Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

Here are the latest, greatest reads I’ve found:

For My Angry Friends, Part 7: Foundation II. This is a continuation of a link I posted last time.

A Different Kind of Humble Pie. I like this idea! And it would help us avoid having to eat the other kind.

I’m So Glad Our Vows Kept Us, HT to Challies. “God has not given you your love to protect your vows, but he’s given you your vows to protect your love.”

Don’t Squander the Little Years, HT to Story Warren. “The endless demands of parenting little ones can feel heightened by the fact that this is often the very season of life—late 20s through the 30s—when budding careers are most demanding and precarious. The need to be tirelessly devoted outside the home can tempt young parents to be less devoted inside the home.”

How Parenting Exposes Our Need for Faith. “Like nothing else in my following life, mothering has taken me to the edge of what I know for sure about God and how to follow him well.”

What Is the Aim of Christian Writing? HT to Challies. If you are at all into writing as a Christian, I encourage you to read this. “Writing is an attempt to take the truth of God’s Word and apply it to the crevices of life.”

Elderly Couples’ Photos. A professional photographer asked several older couple to pose for engagement-style photos. So sweet and beautiful.

It Is What It Is”…but God IS Bigger.” I’ve followed Carol at Blessed But Stressed for many years now. A few years ago, her son fought leukemia, and God graciously healed him. Now he’s facing serious surgery on his eye. Would you join in prayer for as much healing as possible in God’s perfect will?

I don’t know the origin of this graphic, but it looks like something Little Birdie Blessings might do. But I like what it says.

Happy Saturday!

Book Review: A Small Book About a Big Problem

Anger“Anger lodges in us. It comes home, kicks off its shoes, plants itself in front of the TV, and expects to stay. It doesn’t even look at you when you tell it to leave. But it can be moved. It just takes more than a day” (p. 35).

You wouldn’t think I was an angry person if you observed me much. I don’t generally yell or scream. I might occasionally throw something if I am alone. I tend to seethe rather than explode. Part of that is my upbringing; my father was the only one allowed to express anger. But quiet anger is still anger and still destructive. I experience it enough that when I saw A Small Book About a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace by Edward T. Welch, I got it as soon as possible. Ed’s book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest, was a big help to me with anxiety, so I trusted this book would be just as helpful concerning anger. And it was.

It is indeed a small book. It’s only about four by six inches and 185 pages. It’s divided into 50 chapters, but they average about three pages each. Ed advises reading just one chapter a day and meditating on its main point rather than rushing through the book without absorbing it. And that’s a wise strategy. I confess I did sometimes read two at a time, if one was short or a expressed a truth that was already a part of my thinking. But I tried to move slowly. I went back through the book after finishing it and made a list of main points and quotes from each chapter. That overview over about three days helped bring out some of the recurring themes and connections.

The first need is to acknowledge that anger is a problem.

“To be angry is to destroy…In its commonness we can overlook our anger’s volatile and destructive disposition” (p. 1).

“Anger is known to take a toll on our bodies. It is not healthy” (p. 2).

“Jesus…enlarged the boundary of murder so that it includes all kinds of anger. In order to do this, He links them at the level of the heart, where they share the same lineage of selfish desire. We want something–peace, money, respect–and we aren’t getting it. The only difference is in our choice of weapons” (p. 18).

Sometimes we’re “deaf to [our] anger” because it sounds like what we grew up with; it seems normal (p. 117). Prov. 22:24-25: “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”

Wisdom–learning what God says about anger–and humility are our best aids to diffuse anger.

“Humility might sound like your worst nightmare because it seems to destine you for mistreatment. People can now treat you any way they like, or so you think. In response, you can only meekly turn the other cheek. Humility, however, is not necessarily silent, and it is certainly not passive. Instead, it is the foundation for all wisdom. It has the flexibility to rebuke, overlook offenses, invite, or get help” (pp. 25-26).

“One of your desires is “I WANT AN EASY LIFE. When this is thwarted, you will likely pounce on the offender” (p. 157).

It’s not the incident that made us angry: anger was lurking in the form of desires (James 4:1). Some desires are legitimate, but we elevate them from a desire to a need, and then get angry when they are thwarted.

Anger may not seem to relate to God, but when we don’t get a desire we have deemed important, that “says something very significant about our relationship with God” (p. 43). James 4:4. “We are not thinking about God. We simply want something or someone else, at least temporarily. Our selfishness blinds us to the betrayal. We want what we want, and we don’t want Him” (p. 44).

