prayer

All posts tagged prayer

A Word to the Elect

Published July 31, 2017 by Dawn

“The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. I have been told by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’

“The old prophet answered, ‘I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’ (But he was lying to him.)

“So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank at his house.

“While they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore, your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’

“When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was left lying on the road, with both the donkey and the lion beside it” (1 Kings 13:16-24).

The younger prophet had received a word from the Lord, was confident it was God, and shared it with Jeroboam, the one it was sent to. He fulfilled his duty to God, and when the King (Jeroboam) invited him to stick around for dinner, the faithful prophet declined. He knew that God had told him not to eat and drink there, and because he had just pronounced a judgment on Jeroboam, probably didn’t feel very comfortable staying much longer anyway. He took off without a backward glance. But then, an older man, known to also be a man of God, invited him to turn back and come sup with him. The prophet first stuck to his convictions. He knew God’s directions to not turn back or eat or drink there. But the elder prophet was more persuasive and because the younger trusted his leadership, he turned back. It was obvious disobedience to what God had spoken to him, but he trusted that the older prophet had received a true word and trusted the man. He turned back for dinner.

In the middle of the meal, the older prophet shares a true word from God: a word of rebuke and impending destruction. The younger man’s trust was misplaced in a lie and for that, he was going to reap the wrath of God.

It happened then, and still happens now. People of God have a hard time trusting their own discernment. They receive one thing from the Word of God, and another from a man of God, and refusing to trust the Spirit of God within themselves, they willfully trust in a lie. This is very evident in the church’s adulterous acceptance of New Age theology, calling itself “Reformed”, whereby the church has grabbed onto man’s understanding instead of seeking God through His word. Why? I have a hunch:

  • Reading the Bible takes time many of us refuse to give to God.
  • Understanding the Bible is hard to do, unless you allow the Holy Spirit to minister through it.
  • We’ve lost all respect for authority and most people don’t want to be taught; they just want to pretend they know it all already
  • The church is more comfortable putting together a program and sticking to it than getting together for prayer and leaving God to plan His own “thing”
  • People trust other people’s interpretations of scripture because they don’t want to spend time reading the Bible.
  • We expect our elders to be in touch with God, and feel freed from the responsibility to know God for ourselves because we have placed our trust in men.

In order to not be in error, we first must commit to our personal walk with the Lord. We cannot know God through others. We never will. We will know them, and we will know their walk with God, but we will not know God. We can be led to Him, but if we aren’t willing to take up that cross and begin a personal walk with the Lord, we are in danger of error.

Secondly, while the texts of others can certainly lead us to truth, relying solely on the wisdom of others and disregarding personal prayer and devotion will most certainly always lead us into some error. There is no man who is 100% correct about God. Everything we hear, we should always take back to the word of God and search it out like the Bereans in the book of Acts (17:11). They were considered more righteous because they didn’t take the apostles at their word, but searched the scriptures daily to make sure that what they heard was in fact true, according to the word of God.

We also must spend time with God. In His word and in prayer. We cannot hear or heed the voice of God if we are unfamiliar with it. How can we trust that what we hear is God if His voice is that of a stranger? No, we must spend personal time (devote personal time) to our Lord, tucked away in a secret place and listening intently to what He is speaking through His word and in our prayer time. God is not often silent; we are just often not listening!

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). We have much to fear, church, if we are not students of the Word and stewards devoted to prayer. These people inhabit the pulpits. They teach on TV. They have a form of godliness, but deny His power and instead work in their own. They interpret scripture to cater to the feelings of their congregants or the tide of money flowing through the church. Many have heard God in the past, and are capable of hearing Him still, but instead minister lies to a vulnerable populace. How do we avoid the snare? We must remain guarded; girded with truth, listening with ears that hear the Spirit of God, and willing to admit wrongness so that God may be proved right (Romans 3:4, for clarity on this).

“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). I tremble at the thought. May studying the Word of God and prayer become the passionate pursuit of my heart! May it be yours as well, friend.

Going Through the Motions

Published July 6, 2017 by Dawn

“Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, ‘Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemy.’

