Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Some Thoughts On Anger

Anger. But not the righteous kind. A friend mentioned to me today that she was recently told by an acquaintance that she needs to control her anger. As my friend explained it, it was a situation that could provoke anger in many people. But the anger helped no one.

As I've thought about this through the day, though, I think it may have helped my friend to have had someone she doesn't know well to confront her about her anger. I think she was surprised that the gal wasn't just absorbing the anger coming her way. It was a wake up call to my friend on how others view her. I don't think she liked the picture she saw.

Where does anger come from? Why does it rise to the top so quickly?

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
Matthew 15:18

Anger comes out of the mouth because its in the heart.  It lodges in the heart and grows deep, ugly roots. It defiles.

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
Ecclesiastes 7:9

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, 
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Proverbs 14:29

Anger is the fruit of a fool. It's a fruit from its root. It often grows from fear. What or who do we fear? What or who do we fear that we can't control? What are we not getting that we think anger will get us? What are we willing to sin to get? Why are we thinking so much about ourselves? What or who should we be thinking about instead? Is our anger moving the kingdom of God forward? Our answers reveal our heart.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
James 4:19-20
Image via freepik w/ permission
Created by Mrsiraphol - Freepik.com

Monday, February 19, 2018

From the Bookshelf ~ Jesus 365

One of my desires is to know more of Jesus, so for the past few years I've been choosing a book about Him to read as we approach Resurrection Sunday. Our daughter gave My Beloved Jesus 365 a couple years ago for Christmas, and this year I pulled it off the bookshelf to read myself. It's a devotional book compiled by Ed Stewart of the account of Jesus while He was here on earth. I'm not reading it as a daily devotional, but rather reading several entries at a sitting. There are notes along the way with insights into the cultural and historical context of the time.

The subtitle is Experiencing the Four Gospels as One Single Story. It's a chronological blending of the actions of Jesus, written in narrative form that walks with Him through His earthly ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and His ascension back to the Father.

Jesus knows where His path is taking him. The blending and chronology of the book gives broader insight into what His walk has given us.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Illogical Fear

Sharing a few thoughts this evening from my Bible reading.

Fear can sometimes be debilitating. It can also be illogical.

We see fear played out in different forms in the account of Jesus and the demon-possessed man from the tombs of the Garasenes. Recall that this is when Jesus cast the demons out of the man and gave permission for them to go into a herd of swine. The swine ran down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned. (Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-37; Matt. 8:28-34)

Fear ensued. Great fear. Illogical fear. When the townspeople heard what Jesus had done, it terrified them. Fear overcame them, and they wanted no part of this man Jesus who had released a demoniac man from torment and had set him in his right mind. Illogical. A rightful, compassionate act induced fear in the hearts of those who had no understanding of Jesus. It does the same today.

Yet there was no fear of Jesus in the demoniac man himself. When Jesus had stepped onto the Galilee shore, the demon-possessed man had run up to Him and bowed down before Him. He knew that Jesus was the only one who could free him. Others had tried, but were not powerful enough.

The man himself had not been afraid of Jesus. The demons in him were afraid, though, and begged Jesus not to torment them. They knew who He was and what He could do. He granted their request, and they went to the pigs. The man was now in his right mind and wanted to follow Jesus, not to be rid of Him, for he also knew what Jesus could do.

But... the townspeople and demons, both are terrified of Jesus. The townspeople, fearful out of ignorance. The demons, fearful out of knowledge. Fearful for different reasons, yet both are headed to the same eternal destination.

Jesus is to be feared, but not as the townspeople fear Him. He is God. Judgment is in His hand. But in the other hand is compassion and mercy. Fear of Jesus need not be debilitating. It is not illogical. Perfect love casts out fear. As Jesus cast the demons out of the man, He casts fear out of those who come to Him and bow down before Him. He casts off the fear that keeps them in bondage to their chains.

He says, "Come, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

I do hope that you have already come to Him, dear one. I hope to see you one day when I greet Him on Heaven's shore.

