The Process of Change – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

The Process of Change – Introduction

Last week we spoke about four aspects of following the Christian path – Seeing how Jesus Saw, Speaking as Jesus Spoke, Loving as Jesus Loved, and Serving as Jesus Served. We also discussed how, for many, truly living up these ideals may require a change in our behavior. We also discovered that many of our actions and behaviors are basically habits and, in order to truly live as Christ lived, we may need to change some of those habits. The question then became, How? This week, we’ll examine habits, how they’re formed, and the Process of Change. We’ll also share ideas on how we might go about making the changes we desire.

Spiritual Quote

“We are what we repeatedly do.”
~Aristotle

Planned Scripture

  • Proverbs 23:7
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • Philippians 4:13

Join Us

Join us each Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Transforming Power of Christ’s Love – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Transforming Power of Christ’s Love – Introduction

Must we change before God will love us? Or, is it His love that inspires us to change? As Christians, Scripture is our guide – and Scripture is clear. God loves us – period. And when we choose to truly follow Jesus, we experience the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love.

Spiritual Quote

“Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us.”
~Tullian Tchividjian

Thoughts

Many professed Christians hold to their faith very deeply, and they truly desire everyone would come to know Jesus. Unfortunately, their words and their actions don’t match their professed faith. They take a legalistic view of Christianity. They seem to say, “unless you change, you’re not worthy of God’s love. And, since you’re not worthy of God’s love, you’re certainly not worthy of mine.”

My view is that this legalistic approach is the antithesis of Christ’s teaching. And, it does very little to inspire others to come into a relationship with Him. However, if we truly strive to model Christ in our lives, if we live as He lived and love as He loved, not only will we be happier, healthier, and more at peace – we may just inspire others to seek and develop a relationship with Him. My hope is that others will look at how we live our lives, and how we treat others, and say, “wow, that’s what being Christian is about? I can do that – sign me up!”

Are we all “there” yet? No…but with time and conscious effort, His love WILL transform us, if we continuously strive to live and love as He did. And what would that look like? There are four ways we can demonstrate the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love in our lives: Speak as He Spoke, See as He Saw, Love as He Loved, and Serve as He Served.

Speak as Jesus Spoke

In the hours before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus was with His disciples. The disciples were scared, and He knew it. He knew that when the time came, they would leave Him, and even claim never to have known Him. Did He deride them, put them down, or call them names? No. His words were words of peace and love. They were words that were meant to calm, and to heal. In John 14:27 He says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

When we’re confronted with those we consider to be adversaries, ideas or viewpoints that are different than our own, or behaviors we might not approve of, do our words express peace and love; do they calm and heal? Or, are our words mean, nasty, vulgar – full of hate and venom?

Think of all of Jesus’ interactions we’ve read about. What’s just about the worst thing Jesus ever said about anyone? He called the Pharisees and the Sadducees hypocrites – because they understood the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. Contrast that with what we see and read today, words spoken and written by people who profess to be Christian. Here’s a list of some of the words associated with social media comments attached to just one article I read yesterday made people who proudly and loudly proclaim their Christian faith: Stupid Libtards, F’ing Democrats, Bullsh*t, A**holes, Dipshi*t, F*ing Loser, F*ing Faggots. Do these words uplift? Do they express peace and love? No. But when this is the message that professed Christians put out, is it any wonder that non-Christians describe Christians has haters and hypocrites?

To me, if we’re going to profess to be Christian, and if we’re going to inspire others to follow the Christian path, we should strive to live by Christ’s example. What did Jesus think about our speech? Matthew 15:10-11 tells us,  “And He called the people to Him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” And consider Paul’s advice in several of his letters:

  • Colossians 3:8 – “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
  • Colossians 4:6 – “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
  • Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
  • Ephesians 5:4 – “Let there be no filthiness (vulgarity) nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place…”

Do our words live up to our proclaimed faith? Do they inspire and uplift others? Are they words of His peace and love? We don’t have to change the way we speak, or the words we use when we write, in order for God to love us. God loves us – period. But, when we choose to follow the path of Christ, we should desire and strive to let the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love change us so that we speak as He spoke.

