Not in wrath: Hosea 11.9

“I cannot carry out my fierce anger!
I cannot totally destroy Ephraim!
Because I am God, and not man—the Holy One among you—
I will not come in wrath!”

Hosea 11.9

God is not like man. He controls his emotions. He does not act impetuously. He does not fly off the handle. His judgment is carried out fairly.

We can rest in God’s control not only of all creation, but of himself. His actions toward us are determined by his character, not his feelings. What an example for his creatures!

#votd #God #emotions

Events and our reactions

anger

Our interpretation of events around us, and the language we use to describe them, determine our emotional reaction to them.

How we place ourselves in relation to those events colors our emotions. If we selfishly put ourselves in the center of all that happens, we will take the actions and comments of others personally. So we will feel anger, frustration, and resentment that events did not conform to our expectations. With self in the center, objectivity is lost.

Expressing such emotions will not defuse them, but will only cause them to root themselves more deeply in our soul. Thus, we reinforce our behavior of interpreting events through the lens of self.

Through our conversion to Jesus Christ, he becomes the center of our being and the lens through which we see all events. The sovereign control of God becomes our focus. So there is no one technique, nor a set of them, for a more healthy reinterpretation of events, but rather a transformation into a new man that looks at people and events from a new light.

And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer. So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! 2 Cor 5.15-17

#conversion, #emotions, #reactions, #self

The brewing pot called anger

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:22)

Anger isn’t always a bad emotion…it’s just not always good.

Family feuds, street fights and global warfare has been waged more times than one would want to count simply because water isn’t the thing that can boil-over.

Self-control is vital when it comes to anger or else the anger will control us. Many times it has been said that an individual “lost his or her temper” when we should probably say that the individual “lost his or her temperance”. Great strength (and wisdom) is far and above displayed in the ability to control our self in place of the ability to control someone else. Perhaps this is why the saying, “he who angers you controls you” is so pertinent when it comes to Proverbs 16:22. When anger gets the best of us, we think we’re going to get the best of someone else, when in reality they may have already got from us exactly what they wanted.

A controlled anger makes us stronger than the mighty and greater than the conqueror – and that’s why a controlled anger leads to better things being poured into the cup we call our heart.

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

#anger, #emotions, #temper, #temperance

Bitterness: the bite that keeps on biting

Bitterness has a way of getting into the human soul. It breeds hate. It tastes foul, but it creates a longing for more of what isn’t needed.

Bitterness declares war!

Work relationships, family ties, dear friends, and even brothers and sisters in Christ have all been severed by the bite of bitterness.

Personal experiences that get personal – the essence of bitterness. But what’s the answer to avoiding such a problem? It’s the tough stuff called mercy – the essence of Christ!

We all have things in our past, and even in our present and future to come that can and will bog us down spiritually if we’re not careful…if we’re not forgiving and if we don’t seek the peace of Jesus.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:14-15)

#bitterness, #emotions, #sin

Apathy is a path in life worth avoiding

Apathy isn’t about wanting to do something but not having the resources. Apathy isn’t about wanting to do something but not having the time. Apathy isn’t about wanting to do something but not having the ability. Apathy can have one of these or all of these but it just doesn’t care!

Is it a coincidence that in the English language the word pathetic makes up the majority of the word that describes the emotion of apathy?

Apathy isn’t ignorance. Apathy isn’t disillusionment. Apathy isn’t being defeated. Apathy isn’t an excuse. Apathy intentionally ignores the horse in the race, the dog in the fight, the cause at hand and the brother that’s meant to be kept!

Do you see any irony in how a lack of fire can actually be a condition that leads to a lake of fire?

Apathy must be done away with. Its reversal is sought and found through repentance, through the removal of stone and the replacement of flesh. This happens to be one of the very reasons that it is so hard to do away with, for repentance must come from the very place that apathy resides – the heart!