Image ~ Stiller Moment, Ernst Anders (1878)
public domain, Wikimedia Commons

Monday, February 12, 2018

Cheering Them On

I came across a posting today that resonated with me because it's something that many of us have seen happening in recent years. The post is rather lengthy, but the author makes several poignant observations. It's entitled "On Men, Shame, and Brotherhood." I'd encourage you to read it here when you have several minutes. Then go cheer your men on.

He's talking about how men are, basically, beat up these days for simply being men. One of the reasons that I've observed is that feminists and those they influence have berated them, shamed them, faulted them, held them responsible for societal ills, and have tried to turn them into their feminist vision of manhood. Feminists are diluting a man's God-given gender characteristics. No wonder more and more men don't know if they're male or female. No wonder many men are angry.

Where is the respect for just being a man?

These women demand it for themselves, cry foul when they've been offended or slighted, revel in sarcasm and brashness, fight for power to rule the universe, to receive accolades and preference, to be deferred to, dismiss a man's value, use their sensuality to bring him to his knees, and then deride and shame him for his response.

Sadly, though, it isn't just the extreme feminists who pour on the shame. The article expounds  upon much more than what I have referred to, but it has long been the feminists who want to reinvent manhood.

Societal ills oozing from the quagmire of self-deception.

Some men are seeing through the feminist duplicity. I cheer them on.

Image ~ The Courtship, Luigi Pastega 1858-1927
public domain via Wikigallery

Saturday, February 3, 2018

That Feeling of Isolation

In an online class on depression that I'm taking, the professor referred to a statement from Ed Welch’s book, Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness, concerning the increase of clinical depression. Welch identifies our current culture and its influence as a major role player and cites the lack of community that feeds the feeling of isolation so prevalent in depression. The feeling that no one cares brings a sense of aloneness, helplessness, and hopelessness that anything can or will change. 

It is my observation that in our culture families tend to drift apart, by miles from sea to shining sea, but also by the demands of life and a perceived lack of need for one another. Questions that were once asked of family, neighbors, or friends are now answered by the click of a mouse. The lack of connections is keenly felt because God put within us a need for community. It takes diligence to pursue that community, however, and the pressures of the culture leave little time or space for its pursuit. Autonomy, that prideful hedge of self-protection, plays a part that is often overlooked and mistaken for strength. It separates more than it strengthens.

It seems so paradoxical, that with the proliferation of social media, that the feeling of isolation is so prevalent. Social media is an illusion to real relationship, and unless we are keenly aware of its opiate effect, more and more will succumb to its desensitization of one another. We tend to hide our real selves behind the screen, and it takes real effort to actually hear one another’s voice and look into one another’s eyes to see the hopes and dreams…or lack thereof.

I am encouraged, however, by current attempts of churches like ours that provide small group opportunities for relationship building. It still takes effort to participate, but it offers a bridge from one person to another and helps to create that feeling of community so needed to combat the aloneness that is often felt. They are occasions when we can connect and look into one another's eyes and hear one another's voice. And, hopefully, hear each other's heart.

Image ~ Ruth Eastman Johnson 1824-1906
public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Widow's Hope

Thinking this evening about a sister in Christ who very recently lost her husband to death and is now grieving her loss. Tomorrow is one of the 'firsts' that she'll be facing--making a trip alone. She needs prayer in the transition to her aloneness, of making plans and decisions herself that before were shared tasks. There are many 'firsts' that must be faced with prayer and God's enablement, so those who care about her pray for her strength and wisdom, that she will rest her hope and trust in the God of her salvation.

I recalled a discussion a few years back on Revive Our Hearts between Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Margaret Nyman, whose husband had died from cancer. They talked about the struggles a widow faces in those first months and the 'firsts' that one must face alone. Margaret also talks about how others reached out to her and what was helpful. I listened again this week to the discussion, and it helped me to understand a little of how to reach out to my friend. I also gained a glimpse of what may lie ahead for myself someday.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in listening to, you can find the discussion here. It's a 5-part series, about 25 minutes each. Margaret has written a devotional book entitled Hope for an Aching Heart: Uplifting Devotions for Widows. I gave a copy of the book and CD to my friend and pray that God will use Margaret to comfort and encourage her.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thankful Thursday ~ New Beginnings


New beginnings happen throughout life.