James 4:13-16 talks about taking the Lord’s will into account in our planning. This is hardest for me in the “little” areas of life, like traffic jams keeping me from getting somewhere on time. But “If we learn this, we no longer live as if we are slaves to the circumstances of life” (p. 108).

The passage in James reminds us our life is but a mist. “We are mere mortals who will die. What makes us so important that life must go according to our plans?” (p. 108) (emphasis mine).

Anger can seem powerful, gives an illusion of control, gets results. But “A man without self-control  is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25). “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32). “Real strength and real power, however, never lash out. Those who are truly strong are composed, while others are not. Real strength is used to rule our spirit rather than rule others” (p. 92).

Other chapters discuss covert forms of anger (grumbling, which reveals our displeasure that God isn’t doing things our way, sarcasm, coldness, and even indifference), the need for forgiveness, taking care of the “log” in our eye before dealing with the “speck” in someone else’s (Matthew 7:1-5). Anger can feel like fear, threat, being misunderstood, fatigue, injustice, depression, guilt, shame. Some even use anger as a shield for their own pain and vulnerability, like a hurt animal. We need to recognize these in ourselves but show mercy and patience when we recognize them in others.

The author looks at anger as shown by God the Father and Jesus and how their anger differs from ours.

“When other people’s welfare was at stake, Jesus was angry. Here is how He is unlike us: He was never angry when He was personally violated” (p. 53). 1 Peter 2:23 – when He was reviled, reviled not again.

“Does this leave you deaf, bind, and mute in the face of personal injustices? No, it leaves you so that you are not mastered by the injustices of others. Anger might feel powerful, but it is not. It renders you a servant of the one who hurt you. The way of Jesus is the way of Spirit-given power. In this power you have a clear mind to consider how and when to act” (p. 54).

“Jesus was confident that His Father was in control; there would be justice in the end” (p. 54).

“Jesus served by blessing His enemies (Luke 6:27-31), which is a good thing, because we ourselves have been His enemies” (p. 54-55).

When the only one who has a right to be angry chooses love and service, when He considers the interests of others more important than His own and chooses humility–He changes everything” (p. 55).

And he encourages us that God loves us and wants to forgive us and help us change.

“When we see our anger clearly, we would expect God to forget about us. Instead, He pursues us with even more zeal, and He gives us even more power to stay faithful to Him” (p. 70).

“He doesn’t forgive us because of our resolve to never be angry again. He forgives us because of His resolve to forgive those who come to Him” (p. 47).

Hebrews 4:15-16 – our high priest (Jesus) sympathizes with our weakness, has been tempted like we are. Draw near to throne of grace for grace to help in time of need.

One chapter that brought me to tears was “Day 22: You Have Been Anger’s Victim.” And later, for those of us who grew up with anger:

“Retrain your ears as you listen” for anger. “Decide that the culture of anger will stop with your generation” (p. 118).

“As a protest against the anger around us, who will you bless with your words today?” (p. 119).

Our example of how to respond when wrong, is of course, Jesus, who “when He was reviled, reviled not again” (1 Peter 2:23). And when we remember how much we have been forgiven, we realize we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others (Matthew 18:27-35). Remember the love and cost to our forgiveness, freely offered (Eph. 1:7-8; 2:4-5). But even beyond forgiveness, God wants us to love and bless those who wrong us.

Forgive me for such a long, quote-heavy post. But there is so much that was so helpful in this book, and I have only shared maybe half of it. Needless to say, I highly recommend it.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Colletta’s Book Club, and Carole’s Books You Loved)

 

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

I don’t usually do these two Saturdays in a row, but I came across a lot of good reading this week.

When Control-Craving Hearts Get Angry.

Why We Don’t Need to Fear the Moment of Our Death, HT to Challies.

Embrace the Life You Have.

In Defense of the Unspoken Prayer Request.

Which Bible Woman Are You Like?

Advance in Favor. Sometimes an “I don’t care what people think” attitude helps when standing for right and truth when others are not. But the Bible says Jesus increased in favor with God and man. I appreciated this article on what that means.

Don’t Hide Those Grey Hairs.

Infuse Your In-law Relationships With Grace and Love. I am happy to have good relationships with both my mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.

If I have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?

