people God brought into our path (they know who they are), to love us and guide us through, and sharpen us. All of them know who they are from Williamston, to Winterville to Greenville, to Washington. Who worked with God and us, either by prayer or directly, to complete the work God was doing, which began before we ever moved to eastern NC. So many hard lessons I have personally learned...the hard way, and still learning some lessons too. Guess that is what it means to be transformed!

Here in the new location we are living in, I can't explain it, but there is such a sense of kindness, receiving, and giving. The overall atmosphere of the town is so inviting, AND the church we are visiting is too. That is, when I got through the difficulty of moving away, and opened my spiritual eyes and ears, to see and hear what was going on around me.

The FIRST time we visited this church was last Sunday. We felt like they truly and sincerely RECEIVED us right away. So KIND, encouraging, considerate, attentive....they remember when we tell them something. From Sunday to today, one of the leaders was thoughtful in asking us about those things we shared. They are making sure we have what we need here in the city. It is the most unusual feeling except to say, God is definitely doing something HERE. He definitely led us by his grace and love, to this place.

The children went to this church today to serve dinner to the local high school football team. They had such a great time with the youth leaders and young people. I mean, they only met these people Wed., and when we picked DD and DS up, they were full of joy and smiles. Excited to tell us all about it. It is good to see the joy coming forth.

People so received them/us overwhelmingly! It is neat to be in such a new place and experience this so SOON. I mean not just very friendly, Like OVERLY niceness......I've never seen anything like it really! This is how outrageous it is! It isn't just ONE or a few, but it is the atmosphere of the church as a whole, and like I said...the city as well.

Our church in eastern NC is so amazing and warm and loving. We know we can't look for a place to compare to what we had there, but this church is very....well....NICE. I mean, with any church it usually takes a little time to get to know people. With these people, it seems like we have known them already. Like a sister church.

Even with all of this showering of love on us, we are going to PRAY and take it slow. Yet, it is wonderful how we are 'fitting' there as if we went from one family, right to the next part of the same family...already knowing each other. It is 'familiar', and much like our eastern NC church in many ways. Isn't that the way it should be in the family of God?

I love how time means absolutely nothing to God! In a blink, He can heal, redeem, restore, bring QUICK recompense. I'm very thankful. Not sure all God has in store for us here, or for how long, but I've seen enough this week to get my attention; things are going effortlessly upward! It is like a pouring out on our family that cannot be stopped. It isn't only of 'things' or 'financial' gain, it is blessings, kindness, favor from God and favor from man. Like I said, something like we have never experienced before. So I want to encourage people with the same encouragement OTHERS have comforted me with....

Hold on to Jesus, HE never disappoints. People disappoint, but God never does. Jesus is the same, Yesterday, Today and Forever. Good things come to those who WAIT PATIENTLY on HIM. The old me would be saying, "Ok, when is the bottom going to drop out?" The new me is remaining expectant, and DRINKING IT ALL IN! So thankful for His mercy and grace.

DH is doing great with his new job...he LOVES it! He has been training with a chaplain from a nearby city who has been PRECIOUS! I got to meet him today, and he is the kind of person you just like immediately. He and DH get along SO WELL! They have had the BEST TIME while he has been in orientation with this chaplain. He has been like a father to my husband, and has taken him places everywhere, and 'showing him the ropes' and all of the BEST spots around here. He has been so uplifting and encouraging...they sing together, and laugh together. Everyday I hear new stories of his awesome day. YEAH!

When I first arrived, my attitude was not good at all. It was so hard to leave and move again for me. Then, God got a hold of me, and I pressed into Him. Through His word He began to show me a different view. I'm keeping my eyes focused on HIS view!

I've had the creative juices flowing this week! Creatively, I've been inspired to draw and paint. I pulled out my keyboard today and hooked it up.

Here is a song that I sang yrs ago with a friend back in Western NC. I would love to learn it on piano, but cannot find the original chord sheet for this range. If anyone can hear the key here, and let me know the chord progression of it, please email me at: jennifer.creates@gmail.com or FB message me if you are in my contacts there. I'd like to learn it to worship with here.




Thursday, October 27, 2011

Drifting by Plumb (featuring Dan Haseltine)

Just when you've lost the will to live, you see the Son.

Oh....I want her purple hair....... love it! :)

Jordan and I just found this via K Love. If you pull the video up in youtube, there is a link where you can download the songs from itunes for free.

Or Click Here to Download it from iTunes via K Love!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Handling Discouragement - Part 2

This is continued from part one that I posted before........

Taken from Banner of Truth website...

Continued from Part I of this article.


So ask yourself, What are the critics saying that might help me improve myself and my ministry? Is there a kernel of truth in this particular criticism that, if changes are made, will make me a better minister?

If critics say something constructive, absorb it, confess your fault, take the lead in self-criticism, ask for forgiveness where appropriate, make changes for the better, and move on. If they offer nothing constructive, be kind and polite, and move on.

Don’t ever get self-defensive or angry, but turn the other cheek, as Jesus advised. If your conscience is clear, a simple, straightforward explanation may be helpful in certain cases, though respectful silence is often more appropriate and effective (Mk. 14:61). At all costs, don’t strive to justify yourself; refuse to descend to the level of the negative critic.

Don’t take every whisper seriously, get sidetracked into fruitless controversy, or spend your energy trying to appease or persuade implacable critics who foster animosity. But do ask: Why am I being misunderstood? Do my sermons, attitudes, “hobby horses,” and personal traits somehow combine to send a mixed message? Am I only implying what I should make explicit, or am I ignoring certain problems that should be addressed? Often your critics will be at least partially right in one or more of these areas; at the very least, they will teach you patience, make you more like Christ, and keep you from pride. They can save you from yourself and lead you to greater dependency on God.

Whatever results the criticism yields, once you’ve dealt with it and implemented the necessary changes, do not let it fester inside of you. Develop the attitude of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “Criticism makes very little dent upon me, unless I think there is some real justification and something should be done.” Either way, deal with the criticism quickly and efficiently, and put it behind you. Remember, pessimism develops when we harbor the memory and hurt of criticism, allowing it to fester inside.

7. Consider Scripture. Some ministers are so delicate that they cannot endure criticism without crumbling. They need to develop better emotional muscle. Other ministers are so battle-hardened by the ministry that their hearts are, as someone said, like “the hide of a rhinoceros.” They need to develop the tender heart of a child. Actually, we need both; we need to cultivate the heart of a child for biblical criticism and the hide of a rhinoceros for satanic criticism. That combination is possible, not in our strength, but only through God’s grace molding our hearts by His Word.

We need to memorize and meditate upon texts such as Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,” as well as Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.” We ought to read and plead upon such texts every day, and let them permeate our minds and souls. Only as Scripture conforms us to the image of Christ will we find the right balance of strong tenderness and tender strength in the face of criticism.

8. Consider Christ. Hebrews 12:3 says, “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself.” Peter is more detailed: “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Pet. 2:21-23). If Christ, who was perfect and altogether innocent, was spat upon, mocked, rejected, and crucified, what can we imperfect pastors expect? If one of Jesus’ handpicked apostles betrayed him for a paltry sum, and another swore that he did not know Him out of fear for a servant maid, why should we expect to carry on our ministries without ever being betrayed or deserted?

What’s more, if our critics happen to be in error and we are suffering unjustly, shouldn’t we thank God that they don’t know how bad we truly are? No matter how much we are criticized, we are never criticized as much as our sin merits, even if we are innocent of the accusation levelled against us.

If we have Christ, who, being innocent, suffered infinitely more for our sake than we shall ever suffer for His sake, we have more than enough to cope with any trial (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 4:7-12). Drink deeply of the love of Christ, and you will conquer pessimism and be able to love your critic.

9. Consider biblical saints. Allow me to illustrate this point only from the example of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians. There he defends himself from the charges of the Corinthians who were challenging his leadership and criticizing him for not being a super-apostle, being physically weak, and having contemptible speech. How does Paul respond to these criticisms in chapter 10? He takes refuge in Christ. “We are Christ’s,” he says in verse 7. He shores up his identity in Christ’s person and His work, according to the Scriptures and his own experience. Then, he strives to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Finally, he submits his every weakness into God’s hands, accepts those weaknesses, and trusts that God will use him even as a broken clay pot to let the gospel light shine through him. Let us go and do likewise.

10. Consider love. Love the one who criticizes you in these ways: For Christ’s sake, become better acquainted with those who criticize you; you cannot love those you don’t know. Seek to understand them. Assure them that you want to learn from them and that you want iron to sharpen iron. Thank them for coming directly to you with their criticism.

Be willing to forgive any injury done to you. Failure to forgive will keep the pain alive. It will sour your preaching, cripple your ministry, and hinder your prayer life. As Spurgeon says, “Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death warrant when you repeat the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive and forget. When you bury a dead dog, don’t leave its tail sticking up above the ground.”