“So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

“ When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, ‘What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?’ When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. ‘A god has come into the camp,’ they said. ‘Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods that struck down the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!’

“So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died” (1 Sam. 4: 1-11).

Isreal, God’s people, were in battle. Surrounded by the enemy and being defeated mercilessly. They were so sure of victory, they went into battle a little under prepared. We know that because they didn’t even take the ark of the covenant with them. It had been at the forefront of their trials in the desert, their crossing the Jordan and stepping into the Promise Land. All the battles won as Joshua was obedient and conquered the land so the people of God could have a place to call home. The ark went before them, symbolic of the presence of their great and mighty God. They knew where their strength lay … for a time, at least.

Then it happened: they went zealously into battle against a great enemy. The giants in the land – the Philistines. Israel, so sure of victory, went into that battle with nothing more than a grand illusion and lost. They had forgotten to bring God into their plans, and subsequently, their plans failed.

An elder knew immediately what was wrong. The ark wasn’t there. But to the new generation of Israelites, who hadn’t been in the desert, it was only a relic. They went after it, of course, and brought along the “priests” as well, but it almost seems like they just set it up ceremoniously on the edge of the field of battle, celebrated their forthcoming victory and again, went into  battle in their own strength.

It amazes me to think of how it happened: they Israelites even shouted in praise that the ark was there. Their praise was so loud, it shook the ground and got the attention of the enemy. It scared the Philistines, and awakened them to their impending doom. Their solution? Fight harder.

It worked.

How?!

I literally sat here and cried after reading this. It’s just like us, friends.

I prayed to understand, because frankly, I’m sick of being defeated. Here’s what happened:  The Israelites were defeated the first time because they went out high on past victories, in their own strength and completely underestimating their enemy. When they were defeated, someone reminded them that their past victories were due to the presence of God among them, so they went back and grabbed the ark. Sadly, to them, it was the symbolism that mattered, not the reality. They went through the motions and expected that God was in it. He wasn’t … because they hadn’t spent time seeking His will and His way to victory.

The really disturbing part is how their hollow worship scared the enemy into action. The Philistines recognized something the Israelites did not: They had brought gods into the camp. Not God. Little Gs … gods. They had brought their own idolatrous ideas and plans into the camp and worshiped as fervently as they knew how. Their enemy noticed and although they afraid, their fear was based on what God had done for the Israelites. Not what the Israelites had done for themselves. Are you getting this? The Philistines’ fear led them to fight stronger and because the Israelites had a form of worship with no power, they were defeated.

This scares me, church. And humbles me. And suddenly, the continuous battles and frequent defeats make sense. Maybe it’s because, instead of truly seeking God, we’re just going through the motions. Maybe that’s why America’s church is powerless and the world is in chaos. Satan seems to be winning because he is, I’m afraid. Because we’re fighting him with gods; our own ideas and strategies are failing us. We have for so long refused to get still before the Lord and seek His face. Instead, we’ve changed the program a hundred and fifty different ways trying to bring people in, but all this time, what we really need to do is bring God back in. Not with our preconceived ideas of how things need to go, or what people want to hear. People need God. They want to hear God. Not you. Not me. They are dealing with deep calling unto deep, but we’re beckoning them into shallow church services. We’ve reduced the movement of God to a program and put Him in a box we refuse to let Him out of. That’s what Israel did. They went back for the box, but they didn’t open it up and let God do what He wanted to do (technically, they were forbidden from opening the ark, but I’m speaking metaphorically here). They were afraid it would look a little foolish, maybe. After all, they defeated Jericho by walking around the walls and shouting. They defeated the Midianites by breaking clay jars and blowing trumpets. All God’s plans, and let’s face it: it was a little weird sharing the war stories. A little humbling. They couldn’t take credit. Maybe that’s why they went out without Him. Maybe they wanted to actually look and feel like warriors instead of weirdos. How’d it work out? Defeat.

