Month: October 2018

Angry With God? My Fourth Concern

The Emotional Life

My fourth concern is our struggle with emotions in general. Anger suffers from our more general lack of a way to deal with emotions.

Emotions. Can you trust them? Many Christians don’t think you can. This is the result of some unhelpful teaching on emotions that became pretty common in some circles. James Dobson wrote a book telling us we can’t trust our emotions. I am not going to dive into this discussion. If you want to do a deeper study on this, a very helpful, readable, and wise book is Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart by Matthew Elliott. If you want a very substantial study of emotions in the New Testament, then read Elliott’s book Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament.

Today, more Christians understand that emotionally healthy spirituality, as described by Peter Scazzero (in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality) is a better way for nurturing an authentic emotional life.

Emotions are not a caboose tagging on at the end of the train (see The Four Spiritual Laws by Bill Bright). Emotions are central to what it means to be human. Emotions are an essential component of the spiritual …

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Angry With God? My Third Concern

To get at this concern, let’s have a  hypothetical conversation.

Scenario One:

You say, “I’m angry with God.”
I say, “Hmm. What are you doing about your anger with God?”
Your answer:  Silence.
I rest my case. Angry at God and doing nothing about it. That is hazardous to your heart and souring to your soul.

Scenario Two:

Let’s try it again.
You say, “I’m angry with God.”
I say, “Hmm. What are you doing about your anger with God?”
You say, “I am ruminating on it, fixating on it, getting more and more irritated with God about it. I am rehearsing over and over in my mind how God let me down.”
I say, “That is what I am concerned about. Anger against God rarely fades away. It doesn’t dissipate. It doesn’t disappear. It intensifies. Because that is what anger does. If you don’t bring other spiritual energies to bear against your anger, it will only grow worse. And you’ll want little or nothing to do with God.”
You say . . .  Well, what do you say?

Scenario Three:

One more time.
You say, “I’m angry with God.”
I say, “Hmm. What are you

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Angry With God? My Second Concern

Now for my second concern. It’s pretty straight forward.

I decided to go back and do a little survey of what the Bible says about anger. Maybe you will be helped by this in the way I was.

First, the words anger and angry are not often used in the New Testament. In the Old Testament these words are used 381 times. In the New Testament they appear 22 times. Just about every time they are used they are warnings and cautions about anger. For example:

In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires. (James 1:19-20)

Love is . . . not easily angered. (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger… (Ephesians 4:31; see also Colossians 3:8)

I then looked up several other words, like fury, bitter, and rage. Once again, they are not frequent in the New Testament, and when they …

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Angry With God? My First Concern

But Can You Handle It?

In my sermon on September 30, I made brief comments on how anger with God doesn’t do you much good when you are going through hard times. This may have been the part of the series What Shall I Do When Life Gets Hard? that generated the most comments from people. And the most questions!

What I said resonated with people. Intuitively, it made sense, while at the same time it raised important questions. The theme deserves more explanation and reflection. I want the people I love to flourish. You are among the people I love. Flourishing is possible even when life gets hard, but anger can really work against flourishing.

So, here are additional thoughts that may help you know what you can do when you are angry with God about the hard things of life. Today is the longest of what I will share. For the next several days, my comments will be much shorter.

I’ve heard it said (and so have you) that when you are angry with God, let God know you are angry. Let your anger out against God. God is a big God. He can handle your …

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The Five Insights

Quite a few people asked me for the five insights from the Sunday message. They are only five of the many more insights we need when times are hard, but they are a good start. Read all of them in light of Romans 8:28-39 and Romans 5:3-4.

ONE: Expect the Expected.
(See yesterday’s post for more on this.)

TWO: Accept Responsibility to do what YOU must do about your hard times. When hard times happen, don’t make them harder through irresponsible responses.

Don’t withdraw, isolate, shut down, or avoid problems. Those responses NEVER help you, they only make it worse.

Don’t complain, and especially, don’t fall into self-pity. As tempting as it is (and I have done it more than you might suspect), complaining and self-pity NEVER help you, they only make it worse.

Don’t get angry and retaliate. Don’t deny or blame-shift or rationalize or justify, etc. Those responses NEVER help you in hard times, they only make it worse.

Take ownership, act promptly, choose your next step wisely, and realize there are consequences for all your responses.

What matters most is NOT what happens to you. What matters most is what you DO about what happens to you.…

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What God Has Promised (and Not Promised)

What Shall I Do When Life Gets Hard?

One core insight from the Sunday message is to have proper expectations.

Expect the unexpected AND expect the EXPECTED.

Don’t expect Hakuna Matata. A problem-free philosophy is going to have a rude and abrupt encounter with reality.

Real life has problems, difficulties, struggles, challenges, and even crises (some of which can be horribly hard). Sickness happens. Cancer happens. Heart disease happens. Accidents happen. Natural disasters happen. Bad choices with their consequences happen. Life happens. Fallen life happens. It happens every day.

Don’t expect God to wave his supernaturally sovereign hand over all your problems and make them magically go away. That is not the teaching of the Bible.  God empowers his followers to go through tests, trials, temptations, and troubles—not to avoid them.

There is an old poem I found in my early years as a Christian. It is actually an old hymn. As far as poetry goes, it is not beautiful poetry, but it is good poetry. And it is better theology. Very good theology, and therefore, it offers very good spirituality.

Here it is. Read it. Reflect on it. Pray through it. Allow this good theology and spirituality to …

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