Pray with your critic. If he visits you, always begin with prayer, and ask him to close in prayer, unless he is still bitter at the end of the visit. (In the case of a woman or child, you should probably offer the closing prayer.) Be very careful to pray to God and not against your critic in your prayer. Go the extra mile to ask the Lord to forgive you and to help you change in any area that needs forgiveness and change. Be as specific as possible. Pray with integrity and humility.

And then pray for your critic in private. It’s difficult to stay bitter against a person for whom you pray. The Lord delivered Job from his hard feelings toward his judgmental friends when he prayed for them. Praying for those who defame you produces peace of mind and freedom from most of the pain of criticism.

Feel pity for your negative critic. How unhappy such a person is! What damage habitually critical adults do to their children! How seldom do the children of critics become stalwart sons and daughters of the church! How tragic to be a parent who causes “these little ones to stumble”! Critical parents will have so much to answer for on the Judgment Day. Thank God that you are on the receiving end, not the criticizing end. That, too, is only by grace, for our natural hearts are no better or different.

Finally, put away anything that inhibits love. As Peter writes, “Lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings” (1 Pet. 2:1). Show kindness and attention. I feel so strongly about this that someone said, “The best way to get attention from our minister is to become his enemy!”

There’s another side-benefit to this for yourself as well. You will discover that when you lovingly serve your critic rather than resentfully retaliate against him, your own wounds will heal more rapidly. If your critic rebuffs your attempt to serve him, reach out to serve others-comfort the needy, lift up the fallen, support the weak. That will be excellent therapy for you.

11. Consider the long haul. No president in American history was so respected and yet so reviled as Abraham Lincoln. Thousands opposed his views on war and slavery as well as his attempts to keep the nation united. One day a friend pulled Lincoln aside and told him that the criticism had reached such a crescendo that it was as if Lincoln were surrounded by scores of barking dogs. Lincoln responded, “You know that during the time of the full moon, dogs bark and bark at the moon as long as it is clearly visible in the sky.” Puzzled by Lincoln’s response, the friend asked, “What are you driving at? What’s the rest of the story?” Lincoln answered, “There is nothing more to tell. The moon keeps right on shining.”

You see, Lincoln believed he was right and that his policies would in the long run win over critics and unify the country. As pastors, we can waffle too easily under the pressure of “barking parishioners” when we know we are in the right. To obtain temporary peace with a few disgruntled members, we are prone to abandon long-term biblical vision that shines on our churches and ministries like a full moon. Don’t do that, brothers. Don’t be intimidated by criticism. Don’t allow a few critics to force you into their molds, so that you live timid and hesitant lives, doing nothing, saying nothing, and worst of all, being nothing.

Remember, the fear of criticism is usually a greater threat than criticism itself. Even as you feel the fear of man, let the fear of God propel you forward and upward. Retain long-term vision by fearing God more than man. In the long haul, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again.”

12. Consider eternity. On the other side of Jordan, our faithful Savior will be waiting for us who will never let us down. He loves us even though He knows everything about us, and He will take us to be with Him where He is forever. He will wipe away every tear from our eye and will prove to be the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. All wrongs will be made right. All injustices will be judged. All criticism will be past. All evil will be walled out of heaven and all good walled in.

Because of Jesus Christ, we will enjoy perfect fellowship and friendship with the Triune God, forever knowing, loving, and communing with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. As a woman seeing her newborn forgets the pain of delivery, you will forget all the trials of your ministry when you embrace Immanuel.

In heaven, there will be perfect unity. We will commune with the unfallen angels and the saints of all ages in absolute perfection. There will be no denominations, no divisions, no disagreements, no misunderstandings, no theological arguments, no ignorance. There will not be a hair’s breadth of difference among the saints. We shall all be one even as Christ is in the Father and the Father in Him. There will be a complete, perfect, visible, intimate oneness.

Three great truths shall become perfect reality for us: first, we will understand that all the criticism we received here below was used in the hands of our Potter to prepare us for Immanuel’s land. Second, we will see fully that all the criticisms we were called to bear on earth were but a light affliction compared to the weight of glory that awaited us. Third, in heaven we will be “more than repaid” for every affliction we endured on earth for the sake of our best and perfect Friend, Jesus Christ.

Oh, happy day when this mortality shall put on immortality and this corruption, incorruption, and we shall ever be with the Lord! Let all the criticism our Sovereign God calls us to endure in this life in His infinite wisdom make us more homesick for the criticism-free land of Beulah where the Lamb is all the glory. There,

The bride eyes not her garment
But her dear Bridegroom’s face.
I will not gaze at glory,
But at my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth,
But at His pierced hand.
The Lamb is all the glory
In Immanuel’s land.

Developing a Positive Attitude

Brothers, do we have a positive view of the ministry? We have the most important and significant vocation in the world. My father often said to me, “Your calling is more important than living in the White House!” We never have to wake up in the morning and ask if our ministry is a worthwhile pursuit. As Richard Baxter says, “I would not change my life for any of the greatest dignities on earth. I am contented to consume my body, to sacrifice to God’s service, and to spend all that I have, and to be spent myself, for the souls of men.”

We are ambassadors of the King of kings, and we have His promise that His Word shall not return to Him void (Is. 55:10-11). Christ is our intercessor at the right hand of the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the advocate in our heart. God will not allow criticism beyond what He provides grace for us to bear (1 Cor. 10:13). Every criticism, like any other hardship or difficulty, will eventually work for our good (Rom. 8:28).

Stop your worldly complaining. Count your blessings. Persevere in the good fight of faith. You have the best of assurances in that fight-the promises of God; the best of advocates-the Holy Spirit; the best of generals-Jesus Christ; the best of results-everlasting glory. Follow Fred Malone’s advice, “We must quit expecting people to respond properly, making them our tin gods of life and death. This is idolatry, to live and die upon our people’s behavior. Paul said, ‘Having received mercy, we faint not.’ The comfort of God’s mercy received is the only lasting motivation I have ever found to labor on in trial.”

“Lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet” (Heb. 12:12-13). For every look you take at yourself and your circumstances, look ten times at Christ, as Richard Baxter advised. You can start complaining when you have given as much for Christ as He has given for you. Gird up the loins of your mind, and stand fast, for your Savior is greater than both Apollyon and the times. Your Sender will not desert you. Hold fast your profession-even when friends desert you-by clinging to your High Priest who is holding fast to you. Trust Him. He’s a Friend that sticks closer than a brother; He will never desert you. Don’t put your trust in princes or in a dying, fallen world, but in the Prince of peace. Look Christward; lean Christward; pray Christward; preach Christward.

Put your hands again to the plow, despite your weakness and hurts. “Continue with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible result is before you,” Spurgeon advised. Pray more and look at circumstances less. “Bury not the church before she be dead,” John Flavel quipped, and I would add: “Bury not yourself nor the church before you and she be dead.” Believe Christ’s promise to His servants in Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.”

Don’t resign; re-sign. Renew your commitment to Christ and His cause. You do that the same way the backsliding Ephesians had to “re-sign” when they left their first love. You:

Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen,
Repent of your worldliness and backsliding,
Return to your first love, ministry, and do the first works (Rev. 2:5).

Don’t give up on the Lord. He is not done with you or your ministry. Serve this great God with faithfulness and zeal. The world may not be worthy of you, but God is. Serve your Master with all your heart and every gift that you have.

By Joel Beeke

Monday, October 24, 2011

Handling Discouragement - Part 1

Dear God, forgive me for my foolish pride that creeps in so easily. Teach me what it means to truly live. This really spoke to my heart today.......



Handling Discouragement - Part I

Paul’s farewell message to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:18-35) is warmly affectionate, yet full of solemn warning. Acts 20:28 is the heart of that message, and shows how we ministers must overcome wrong attitudes toward ministry with regard to ourselves and to our work. Acts 20:28 says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

Paul gives three directives to consider as we face opposition in the ministry: take heed to yourselves, take heed to your flock, and take heed to feed the church of God. He enforces each mandate with persuasions to persevere in our work. “Take heed,” Paul says. Stop whatever you are doing. Pay close attention. Deny yourself, and consider what I say, for it is most important.

In this address, I want to focus on one aspect of Paul’s first directive, namely, that we should take heed to ourselves regarding our attitude toward ministry. Within this theme, I want to focus with you on our need as ministers (1) to fight pride, (2) to cope well with criticism, and (3) to develop a positive attitude toward ministry itself.

Fighting Pride

Ministers can develop two paralyzing attitudes to the ministry: pride and pessimism. Both are worldly at heart, for both show that the world is not crucified in us.

God hates pride (Prov. 6:16-17). He hates the proud with His heart, curses them with His mouth, and punishes them with His hand (Ps. 119:21; Is. 2:12, 23:9). Pride was God’s first enemy. It was the first sin in paradise and the last we will shed in death. “Pride is the shirt of the soul, put on first and put off last,” wrote George Swinnock.