See as Jesus Saw

How do we, as Christians, see others – especially those who are different? Do we label and place judgments? Do we look at the homeless, the addicted, or those who don’t live up to our standards as “less than”? Or, do we view them as brothers and sisters? Do we treat them with scorn and ridicule, or do we treat them with dignity and respect, regardless of their situation? Do we tell them they must change in order to earn our love? Or, do we show them love; and pray that they, too, will come to know the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love?

Let me give you an example. We provide a place of spiritual respite, food, clothing, and shelter to those who, for whatever reason, find themselves homeless. Are some suffering from addiction? Yes. Are some trying to improve their lives? Yes. Regardless, we view everyone as one of God’s children, and we try to extend love and support to those in need. When a friend of mine asked a friend of hers if he would donate to help us in our efforts, he said that he would only donate if everyone we served submitted first to a urinalysis. In other words, he was demanding a change before he would extend help and support. His expression of God’s love was dependent upon change occurring first. Contrast this with how Jesus saw others:

Jesus expressed compassion to those deemed “less than” by the religious culture of His time. Matthew 9:36 tells us, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:13-17 & Matthew 9:10). He looked beyond the exterior and saw the spiritual in those seen as unclean and worthy of love: a prostitute (Luke 7:36-50), a leper (Matthew 8:2-3), a Samartin woman (John 4), and an adulteress (John 8:11). Jesus didn’t demand they change their ways or become clean before He extended love, kindness, and compassion. He simply loved them, and it was through the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love that their lives were changed.

Love as Jesus Loved

When we speak as Jesus spoke, and we see others as Jesus saw, we are well on our way to Loving as Jesus Loved. How did He love? He loved completely, unselfishly. John 15:12-13 tells us, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” And 1 John 3:16 reminds us, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” In our day to day lives, this need not be a literal sacrificing of our lives. In a spiritual sense, it can also be doing things for and showing love to, others – even when it costs us. Not out of a sense of duty or sacrifice, but because we want to uplift them. And, not because it makes us feel good, because that’s not real love. Real love is about giving, not receiving.

Remember, in Acts 20:35, Luke tells us that Jesus said, “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Many pastors use this to entice and encourage people to make financial contributions. And, certainly, that has its place. But, to me, this has a much deeper spiritual meaning. It is more blessed to give of ourselves, our time, our talents, our compassion, our forgiveness – our Love. Through the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love, may we Love as He Loved.

Serve as Jesus Served

Finally, our speaking, seeing, and loving culminate in living our lives in service to others. Each of the four Gospels tell of Jesus serving others:

  • Matthew 20:28 & Mark 10:45 – “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”
  • Luke 22:27 – “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”
  • John 13:14-15 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”

Notice in the last passage above, Jesus didn’t say that because He had washed their feet they must now wash His feet. That would be self-serving. No, Jesus’ point was giving service – I washed yours, now you go wash theirs, and they will go and wash.

When we speak as Jesus spoke, see as Jesus saw, and love as Jesus loved, the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love will fill our hearts and minds with a desire to serve others as He served. Again, not out of a sense of duty or sacrifice, but out of a desire to live and love as He loved. And not because we want the recognition or accolades, but because it has become part of our very nature.

Closing Thoughts

Scripture tells us that when we accept Christ we are made new. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul tells the church at Corinth, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” And in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul advises, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) When we choose to follow the path of Christ, we should strive to allow those changes in us to occur.

1 John 2:6 tells us, “…whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” To walk as He walked means we ought to speak as He spoke, see as He saw, love as He loved, and serve as He served. As we travel this wonderful and exciting journey, we experience the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love. Not only are our lives transformed, but those who see us are inspired to transform as well. It is through this transformation that, as our prayer states, we become examples to each other and to others of Jesus’ love, hope, and promise.

Acknowledgements

I’d like to acknowledge Pastor David Parks for his outline on today’s subject.

