How anger can (and must) fall…

Did you feed your kids last night?  How about the night before?  When you fill your car up, is that a one-and-done thing … or … do you have to repeat that process about every week?  Your iPhone?  Can you recharge it once and that’s it for life or is it a continual process of recharging?  How about your exercise or sleep?

Life is a series of recharging ourselves.  You don’t sleep just once.  It’s daily.  You don’t eat once.  It’s 3x a day.  Life is a repeating process of drawing upon fuel.  Spiritually, life is a series of continually recharging/refueling with the Truth.

READ Psalm 23.  Do it every day for 40 days.  Goliath came every morning for 40 days.  He harassed them every evening for 40 straight days.  Your enemy is coming at you every single morning, every single evening.  Reading the 23rd Psalm takes 40 seconds.  If you’re prayerful through it, it can take 4 minutes.  Read it.  Let it wash over you.  Daily.  You’re going to need it.  It’s fuel for your soul.

The giants come.  They come every day.  They come every morning spewing their lies, heaping on shame.  We must wake up every day to the present reality that Jesus has already won.  We must link up to what Jesus has done, who He is in us and talk like He talks to us.  And when we do, things change.  Draw upon the Vine daily for your life source.

That’s the first step to taking the giant of anger down (and out) of your life.  Here are some more…

1. Recognizing God was angry with us – Long before I was angry or betrayed, I betrayed God.  I did not pick Him.  I turned my back on Him.  It makes God angry when our sin betrays His goodness and when our pride belittles His glory.  On the day of God’s wrath, the world will see how angry God is over sin.

He is righteous.  He is holy.  He’s not just a little better than us.  He’s perfect in every way, righteous through and through.  The things we tolerate, He won’t tolerate.  The things we watch in entertainment, He doesn’t watch.  The things we let creep into our lives, He won’t let creep into His life because His righteousness burns in a flame of glory.

When God returns and walks into the room of contemporary culture, it won’t be pretty.  When He walks in, it will evaporate all sin.  It’s going to be a terrifying day.

Why?  When I sin, I betray God. I belittle God by saying, “I’ve got this” – or – “I don’t need You today” – or – “This will meet my need faster than You will today” – or – “I’m going to take this short-cut because I don’t like Your path today” – or – “I’m tired and don’t want to dig in and fight today” … when I belittle the Glory of God or I betray God, it makes Him angry.  We must realize this.

But, God’s grace has overcome His anger Amen!  Praise God!

“You forgave the iniquity of Your people and covered all their sins. Selah!  You set aside all Your wrath and turned from Your fierce anger.  Restore us again and put away Your anger forever.  Show us Your unfailing love and grant us Your salvation.”  Psalm 85:1-2

2. God has peace with us He loved us but hated our sin.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  That is very good news for an angry world.

“At that time, you were without the Messiah … foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.  For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing walls of hostility… when Christ came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away.”   Ephesians 2:12-17

At the Cross, God made peace with His anger over our sin.  As a follower of Christ, we know the day of wrath is not coming for us.

3. We believe God is our avenger – The giants must fall because they demoralize us and diminish the glory of God.  How does anger do that?  It causes us to rob from God who says He says He is – the One who will avenge all wrongs.  If I believe God, I will let it go for God to deal with it.  God will fix it.  He will hold them accountable.  Christ died so I can have peace with God and in that peace, I can make peace with others…

“Detest evil; cling to what is good… rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil… Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.  If your enemy is hungry, feed them.  If he is thirsty, give him something to drink… Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” Romans 12:12-21

Repaying evil with evil never works.  All it does is breed more evil.

If you extend peace, you’re saying, “Yes, I’ve been hurt but God is bigger.  I got hurt but God healed me. I got hurt but thank God He made peace with me and at the Cross He gave me the power to make peace with you.”

Christians ought to be walking through the world offering a better model.  I’ve known God too long to be bitter.  Too long to not be walking in what He’s done for me.  Too long to hold that grudge against you.  I’m too forgiven to not forgive.  Let go of your anger.  God’s paid it all so you don’t have to carry this burden another day.  Forgive them.  Let them go.  Trust the Father.  Peace will follow.  Selah!


Anger must fall (2)

A few of you have asked about theses videos.  They aren’t on the website but you can buy the DVDs.  Here is a link to the videos filmed with the small groups…

Here is a link to the 5-part sermon series (including the one we saw this morning)…

Aren’t you tired of being mad all the time?  It’s such a weary way to live. Aren’t you tired of holding onto that grudge you’ve held so long?  Today, you can let it go and trust God with the outcome.  The moment you do, you are free, and the giant of anger can fall.