As a sin, pride is unique. All sins turn us away from God, but pride is a direct attack upon God. It lifts our hearts above Him and against Him. Pride seeks to dethrone God and enthrone itself.

Pride is complex. “It takes many forms and shapes and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion-when you pull off one layer, there is another underneath,” wrote Jonathan Edwards.

We ministers, who are always in the public eye, are particularly prone to the sin of pride. As Richard Greenham wrote, “The more godly a man is, and the more graces and blessings of God are upon him, the more need he hath to pray because Satan is busiest against him, and because he is readiest to be puffed up with a conceited holiness.”

Pride feeds off nearly anything: a fair measure of ability and wisdom, a single compliment, a season of remarkable prosperity, a call to serve God in a position of prestige-even the honor of suffering for the truth. “It is hard starving this sin, as there is nothing almost but it can live upon,” wrote Richard Mayo.

If we think we are immune to the sin of pride, we should ask ourselves: How dependent are we on the praise of others? Are we more concerned about a reputation for godliness than about godliness itself? What do gifts and rewards from others say to us about our ministry? How do we respond to criticism from people in our congregation?

Our forefathers did not consider themselves immune to this sin. “I know I am proud; and yet I do not know the half of that pride,” wrote Robert Murray M’Cheyne. Twenty years after his conversion, Jonathan Edwards groaned about the “bottomless, infinite depths of pride” left in his heart. And Luther said, “I am more afraid of Pope ‘Self’ than of the Pope in Rome and all his cardinals.”

Pride spoils our work. “When pride has written the sermon, it goes with us to the pulpit,” Richard Baxter said. “It forms our tone, it animates our delivery, it takes us off from that which may be displeasing to the people. It sets us in pursuit of vain applause from our hearers. It makes men seek themselves and their own glory.”

A godly minister fights against pride, whereas a worldly one feeds pride. “Men frequently admire me, and I am pleased,” said Henry Martyn, but adds, “but I abhor the pleasure I feel.” Cotton Mather confessed that when pride filled him with bitterness and confusion before the Lord, “I endeavoured to take a view of my pride as the very image of the Devil, contrary to the image and grace of Christ; as an offense against God, and grieving of His Spirit; as the most unreasonable folly and madness for one who had nothing singularly excellent and who had a nature so corrupt.” Thomas Shepard also fought pride. In his diary entry for November 10, 1642, Shepard wrote, “I kept a private fast for light to see the full glory of the Gospel… and for the conquest of all my remaining pride of heart.”

Can you identify with these pastors in their struggle against pride? Do you care enough about your brothers in ministry to admonish them about this sin? When John Eliot, the Puritan missionary, noticed that a colleague thought of himself too highly, he would say to him, “Study mortification, brother; study mortification.”

How do we fight against pride? Do we understand how deeply rooted it is in us, and how dangerous it is to our ministry? Do we ever remonstrate with ourselves as did the Puritan Richard Mayo: “Should that man be proud that has sinned as thou hast sinned, and lived as thou hast lived, and wasted so much time, and abused so much mercy, and omitted so many duties, and neglected so great means?-that hath so grieved the Spirit of God, so violated the law of God, so dishonoured the name of God? Should that man be proud, who hath such a heart as thou hast?”

If we would kill worldly pride and live in godly humility, let us look at our Savior, whose life, Calvin said, “was naught but a series of sufferings.” Nowhere is humility better cultivated than at Gethsemane and Calvary. When pride threatens you, consider the contrast between a proud minister and our humble Savior. Confess with Joseph Hall:

Thy garden is the place
Where pride cannot intrude;
For should it dare to enter there,
T’would soon be drowned in blood.


And sing with Isaac Watts:

When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died;
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Here are some other ways to help you subdue pride:

Stay in the Word. Read, search, know, memorize, love, pray over, and meditate upon such passages as Psalm 39:4-6, Psalm 51:17, Galatians 6:14, Philippians 2:5-8, Hebrews 12:1-4, and 1 Peter 4:1, all in dependency upon the Spirit. The Spirit alone can break the back of our pride and cultivate humility within us by taking the things of Christ and showing them to us.

Seek a deeper knowledge of God, His attributes, and His glory. Job and Isaiah teach us that nothing is so humbling as knowing God (Job 42; Is. 6). Spend time meditating on God’s greatness and holiness in comparison to your smallness and sinfulness.

Practice humility (Phil. 2:3-4). Remember how Augustine answered the question, “What three graces does a minister need most?” by saying, “Humility. Humility. Humility.” To that end, seek greater awareness of your depravity and the heinousness and irrationality of sin.

Remember daily that “pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). View your afflictions as God’s gifts to keep you humble. View your talents as gifts of God that never accrue any honor to you (1 Cor. 4:7). Everything you have or have ever accomplished has come from God’s hand.

View overcoming pride as a lifelong process that calls you to grow in servanthood. Be determined to fight the battle against pride by considering each day as an opportunity to forget yourself and serve others. As Abraham Booth writes, “Forget not, that the whole of your work is ministerial; not legislative-that you are not a lord in the church, but a servant.” The act of service is intrinsically humbling.

Read the biographies of great saints, such as Whitefield’s Journals, The Life of David Brainerd, and Spurgeon’s Early Years. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, “If that does not bring you to earth, then I pronounce that you are just a professional and beyond hope.” Associate, too, with living saints who exemplify humility, rather than arrogant or flattering people. Association promotes assimilation.

Meditate much on the solemnity of death, the certainty of Judgment Day, the vastness of eternity, and the fixed states of heaven and hell. Consider what you deserve on account of sin and what your future will be on account of grace; let the contrast humble you (1 Pet. 5:5-7).

Coping With Criticism

A pessimistic attitude in a minister is no better than a proud one, for pride is usually the root of pessimism. Ministers become pessimistic when they think they deserve better treatment than they’re getting. At times they may be right, but they may also be failing to exercise self-denial as their Master did, who suffered far worse at the hands of men than they will ever suffer, yet did not retaliate (1 Pet. 2:23).

Resentment and criticism are the maidservants of pessimism. A complaining spirit produces negativism, depression, bitterness, and disillusionment in the ministry. It also promotes smugness and blindness to one’s own condition. Bitter ministers often don’t see their unforgiving spirit, their habit of backbiting, or their tendency to judge others and magnify their deficiencies (Matt. 7:3-5).

If any minister had reason to be pessimistic, it was the imprisoned Paul. Yet Paul wrote his most joyous epistle, Philippians, from prison. Paul knew times of inner gloom and depression (2 Cor. 1:8-9), but his epistles show little evidence of it. He could say, “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). People have enough troubles and burdens without having to endure the ministrations of a pessimistic, discontented pastor.

Part of the problem of pessimism is that few ministers know how to respond to those who criticize them. Being on the receiving end of criticism for many years often results in pessimism, cynicism, exasperation, insomnia, and even resignations. Here are some helps to cope with criticism without letting it lead to pessimism:

1. Consider it inevitable. In a recent study, 81 percent of American clergymen said they have experienced hostile criticism. Twenty-five percent felt that coping with criticism was the most difficult problem of ministry. It is futile to think that you can avoid criticism in the ministry. If you proclaim the whole counsel of God, as you should, you are bound to become a target of criticism. As Jesus says in Luke 6:26, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you.” Expect criticism; don’t be devastated by it.

2. Consider the motive. It is critical, first of all, to listen well. Don’t only get the facts straight, but also ask: Have I heard and understood the criticism rightly and accurately? Have I heard the real problem or just a symptom of something deeper? Unresolved anger, depression, changes in life situations, frustration in relationships, jealousy, shattered expectations, and dissatisfaction with church work can lead to criticism. So ask yourself, “Does the person who is criticizing me have a proper motive, or is it indicative of something else? For example, does the critic enjoy finding fault because it somehow makes him feel superior?” Understanding the person’s motive will help you respond and cope better with the criticism.

3. Consider the source. Who is criticizing you-an office-bearer, a mature believer, a babe in grace, an unbeliever, a highly critical individual, or a fringe member of the church? James Taylor writes, “Those who criticize are usually those on the fringe, who stand back and are deaf to every appeal for service.” Criticisms from such persons seldom merit change or any other investment of energy on your part.

On the other hand, if the critic is a mature believer or an office-bearer who is usually supportive, you should seriously consider the criticism and will often find some truth in it that calls for change. What’s more, you should encourage constructive evaluation from such people. Generally speaking, the more you can sincerely welcome constructive criticism, the more your ministry and relationships with others will benefit from it.

4. Consider the context. The physical setting, timing, and situation out of which criticism comes may help us determine whether the criticism is helpful. As a general rule, don’t respond to criticism for at least twenty-four hours to allow yourself time for prayer, sifting through your feelings, getting past some of the hurt, and consulting others whose wisdom you respect.