Scripture

  • John 14:27
  • Matthew 15:10-11
  • Colossians 3:8
  • Colossians 4:6
  • Ephesians 4:29
  • Ephesians 5:4
  • Matthew 9:36
  • Mark 2:13-17
  • Matthew 9:10
  • Luke 7:36-50
  • Matthew 8:2-3
  • John 8:11
  • John 15:12-13
  • 1 John 3:16
  • Acts 20:35
  • Matthew 20:28 & Mark 10:45
  • Luke 22:27
  • John 13:14-15
  • 1 John 2:6
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Romans 12:2

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Transforming Power of Christ’s Love – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Transforming Power of Christ’s Love – Introduction

Must we change before God will love us? Or, is it His love that inspires us to change? As Christians, Scripture is our guide – and Scripture is clear. God loves us – period. And when we choose to truly follow Jesus, we experience the Transforming Power of Christ’s Love.

Planned Scripture

  • John 14:27
  • Matthew 15:10-11
  • Colossians 3:8
  • Colossians 4:6
  • Ephesians 4:29
  • Ephesians 5:4
  • Matthew 9:36
  • Mark 2:13-17
  • Matthew 9:10
  • Luke 7:36-50
  • Matthew 8:2-3
  • John 8:11
  • John 15:12-13
  • 1 John 3:16
  • Acts 20:35
  • Matthew 20:28 & Mark 10:45
  • Luke 22:27
  • John 13:14-15
  • 1 John 2:6
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Romans 12:2

Join Us

Join us each Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Backsliding – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Backsliding – Introduction

We all go through times when we don’t quite live up to our desired relationship with God. When we do, we slide back into “old ways” and we may even feel disconnected from Him. There are things we can do, and signs we can watch for, to keep our relationship with Him strong; and to keep us from backsliding.

Spiritual Quote

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
~Augustine of Hippo

Thoughts

Scripture uses several phrases for backsliding – turning back, turning aside, falling, sliding. In fact, the term in Hebrew as used in Proverbs is cuwg (soog), which means to go back, to turn away or turn back. Spiritually, it means to turn away from God, to go back to thoughts, words, and behaviors we might have had prior to developing a relationship with Him.

What can cause us to backslide?

  • Spending too much time with people that don’t uplift us and instead, draw us back into doing things and speaking in a manner not consistent with our beliefs. We do, in fact, need to be cautious of the company we keep. If we surround ourselves with people who are materialistic, who don’t approach situations and people from a standpoint of love, forgiveness, kindness, and respect, we soon find ourselves falling into their habits.
  • Proverbs 22:24-25 cautions us to, “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”
  • Proverbs 13:20 warns, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

We are influenced by the company we keep. If we desire a strong relationship with God, if we want to be the kind, loving, forgiving people Christ calls us to be, then we must make sure to build strong relationships with others with the same desire. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s good to associate with those who don’t have that kind of relationship with God. If we pay attention, and stay strong in our relationship, we can be an example to them, and perhaps inspire them to seek a relationship with Him, too.

  • Not being careful and selective in our choice of TV, movies, music, etc. The world of entertainment today is full of examples that glorify violence, anger, revenge, and hate.
  • Lamentations 3:51 reminds us, “Mine eye affecteth mine heart…”
  • Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…”

Watching to too many shows or movies, or listening to too much music, filled with wonton promiscuity, anger, hate, and violence can dull our senses. And, if we’re not careful, we can become so desensitized that we even view these behaviors as good, acceptable, and “normal.” Better we would listen to music and watch movies that reinforce our spiritual connection and our desire to be living, loving examples of God working in and through us.

  • Developing or allowing passions for “wordly” things get in the way of our passion for God. It’s okay to have passions. Some people have a passion for football or baseball. Some have a passion for working in their yard or garden. Some have a passion for outdoor activities such as rafting or hiking. All of these can be good. However, when we allow them to interfere with our spiritual growth – when we skip worship services or don’t take time to read Scripture, when we don’t spend time with Him every day – our relationship with God cools.

Revelation 2:4 says, “Nevertheless I hae this against you, that you have left your first love.”

God, and His Son Jesus, want to have a strong, meaningful relationship with us. That relationship is hampered when we let our non-spiritual passions move us away from, or even overtake, or spiritual passions.

What the path of backsliding look like?

  • As with anything, backsliding starts with the heart and the mind. Since our thoughts become our reality, when we start to make excuses and rationalize behaviors that move us away from God, the easier it is to act in ways and do things that replace our time spent with Him.