Imagine how powerful it would be to release the mission you carry of righting every wrong.

What if you instead trusted God, let Him handle all the details and you believed in forgiveness and you extended forgiveness?

As believers, it is imperative that we live in the finished work of Jesus.  We must not allow the enemy to gain a foothold in our lives – something that looks small on the front-end but 5-10-15 years later, you discover a giant living in the middle of the room.  We accommodate that thing and don’t let God take it down.

Anger must fall because God wants you free from this demoralizing giant.  God wants glory in our lives by showing the world He is bigger than anything we face.

Anger is a giant that can shut down God’s possibilities in our lives.  If we’re not careful, our anger can burn someone else’s life down.  It will definitely burn your life down.

Angry people always look to tear down others.  Eliab belittled David.  No protection for his little brother.  No “I’ve got your back”.  Instead, he rips David, belittles him and questions his heart.  He challenges his character.  When you make character assassinations, you’re tipping your hand as to what is in your heart.  God looked at Eliab and said his heart was not good.  Eliab’s anger burned.  Rejection. Not getting picked is one of the huge roots of anger in our lives.

Underneath anger many times is betrayal or belittlement.  Betrayal is real and breeds jealousy.  Jealousy is a tough thing to carry.  It forces us to compare and compete.  It silences us from celebrating and affirming.  If we live in families that compare and compete and can’t celebrate and affirm, we live in war because the giant of anger is lurking in the room.

A lot of our anger traces back to our parents.  If you’re angry, it might have to do with your parents.  He abandoned me.  He was/is uninterested in me.  He picked someone else over me.  He hurt me.  He was emotionally unavailable to me.  He left our family.  He cheated on us – not just Mom – but he cheated on all of us.  He didn’t take care of us.  He didn’t take care of himself.  He won’t face the facts.  He’s too aggressive.  Too passive.  He’s gone all the time.  I’m mad at Mom for putting so much stress on my Dad.  I’m mad at her for hounding him.  I’m angry for the things he’s said to me – or – the things he never said to me.  I’m angry because I was never good enough for him.

Your anger can go back to parents who betrayed or belittled you.  But, we need to remember, Jesus has killed this giant of anger.  It may still be talking, still able to inject poison but Jesus has finished the battle.

When Louie read that list of reasons we might be angry, the room this morning grew very silent.  Many of us have powerfully felt or still profoundly feel these emotions.  This isn’t an exercise of blaming our parents.  Instead, it is a rational realization that family wounds are real and potent.  Many of us denied those or stuffed them down to attempt getting on with our lives and today, we find ourselves raging with anger ourselves and we question, “where did this come from?”  Push into this.  It is time for this giant to fall.  The collateral damage you can inflict on others you love is too costly to ignore this.  It’s time to forgive those who wronged you and pick up the responsibility of changing the narrative of your story.

What is the first step?  Remember …

Anger is refusing to see our own weakness and instead we focus on another’s weakness. At the Cross, I see how God resolved His righteous anger towards us.

“They really did me wrong”yeah, but I first wronged God.

“They really did abandon me”yeah, but I first abandoned God.

“They threw it in my face”yeah, but I threw it in God’s face.

I can no longer blame others for my sin.  Long before anyone wronged me, I turned my back on God.  And yet … and yet … He continually pursued me.  God loved me enough to rescue me despite my worship of other idols.  Jesus came and paid it all for me.  It’s time for me to take my anger and lay it at the foot of the Cross.  I’m free and forgiven.  It’s time to forgive and free others and let God be God. 

Anger must fall (1)

Aren’t you tired of being mad all the time?  It’s such a weary way to live.  Aren’t you tired of holding onto that grudge you’ve held so long?

Your anger may be valid – you may indeed have been wronged, abandoned or abused.  Or, the anger may be wrongly placed – you may think someone set out to hurt you but, in fact, it was a misunderstanding or you heard something repeated about you that was never said in the first place.  Or, your anger may suppressed anger – this is the anger you’ve never dealt with.  You never had the conversation to resolve it.   You never got it out into the open.  Instead, you stuffed it and it has smoldered in your heart.

Unresolved anger burns slowly until it erupts.  It wreaks havoc on the person who carries it all those years and when it finally comes out, it can do great damage to all those on the receiving end of it.

