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All posts for the month March, 2015

In Your Anger, Do Not Sin

Published March 18, 2015 by Dawn

I dream of snow days. I love them. The ability to sleepily roll out of bed whenever … hot chocolate and kids outside playing in the snow … super-fuzzy blankets and the best seat on the couch to watch the splendorous beauty falling from the sky. I love them!

Well, in theory.

The reality of snow days is this: Waking up early to unlock the door so other people can drop their kids off … loudness … snow melting on my wooden floors … hot chocolate powder all over the kitchen and angry little people with cabin fever.

This reality really shook me this year. Because we didn’t have snow days. We had snow weeks. And none of those days (or weeks) looked anything like what I longed for in a snow day. And after the newness and excitement of it wore off, I was stuck home with angry kids who couldn’t get along. They drove me nuts!

I dealt with them the best I knew how, but it all eventually got to me. Throwing myself at the foot of my bed in overwhelming frustration, I cried out to God, “Make me more like Christ!” And I heard him say to me, “You are not so unlike him now.”

Come again?!

He was tempted in every way, just as we are, but was without sin. –Hebrews 4:15

Is it possible that Jesus got frustrated with people? The bible says he often withdrew to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16). I wonder if, in those moments, he threw his hands up to God and prayed earnestly, “Help me know how to handle these people!”

Remember that time after the transfiguration, Jesus came down the mountain and found an angry group of people surrounding the disciples. A man had brought his son to be healed of a demon, but the disciples could not do it. Jesus walks into the fray and says, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matt. 17, Mark 9, Luke 9)” I imagine this was said with some frustration.

Or how about those times when Jesus drove merchants out of the temple? He wasn’t exactly gentle about it. So the truth staring me down is this: Jesus got angry. And that was okay. Because the bible doesn’t say don’t get angry. It says, “in your anger, do not sin. (Ephesians 4:26)”

Anger is a natural emotion. It’s a moment of temptation. A moment to respond to something in either a good or bad way. There’s this new age idea that no one can make you angry without your permission. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” and since then, we’ve taken off with it … Only we use it as a fill-in-the-blank and say no one can make us feel anything without our permission. So now we have this idea that no matter what anyone chooses to do to us, we can decide whether or not we will feel anything about it. But I don’t believe it. Because this weird choice facing us then becomes “be human or be a robot.” I don’t think we ever had a say in that matter …

Anger is an emotional response. Feelings come upon us often without our permission, because it involves chemicals in our brains that we don’t control. What we do control is our response to situations in our anger. So when a situation (or the person involved) stirs up anger in us (and all the chemicals involved), we have a choice: how do I handle this?

I think of it this way: Yawning is a natural response to your brain’s lack of oxygen. Anger is a natural response to your brain’s perception or reception of an unhappy event. It’s going to happen. The sin is not the feeling, but the reaction to the feeling.

This is both very liberating and very scary. Because I get angry. And the world would have me believe this is my fault and I’m a hopeless mess of a person that can’t get it together. The truth is, I have a natural emotional reaction that I need to train myself to rush to Jesus with instead of rushing into sin.

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God said, “Let there be chaos.”

Published March 9, 2015 by Dawn

“But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ ” –Genesis  11:5-7

 

Here’s the truth: God doesn’t want you to be able to do big and mighty things. Do you want to know why? Because He wants to be exalted in our hearts and minds, and big and mighty things are his “thing.” He doesn’t want nothing to be impossible for us, because he wants you to know that nothing is impossible in him. That’s where he wants you: in him. That’s what he created you for. So he is not okay with you thinking you’ve got this. He wants you to know he’s got this. Your independence is rebellion, friend. Because you were made to be dependent on a great and mighty God!

It is true that we come to the end of ourselves, that we strive towards the things God has spoken into our hearts. That we cry out and feel helpless. Because God wants to be your champion. He’s your hero. He’s fighting for you, asking you to come rest in him and let him do his “thing.” You strive because you’re trying to do it for him. Jesus is saying to you today, “Come away with me to a quiet place and rest. Give up striving. In quietness and trust is your strength.” Say to yourself, “God is God and I am not.” Give up the burden of accomplishing a monumental thing, whether in your own name or for the sake of God. He does all things well.

Crucified with Christ

Published March 8, 2015 by Dawn

Have you ever followed Jesus up Golgotha’s hill? Have you ever walked behind his broken, bleeding body, traced the jagged lines cut in him by the whips, and wept at his pain? Have you ever cringed at the weight of the cross he bore as he slowly stumbled up to the brow? Have you ever closed your eyes and clenched your teeth tightly against the blows of the heavy hammer that drove thick nails through his hands and his feet? Have you ever watched them hoist your bleeding Lord above the jeering, mocking crowd?

Did you ever stand weeping while the soldiers mocked his faltering breaths? Did you hear them bartering for his clothes? Did you hold his grieving mother as she wailed for her son? Did you stand under the flickering of torches in a strange midday darkness, listening for his moans to indicate he was still alive? Did you hear him say it? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?”

Did you brace yourself against the chilly wind of that awful black day, when darkness hovered so close to the ground, waiting pensively for his last breath? Did you raise your face to him and weep? Did you hear him cry out in anguish, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?!” Did you listen to the stillness afterward, right before he breathed his last? When his chin fell forward, finally giving way to death, did you groan inwardly?
Have you been crucified with Christ?

 

I just crucified Jesus. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do anything but cry. I have killed my Lord and my God. I have walked with him up Calvary’s hill, being both the soldier and the friend, and I have watched myself crucify Jesus. I watched him suffer under my heartless torment, devised by the wickedness in my own heart. I stood at his feet and simultaneously wept and jeered. I was both of them, the good and the bad. I heard him say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” My heart fought with the sword meant to pierce me through. Thank God for prevailing! I watched his last breath, felt the anguish of his soul when he cried out in my place, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” His question unanswered, he breathed his last. I WATCHED HIM DIE!

The words of Thomas echo in me, “Let us go too, that we may die with him.” Because Jesus calls me friend. Just like Thomas at the thought of losing Lazarus, my heart is rent and I can’t leave him here. How can I walk away from him, my best friend, bloody and torn upon that cross? Instead, let me die here. Let me die here with him, my soul’s lover. My husband. My savior. My King. My God.

If I must get up, if I must continue to live here, let it be only because of the risen Christ within me. “For I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live. Not I, but Christ that lives within me.” Because I can’t bear to do this again. Knowing that I have crucified him myself with my sin. With my silence. To see myself standing there, clothed, before a naked Christ. Undeserving yet fully forgiven. I am unworthy!