Psalm 78 provides a history of the Hebrew people, of backsliding, and its consequences. Verse 37 sums up why the people were separated from God – “For their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant.”

The first steps in our journey into a relationship with God begin within the heart and the mind, so does a journey of backsliding.

When we allow thoughts and behaviors of the non-spiritual to overtake thoughts and behaviors of the spiritual, we begin our backward spiritual journey.

  • The path of backsliding gets worse and worse. The more we allow it to happen, the easier it becomes, and the more it continues to happen.

Psalm 1:1-2 tells us a lot – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

Think about it…haven’t we all seen and heard people who proclaim themselves to be Christian and yet, by their actions and behaviors we think, “yeah, right”? If we allow our thoughts and our behaviors of the things of the world, of the non-spiritual, to persist, we move progressively more and more away from God. If we backslide long enough, others will look at us and, when we proclaim ourselves to be Christian, say to themselves, “yeah, right”. The choice is, of course, ours to make. The question then becomes, “What kind of example do we want to be?”

What are some of the consequences of backsliding?

  • Following our non-spiritual passions may feel right at the time, and we can make all kinds of excuses as to why whatever it is we’re doing or saying isn’t so bad. However, the fact is, backsliding hurts us terribly. It detracts from our relationship with God, and with His Son and, if we’re not careful, our words and actions can cause harm to others.

Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Remember, death in ancient Scripture often refers to spiritual death. Proverbs is warning us that giving in to the ways of the world, speaking and acting in ways that are incongruent with our faith, can lead us down a path toward spiritual death.

With time, we’ll stop spending time in prayer, we’ll stop attending worship services, we’ll stop reading Scripture, and, eventually, there won’t be any time left in our lives for God.

Backsliding also gets in the way of being a living, loving testimony to others. When we allow backsliding to become our “norm,” when our spirituality and our relationship to God take a backseat to our own physical pleasures and desires, that’s exactly the example we set to others. And by our example, we may even be enticing them away from a relationship with God instead of inspiring them into a relationship with Him.

Closing Thoughts

If we want a relationship with God, and with Jesus, and we’re passionate about that relationship, we must choose thoughts, actions, and behaviors that are congruent with that passion. We must spend time developing the relationship, even if it means sacrificing some of the other, more worldly passions we might have.

Do we focus on, and satisfy ourselves with, the things of the world? Or, do we focus on and derive satisfaction from the things of Spirit? Proverbs 14:14 clearly reminds us where our attention should be focused – “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.”

Things of the world are generally empty and hollow. Backsliding can, quite often, cause us to have restless hearts – longing for more. As we move forward, developing and deepening our relationship with God, and with His Son, and with the Holy Spirit, like St. Augustine says, our hearts will no longer be restless, but will rest in Him. The good news is, as our hymn today expressed, He loves us even if we forget Him, or wander away, no matter where we might stray; and in that love, we can always return to Him.

Acknowledgements

I’d like to acknowledge Pastor Andrew Stringer for his outline on this subject.

Scripture

  • Proverbs 22:24-25
  • Proverbs 13:20
  • Lamentations 3:51
  • Psalm 101:3
  • Revelation 2:4
  • Psalm 78
  • Psalm 1:1-2
  • Proverbs 14:12
  • Proverbs 14:14

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Backsliding – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Backsliding – Introduction

We all go through times when we don’t quite live up to our desired relationship with God. When we do, we slide back into “old ways” and we may even feel disconnected from Him. There are things we can do, and signs we can watch for, to keep our relationship with Him strong; and to keep us from backsliding.

Spiritual Quote

Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
~Augustine of Hippo

Planned Scripture

  • Proverbs 22:24-25
  • Proverbs 13:20
  • Lamentations 3:51
  • Psalm 101:3
  • Revelation 2:4
  • Psalm 78
  • Psalm 1:1-2
  • Proverbs 14:12
  • Proverbs 14:14

Join Us

Join us each Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Answered Prayer – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Answered Prayer – Introduction

Everything in our lives is a result of prayer because God, through His Holy Spirit, always answers. Whether we perceive our situation as “good” or as “bad,” our thoughts, our prayer, becomes our reality. Every thought, every action, is a form of prayer – and what we experience is always, whether we realize it or not, Answered Prayer.