At the bottom of the above link is this video, worth the 12+ minutes to listen:

Save

Uncontrolled Reactions

Photo Courtesy of Photokanok at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Courtesy of Photokanok at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve never been particularly interested in or good at science classes, though I could always pass them fairly easily. My college major of Home Economics Education required a few sciences, though: biology, chemistry, and zoology. I have never figured out the zoology requirement – all I remember from that class is a session about parasites in some countries that could get into a break in the skin if you’re wading and grow the length of your leg – inside your leg. (Yikes!)

The chemistry class was a very basic one that mostly Home Ec. and P. E. majors took. Some of my memories from it were the experiments where we had an unidentified solution and had to try to do different things to it to determine what it was. I enjoyed the puzzle-solving aspect of that. One other memory from that class comes from one of our first times doing lab work. Among the safety instructions was this: if you pick up a beaker or test tube that is excessively hot, don’t drop it. Whether it’s hot from a chemical reaction or from heating, dropping it would likely cause it to break, splash, or spill, causing more damage to one’s skin than a momentary burn. We were instructed to carefully and calmly put it down, and then see if our burned skin was anything more than minor discomfort. I’m sure there had to have been instructions on avoiding that problem in the first place (timed heating, tongs, gloves, etc.), but what stood out to me was the necessity of controlling a reaction in a situation where a natural but uncontrolled one would multiply any damage already done.

This came to mind recently when a reaction of mine could have been disastrous if the circumstances had been just a little different. I find I am in the most danger of an uncontrolled reaction when I’m angry, hungry, frustrated, over-tired, over-stimulated, wronged. But I don’t see any of those listed as excuses in Scripture for not being filled with the Spirit. Yes, there is grace and forgiveness. Yes, God remembers that we’re just dust, and we need to do the same. But He does want us to grow in grace and the knowledge of Him and to continually change us to act more and more like Him. Lashing back at hurtful words, yelling at a child who has done wrong, matching the speed of the car trying to cut us off, could all cause more damage than the original offense.

I’m not talking about stuffing or burying our feelings. Sometimes we need to clear the air, deal with an offense, make a change. But we do also need to be forbearing, loving, and kind, which does not characterize uncontrolled reactions.

Usually afterward I can put the situation in perspective, apply Scriptural truth, see what I should have done. But how to keep from those wrong reactions in the first place?

I read just recently that we have more self-control than we think we do, because there are certain people we wouldn’t react wrongly in front of (a boss, a pastor, etc.), and because we can shift gears if, for instance, we answer the phone or someone walks in. Perhaps pretending that someone I respect is with me or watching me would help – or, more likely, to remember that my Lord is with me and watching all the time.

Of course, the general means of Christian growth help as well: reading, remembering, and meditating on Scripture, prayer, etc. Perhaps specific study in problems areas or in yielding to God’s control would particularly help. The more we are in God’s Word, the more the Holy Spirit can bring it to our minds when needed. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Here are some other steps that I find helpful:

  1. Stop. Just stop whatever the natural reaction is and take a moment to take a deep breath and think.
  2. Pray – for help, for the right reactions, for wisdom.
  3. If possible, get a few moments alone. That helps emotions to cool down and gives time to gain perspective. When my children needed to be disciplined, we always told them to go sit on our bed, wait for us, and think. While we did want them to think about the situation, we also needed that time to make sure our own emotions were under control, to pray, and to discuss the best course of action.
  4. Take care of whatever needs to be taken care of at the moment. (Wipe up the spill, slow down, feed the hungry child, etc.)
  5. Listen to that voice in your head telling you not to react the way you feel like reacting.
  6. Remember the damage that could be caused if you react the way you feel like reacting.
  7. Let it go. Not like the Disney song, but, as someone once said, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. So what if another driver cuts me off, if every line I get in at the store slows to a stop, if interruptions invade my day. It’s not the end of the world. Who says I have any right to expect everything to go exactly my way all the time? (I need to preach this to myself often!)
  8. Don’t feed the flame. This is related to the above, but don’t keep rehearsing over and over whatever got you upset in the first place. That’s only going to keep your emotions stirred up.
  9. Die to self. “See in this which seems to stir up all you most wish were not stirred up — see in it a chance to die to self in every form. Accept it as just that – a chance to die” (Amy Carmichael).
  10. Afterward, consider ways the problem could be avoided next time (leave early enough so that I am not stressed driving, don’t over-schedule, get enough rest, make sure to listen to what the other person is saying and ask questions to avoid misunderstanding, etc.)
  11. Don’t give way in little things and then expect to be longsuffering in major areas.