I think it’s time to stop going to war without God. Stop trying to win people to our ideologies and get back to what scripture actually says. Stop trying to make it fancy and give it to people straight. Stop worrying about if they like our worship and just worship. It’s not for them; it’s for Him. Stop candy-coating, or polishing up, the truth and give it straight. It is the truth that sets men free, not a confusing combination of cutesy anecdotes and platitudes. Our sermons have become so devoid of actual scripture, the garbage being fed to the multitudes is quite vomitus. No wonder the world can’t stand the church! God himself would like to spew us out of his mouth, no doubt!

Stop doing your thing, church. Do God’s. And if you don’t know what that even means any more, I think that’s a good indication it’s time to get on our knees and shut up long enough for God to speak. He hasn’t changed. He cannot. He will not. Therefore, we must.

What Kind of a Mother am I?

Published May 2, 2017 by Dawn

When my kids were little, they had such beautiful faith. Every ache, fever, whatever … they would come to me and plead, “Mom, can you pray over me?” They just knew that if we prayed, they would be healed. God was so gracious too. Most of the time – without medication – a simple prayer later, my kids were back to their normal selves. It really bolstered their faith, and they began to rely on my praying over them more and more.

There were times, of course, when praying wasn’t my number one priority. As sad as it is to admit, when my kids would come to me in the middle of the night and wake me out of a dead sleep with really bad knee pains or headaches, I remember pulling him or her into bed with me and cuddling a crying child, trying to schmooze him or her back to sleep. “Pray with me, Mom, please!” The pleading would fall on deaf ears. The humiliating truth is I just wanted to sleep. I was mostly exhausted from working 40 hours a week and going to school, and semi-taking care of a house/yard/two kids. My excuse, however seemingly valid at the time, kept me from performing my kids’ saving grace. They knew if I’d just pray, they would feel brand new. I thought that feeling was the result of sleep, so I slept on.

I was sitting on the couch this evening with my son laid across the couch beside me, his head in my lap. I was thinking about prayer and how powerful it is. How devastatingly underutilized it is … when this truth hit me: it’s all my fault.

Don’t try to console me. I need this truth. You see, it is my fault and I needed to hear this. I am not afraid of the truth. I like freedom. I like growing. The truth is vital to both. I said to myself, “This is all my fault. The depression my kids are battling. The ways Satan has manipulated my family. The way he’s winning most of the time. I just wanted to rest, but look at what’s happened! Instead of pressing in in prayer, I checked out in exhaustion and suddenly the battle is out of control!

“Pray with me, Mom.”

I’m broken. It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have allowed this slumber to get the best of me. I shouldn’t have encouraged my kids to sleep too, when prayer has become such a necessity. What kind of a mother am I to leave my kids suffering in pain while I struggle to maintain my grasp on ease and comfort and rest? How can I, with the keys to the kingdom in my hands, leave things unlocked in my own home? How can I, having been given all power and authority, allow Satan to run rampant in our lives? What kind of a mother am I?

Don’t try to console me. I need this guilt and shame. I needed God look me square in the eye and speak this truth, and let me grapple with it because tonight, things changed. My son heard me weeping and awoke out of his slumber. “What’s wrong, Mom?

“I’m so sorry. I love you so much and I’m sorry for leaving you in your pain and not praying over you.” Then we cried and prayed together, like I should have done a long time ago. I should have awakened and prayed a long time ago.

I hesitated to write this because it’s painful and raw … and really embarrassing. But I wanted to share it because I wanted to encourage you: whatever it is, pray. Wake up and pray. Stop allowing Satan to lull you into complacency. That’s how he keeps us ineffectual. That’s how he keeps winning in our lives. Prayer is so powerful and he knows it. But so do you. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Don’t say to me, “But I’m not righteous.” There’s a prayer for that too! Get right before God, then get down to the nitty-gritty and take care of business in your life, and the lives of those you love. Sometimes, we can do nothing more than pray. Thankfully, prayer is the best way to make a difference. What kind of a mother am I? A praying one – enemy beware!

