Monday, January 25, 2016

Anger versus Rage

Anger is like lighting a candle.  When you light the candle it is a sudden presence of  light that can be useful. If it continues to burn it, eventually it melts the wax. Rage is obsessive anger that lingers close and below the surface and causes meltdowns.

There are a lot of self-help books on anger management and the dangers of anger, but anger in and of it self is useful. It informs us of the atmosphere or a condition so that it can be dealt with. Rage on the other hand is sizzling and frying to the nerves. When anger is allowed to remain it goes underground and eventually resurfaces or it explodes out of control. Problematic anger is really a rage issue.

In Ephesians 4, God tells us not to let the sun go down on our wrath. It is a great admonition. He also says "Be ye angry and sin not". Sin is  really not the black mark on the mirror of our soul;  it is a condition of our thinking when we look to other things beside God for help. Anger is a tool, not a sin.  It is an alarm clock that invites us to handle things the way God would have it handled. Ignoring anger can be a deleterious way to deal with anger, but there are many ways to deal productively with it.  Keeping rage out of confrontation, anger may mean speaking the truth in love. Sometimes it may mean making a decision, based on discerning good and evil, to walk away  and do it without rage.

Honest, loving communication is vital.  Even when you discuss confrontation with others, people attach the rage issue to it and it casts a negative shadow on an effective way to handle things. Confrontation is simply laying something out in front between people (between the foreheads). I have a blogging friend who says that writing a blog is cathartic to him. I get that. It feels so good to explore truth and lay it out in front of you. Putting things on paper makes you think and careful how you say things.

Truth always, always and can I say it again, always, frees the heart! There is no excuse in the world that can stand against truth.  That is why effective prayer is going to God with an anger alarm and giving him the situation completely without obsessing over and over about it as to things like excusing psychobabble, political correctness, manipulation and ultimately revenge. Understanding of a situation does not mean excusing it. Understanding is another tool to arrive at a powerful solution that changes things and people. Benevolent humanism and the five-sense mans fall so short of this kind of inspiration. Only God can bring on this effect. There is a big difference between man's logic and God's logic.  God is way more logical! I Corinthians 1:18-31 !!

The next time something lights your candle, go for a walk and think about nothing but listening to the Sage of All Ages. Package the problem in a lump (meaning don't obsessively unravel the thing over and over in your mind) and lay it on Him. Don't talk, just listen. Not only do your spiritual muscles get built up, your physical muscles do too.  It's a win-win situation. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Out of the mouths of Babes

My 5 year old granddaughter  and I read from a Children's Bible each week when I babysit for her. We read the record and then she wants to discuss what happened. We have read through the whole Children's Bible already and are on our second time around. Today we discussed Jacob's family.  I asked her what it must it have been like in that family with 12 children with 4 moms. We wondered together whether they shared their toys and how they behaved together. My granddaughter said it must have been 'wild' as she clapped her face between her hands! It WAS a pretty wild family that ended up leading as heads of the 12 tribes of Israel!

I love reading through these records with her as it makes me think from another point of view.  She loves reading the Bible and loves to discuss it. It has had a profound effect on my own reading and studying. Children's minds are amazing. I truly enjoy my conversations with all my grandchildren, it speaks well of how much their parents talk and teach them. I find myself amazed by the things they talk about and I love to listen to them.

Somehow, today, we got to talking about Moses too. My granddaughter wanted to know what his name meant. We grabbed the dictionary of Biblical names and as I started to look Moses up, she said, 'It must have something to do with water since he was found in the water'.  Sure enough that is what his name meant: 'drawn from the water'. She remembered how God protected baby Moses.

Jesus Christ shared a great point in the first part of Matthew 18 about children in general:
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted (do an about face), and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. Matthew 18:2-5

What a great lesson! Jesus Christ did not have a wife or kids, but he knew children and he had a great Father.  They recognized him and he recognized them. He had read in the scrolls in Deuteronomy about talking to and teaching children:
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) Read the whole context!
Just try talking to the next kid you see in a shopping cart at the grocery store and see how how excited they get when some says "Hi and how are you today?".  Or, at the next wedding you attend, try winking at the kid looking at you in the row in front of you! In Deuteronomy it was the kids that were to get the Israelites into the promised land. Deuteronomy is about preparing them to do that.

Talking and teaching children is not about teaching them traditions of men or religious ritual. It is about sitting with them, walking with them, lying down and rising up with them.  In our day and time it might be while at the zoo, on vacation, while fishing, at the library and while watching TV together (great discussions arise watching Dora or Bubbleguppies and Caillou can start some very rich discussions). There are so many opportunities to talk about stuff! It's about sharing God's love, peace and thankfulness as we move around this ole world together in freedom.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Thirsty Lady in John 4

John 4 records an absolutely astounding dialogue between Jesus Christ and a Samaritan woman. The context of this whole dialogue is about thirst, both physically and spiritually.
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
 The words "our father Jacob" indicate this woman felt a kinship to Israel.
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
Samaria was a mixed bag of paganism and worship of God. In 721 BC (approximately), the Hebrews existed in two camps, the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. Assyrians invaded the kingdom of Israel which was located  in Samaria. The Assyrians carried off many (not all) of it's inhabitants to their own land. They also sent groups from their country back into Samaria. This introduced five different languages and  religious cultures into the Samaritan culture. Conquering kingdoms often did this to keep control of areas they have conquered. This started the mixed bag of worship practices found in Samaria.
24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah (the god Nergal), and from Ava, and from Hamath(the god Ashima), and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. II Kings 17:24
Many theologians have commented on this woman's morals. Others have said she had had 5 husbands die while married to her. Poor woman!! There just might be something deeper here that fits with the whole context of John 4.  This woman was obviously respected as she brought practically the whole town back to meet someone she considered to be the Messiah. She herself seemed spiritually thirsty and was obviously a leader as seen in subsequent verses.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. John 4:16-18
Now check out this interesting verse in Isaiah:
Isaiah 54:5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
Could the one that is not her husband, be the God of the Hebrews?
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. John 4:19-22
The beauty of John 4 is in the next verse. Samaria was a hot outreach area in the book of Acts! Regardless of where they worshiped, Judeans, Gentiles and the Samaritan half-breed will be united in the glory of the new birth:
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mountains and Mustard Seeds

The area around Jerusalem is mountainous. A mountain is a great illustration used by Jesus Christ to drive his point home to the heart of those listening. The mountain was visible. It is was used to make a point to the people standing around him. Throwing a mountain into a sea is really unimaginable.  It is a tough order but Jesus is saying that it can be done. God can do it.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Mark 11:23 (probably the Mount of Olives)
The mustard seed is a small seed that produces rapid, large growth. This too is an illustration to impress the hearers. Sometimes it is amazing how just even one verse read from the Bible, will grow so rapidly in one's mind that it changes the whole atmosphere in one's head. Sometimes it happens so fast, it feels like a person has just suddenly woken up from a nap and is not able to remember a bad dream!
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20

Adding love to faith, is empowering. Love is an energizing force to action:
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2
These are great verses about moving mountains and what the word can do in our minds. God has wonderfully communicated to man on so many levels. It just needs to blossom in our minds. That is why it is good to keep on planting!