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Posts Tagged ‘anger’

Yesterday I gave a kids’ sermon to the children at our small town church. I usually try to come up with some sort of object lesson to help the teaching stick with them. Almost always I get good feedback from the adults in the congregation because, taking a page from “what would Jesus do”, I’ve found telling stories is the best way to communicate truth about God, no matter what age I’m teaching.

toothpasteIn yesterday’s sermon, I used a tube of toothpaste. I had one of the older children squeeze out as much toothpaste as they could onto a paper plate. Then I asked him to put it all back. Of course he told me he couldn’t. None of the other children volunteered to try either, except the one smarty who told me she could with some sort of vacuum. Kudos to the problem solver. She’ll probably be an engineer some day.

The purpose of the lesson was to illustrate that speaking out without thinking is much like squeezing out that toothpaste.  Once those words are spoken, it’s almost impossible to get them back. I encouraged the kids (and the listening adults) to choose their words carefully, and if they speak hurtful or angry words, to quickly apologize. Most of us don’t realize the power we have with our words. I even told the kids their words can sometimes hurt their moms’ feelings. Yes, moms have feelings. There were a few significant looks exchanged between daughters and moms at that gem of truth.

Left that little 5-minute lesson feeling pretty good. I’d passed on some truth, encouraged kids to be kind, laughed a little over squeezed out toothpaste and sat down. This morning I got a little frustrated over some circumstances beyond my control. How did I respond? Did I remember my own sermon? Did I get all spiritual and think, “O Lord – You have prepared me for this moment. I will respond in kindness and compassion, just as Your Word teaches. I will love and honor my fellow man.”? Nope. Not even close.

I lost it. I chose (yes – it was my choice) to pass on my frustration through angry words in a conversation with one of my favorite people on the planet. It took a long walk around my city (and a cold iPhone battery leaving me with no walking music) to allow the Holy Spirit to show me my failure. And I learned a lesson of my own.

I’m not a rock star. I’m not a superhero. I’m not a great Bible teacher. I’m a flawed human being who needs the grace of God to exist in relationship with others. My pride took a hit today…and I really hope I’ve learned this lesson so I don’t have to revisit it again tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day. But I know a few things about God and I know He wants me to pass this test so I can move on to something else. So – as I’m trying to cram toothpaste back into the tube, will you give grace to those who may lose it on you today? Most everyone has a story we don’t know. Face value is rarely accurate. And, if you can think fast enough in the face of frustrations, try to choose life-affirming words. Toothpaste is a real mess to clean up.

James 3:4-6 – “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.”

P.S. – I apologized and thankfully, I was forgiven. I think the heart emoji helped.

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Double-EdgedSword

We all have it. Some more than others but, unless you live alone in a cave without any human interaction, you have influence with someone. How you use it can define your legacy.

First, a few questions…

  • Do you show kindness to the harried grocery clerk?
  • Do you drive as though you own the road?
  • Do you discipline your children with respect or anger?
  • Do you roll your eyes when asked the same question multiple times?
  • Do you belittle someone and say “I’m just joking?”
  • Do you give a little extra tip to the hard-working restaurant worker?
  • Have you ever paid for a stranger’s meal or coffee?

The influence you wield can encourage, exhort and enlighten. It can empower others to action…brighten the lives of the less-fortunate…embolden the spirits of the downtrodden. Your influence – my influence – is a powerful weapon for good, but unfortunately, it can also be used for evil purposes.

  • If you can encourage, then you can demean.
  • If you can empower, then you can reject.
  • If you can build up, then you can tear down.
  • If you can enrich, you can also impoverish,
  • If you can assist someone, you can destroy someone.

We can influence others with our speech or our actions. Usually our intentions are obvious in our body language or tone of voice. How you say something usually supersedes what you actually said. Emojis can offer intent but don’t replace the real deal…

So, be careful where you point that thing called influence. Like a light saber in the hands of a Jedi master, hone your positive influence skills. Be patient with others, give grace whenever possible, show love and mercy, demonstrate forgiveness, allow the fruit of the Spirit to hang low on your influence tree. Be salty and shine bright.

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envy ice cream

Envy – the green-eyed monster. What’s the big deal? Being envious of someone doesn’t really hurt anyone, right? Well, actually it does. It hurts you. It stunts your spiritual and emotional growth. Always wanting what you don’t or can’t have can lead to a lot of problems.

Think about something or someone you’ve been envious of. Maybe you’re envious of that new engagement ring your best friend is showing off…maybe you’re envious of the “We’re expecting a baby!” couple…how about that new big house so-and-so is moving into next week…or the promotion your co-worker just got. Why is it so easy to be envious?

It’s our nature to want something we can’t have…goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. Abel received God’s favor, Cain didn’t. In this case, Cain was so envious, so angry, he killed his brother and hid the crime. Saul was envious of David and the adulation David received from the Israelites. Peter was envious of Jesus’ statement regarding John. I’m sure you can think of more examples.

Envy is only the first step down the path toward greater and greater darkness. If it’s not checked or confronted in your life, it can lead to bitterness, offense, anger, or in some cases, violence.

I’ve learned to reexamine my desires when I find myself feeling envy. According to 1 Cor. 13, love is not envious. So the solution to my envy problem is love…unconditionally loving those I feel have what I need or want…loving my life just the way it is…loving God for the favor and blessings He has granted me. Learning to let go of the envy and embracing the life I have, grateful for every little piece of it.

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