There’s Power in Prayer

Published February 3, 2017 by Dawn

So, I got on facebook at 4:30 this morning after rolling around in bed for an hour and half trying to go back to sleep. I should have done something more productive with my time, but my son “borrowed” my lamp, and I wasn’t ready for the lights to be on … or ready to get out of bed and admit that I was not going to be able to fall back asleep. I rolled over for the millionth time, picked up my phone and checked out facebook.

I scrolled past everyone’s dinner pics, political posts, make-up tutorials … I really wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to most of it, just scrolling along, when I came across this post that stopped me in my tracks. The “headline,” if you will, said “f***ing clap,” and below it was a screenshot of a short conversation. The first box said something to the affect of “I will take your baby. You don’t have to get an abortion, I will take your baby and give it a good home and a good life, no questions asked.” This is probably the sloppiest paraphrase of my life, but I didn’t sleep much last night so please forgive me. The response was this: “But will you take her sleepless nights because she’s uncomfortable, her stretch marks, her embarrassment and shame, her doctor’s bills, her homework at 2 a.m., … the list was enormously long, and might have seemed like a good one at the time … to someone else.

Don’t clap, but rather hang your head in shame. Embarrassment even. You, dear friend who wrote that, have just equated someone’s inconvenience with someone’s else’s life or death situation. Do you see how illogical that it? There’s no reasoning in that argument. One can’t even combat it because the sheer nonsense is mind-boggling. How can society reason with people who think this way?  

We can’t, church. This ranting lunacy is rampant in our world today. And instead of reasoning things through, we have people tossing out weak arguments and patting themselves on the back for having a thought. Nevermind that it makes no sense. It occurred to me that this is what happens when we exalt the heart and exalt feelings instead of morality and human decency. Despite Jeremiah 17:9 which says, “The heart above all things is deceitful,” even the church has propogated the notion that the best way to “make it” in this life is to follow the heart. We even ask often, “how do you feel about it?”  

No! “What does God say? How does He feel? How is He leading you?” God’s leading is not a matter of your feelings. It never will be. God will never leave you in a position to figure out His leading by something so fickle as how you feel. Consider your emotions for a moment: how do you feel when your favorite show on Netflix is canceled? Or you stub your toe? Or someone eats the chocolate you hid for your next breakdown? How do you feel when your team loses? Or wins? These are things that hardly matter in the grand scheme of things, but your feelings can convince you that they are some of the most important things happening at a given moment, when in reality, these are all very trivial matters.

It’s time we start praying as we have never prayed before. Our arguments will never convince this rising, tumultuous throng that they are wrong. They have made their own “sense” out of nonsense. Our passionate pleas will not cut through the hardness of hearts. Our only weapons left to us are prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. When we speak, it must be the words of God and not merely our opinions, no matter how well-played. Only the Holy Spirit can fix what is broken now, church. We must begin to pray as never before. Firstly, that God create in us a pure heart with an attitude and disposition of love. That God would forgive us and show us how to forgive. That He would empty us of our own thoughts, because the wisdom of this world is really foolishness, and fill us up with His thoughts. That He would teach us truth that sets prisoners free and equip us to engage others with that truth, despite the uproar and backlash it may create. That He would teach us to persevere in persecution and tribulation. That in all things, our hearts and minds will remain steadfastly focused on His face, so we can be comforted knowing that at the end of all that lies ahead is God, ready to receive us with open arms.  

Pray, church, and be led by the Holy Spirit in all things.

Zoloft didn’t do it, God did!

Published December 7, 2016 by Dawn

Can I just testify for a moment?

These last few months have been hard on my family. Worse for my son than for the rest of us. With today being the culmination of all the heartache, he set his sights on this day months ago and told me he wasn’t going to even get out of bed today. As I watched his emotions derail, my prayer life leveled up. God, this is your son. It’s time to take over. I need you to get him through this time because I can’t. I became a desperate beggar at the feet of Christ many times a day over the last few weeks, interceding fervently for my children.

Two days ago, I made the necessary plans and took time off work. My son was throwing out both verbal and nonverbal cues that I could expect today to be a day of deep sorrow and grief. I took one day off to prepare myself, and today off to be with my son.

He ditched me.