Whether or not one cares does not change whether or not one should care; responsibilities are not always left up to personal sensibilities but rather they are left up to the realities at hand. In other words numbness does not do away with the actuality of being hurt!

Apathy may sound good to the ears of some, but it’s only if their voice isn’t the one that’s calling out for help. And therein is an image that reveals the root of the ugliness found in apathy.

May we be interested enough in a God-given heart, soul, mind and strength that can look apathy in the face everyday but still avoid seeing it in the mirror.

The passion of my soul’s desire is for the house of the Lord; my heart and my flesh are crying out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:2 – BBE)

And I will give them a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in them; and I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh: So that they may be guided by my rules and keep my orders and do them: and they will be to me a people, and I will be to them a God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20 – BBE)

#apathy, #christian-living, #christianity, #emotions, #sin

Matching Bible texts to life situations: give your suggestion

Have you ever seen those lists of suggested Bible verses or chapters for when you feel a certain way or have experienced a certain life situation? You know the kind: “When you [feel this or go through that], read [Bible passage].” Those are pretty cool, are they not?

Psalm 60 is in our Bible reading plan for 2013. It took me a while to get into it, but it’s a wonderful passage for the defeated. So I tweeted:

What other situations/texts would you suggest, if we were making a list?

#bible-applications, #emotions

Poem: A Smile

Here’s a poem that’s been all over the internet for quite some time. It took me a second or two to find the author’s name because the vast majority of time credit is given to “unknown.” If you haven’t read or heard it, it’s worth the time.

A Smile

Smiling is infectious,

you catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today,

I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner

and someone saw my grin

When he smiled, I realized

I’d passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile

then I realized its worth,

A single smile, just like mine

could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin,

don’t leave it undetected

Let’s start an epidemic quick,

and get the world infected!

(written by Matthew John Fraser)

I guess there’s such a thing as a healthy infection after all 🙂

#emotions, #friendliness, #health, #heart, #poetry

Anger is one letter away from Danger

Almighty God asked his completely frustrated prophet if he had a right to be so angry in Jonah 4:4 when Nineveh repented.

What a question! Not because it was an angry Jonah who was asked this, but because we all need to be asked this from time to time.

Yes, there can be room in the heart of a Christian for righteous anger (Mark 3:5), but often times (at least I’ll speak for myself) this room can be taken up with the wrath of man that doesn’t care for, follow or consider the righteousness of God that properly directs the anger (James 1:20).

The next time the “little teapot” feels like shouting we would all do well to ask ourselves the question that God asked Jonah…and give the right answer before that anger turns into danger!

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32 – NKJV)

#anger, #emotions, #jonah

The News Could Get You Down!

At times there is a tendency to think that the news we read is the worst news that has ever been read. The reality is that people have been acting in a way to fill the headlines full of bad news for a very long time. Just think about how many newspapers and TV news shows would be talking about bad news if there was a reporter getting the scoop back in the days of Genesis.

Regardless, I can understand how our modern-day news gets a person down in the head, heart and mouth. Just think about these stories from the last couple of days and the ridiculousness of our post-modern culture:

A mother who kicked, beat her 2-year-old daughter and then glued her hands to the wall is facing a life sentence. The child spent two days in a coma and a week in the hospital because of a potty training accident. One of the mother’s responses to the situation in the beginning: I have no comment and only God can judge me. That’s all I got to say. She’s got one thing right and one thing wrong…that’s what I’ve got to say. Do you think tax payers having to pay more per year than what I make in a year is justice for her behavior? That’ll get you down!

A football player who called out fans who cheered, not when their team scored but when their quarterback was lying on his back motionless, ends up getting called out by other fans, players and media. He says they’re not gladiators. I wonder if his target audience knows this judging by their response. There may not be literal weapons out there on the field like the coliseum sported, but do you think the mentality between the two arenas are very different at times? That could get you down!

I was going to do a couple of more stories, but these two cover the spectrum fairly well.

