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Archive for the ‘anger’ Category

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

“Daddy’ll fix it!” But it doesn’t take much to put Dad in the company of the king’s horses and men. There are toys no amount duct tape or super glue will fix. Worse yet, is the belly-up goldfish from the fair, the feet to the sky parakeet, or the rigamortised hamster.  Some things are beyond fixing, a hopeless mess.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT2).

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13 (NIV).

It is one of the most puzzling questions and source of great frustration why our Heavenly Father, God Almighty, who can heal the lame, deliver the possessed, and raise the dead, doesn’t fix it all? Why does the God of hope, the one who tells us to hold hope as core value and virtue, why does he expose us to the pain of hopelessness and doesn’t prevent the brokenness in first place? Many have crashed on the cliffs of this conundrum, declaring that God is either impotent or unloving or both and as such he is less than he claims, an imposter, a farce. And once someone has gone down that path and accepted these conclusions the claim that we do not understand all of God’s ways, that they are higher than our intellect allows rings double hollow, unacceptable. This, of course, has at least one problem. It requires God to be higher, better, mightier than we are in order to be God but he has to prove himself to be such according to our assessment. If God is really God, and he is, then by his very essence, his very nature his thoughts and ways are far beyond ours, that is not a cheap cop-out but just reality.

However, the reality that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere), all-wise, just, good, holy, righteous, and loving in all he does does not anesthetize all of our pain, clear up all of our whys, insulate us from frustration, or keep us from all anger. It certainly has not done so for me. But it does give us hope, both for the future and for today.

Hope is a powerful thing, even the tiniest sliver of it. That is why it is easily exploited, why false hope sells, gets votes, and finds easy prey. Hope keeps looking for a good outcome, for healing, restoration, reconciliation, peace, family, freedom, success, prosperity, justice, and love. The greater the absence of these and the darkness and pain of this absence the more we are willing to cling to the thinnest, most fragile branch of hope. Have you ever witnessed or experienced that last sliver of hope fading away, that fragile twig snap, and the dissolution, the numbness, the resignation, the depression, darkness, and hopelessness that follows? It is a gut-wrenching thing. There is, however, a hope that “does not disappoint” in spite of suffering, affliction, tribulation, trials, and hardship experienced for a long, maybe life-long, time (Romans 5:1-11).

The hope that “does not disappoint” has to encompass more than our present circumstances, although it does not belittle them. It begins with the reality that Humpty Dumpty is not the only one who fell and will fall off the wall, we will too. Real hope has to be able to conquer not just hardship and suffering but also death, it has to be anchored in more than a circumstance but in eternity. Real, eternal, hope is rooted in:

  • The reality of God and that he can be completely trusted. None who trust him will be disappointed (Psalm 22:4-5, Hebrews 11:6).
  • The life and work of Jesus Christ who conquered sin and death who alone can make promises beyond the grave (John 11:23-26).
  • The Spirit of God who indwells all who trust God and believe in Christ and who is both God’s eternal guarantee and our enabler (1:10-14).

It is a grievous character flaw for Christians not to be hopeful. It is a terrible sin to claim hope for our Humpty Dumpty and then dam it up to frolic in it ourselves, instead funneling it wherever hope is needed. One major measure of Christian maturity is how good we are at being hopeful, hope-rs. So how good are we at it? Are we getting better at? How are we responding to the darkness, the evil, the pain, and the hopelessness we see around us? To what extent is the hope poured out in hearts flowing out of us? And why would we want to just trickle it?

Hope alongside faith and love will endure eternally, heaven will be filled with them. But, we are to live them presently; they are needed now and for all time and eternity, even Humpty Dumpty knows that.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans.

 

 

 

 

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Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Galatians 6:4 (MSG)

And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—
James 4:3a (NLT)

God hears and answers every prayer, but God does not grant every request. The student who fervently prays for God’s help to pass the upcoming major test yet spend the time s/he could have been studying playing video games, or binge-watching a favorite show, or simply farting around is probably best advised to spend whatever time is left studying instead of praying. The person foolishly wasting money and then pleading with God for a financial bailout might be better off enrolling in a money management course to change his/her habits than asking God to underwrite bad habits. The liar, the drama queen, the agitator, the hater, the cruel, the over-sensitive, the selfish or self-centered bugger praying for others to change and treat them nicer stands little chance for God granting them their request of exempting them from the consequences of their actions; what do you think?

There are things God will not support. I challenge you to take a moment and make a list of ten things you are pretty sure of that God will not support them. Ready?

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Now use that list like a mirror, examine yourself against it, think about what you should do and how you should pray in light of your list.