A word of explanation about that last one: I used to think that if I gave way to temper or frustration in little things when I was home alone, it wouldn’t be a problem: there was no one to see me and no one would be hurt by anything I said or did. But I was wrong, because it fosters the habit of giving way instead of reinforcing the exercise of self-control.

In our last couple of Sunday School classes, we’ve been talking about Moses, specifically the incident in Numbers 20 when the children of Israel needed water and got after Moses about it. Moses went to God, and God told him to speak to the rock, and water would come forth. But after chiding the people a bit, Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it. Now, I confess I would have lost it with the people long before Moses did. In verse 12 God says Moses’ action reflected unbelief. I don’t know whether he was going by the formula that worked before (in Exodus 17, God did tell Moses to strike a rock to get water), trusting in his action or his rod rather than in the word of God, or what exactly. His words, “Must we fetch you water out of this rock” (verse 10) indicates he was trusting in his action rather than God’s word. But for that God barred him from entering into the promised land that he had been leading Israel to for almost 40 years (verse 12), one of the costliest consequences of an uncontrolled reaction recorded in Scripture. On the other hand, David, when slighted and repulsed by Nabal, was going to come and decimate Nabal and his men until Abigail intervened and talked him down with her calmness, reason, and gifts (1 Samuel 25). To David’s credit, he listened and stopped what he planned to do, and God took care of Nabal. Abigail prevented major bloodshed and became David’s wife.

Of course, our prime example of godly, controlled reactions is our Lord Jesus. His turning out the money changers in the temple was not a temper tantrum: it was a cleansing of His Father’s house. He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:22-24). The more we “with unveiled face, behold the glory of the Lord,” the more we”are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. James 1:19

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

________________

See also:

It’s the Little Things.
Irritants as God’s Messengers.
Beholding His Glory.

( Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Testimony Tuesday, Woman to Woman, Works For Me Wednesdays, Thought-provoking Thursday.)

Laudable Linkage

Here are some noteworthy reads discovered in the last couple of weeks:

My Love List, for when you need to remind yourself of God’s love for you.

One Indispensable Rule for Bible study.

9 Things You Need to Know About Widows.

What Everybody Ought to Know About Moms and Sons.

The Lens of Attention. Loved this.

What to Say to That Immodestly Dressed Girl at Church. Mentioned this last Thursday but wanted to list it here as well.

Stages of Grief: Anger. Alicia has been discussing stages of grief, and Christian ways to handle them, in reference to a life-changing condition.

How to Write Good.

Finally, Carrie shared some bookworm problems earlier this week, and I could identify with many, especially these:

bookworm7

bookworm1

bookworm4

Hope you have a great weekend!

 

Laudable Linkage

Here are some noteworthy reads online discovered in the last few weeks:

Voices That Haunt Us, ways to respond.

The Opposite of the Proverbs 31 Woman.

But Why Does She Get Babies?

Behold Your Mother. Quotes: “Care of parents, particularly in the latter years, is difficult, grueling, and offers little tangible reward. The elderly seem like speed bumps on the road to relevance. But if we really believe each human life was made in the image of God, if we really believe that every human has intrinsic worth, regardless of utility, we’d do better at embodying this ethic when it comes to equipping our people to care for their elderly parents.” “This is why care for the elderly is not simply “the right thing to do” but a vivid portrait of the gospel story. The Holy Spirit in us renews our self-centered motivations, reminding us that Christ cared for our spiritual disability while we were spiritually dead and “yet sinners.”

Ten Things To Do Differently *Before* You Lose Your Temper.

Bleep! Why Christians Shouldn’t Cuss.

5 Bad Substitutes For Discipline.

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You to Chill Out.

Love Letters. HT to The Story Warren. Quote: “Today all around me I see a stark, utilitarian focus in writing in this age of technology: all must be said to purpose—briefly and efficiently; effortless interaction seems the primary goal as though thoughts are like footballs that simply need punting. Writing is regarded as a chore. Often, so is reading. Extra words, like Mozart’s famous “too many notes,” are regarded as distractions, time-consuming, even burdens on the reader. “Why does Melville ply us with his dense prose so packed with allusions? That is so boring,” I hear my students complain. “Why does Tolstoy carry on endlessly chasing one description after the other? Why can’t he just cut to the chase?” “Why does Tolkien play at length with interwoven plot lines in his wordy fantasies? Why can’t he get to the point?” Why? For one thing, I think it is because ‘the point’ is not the only thing that matters.”

And finally, something fellow book lovers will empathize with:

Waiting for sequel

Happy Saturday! 🙂