Spiritual Quote

“Spending time with God is the key to our strength and success in all areas of life. Be sure that you never try to work God into your schedule, but always work your schedule around Him.”
~Joyce Meyer

Thoughts

I’m not going to give a long, pre-planned message today. Instead, I’d like to give you a few of my thoughts, share some Scripture, and share our experiences in order to give each other strength and support each other in our faith.

Our thoughts, our prayers, become our reality. I know I’ve used this Scripture several times, but it’s one that we must never, ever forget.  The Law of Attraction, which we’ll be discussing in more detail at a later date, says whether we’re focused on lack or plenty, health or sickness, happiness or sadness, good or evil, etc., that on which we give our attention we attract into our lives. And in reading the Law of Attraction series, which I highly recommend, I’ve noticed more and more correlation to Scripture. If we wish something to be different, we must recognize those thoughts that limit God’s abundance from flowing into our lives, and refocus them onto things that we truly desire. The only way we can effect change in our lives is to spend quality time in prayer – focusing our thoughts on what we desire, and imagining that it has already actualized in our lives.

The first thing we must know is that God always answers:

  • Proverbs 23:7 – “for as he thinks within himself, so he is.”
  • Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
  • Pslam 91:15 – “He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Our thoughts are a form of prayer to God, and our thoughts become our reality, it follows that God answers all prayers – He gives us exactly what we focus our thoughts upon.

The next thing we must remember is that the timing may not always be immediate. We have years of built up thoughts focusing on what we don’t want that actualizing what we do want sometimes takes time. The problem is, we want every request to answered in our timing and, when it doesn’t, we give up. We think, “I’ve tried, I haven’t seen results, God must be ignoring me.” To me, though, there are three ways God answers:

  1. Immediately. Sometimes we experience an immediate response, which is awesome.
  2. Sometimes, the answer is “wait.” There may be something else that needs to occur first. We may have to change our thoughts or our behaviors so that they are in alignment so that we can co-create the actualization of our desires. For instance, we may desire physical healing, but emotional or spiritual healing may need to occur first. Or, we might desire emotional healing, but the emotional trauma we’re experiencing is born of physical issues. In that case, the physical may need to be healed so that the emotional healing can then occur. This is why we focus on all aspects of healing – body, mind, spirit, and emotion…they are all intertwined and interconnected.
  3. Sometimes, the answer is “not this, I have something even better for you.” We might think we want something – like a relationship with someone. We pray and pray, but it doesn’t come about. Then we meet the “right one” and we’re happier than we ever could have imagined. Or, as in the case related to me recently, a young lady applied for a job, and didn’t get it. She was momentarily disappointed. But, she held onto her faith, and trusted that something better was on its way. Sure enough, two days later she was offered a job with better hours, better benefits, and much better pay. It’s like the line in Garth Brooks’ song – “sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”

All prayers are answered – even if it’s not in the timing we might think. Unfortunately, all too often we allow ourselves to get discouraged because we’re not getting what we want at the time we want it. As a friend of mine shared with me yesterday, we approach God as a kind of Spiritual Burger King – we want what we want, and we want it now! And, quite simply, it doesn’t work that way. God is not a vending machine, nor a Spiritual Burger King.

It comes back to belief and faith. We must believe that what we desire is possible, and we must have faith (trust) that God will answer.

Matthew 7:712 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Luke 11:9-13 puts it this way, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Our thoughts and our actions become our reality. What we ask for, we receive. In our asking, we must seek alignment with the Holy Spirit. This is even true in how we think of and act toward others. If we focus on nasty, negative, hurtful, ugly, negative thoughts and actions toward others, that’s exactly what we will bring about in our own reality. Through our prayers – our thoughts and actions – we co-create our reality with the Holy Spirit. As Scripture says, it’s the Law.