I took my daughter to school this morning, grabbed his favorite breakfast from a drive-through and headed home determined to fight sadness with some good ole’ fashioned love and attention. I pulled up outside my house and before I could put the car in park, he was sitting in the seat next to me, fully dressed and ready to go to school.

What just happened?

I looked at him and smiled. “Hey, what’s up?”

“I’m going to go to school. I’m going to be happy today.”

Let me shed some clarity for you: I was prepared to medicate my child to get him through this day! Apparently, God just needed him alone for a few minutes. In the short time I left to take my daughter to school, my son had grabbed on to a very mature decision and changed the trajectory of his entire day.

I have spent years worrying about the people my children will become. Their earthly parentage sends shivers up my spine, and in a case of nature vs. nurture, I’ve always worried it might be a losing situation either way. When they were little, I prayed over them every day, “God, if you are my Husband (Isaiah 54:5), then you are their Father. Help me raise them!”

I’ve been terrified since then too, that I am going to fail my children. I am fully aware that my battle between my spirit and my flesh happens in full display before my kids. Home-life casts me as very hypocritical. When this battle started, a whole new level of flesh vs. the spirit happened and I watched flesh deliver blow after blow, wreaking havoc on an already fragile witness before my kids.

Yet here I sit, completely dumbfounded at this sudden turn of events. His decision to be happy in spite of dreadful circumstances is so unlike me. I’m not that strong. In fact, I have resorted lately to simply quoting scriptures instead of giving real thought-filled advice because I suddenly recognize how little wisdom I actually have when it comes to some things. So when he turned to me two days ago and said, “Mom, I’m scared,” I looked over at him and replied, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of love and a sound mind.” I also rattled off a few others that bubbled up out of my desperate mommy heart because that’s all that I have to give right now.

My kid went to school today. He wasn’t going to, but he did. Not because of anything I said but because His Father spoke a word in my absence that put demons to flight, broke chains of bondage and set a captive free. Zoloft didn’t do it, God did. HALLELUJAH!!

His Hands and Feet

Published March 25, 2016 by Dawn

It happened again. I took the kids to the Civic Center this afternoon, and while they played, I sat contentedly reading my bible. Right before we left, a little boy came from across the gym and sat down next to me. He said, “You know, my brothers both just got placed in foster care.” My heart broke! I said, “You are sad, aren’t you?” He nodded his head. I said, “Do you need a hug?” He leaned in with his arms open and I just hugged him back. Then I said, “Should we pray?” Again, he nodded his head. So we bowed our heads and prayed for him, his brothers and his family. Right after we got done praying, he was called back to the other side of the gym and I sat there in awe. God is so good.

My son came over and said, “Mom, what did he want?” After I told him, he and I both laughed at how God does that. All the time. All the time, He brings people into our lives for small moments that can mean so much if we take the opportunity to be His hands and feet. All the time, He is shining His light through us and drawing people to Jesus. Friends, this happens all the time in my life. Kids spill their guts at my feet and I pray for them.

The first time I vividly remember it happening, I was a very young, single mom walking the dog at the park. This seventeen-year-old boy (yep, he even told me his age!) came up to pet my dog and began telling me his latest woes. He had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and was uncertain if she would keep their baby, or let him have anything to do with the child. I was too scared then to offer to pray for him, but I did pray for him when I got home. And seven years later, I am still praying for that kid, even though now, he is a young man. I have never seen him again, but I pray for him as often as I think about him. Which is every time a kid approaches me and begins to tell me all about their lives. I remember and pray for all of them.

I have often thought of ministry as being this big thing. The souls God said He would bring to Jesus through me have filled stadiums in my mind. But what if this is what it’s all about? What if it’s small ministry opportunities that could feel like intrusions into our peaceful moments if we aren’t hiding in Christ? What if the millions of lives we will touch happen a little here and  a little there, through little boys like Malik who grow up walking with God because someone took the time to pray with him? Don’t overlook these moments, because this could be the way God uses you.

“Lift up your eyes and look about you:
    All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
    and your daughters are carried on the hip”

Isaiah 60:4

 

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.