Forcing solutions to issues too hastily may make a bad situation worse. Some situations will yield only to the healing touch of time. Truth has a way of eventually vindicating itself. Luke 21:19 says, “In your patience possess ye your souls.”

5. Consider yourself. Critics are often God’s gifts to guard us from self-satisfied and self-destructive tendencies. The Holy Spirit uses our critics to keep us from justifying, protecting, and exalting ourselves. Although critics often exaggerate their case and are seldom entirely right, they are often partially right.

Ask yourself, “Am I responding appropriately to criticism?” Remember, those who have an ear for Christ learn to have an ear for others also. If you find yourself habitually feeling slighted, neglected, and mistreated, view your feelings with suspicion. Let yourself be more vulnerable. Complain less by considering how little criticism you receive, though you are unworthy, compared with Christ, who is perfectly worthy.

Find some accountability partners to monitor your reactions. Seek the wisdom and courage needed to penetrate the insulation around your ego. Don’t be afraid to say, “I was wrong; will you forgive me?”

6. Consider the content. You can learn valuable truths about yourself from critics. Be grateful for that. Some of our best friends are those who disagree with us lovingly, openly, and intelligently. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6). Helpful criticism is like good medicine.

David Pawlison writes, “Critics, like governing authorities, are servants of God to you for good (Rom. 13:4). He who sees into hearts uses critics to help us see things in ourselves: outright failings of faith and practice, distorted emphases, blind spots, areas of neglect, attitudes and actions contradictory to stated commitments, and, yes, strengths and significant contributions.”

http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?565

Woundedness

So beautifully put by Jim Wright, and i found this on his blog: http://crossroadjunction.com/2009/04/21/woundedness/

Woundedness
APRIL 21, 2009 BY JIM WRIGHT 10 COMMENTS

On Sunday I taught men in the jail, using Psalms 116:5-7 (ESV), about moving from woundedness to life. I challenged them not to settle for mere comfort when confronting hurt, but to embrace life instead.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

When hurt and wounded, too often all we can muster is a desire for God’s comfort or soothing presence. Although he’ll sometimes do that, what he really wants is to move us past woundedness into brokenness – that low place where we are willing to surrender to him. Only then can we hope to experience the bountiful life, both in us and around us, that comes from finding and finally doing God’s joyous will.

Many Christians confuse woundedness with brokenness, but they are not the same. Woundedness is hurt and self, while brokenness is surrender and God’s will. The main thing that separates woundedness and brokenness is pride.

Brokenness, as opposed to woundedness, happens when we are finally stripped of our pride – sometimes due to pure exhaustion.

Short of total capitulation from hitting absolute bottom, we typically don’t reach brokenness. Instead, we resist by wrapping our woundedness around us like a cloak of honor. It becomes our old familiar friend and part of our self-sustaining identity. Often, we deceive ourselves into believing that our success at enduring hurt and pain comes from spiritual maturity or strength, when it really comes from numbness and shutting down our heart. Sometimes, we even parade out our “humble” wounds in public as a plea for sympathy and to avoid the changes God wants of us.

Such pride traps us in woundedness.

Pride wants God merely to affirm or sooth us in our pain, while we stay in control. It makes us unwilling to go to the source of the pain, where we hurt the most. That place, however, is where God patiently waits to meet us and heal us – not by merely comforting us, but by fundamentally transforming who we are by changing how we think and what we believe.

We know when we’ve reached brokenness, as opposed to woundedness, when we experience “simple”. Simple happens when we’ve found the core of who God created us to be, with nothing left of our own will to get in the way. At “simple”, we begin discovering who we really are, based on God’s perspective and not our’s, minus the clutter of our own expectations and all of the “ought’s” that we’ve imposed on ourselves and others.

When we get to “simple”, God can begin to remake and transform us into the men and women he uniquely designed us to be.

As I explained in the jail:

Only at “simple” can we find the core of who we were created to be…
Only at “simple” can we begin to become complete and whole individuals…
Only at “simple” can we finally begin to accept God’s will, rather than our own will (however well intended)…
Only at “simple” can we discover, through him, the unique qualities and desires he created in us and intends for us…
Only at “simple” can we find bountiful life.
Life, however, can be very scary to a hurting person, because life always involves change and hurting people often lack the energy to embrace change.

Getting to life, as intended by God, requires total capitulation and, in our capitulation, total trust that he won’t leave us vulnerable if we meet him at the source of our pain. If we are willing to trust God by meeting him there in brokenness, and then get to “simple” where we can begin to hear and embrace what he wants to say about who we really are – rather than trying to hold onto who we think we are or we think he wants us to be – life will begin springing up in us and around us.

The process of finding life and refilling our emotional wells may take time – often even years – but our souls will find rest as we finally begin experiencing life as God planned it. After all, it usually takes years for our emotional wells to run dry, and it is rare for them to refill overnight.

The choice is ours: A downward spiral of woundedness producing exhaustion and more hurt, or the renewing spiral of life – as God intended us to live it – which then produces even more life.

I don’t know about you, but I chose – and continue to choose – life.

(c) Copyright 2009, Fulcrum Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday Drive/Sunday Sharing

This blog will be quite long because it has Saturday and Sunday's happenings together. Hope you can stay with it because the best is last!

For the sake of not typing out everyone's name in our family. Here are the 'codes':
DH - Darling Husband
DD - Darling Daughter
DS - Darling Son

So today we had planned to stay in, sleep in, and catch up on our rest this weekend. DH has not been feeling well with sinus congestion. He had a great week of work orientation with his now job, but over the weekend his sinuses began to act up. We are all still battling the upper respiratory crud...takes time to get that worked out. It turned rather cold here, got below freezing one night this week. Burrrrrrrrr.... Where's the BEACH! ;)

It has been a whirlwind with moving to a new state, and getting unpacked. I'm happy to say that I only have 3 more boxes to unpack. We have so many books that were packed up... Gave so many books away, and we're going to need another bookshelf for our den to hold the books we kept. Looks like we will also need a wall mount for our TV. The Fireplace mantel is very narrow and will not hold our television. We have a list of 'needed' things that we will just have to ck off as we can aquire them.

One thing I did purchase was a shower curtain for the children's bathroom. All they had before was a clear liner, which was torn away from the rings on each end. This one is pretty cute. (Thanks Lindsay for helping us narrow it down) TJ Maxx has super deals on their clearance and bundle racks. I love that place and glad there is one here where we live. My DD and I found the curtain, and then went next door to Big Lots (or Odd Lots as DH's father used to call it)

Here's a pic...the green bath mat towel does not go. lol I'd love to get some of these... Click Here to See! I've purchased these for family members, and I think I shall purchase some at some point for us! I like the dark chocolate brown ones for the children's bathroom and our master. The downstairs...probably will get the light green or cream color. Probably cream. All of the tile in all bathrooms are large shiny marble looking tiles with dark brown, cream and light brown veins running thru. It's really pretty. Everything is just neutral browns and beige. Which is what we run into with renting. I'm so ready for COLOR someday! Until then, I'll keep accenting with my color decor.



Saturday our family slept in and then we took a drive after lunch. I have a bunch of pics from Sat.'s drive, but they are probably going to look smallish here on my blog. However, will still share them for those of my family and friends who do not have Facebook.

We left out and this is the beauty we saw on our way out....which eventually led us to beautiful fiery trees of Harvest Gold, Orange and Red. Wow!



This is what a beautiful tree, with vibrant yellow leaves looks like when the driver of the car is not leisurely driving...but flying by the scenery...lol



The man behind the wheel eventually slowed down, when he got us to where he was going.....

After much driving through valleys and up mountains, we came to this small town. Before we drove through it (if you blinked you would miss it), we saw a pumpkin festival going on right outside of the little town. I wanted to stop, but I was outvoted. ;)

Instead, DH wanted to take us to see more views that he had seen while in orientation for his new job. We wound up at a cemetary. I was like...a cemetary???? Sort of unusual (keep in mind DH is a Hospice Chaplain and he view deaths as very sacred- a cemetary is a peaceful place to him). Also, the view was quite spectacular from that spot....

Driving up into the cemetary we saw beautiful red leaves on this tree...



One view from cemetary......



Another spectacular view from standing in the gazebo of the cemetary......



Being in the cemetary was hard for me, yet healing for me at the same time. My DD and I got out of the car and walked together while I took some pics with my cell phone. We were both feeling sorrow over some losses, without us even talking about them. We pulled together, and I took this pic of us together....




Just when things seemed a little heavy and sad.....we drove by this....



Now I am in 'no way' disrespecting this family and their loss, but something about this God used to give our family a little comic relief. We have experienced much loss....of family and friend in the past yrs.... When we all looked at that stone, we all thought of Scooby Doo, and how he says, Rut Rough Raggy...and the irony of this led us into much spontaneous laughter. I think God likes laugher. He has a sense of humor, and created us to have one too.

Had to grab one more shot of this water tower...I just loved the rust and color of it...standing tall in the midst of such a colorful backdrop of trees...