I know for myself I don’t want God to shake his head and sigh because of the immaturity, the emptiness, the audacity, the twistedness, or the lack of Christlikeness of my prayers.  “… get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.  But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. James 1:21-25 (NLT)

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

(Regardless of how much I pray, God, among other things, does not support: 1. Laziness, 2. Hatred, mismanaged anger, bitterness, 3. Revenge, 4. Disobedience, 5. Sin and wickedness, 6. Immorality, 7. Greed of all kinds, 8. Cruelty, 9. Injustice, 10. Selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-promotion, 11. Foolishness, 12. Dishonesty, 13. Unforgiveness, 14. Pride, hubris, arrogance, 15. Praising yourself, 16 Gloating over the fall of enemies, 17. Lawlessness, 18. Lack of love, mercy, grace, and kindness, 19. Idolatry of any kind, 20. Neglecting to do good and help when and wherever we can, 21. Dishonoring Jesus Christ, 22. Misusing his name, 22. Empty spirituality, 23. Foolishness of all kinds, 24. Transgressing his commandments, ways, and principles, 25. Apathy, ….)

 

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It looked terrible, totally unappetizing, no way I was going to eat those two large Mason jars filled with canned steelhead. “That’s an awesome gift,” my friend, who knew the giver, “He doesn’t give these to just anybody, and two jars at that.”

“Well, it might be a real special gift, but there is no way I am going to eat that. It looks sick. You can have ‘em.”

“I’m not going to take them unless you taste some,” he said while opening one of the jars. He got two forks and scooped out a big bite with his, “Mmmh, mmmh! that’s good,” he grunted.

So, I reluctantly followed his lead and stabbed myself a little piece, closed my eyes and stuffed it into my mouth, “Wow! That is incredible. You’re not getting this, you can get your own jars,” I informed him, while he just grinned from ear to ear.

I almost gave away a special gift and missed out one of the most delicious things I‘ve ever tasted, simply because I didn’t like the way it looked and because I was I was unwilling to open the jar and give it a try. I can’t tell you how often I have seen the above play out spiritually.

We are meant to grow “in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) after we made commitment to follow him, after we put our faith and trust in Christ to save from our sins, from the power of death, and from the eternal judgment of God. For that growth to take place we must open the food pantry of God’s written word (the Bible), take the lids off the jars we find there, and start eating what is in them.

The good news is that not everything in God’s word looks as unappetizing as those jars of canned steelhead. Peace and joy look pretty good me, as does living without debt, having a clear conscience, being hopeful, good habits, getting a handle on anger, … On the flipside our old self, our old habits, our sinful nature have little appetite for whatever God gives us, delicacy or not. Our old self is perfectly content with both spiritual fast food and junk food, with living according to our old ways, according to our own opinions and preferences, and settling for little or no spiritual growth. James indicts the readers of his letter (including us) for looking at God’s cupboard stocked with stuff to help us grow, only to walk away to eat what we have always eaten, to do what we have always done, “… ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.  But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does” James 1:21-25 (HCSB).

In the immediate context James pulls four jars out of God’s spiritual growth pantry and opens them up while handing you and me a fork. The first jar addresses how we need to deal with anger (1:19-20), the second is about our need for staying spiritually and morally clean (1:21, 27b), the third is about having a godly mouth with Christlike responses (1:26), the fourth jar is meant to help us grow in our responses to people with needs, to people who often forgotten and oppressed (1:27a), and the (1:21&27b).

You can show up Sunday after Sunday and have the preacher tell you about how delicious the stuff in these jars is, you can read your Bible every day and become an expert in reading the labels on the jars, in your small group Bible study you can discuss in great detail the nutrition information on the back of each jar, you can become good at identifying people who are obviously not eating what is in those jars, and yet never put the fork in your mouth yourself.

The way spiritual growth works is that we have to apply what is in the jars at the very moments their content directly applies, when I am angry, when I am confronted with moral filth within or without, when my mouth spouts ugly, when I am confronted with needs and am called upon to help. If I don’t use my fork there and eat I will not grow.

Spiritual growth does not take place by neatly organizing the cupboard, by having all the labels pointing into the same direction, by memorizing the inventory. It takes place when we take out the right jar and eating it all right when and where it applies. If, after deciding to follow Christ, the way I handle my anger has not changed, if my mouth is as negative, vile, judgmental, and unkind as ever, if my response to the needy, forgotten, and oppressed remains apathetic and uninvolved, then I have simply been looking at the jars without eating what is in them.

Get out your fork, eat what God in his word is currently setting before you. You will be amazed at how good it is, and your growth will become evident to all.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans.

 

 

 

 

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