Closing Thoughts

Our thoughts and our actions are forms of prayer. And, we should be consciously praying all day, every day. But, we should also set aside focused time to spend with God so that we can truly focus our thoughts and desires in communion with Him. As our quote says, we shouldn’t fit God into our schedule. We must schedule our lives around God. Our lives have become so busy and, the truth is, unless we set aside time each day, there will always be something to occupy our time and attention – the dog, the cat, the spouse, the kids, the laundry, the dishes, cooking, cleaning, homework, the telephone, friends on facebook, and on and on.

We must remember to set time aside to spend time with God in focused prayer and meditation. When we do, whatever we desire can be ours. Matthew 21:22 tells us, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Mark 11:24 tells us, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Matthew assures us that we must receive whatever we ask for. Mark goes a step further. Notice he says “believe that you have received it.” This indicates that we are to view our prayers as already answered. This corresponds to the principle of thinking and acting as if we’ve already received what we desire as discussed in the Law of Attraction. Our thoughts, that on which we focus our attention, become our reality. In that reality, what we attract into our lives literally becomes our Answered Prayer.

Illustration: Share my own experience this week in regards to finance and a job application; as well as some miraculous changes in the lives of several of the houseless folks we have had the opportunity to serve.

Scripture

  • Proverbs 23:7
  • Jeremiah 33:3
  • Psalm 91:15
  • Matthew 7:7-12
  • Luke 11:9-13
  • Matthew 21:22
  • Mark 11:24

Join the Discussion

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Answered Prayer – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Answered Prayer – Introduction

Everything in our lives is a result of prayer because God, through His Holy Spirit, always answers. Whether we perceive our situation as “good” or as “bad,” our thoughts, our prayer, becomes our reality. Every thought, every action, is a form of prayer – and what we experience is always, whether we realize it or not, Answered Prayer.

Spiritual Quote

“Spending time with God is the key to our strength and success in all areas of life. Be sure that you never try to work God into your schedule, but always work your schedule around Him.”
~Joyce Meyer

Planned Scripture

  • Proverbs 23:7
  • Jeremiah 33:3
  • Pslam 91:15
  • Matthew 7:7-12
  • Luke 11:9-13
  • Matthew 21:22
  • Mark 11:24

Join Us

Join us each Sunday at 10:45 for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Anger Management – Teaching

Note – due to technical issues, there was no quote post this week.

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Anger Management – Introduction

Anger is an honest emotion and, when we find ourselves angry, we should acknowledge the emotion rather than trying to bury it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Anger, in and of itself, is not bad. It’s how we respond to those feelings that make the difference. No matter who we are, rich, poor, young, old, black, yellow, green, or purple – we could all benefit from Anger Management.

Spiritual Quote

“Anger is poison. You must purge it from your mind or else it will corrupt your better nature.”
~Christopher Paolini, Brisingr

Thoughts

JOKE: There was an elderly woman preparing to park her expensive Cadillac when a young high school student cut her off and stole her parking place.

The young man jumped out of his car and shouted ” OH, TO BE YOUNG AND FAST “. The older lady backed her car up, then floored it and started using it for a battering ram to demolish the young man’s car. She then rolled down her window and shouted, ” OH, TO BE OLD AND RICH.”

Let’s face it…at times, we all struggle with anger. And, if not controlled, anger leads behavior with devastating results. In the United States, the Department of Justice statistics show that:

Over 2 million women are assaulted by men each year*

Between 1 and 4 million people are physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend*

  • 21% of women assaulted knew the perpetrator as either a husband or intimate partner*
  • 2% of violent crime experienced by men is commited by a wife or intimate partner*
  • 31% of women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives*
  • More than 6 million children are abused every year**
  • 4 women die each day as a result of abuse*
  • 4-7 children die each day as a result of abuse and neglect**

The people who commit these assaults and abuse are not bad people. They simply have never learned how to control their anger. Now, admittedly, most of us don’t let our anger get so out of control that our behavior reaches these levels. But, our behavior as a result of anger still has negative consequences – both to the subject of our anger, and to ourselves.

According to the Better Health Channel***:

Some of the short and long-term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include:

  • headache
  • digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
  • insomnia
  • increased anxiety
  • depression
  • high blood pressure
  • skin problems, such as eczema
  • heart attack
  • stroke

We don’t truly wish to harm others, and we don’t want to harm ourselves, so obviously it’s in everyone’s best interest to exercise Anger Management.