On our way out, we stopped at a country store and bought some coca cola's in little glass bottles...



We thought of our precious GaGa. He loved cola in glass bottles, fried pies and moon pies. I was VERY thankful for that coke, which settled my stomach before the tight winding road we ended up on. DH thought he had been on this road. I'm telling you, it was a winding winding tight mountain road. I got a little 'green' with car sickness. The coke to sip on was a blessing.

Then.....we ended up WAY LOST on a dirt road....



...for a LONG TIME we were on this dirt road......which kept breaking out into AMAZING views...



Eventually we found our way back to civilization. I'm telling you, it was not right away....we sure had to trust that we would get there, and we got into some desolate places! Whew! lol

We came to this tree.........I SO LOVE this TREE!!!



Now, on to TODAY, Sunday.

We had 'planned' to sleep in again. We had planned to be together as a family, and take it easy. The past months and weeks leading up to the move have been stressful to say the least. On top of that, our whole family got sick the week DH left to begin work, which was the same week I had to finish up the packing and preparing for movers...with pneumonia. Not fun, so we wanted to stay in and heal.

However, it so happens that our master bedroom is FULLY LIGHTED EARLY in the morning. Even with blinds, it is BRIGHT. We were up by 8 am. Our DD's room is on the same side of the house, so she was up as early. Getting DS awake was a little more of a challenge, but he did get moving pretty quick.

We visited a church that my DH had found on the website, back when he was checking out the new area, before we moved. Every time we visited the site, there was so much about it that reminded us of Harvest Church and Mountain Grove Church. Not that we can ever find the same churches exactly....but something about it just seemed right. When we drove by the church last week, it seemed much different than the website. When we got INTO the building.... what loving people.

We were greated warmly. Even as FULL as the service was, we were greated by ALL of the leaders. They saught us out and noticed we were new, and greeted us. They were INTERESTED in us, and it really showed. They touched us with pats on the back and sincere conversations...and weren't afraid to show the love of God in action.

What blew our minds......well, several things actually!!!

First, it felt very 'familiar'. I think God does that when you are in the place HE wants you to be for that moment. I'm not saying this is 'the place' we are going to make our church home yet. We need to visit places, and pray pray pray!

The service opened with a BEAUTIFUL worship dance!!! OH I wish I had recorded it with my phone. If they do this dance again, I will!!!! (Sarge, you would have LOVE It!!) It was so anointed. They used flags and tamborines...wow!!! Here is the song they danced to....the words so ministered to our family....anointed and I hope they will do it again sometime!



During praise and worship, the Holy Spirit flowed so freely. Actually their service reminded me of some services I've seen online at Bethel in California. How many people go down front to worship...their songs, etc.

Here are the songs that were sung during worship this morning....we felt right at home because Harvest Church had introduced us to many of these songs. ;) Thank you God for these words in song...such comfort and reminders from the Lord especially with where our family is at right now:



This was AWESOME when they sang it....



Third song.....and could not believe they did this one today......... Wow God! I've LOVED this ever since I heard it at Harvest Church...

His LOVE NEVER FAILS it NEVER GIVES UP, it NEVER RUNS OUT ON ME! I never have to be afraid...this ONE THING REMAINS!




Ok, this was totally amazing and such a God moment! My DD had a dream last night. She woke up singing a song. At a point in the service this song was played!!!! She had a dream where the enemy was really attacking her at the core of her giftings and her heart to encourage others, and she woke up singing this song. God was reminding her of WHO she is in HIM even as she was waking up. I had also been very attacked by the enemy this week...the enemy IS the accuser of the brethren.

Anyway, so, DD woke up singing this song, THEN it was played in the service today! How cool is that?? Only God can orchestrate what He did today!

I needed to hear it too. Here it is......



The message was on being HIS BELOVED. There was so much greatness of God in that message today. What a compassionate, passionate, and loving message today. The Pastor shared parts of a song with us by Misty Edwards on what love really is:

Here are some notes from the message today:
Love is what Jesus showed us on the cross. It is willing to be....... Arms Wide Open, A Heart Exposed, and Bleeding...Sometimes Bleeding. Jesus was our example. We must keep our arms wide open to people, we must be willing to allow people to expose the truth of their hearts while still accepting them where they are at...sometimes we bleed..allow them to bleed. By HIS stripes we are healed. It isn't anything WE do for someone else, but what we allow Christ to do through us as we love others....as we hold them, cry with them, for however long it takes for them. God loves THRU people. It was so refreshing to hear this. These are all quotes from the pastor I am typing previously and now... Love is the key to disclosure, in the purity of love. Only the emotion of love will overcome fear. Open your heart, let love in. Love others, and let others love you. There is no fear in true God passion love. Ministry is holding someone while they open their heart, while they are bleeding....ministry is holding one another through it and allowing Christ to do the healing. He also mentioned a quote about, "A Lover OUTWORKS a worker". When someone is doing something with love, they will last and they will have passion. They won't give up on someone else. Paul boasted in his weaknesses, he gloried in them because he knew in his weakness, Christ's strength would be revealed. Our heart is like a mirror to others. God always makes room for others. There is room for me. I am a delight in everything I bring in the name of the Lord. God pursues us through people. He referenced the pepsi commercial of the puppies in pursuit....Click HERE and you can see the Puppies in Pursuit. See the end how the puppies shower with love...



This is how God pursues us and how HE uses people to pursue us with His love. Lay down our walls in our relationships. It is about HIM but it is also about US. He uses US to be His love. Emotions are not bad. Too many times we shut them off. His love for us is passionate and he delights spending time with us, and the body of Christ should delight spending time with one another. And be sad when we have to go away. (It helped me so much to hear these words because I do have sorrow that we had to go away, and God was saying to me this morning...you are OK to feel that!) He said that knowledge makes arrogance, but love always edifies. The scriptures He referenced in this message were:

Romans 1:7
Song of Solomon 4:8
Song of Solomon 7:10
Matthew 13:44
Jeremiah 31:3
Psalm 23:6
John 3:16
Romans 5:8
Hebrews 13:5-6
John 15:15
1 John 4:18
Romans 5:5
1 Corinthians 8:1-3
1 John 4:18
1 John 4:19

He said, "Where fear restrains us, we can hear Your Heartbeat God."

Here was the ending song of the sermon:



The Pastor finished with reminding us who were are in Christ. "Beloved" Our identity of being His Beloved. Also, he shared a story about his brother who died (I think pretty recently but he was in his 50's when he died). He had alzheimer's, and shrank to look like a 90 yr old man. After he died, his wife was in the shower crying out, and when she opened her eyes, she saw her husband...and he said these words to her:

"Pain will make you strong. Great pain will make you invincible. Be invincible for Him."

If we had slept in, we would have missed all of these wonderful words God wanted to share with us to encourage our hearts. Thanks God for loving us that much! He also brought up Romans 8:28 :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dealing with Your Anger

God really used this to encourage me today, and I found it on the Family Life website. I'm sharing it because maybe it will encourage someone out there as well.

I believe God led me to this. I was doing some research during my bible study time, and God led me right to this article. It really helped me with overcoming my disappointments, pain, wrongs done to me...and to deal with my embittered and angry heart.

Forgive me for the ways my anger has spilled out through my words, actions and attitudes. Thank you God for patiently dealing with me, and lovingly correcting me.

Dealing with Your Anger
If you don't learn how to handle anger, you will constantly hurt others.
by David Powlison

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

What makes you angry? Are they small things, like traffic jams, lines at the grocery store, not being able to find a shoe, a waiter’s mistake, or a friend’s inattention?

Are they big things, like when someone betrays you? Experiences of injustice, meanness, violence, oppression, selfishness, or lying?

How do you deal with your anger? Do you explode? Does everyone around you know when and why you are angry? Or are you more subtle?

Do you get irritated and short with those around you? Do you gossip and complain about your spouse, children, coworkers, and friends? Or maybe you just turn your anger in on yourself and become depressed and bitter.

You might have noticed that you can’t avoid dealing with your anger. Anger is an inevitable response to living in a troubled world where things can and do go wrong all the time.

But if you don’t learn how to deal with your anger, you will constantly hurt others. You will poison your own heart. You will estrange yourself from God. God cares about what makes you angry, and God cares about how you express anger.

Common advice

Some counselors notice that people get tied up in knots when they hide or stuff their anger. They will tell you to deal with your anger by getting in touch with how you feel and then expressing it. “Get it off your chest. Say exactly what you think. Give ‘em a piece of your mind.”

Other counselors have noticed how destructive people become when they express anger. They will counsel you to control your anger. Psychotherapy, medication, exercise, and meditation are just some of the different ways they recommend for defusing your anger and calming yourself down.

So which is it, venting or calming?

Actually, God has a different way for you to deal with your anger. He knows well that stuffing your anger deep inside is destructive. And just learning tricks for keeping calm never discovers the purpose for which God designed anger. Anger needs to be acknowledged and expressed in a positive way, as a form of doing what is good and right.