With the bad news ever bearing down on society it is important to remember the good news that can lift it up. God took bad news such as jealousy, hate, lying, abuse, murder and numerous other sins and turned them into the biggest Good News story ever recorded! His love is alive and warm no matter how many hearts die and grow cold. Thanking Him for His patience with us all is something we take for granted at times and fail to do. I’m glad God’s patience isn’t always dependant upon our response to it.

Here are some scriptures to leave you on an up note:

But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:24 – NKJV)

even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:5-7  – NKJV)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12 – NKJV)

#bad-news, #emotions, #good-news, #todays-news

The heart

#emotions, #heart, #mind

The Straw that Broke Moses’ Back???

Numbers chapter 20 records a lesson that most Bible students are familiar with. The heart of the lesson revolves around Moses and his emotions that got the better of him at the rock in Kadesh, along with the consequences that followed. I remembered a lot about Numbers 20, but I didn’t remember everything.

As I sat down to reread this chapter I remembered clearly the immense pressure that this great leader was under. I remembered that the people had gathered against him again. I remembered that they were complaining about his leadership again. I remembered that their hearts were looking back on all of their “fond memories” back in Egypt again. I remembered Moses cracking…metaphorically with his anger and literally with the stick. I remembered the heart breaking consequence of Moses’ decision to hit the rock instead of speaking to it.

One thing that I didn’t remember about Numbers 20 was how the chapter began! The chapter begins with the passing of Moses’ sister. When I read that, it caused me to stop and think. When I read that, it caused me to have more sympathy for Moses. When I read that, it caused me to wonder if the loss of Miriam had anything to do with Moses’ shorter than normal fuse at this stage in his life.

I’m not saying that Miriam’s death is an excuse for what happened in Kadesh . I’m just saying that sometimes the pressures of life build up. I’m just saying that when the “straws” of life build up, we need to be careful that we don’t let them break what we may not be able to put back together. While we will probably never find ourselves in the same sandals as Moses when it comes to leading a nation, we can probably all relate to having “straws” that pile up in life.

What do you think?

#emotions, #moses, #stress

Another Nudge: Feelings about end-of-world prophecy

Here’s another little Nudge for you today: Tell how you felt about Harold Camping’s prophecy of the end of the world on May 21. I can guess what you thought, I pretty much know what you believe. But how did you react viscerally to it? Revulsion? Amusement? Disgust? Concern? So finish this old, psychologist’s statement: I felt (blank) because/when (blank).

Most psychologists seem to think the emotions rather than the thoughts hold the key to a person’s (what?) maturity, wholeness, wellness. But I assume you are mature, whole, and well. This Nudge is just for a happy little exercise in connecting and pulling you into the Room.

#emotions, #feelings, #prophecies, #psychology

Feelings are important in many areas but…

“Feelings are important in many areas, but completely unreliable in matters of faith.”

Eugene Peterson

#emotions, #faith, #feelings, #heart

Helpful distinctions

Along the way, some good people or authors have introduced me to important distinctions. Here are some I can remember offhand.

  • Necessary, but not sufficient. For example, faith is necessary for salvation, but not by itself sufficient to save.
  • Form and function. Progressives have misused this terribly, but it still has important things to say. Some forms are tied to their functions by Scripture so that they may not be changed: immersion, for example, is a form with an inherent function, that of expressing the purpose of touching the purifying power of Jesus’ blood.
  • Experience and emotion. Emotion is reaction, for good or bad, with no necessary relation to the experience, imagined or real. In the gospel, experience is the essence of religion, the practice of walking with God and under his guidance; emotion is the nice little caboose pulled by the engine of faith. Some brothers I know think any talk of experience in religion is equal to wrong-headed emotional fervor.

#distinctions, #emotions, #experience, #form-and-function

Pretty much a flat line

I’m an optimist and the Lord has been very kind to me over my 32 years. My emotions rarely dip into the area of “discouraged.”

#emotions, #flat-line