God’s Word warns us about carrying anger …

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James 1:19-21

Perhaps you’re holding on, so you can avenge the wrong.  Imagine how powerful it would be to release the mission of righting every wrong.  What if you instead trusted God, let Him handle all the details and you believed in forgiveness and extended forgiveness?  When that happens, we are free.

Your flesh fights this…

“They really did me wrong”

“They really did abandon me”

“They threw it in my face”

Yes, that may be true but in order to deal with our anger, we must turn to face our own sin.  We go to the Cross.  The Cross is where you take this unresolved anger that is burning your up.  At the Cross, we must face our own imperfection.  When you’re locked into your anger, your flesh will refuse to see your own weakness and instead turns your attention to another’s weakness.

At the Cross, we are confronted with an ugly and beautiful truth at the same time.  At the Cross, I see how God resolved His righteous anger towards me.  First of all, He was angry with me.  Forget the other person who hurt me, I have no righteousness of my own to present…

“They really did me wrong” yeah, but long ago and many times, I wronged God.

“They really did abandon me” yeah, but I abandoned God and turned to other idols.

“They threw it in my face” yeah, but I frequently threw it in God’s face.

That truth is ugly.  But it is also beautiful.  Even though I spit in His face, turned to other idols and constantly rebelled against Him, God still pursued me and pursued me all the way to the death of His Son upon the Cross.

Ponder this.  Who are you angry with?  Your Father?  Mother?  Your older brother who belittled you?  A coach who humiliated you?  A boss who lied to you?  An ex-wife or ex-girlfriend who betrayed you?  What grudge are you holding onto?

Aren’t you tired of carrying this?


the lullaby of comfort …

Today, we wrapped up our discussion on comfort with some challenging thoughts.  Here are the slides from today … Comfort must fall (last)

Before I dive into summary comments, Eddie Curran stopped me this morning and told me that those in the Middle East who observe America say that “Comfort is Satan’s lullaby” for Americans.  This far better describes what we are dealing with in this giant.  American’s crave comfort.  I crave comfort.  My whole life seems to be about my comfort.  And as I look back over my past 30 years, I am convicted by just how “blanketed” I’ve been by my lust for comfort.  Life has a way of doing that to you which is precisely what our enemy is trying to lure us into through this giant.

This is hard stuff.  Convicting.  Every single day, in almost every way, comfort comes at you pleading for your embrace.  It can be nice cars, luxury vacations, a fully funded retirement … or … it can be far more subtle, far more diabolical.  Far deeper in the recesses of our hearts.  We live our lives with all sorts of rationalizations and justifications for our “secure” life.

I remind you of what Brennan Manning said in his book, The Furious Longing of God

Jesus Christ has irreparably changed the world.  When preached purely, His Word exalts, frightens, shocks, and forces us to reassess our whole life.  The gospel breaks our train of thought, shatters our comfort, and cracks open our capsule truths.  The flashing spirit of Jesus Christ breaks new paths everywhere.  His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace, but a revolution.  The gospel is not a children’s fairy tale, but rather a cutting-edge, rolling-thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit.

It is jarring indeed to learn that what through in His passion and death is meant for us too: that the invitation He extends is “Don’t weep for Me! Join Me!”  The life He has planned for Christians is a life much like He lived.  He was not poor that we might be rich.  He was not mocked that we might be honored.  He was not laughed at so that we could be lauded.

And in that regard, I read a letter from Carrie Strickland at TruthSpring/Highland Community Church.  I encourage you to read this.  Carrie and Rob Strickland followed God’s call and moved into the North Highland neighborhood 11 years ago.  They have poured their life out into that community and raised their small children on a street where gun fire is the norm.  The fruit of their labor isn’t instantaneous.  It is a long, slow process of living out God’s call in a very tough place with very broken people.  I loved Carrie’s candor about her frustration in the labor and how God asked her, “Whose story is this Carrie; Mine or yours?”  Here is the letter >  Scan0109

Jesus is calling us out of comfort.  He didn’t suffer that we might be blanketed in luxury.  He poured out and calls us to the same.  Examine your heart.  Check yourself every single time you reach for your wallet.  What is it you are attempting to buy here with this purchase?  Is it the “thing” or is it something deeper?  Is it comfort?  

Perhaps it is time to turn your life upside down so you can WAKE UP and realize that time is fleeting and God has called you to SO MUCH MORE than this comfortable life you’ve craved.