At the same time, God knows well that venting your anger is destructive. Instead of expressing your anger in ways that hurt those around you, it is possible to express your anger in a way that actually redeems difficult situations and relationships.

How does this happen? It starts with understanding what anger is, where it comes from, and how a right relationship with God will actually change the way you view and express your anger.

What is anger?

Anger is your God-given capacity to respond to a wrong that you think is important. It always expresses two things:

It identifies something in your world that matters to you.
It proclaims that you believe that something is wrong.

This could be something as minor as being served a cold cup of coffee at a restaurant. Or it could be something as major as your spouse running off with your best friend.

God also gets angry at things that are wrong in this world. Your capacity to be angry is an expression of being made in His image. So when you get angry, you are not necessarily wrong. But often anger does go wrong.

Getting angry about things that don’t matter

God’s anger is always holy and pure because what He says is wrong is wrong, and what He says matters, does matter. God is rightly displeased when people are harmed and hurt by others. Romans 13:10 (ESV) tells us, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor” while Romans 12:17 says, “Repay no one evil for evil.” Two wrongs never make a right, and our anger often simply doubles the wrong. But God’s anger makes right what is wrong (Romans 12:19).

One difference between our anger and God’s anger is that, since we aren’t always holy and pure, we often get angry at things that aren’t true wrongs … or at things that don’t really matter to anyone but us. If you throw a tantrum when you are served cold food in a restaurant, or curse when you are stuck in traffic, you should recognize that these are not things that really matter in God’s world.

God explains to us in the Bible why we get angry at things that don’t really matter to anyone but us. The apostle Paul uses the phrase “desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16) to describe where our wrong anger comes from. You and I get angry because of what we desire (what we expect, want, and believe we need) to happen in a certain situation or relationship.

Think about the last time you got angry. Underneath your feelings, words, and actions is something you wanted but didn’t get. Respect, affirmation, power, convenience, cooperation, help, money, comfort, intimacy, peace, pleasure, identity, safety … what is it that you want? And how do you respond when you don’t get it? Anger going wrong loudly tells the world, “I want my way! My will be done!”

Wanting a good thing more than God

Sometimes you want good things. It’s not wrong to want your husband to love and listen to you. It’s not wrong to want your children to respect and obey you. It’s not wrong to want your boss to be honest with you. It’s not wrong to want a warm meal and a hot cup of coffee, or to get to your appointment rather than getting stuck in traffic.

But when fulfilling your desires, even for a good thing, becomes more important than anything else, that’s when it changes into a “desire of the flesh.” You want it too much. When you don’t get what you want, demand, believe you need, and think you deserve, your anger flares up.

James, in the letter he wrote to the early church, said this about where wrong anger comes from: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2). When you want anything, even a good thing more than God, you will get angry when you don’t get it or it’s taken away from you.

Responding to a true wrong in the wrong way

And sometimes you are right to be angry because you are experiencing a true wrong. Then the problem is not the fact of getting angry, but how you express that anger. It’s not right for someone to tailgate you, recklessly and aggressively endangering you and your family. It’s not right when your spouse is indifferent or inconsiderate. It’s not right if your boss treats you unfairly or your child refuses to obey. It’s not right when you are abused or attacked.

Anger has been given to us by God as the way to say, “That’s not right and that matters.” In our broken world, you will have many good reasons to be angry. But, because we are part of the broken world, we express our anger at true wrongs in the wrong way. We blow up. We get irritated. We gossip. We complain. We hold a grudge. We shut people out. We get even. We become embittered, cynical, hostile. Something really wrong happened … and we become really wrong in reaction.

Taking God’s place

What’s behind your wrong anger? When you get angry, aren’t you taking God’s place and judging others—and perhaps even judging God? Whether you are angry about something trivial or something serious, your wrong reaction reveals that you are living as if you are in charge of the world and believe you have the right to judge the people around you and the way God is running the world.

When James 4 talks about anger, it goes on to discuss why it’s wrong to judge and criticize others: “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). God alone has the right to pass final judgment.

Think about when you get angry. Aren’t you insisting, “My will be done; my kingdom come”? And when things don't go your way, don’t you judge those (including God) who are not doing what you want, as if you were God? You aren’t, but when you are angry, you often act as if you were.

Because your wrong anger has to do with your relationship with God, you can’t deal with it by learning a few strategies or techniques. Wrong anger creates a big problem between you and God. He doesn’t like upstarts who try to take over His universe.

Your anger is not just about you and all the frustrating things that happen to you. It’s not just about you and your cranky, oppositional personality. And it’s not just about you and all the unreasonable people in your life. It’s about you, those frustrating circumstances, all those unreasonable people … and the living God. It’s about you acting like you are in charge of God’s world and other people. But God is in charge.

Acting as if you are God—pride—is the beating heart of what it means to be a sinner. This insight into anger is hugely freeing, and very sobering. Anger going wrong testifies to pride. When you see yourself as a sinner—instead of focusing on how everyone around you is wrong—then God’s grace and mercy is available to you. God’s mercy is for those who honestly confess their sins to Him and ask for the grace to change. That’s how James 4 continues: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; see 4:7-10 for more details of what’s involved in turning to God).

Anger is merciless. Anger sees, punishes, and gets rid of all offenders. But God has chosen to be merciful to wrongdoers, including someone like you, who struggles with taking God’s place in the world (Ephesians 2:1-5).

God’s mercy brings life to you. If you struggle with bitterness, if you grumble, if you yell and argue, then you need God’s mercy. You will receive mercy and help when you confess to God your struggle with trying to control everything, with wanting to be God, and with judging those around you. God’s just anger toward sinners like you was poured out on his Son on the cross. Because Jesus died, you can be forgiven and have a whole new life.

When you honestly confess your sins to God and ask Him to forgive you for Jesus’ sake, you will receive forgiveness and the gift of God’s Spirit. The Spirit will give you the power to express your anger, not your way, but God’s way.

God’s anger is redemptive. How does God respond when something important in His world is wrong? He responds redemptively. Is God angry when people act like they are god, playing false to Him and bringing grief to themselves to others? Yes. But how did God express that anger? By sending His very own Son to this broken world to be broken on the cross. He sacrificed Christ so that His people can be forgiven, transformed, and restored to a right relationship with Him and with others.

Your anger can also result in redemption. When you come to God and find forgiveness for Jesus’ sake, you will be filled with God’s Spirit. Then it will be possible for you also to respond redemptively when you are angry. You can learn to say, “That’s wrong,” without ranting or exaggerating what happened or calling someone names or cursing or hating the person.

What matters to God will matter to you. Being filled with the Spirit means that everything about you will start to resemble God. Instead of responding with sinful anger to unimportant things, you will start to see your life from God’s perspective. You will begin to care about things that truly matter, instead of reacting to relatively unimportant things.

Jesus, when He was on earth, was not a stoic. No one cared more than He did about the things that were wrong in this world. He cared so much that He gave His life to right those wrongs. But He was driven by faith and love, not by pettiness, hostility, and aggression. Becoming like God means that you will care about the things Jesus cares about—the things that truly matter in God’s world.

Becoming like God also means that when you see a true wrong, you will learn to respond the way God does. When God sees a true wrong He responds constructively. He has done this towards us, by naming our wrongs clearly, and then offering us what we do not deserve. Here are some ways that God responds constructively to a true wrong:

God is patient. Patience literally means slow to anger. God is described in the Old Testament as “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6). Learning to be “slow to anger” means living in a world that has things wrong in it—an unloving spouse, an unfair boss, a disrespectful teenager—and being willing to stay in difficult situations and relationships for the long haul.

Why? Because you realize that you live in God’s world, not your own, and though this wrong needs to be addressed, your call from God is to persevere in addressing it constructively, patiently, and kindly.

God is merciful. Mercy is a way of looking at something that is wrong and saying, “I’m going to tackle that to make it better.” The mercy of God is a constructive displeasure. God could respond with wrath, but instead He sets about making right what is wrong.

Because God is merciful, He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you. His just anger was poured out on Jesus. God’s mercy means you are spared the consequences of your rebellion against Him. As you experience God’s mercy, you will learn to be merciful. Instead of angrily judging others, you will roll up your sleeves and help to right the wrongs you see.

God is forgiving. God’s forgiveness doesn’t make what was wrong okay. He names what is wrong (including our wrongful anger!), and deals with the wrong by paying the price Himself. Forgiveness is a way to be displeased in a constructive way. Instead of insisting on justice right now, forgiveness acknowledges the wrong and lets it go. When you love your enemy by treating him or her kindly, you are overcoming evil with good. Loving someone who’s done wrong is the way to overcome that wrong.