My 87-year-old mother signed up for a writing class at the local senior center, and today was her first session. Not that writing is anything new to her, but it's been several years since she's gone to class. The anticipation was a bit anxiety producing, as new endeavors are to most of us.

As we drove to class, she jabbered about one thing then another, wondering how the class would be. Would they read the stories aloud? Would they critique each other's stories? And she wondered if she'd be the oldest, and maybe people would "wonder what this old lady is doing here." It didn't help that there was road construction, which added anxiety to the possibility of being late. But she was the first to arrive.

I watched as she timidly walked in with a couple of stories in hand that she had written over the past several years. Students were to bring something that would give the instructor an idea of their writing, and as she pored over her stories in anticipation, she had chosen two that she was ready to share with the group. One was about her grandson's visit when he was just a little fella, about his expecting to be able to take a monkey home from the zoo because she had asked which animal he liked best.

I sat near her classroom, planning to do some reading for a class of my own, but kept wondering how it was going for her. Would she want to come again next week, or would she find it too taxing? After the two hours of class, out she came with a new-found friend about her own age. She was in seventh heaven. I asked how she liked it. "I loved it!!"

New people. New stories to hear. New stories to write.

New beginnings. They happen throughout life, no matter our age.

So thankful for them.
Image ~ Scion via pixabay
CC0 Creative Commons

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

So Much Like Me

https://www.wikiart.org/en/mary-cassatt/young-mother-sewing-1900 Time passes slowly in a waiting room. They can be an incubator for anxiety. I was there this morning, and a little girl about four years old was also waiting to see the dermatologist. Apparently, this was her first visit, and she was visibly disturbed about it. Her mommy was telling her not to fret or be upset, that it was going to be okay. But the little girl was worried not knowing what the doctor would do. "You're stressing about nothing. You'll see. You'll be okay. I promise."

My heart went out to this precious little girl because I'm so much like her. I oftentimes stress because I've not passed this way before. I don't always know what's going to happen or how a spot will be diagnosed, and I need reassurance as well. God says He cares for me, to cast my anxiety on Him. Everything is going to be okay. Even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment. Even if it doesn't feel like it later.

I know that this little girl's next visit to the dermatologist will find her much less anxious because today's visit gave her reassurance for the next. Her countenance was very different as she came out of the office to go home. And so it is with faith and anxiety. I can recall God's faithfulness in caring for me in the past and know that whatever happens in the present is ultimately for my good and His glory. Even if it seems grievous at the moment, He will strengthen me in my spirit and I will be the better for it.

It'll be okay. He promises.

Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 

Image ~ Young Mother Sewing
Mary Cassatt, 1844-1926
public domain via WikiArt

Friday, January 26, 2018

Recommending - Forty Autumns

I just finished the book Forty Autumns by Nina Willner. It's the story of her mother's family behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Her mother was able to escape when she was twenty years old, but was separated from her family for forty years afterward. It's a story that shows the harsh reality of life under socialism and communism. It's also a story of a family's love for one another that kept hope alive.

Two thoughts kept drifting through my mind throughout the book. The first was the value of extended family. Had they not stood together, they would have suffered apart. They were each other's loyal support and defense, while many others became informants under the pressure. Children played a necessary part in the midst of oppression as well, for they brought normalcy and joy to the daily drudgery and duties of life.

The other thought that trailed me throughout the book was the power of the media. It controlled what the people thought through messages about how grand and glorious East Germany was in protecting its own people. They had no contact with the outside world to know any different, yet how similar, but paradoxical, it is here in America. We listen to and watch whatever we choose, but are constantly bombarded with messages that shape our thinking. We think we are free to make choices, and we are. Yet we, too, are being socially engineered by the elite who control the media.

The book was recommended to me by a friend, and I recommend it to you and its many sub-themes that run through it. It's a poignant picture of life in a country without God.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

However Difficult

However difficult and painful your road, it is marked by the footsteps of your Savior; and even when you reach the dark valley of the shadow of death and the deep waters of the swelling Jordan, you will find His footprints there. Wherever we go, in every place, He has been our forerunner; each burden we have to carry has once been laid on the shoulders of Immanuel.
- Charles Spurgeon, in Morning by Morning

One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

Image via pixabay
CCO Creative Commons


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