God confronts in love. There is a place for a right kind of anger, an anger whose purpose is love. Because God lovingly confronts, so can you. For example, abusers and those who do evil to others should be brought to justice. It is both constructive and loving for wrongdoers to face the consequences of their wrongs. If your child is disrespectful, you should be upset, and there should be consequences. But what do you do with that upset?

Do you rant and rave? Become physically abusive? No, your anger can be constructively expressed as a clear reprimand and fair consequences. You are forceful, but your forcefulness is motivated by love for your child.

Godly anger constructively engages what is wrong in a way that is patient, merciful, forgiving, and honest in tackling what needs tackling. Our sinful anger causes hurt, destruction, and alienation. Godly anger becomes an instrument in God’s hands to make this bad world better.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

God’s ways of dealing with wrong are wonderful and surprising, combining firmness with gentleness, honesty with forgiveness. But how do you put them into practice? How do you learn to let go of your wrong anger and express just anger constructively? The Apostle Paul offers practical help in his letter to the Ephesians. He has this to say about handling your anger:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 4:29-5:2

Paul starts by telling us how not to express our anger. First, he says we are not to keep to ourselves and brood (“put away bitterness”). Second, he says we are not to go to the other person and dump our anger (“wrath and anger”). Finally, we shouldn’t go to others who aren’t involved and gossip (“clamor and slander”).

So, if you can’t stuff your anger, or blow up, or gossip, what’s left? You have to go to God for help. As you go to Him, you will learn how to think through your angry reactions, how to go to other people in such a way that you’re actually asking for help, and how to go to the other person in a way that’s constructive. Your anger will be transformed when you understand deep in your heart how God, in Christ, treats you. God’s patience, mercy, forgiveness, and loving confrontation will only become real in your life as your relationship with Him grows. Start with an honest meeting with God.

Here are five questions to ask yourself, and then one thing you need to do that will direct your honest meeting with God.

1. What is happening around me when I get angry? What pushes your buttons? Think of specific times when you become angry. Make a list of the last five times you got angry, or keep track of the next five times. Describe what was going on around you. Now look back at the ways your anger went wrong. Sort out your list into the different ways that anger can go either wrong or right.

When did you get angry at something that doesn’t really matter in God’s world? When did you get angry because you had made a good thing more important than God? And, when did you get angry because you were truly wronged?

2. How do I act when I get angry? Look at your list and write down what you do when your anger goes wrong. Do you express your anger in bitterness (stuffing your anger)? In arguing (in expressing your anger freely to those around you)? In slander (gossiping and talking about those who have wronged you)? Or in some combination of all three?

Be detailed in your description of how your wrongful anger gets expressed. Were there any times when anger actually was an expression of love, not hate, and was expressed constructively?

3. What were my expectations (what did I want, need, demand) when I became angry? Examining your motives brings God into the discussion, because it reveals what hijacked God’s place in your heart. Your answer will show you where you need God’s help the most. This will take your focus off the circumstances that were the occasion for your anger and help you to think about why you believed you had a right to be angry and had a right to express your anger in the way you did.

4. What message does God have for me, in His word, that will speak to my anger? Think back to what James says about the cause of anger. We get sinfully angry when we forget that God, not us, is in charge of the world. If you remember that this is God’s kingdom and not yours, the way you deal with your anger will be hugely affected. When you add to that an understanding of your real sins, then you will also see how God, in Christ, is tender-hearted and forgiving to you. Your anger will be transformed.

Remembering the height, the depth, the width, and the length of God’s love and mercy toward you will put your circumstances and your angry response in the right perspective. Meditating on your need for mercy and God’s forgiveness will remind you that no matter what is making you angry, it’s so much less than what you have been given in Christ.

Turn to the God who loves you and tell Him all about what is making you angry. Name your suffering, your expectations, your desires, your sins, and all the evil you see and do, and bring yourself to the One who suffered and died for you.

God has given us the Book of Psalms so that we have many different ways of talking with God about the things that really matter to us. Some psalms speak to God about our sins (Psalms 32 and 51). Other psalms speak about suffering injustice at the hands of others (Psalms 10 and 31). And many psalms speak of both (Psalms 25 and 119).

All the psalms speak of God, and reveal what He is like and what we need from Him, and how we express love for Him. The psalms are poetic, but they are not poetry; they are living examples given to teach us how to talk honestly with God about things that matter. Your relationship with a living Person is what sets the Bible’s approach to anger apart from self-help books, medications, and mind control. Being in relationship with the living God is what will gradually change your anger from destructive to constructive.

5. What am I called to do? Your relationship with God will always lead you to your relationship with people. If you have gone through all these questions, then you don’t need a prescription that says, “Do A, B, and C.” Because you are in relationship with a living Person, there will be a living quality to your wisdom.

Perhaps at the moment you complain about the waitress and cold coffee, you will realize, You know what? That was just so selfish. Lord have mercy upon me. And then you might even turn to the people you’re eating dinner with and say, “You know, my attitude really stunk there. I’m sorry.” And you should apologize to the waitress, too! Think of how that will make her day—a customer willing to treat her like a person, not just whine because of entitlement and self-righteousness. Then bring up the problem of the cold coffee in a reasonable way.

No one can write the script for you on how to deal with your anger. But every time you notice that you are angry, go through those questions. Then remind yourself of God’s message of love and mercy to you. As you keep going to Jesus with everything in your heart, you will notice that, step by small step, real change is happening.

Your willingness to be mastered by Jesus and to make following Him your first priority will allow you to imitate Him in expressing your anger in a redemptive way. Then your conflicts won’t end with slammed doors and hurt silences. Instead there will be a constructive back-and-forth dialogue that is colored by mercy and a desire for each of you to grow in God’s image. Your real, living relationship with the God who loves you to the utmost will allow you to grow in having real human relationships where the conflicts you have will become an opportunity for growth, understanding, and expressing the fruits of the Spirit.

FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS

My mom said I was a cranky baby, and I have been easily irritated my whole life. Is it possible for me to stop being so angry?

One of the wonderful things about God is that our characteristic struggles are not news to Him. There are some people who are more feisty and irritable than others. Each of us has one or two areas where we are most likely to struggle. For you it is in the area of anger. Others might struggle with fear, or comfort, or lust, or worries about money.

Your goal should not be to find the answer to your struggle, as if you could solve an anger problem once and for all. Instead your struggle with anger can prove to be the door through which you learn to depend on God. Your irritability shows you how much you need God. Because of it you can see that you need His mercy, His forgiveness, and His help every day. Others who struggle with fear learn the same things as their fears bring them to their need to ask God for help.

Go to God with your struggle. As you learn and practice the principles in this article, you will grow in self-knowledge and in your ability to be peaceable and to tackle the problems of life constructively rather than destructively.

Finally, all of our sins express how something potentially good has gone bad. We’ve mentioned how even anger can be something right and constructive. The good part in your struggle with wrongful anger is that you probably have been given a strong sense of justice and fairness. As you grow in wisdom and self control, your desire for justice will be expressed not in irritation at the people around you, but in a willingness to work with them to right the wrongs that you see. Perhaps without fully noticing it, you will become part of a constructive solution instead of a destructive force who makes things worse.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the peace-makers (not the peace-lovers or peace-keepers who always avoid conflicts) because they will be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). God uses his sense of justice and fairness to go to work at making peace with us, and then teaching us to make peace with each other. His children become like Him.

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© Copyright 2010 by the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

For more help on anger, read Anger: Escaping the Maze, by David Powlison, or Freedom from Resentment, by Robert T. Jones, both from New Growth Press.

More information about the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation is available at its website. To look at all available CCEF resources, visit New Growth Press.


David Powlison, M.Div., Ph.D., is a faculty member and counselor at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) with over thirty years of experience. He has written several books, including The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context; Seeing with New Eyes; and Speaking Truth in Love; and numerous minibooks, including Breaking the Addictive Cycle; Facing Death with Hope; Grieving a Suicide; Healing after Abortion; I’m Exhausted: What to Do When You’re Always Tired; I Just Want to Die: Replacing Suicidal Thoughts with Hope; Life Beyond Your Parents’ Mistakes; Recovering from Child Abuse; Renewing Marital Intimacy; Sexual Addiction: Freedom from Compulsive Behavior; and Sexual Assault: Healing Steps for Victims.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unloaded

Blogging is helping me get my feelings sorted out... I guess. It is a neutral way to get things out without hearing back a lot of judgement of how I should and shouldn't be acting right now.

Sunday was the children and my last day at Harvest. So bittersweet. Our Pastors took care of us our last days in that city. I can't think of a more beautiful place or more special people to spend our last days with. Their home is on the water... So peaceful and beautiful scenery. I love them very much and thankful we could stay with them as I finished up our move.... Movers packed Thurs loaded Fri, cleaners came that afternoon to clean our home...Sat carpet cleaners came. It was hard to see this home we know God gave us... All empty and vacant. I miss it. Miss the people already. Miss our church.

Sunday after church we drove 4.5 hrs to my mother-in-law's home. My husband was there to meet up with us. We saw family out at our family farm and had a hot dog roast for our little cousin's birthday. Then got up next morning 4:30am to drive 2.5 more hours to our new location in VA. Movers arrived around 9am to unload everything into our new place. Yesterday was not a good day for me. Tired and tearful. Don't really want to talk to too many people about how deeply this is effecting me. In so many different ways. God knows.

This is going to take some time. Yes I have plenty to be thankful for and I AM thankful! Yes it should be an adventure and make it fun. It is something that is going to take some time to adjust to. God will help me sort it all out. The Holy Spirit is my comforter and will bring the comfort I need. As I was doing a devotional today, I flipped back to some previous days and this verse jumped out at me and it brought me much comfort:

Mark 8:34 ~And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight if himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me].

Another verse that brought me comfort:

John 16:7 ~However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

Sorry for typos or grammar errors. Typed all of this from iPhone. Our computers not hooked up yet. Also if you are reading this, I deactivated my Facebook for awhile. Just don't feel like chatting or being on there right now. Dealing with my sadness.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday

I can't believe it is Tuesday already!! I was so hoping to have been farther along with getting things ready for the movers. Being sick has really set me back.

Yesterday afternoon I did not get the needed rest, with running around and spending hours in Dr's offices and pharmacies, it was late afternoon around suppertime before we made it home.

All during the night I coughed and think I've pulled something in my upper back, from coughing.

There is still a lot of congestion rolling around in the lungs. I could feel it moving last night....lots of wheezing sounds, and gurgling sounds kept me up as I was trying to breathe. Wheezing sounds mixed with coughing fits and running to the restroom. Yuk!

This morning my left ear feels plugged up. Probably from all of the coughing, I blew out an ear drum. lol

I'm going to try to do a few things today...work at a slow pace and try not to get overheated. It is difficult to do, because I get winded so easily with this pneumonia.

My son looked pitiful last night. He was 'out of it', and ran a fever. My daughter is doing pretty well. She coughed some, and mainly her throat is bothering her. Neither of them tested positive for strep, so that was good.

I'm looking forward to all of us HEALING from this crud!

I'm thankful that the movers will be doing most of the work, but my husband and I both agree... if I can get as much as possible packed up, it will help the movers along to load everything more quickly. This will help the whole process along.

I just love the Psalms...how real David is. He is my kind of brother! ;)

Psalm 123 (ESV)
1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O You who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Losing Days

So... I've only got two more days to get everything ready for the movers. They come on Thurs to pack and load everything. The timing is so tight between the house cleaners and carpet cleaners that I'm having to pack up as much as I can to help the movers along. They were going to pack everything and load everything for us, but it will cut out a lot of time if I can get as much packed up as possible. Plus, it will save the company some money as well.

I had made some good progress last couple of weeks with going through our rooms and garages. Then last week, cleaned out the attic, more sifting out things in the garage. Finished packing up Josh's room. Jordan's room is done. She did hers over a week ago and she is good to go. The last I need to do is pack up my bedroom, closet, kitchen, linen closet, and bathrooms and extra closet in bathroom. The bathrooms will be easy...not much there.

In the midst of this move, I started getting sick last week. I noticed some shortness of breath, headache, fatique. Over the weekend it turned into walking pneumonia. Yesterday I honestly thought about calling 911. Jordan said my face was turning bright red because I could not breath in, felt like I was suffocating. I'd say night before last, thru yesterday were my worst with the wheezing and difficulty breathing, fever and headache.

I got into a clinic today and they prescribed some heavy duty meds. My blood pressure was up too. Hope the meds will knock this out because I only have a few more days here to get things done!

I'm so sad that I was unable to attend church yesterday. We have a guest speaker here, and I was looking forward to hearing this man. He will be speaking tonight as well, but Dr.'s orders are for me to stay in bed one more day (at least) and rest, or I could end up in the hospital. Both of my children are also sick..my son is much worse. They both have appointments today at 1:30.

I'm so tired! Hope I can make the drive...so so weak. I'll have to make it through their appointments before I can rest. Between this sickness, I've not been able to work on packing the house for 3 days now....which puts me under pressure to get everything done in less days.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings...

My feelings are so extremely up and down these days. One day I am so hopeful and excited about the move... what God has for us in this new place we are moving. Then the next, I am sad and tearful...thinking about missing many things here and many wonderful people God has brought into our path. I am constantly reminding myself that none of this is about me or what I feel. It is all about putting God FIRST above friends and even family. We must follow God as a couple and as a family unit in service. Everything we own and do is not our own, it all belongs to Jesus.

Right now the sadness and grief is to be expected for a little while, because I am grieving the loss of our home, our supportive homeschool group in Greenville, our loving church family. I know things will get a little better. I know these are all THINGS, but what I will miss MOST are the relationships we have built here. We were in a 'safe' place to be and grow. Pastors Tad and Treva, Pastor Brian and Tara, Pastor Sarge and her Smelling Salts Ministry, and Pastors Brian and Hannah, Ms. Diane...our elders and leaders, made it safe haven for us all. They loved us where we were at, and lovingly, gently, patiently led us to the healing living water.

I did do much better at church this Sunday than I thought; Kept my mind as stayed on God and in an attitude of prayer as much as possible, and asked Him to help me get thru it. There is nothing I can do without the Lord helping me.

During praise and worship I got a little emotional, but as I released it I could feel the Holy Spirit really take over and HIS presence to strong and powerful. The More I Seek You is a special song to me. It was a song given to me by a friend, Charlotte, after a Women's Encounter I attended last November. During that Women's Encounter is when the Lord completely healed me of Fibromyalgia. I wasn't even praying about being healed...after so many years....God took it away when Pastor Tara prayed with me over totally different things. God is full of unexpected surprises. I did not expect that I was going to be singing that song through the first time alone on Sunday, but God gave me the strength to do it. I enjoyed worshipping with the youth band, and as always enjoyed singing with Pastor Treva. I'm going to miss her, and our beautiful worshippers...band and vocals, and choir so much. They all have such hearts to be unified in worship, and not just be up there to sing or play instruments. It makes for such a sweet spirit and presence of the Lord. Even our practice times are worship. :) I will miss this so much.

We had a beautiful service Sunday. The moving of the Holy Spirit among the people in corporate worship was sweet and precious. Pastor Tad's message was so timely (regarding Surrender...hmmm - God you sure know what you are doing!)

David was commissioned and sent out by our church for chaplaincy, and we were sent out as a family as servants of God. He was ordained under the non denominational EFI - Evangel Fellowship International. We are excited to have this covering, and to still be connected with Harvest Church too. Who knows what God is up to. The children and I were up front with David and we were prayed for as a family. The Pastors, elders and leaders of our church prayed over us and they blessed our family. A word from the Lord given through one of the elders and was spoken over us... that today was a new day, and we were walking in a new way. I wish I could remember every word....may need to get a copy of that service sometime. Basically, all of the old is passed away, all of the pain and mistakes of the past, and we are moving forward in a newness with the Lord. It was so touching, and I personally felt hopeful, so 'covered' under the Almighty wing of God as they prayed and as this word was brought forth. God seems to be confirming this everywhere I listen and look. Especially by His word.

About the move...

We are making great progress with sifting out more things we can 'let go of'. Thankfully I am not the kind of person who replaces everything we have let go of in the past. Unless it is something we needed, I'm learning to 'let things go' even cards and sentimental items. There are a few things I needed to keep though. They were just too special. We took 6 boxes to Goodwill. That was just items from our garage. Today I'm going to tackle Josh's room. Jordan has cleaned out her room pretty good. She reminds me of my sister Beth so much!!! She does NOT get sentimentally attached to much, and is good at not holding on to things. I mean, I had to actually talk her into keeping SOME things she wanted to get rid of! Her room is pretty much down to bare minimum. Josh on the other hand, is a little more like David and myself. He gets a little more sentimental about things. His room will be a challenge. He has a LOT of little things. We've let go of a LOT the last 3 moves. He even let go of some things he had held to that were hard for him to let go of...things he had collected. God is sifting us again.

I want to continue to live as simply as possible. In my heart, I do not believe this is going to be our last and final move.

So far, the plan is for the movers to come on the 13th to begin packing us up. They will load the truck and if they can't get it all done on the 13th, they will finish up on the 14th. Then they will store our belongings until Mon. the 17th. The 17th is our 'official' move in date to our new location.

I know it is going to get so chaotic next week. There are some plans I've been able to make with a few friends, but if I miss getting to see you I am sorry. Any of you are invited to stop by (I may put you to work...haha ...just kidding) We will be here for the most part...just call to make sure we are here. We'd love to see you. Keep in mind, there is no telling what 'state' you will find us in...pajamas, stinking, messy hair, tearful, happy, smelling good, put together....you could get any of these or between the four of us all of these at the same time! So enter at your own risk, and you are always welcome friends.

Time to get back at it!