There is a time and a place to get angry however, we must learn how and when to control it. We know, of course, that Jesus instructs us to love God and to love others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that getting angry is wrong. Let’s take a look at one of the best known verses – 1 Corinthians 13. Verse 5 tells love is “…not easily angered…” Notice Paul doesn’t say “love does not get angry.” He says love is not easily angered. We can’t always avoid anger, or pretend that it doesn’t exist, but we can learn how to manage and control it.

Let’s take a look at 6 ways we can exercise Anger Management:

I. COMMIT TO CONTROLLING IT

Scripture warns us that uncontrolled anger produces negative results. Proverbs 29:22 says: “A hot-tempered man starts fights and gets into all kinds of trouble.”

I was having a conversation with someone who made the statement, “she made me so angry.” Think about this for a moment. Can I make you love me? No…it’s an emotional response within you. So is anger. No one can make you angry. Situations or events occur, and your body responds with anger. But, you have the choice in how you respond to that emotion.

One of the ways we can begin to control our temper is to make a commitment to control it. Many people who have problems with their anger make excuses. They say, “I just can’t control myself.” However, that’s simply not true. We can control our anger, but we must make a commitment to doing it. What we think determines how we act. Remember, Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our thoughts become our reality. If we’re serious about controlling our anger, we can start by not making excuses. Instead of saying, “I can’t control it” or “I can’t help myself,” start thinking and affirming, “I can control my anger.”

When we allow the actions, words, or behaviors of others to “make us angry,” and we lay the blame for our anger on them, we also give them control and power over us. Let’s begin by making a commitment to ourselves that, when we begin to have feelings of anger, we will stop, take a moment, and purposely choose our response. This way, we control the anger – it doesn’t control us.

II. COUNT THE COST

All of our actions, good or bad, have consequences – a price tag. When we let our anger get the best of us, it can have disastrous consequences, and carry a very high price.

Scripture reminds us that there’s always a price to our anger:

  • Proverbs 11:29 – “He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind.”
  • Proverbs 14:17 – “A quick-tempered man does foolish things.”
  • Proverbs 14:29 – “A quick-tempered man displays folly.”
  • Proverbs 15:18 – “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension.”
  • Proverbs 29:22 – “A hot-tempered man commits many sins.”

And it’s that high price that can motivate us to change. If we continue to allow our temper to control us, we wreak havoc on those around us, we destroy relationships, we cause harm to others, and we cause harm to ourselves. So, before responding to a situation from a point of anger, we should stop and count the cost. Notice, the word “danger” is “anger” with a “d” in front of it.

Anger can be very dangerous – to others, and to ourselves. If uncontrolled, we could hurt others, lose the ones we love, lose our jobs, lose our freedom, and lose our health – all by losing our temper.

III. THINK RATHER THAN THROW MY TANTRUM

Ever notice a child in a store who doesn’t get what he wants, when he wants it? What does he do? He throws a tantrum. Lacking the ability to think things through, he acts impulsively. We, however, are not children. We have the ability to think rather than throw a tantrum. In other words, don’t respond impulsively.

Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger (shouts in anger), but a wise man keeps himself under control (holds his temper in and cools it.”

Basically, a wise man knows how to chill out. How do we keep ourselves under control? By taking a moment to stop and think. Just as we might do with a child acting on impulse, we can give ourselves a time-out. Acting on impulse almost always ends badly. President Thomas Jefferson who said, “When you get angry, count to ten. When you are really angry, count to a hundred.” He pretty much said, “take a time out.”

When we take that moment, we exercise patience. Proverbs 19:11, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience.” The writer is telling us to try to understand our anger.

When anger comes into our lives, before responding, we should ask ourselves:

  1. why am I angry? And if I express that anger, number two,
  2. what will happen?
  3. will the expression of my anger really resolve the issue?

Why am I angry? Anger is never the root problem. It is merely a symptom of something else going on. There is obviously something wrong. Anger is a symptom telling us that one of three things is happening in your life – hurt, fear or frustration. When we’re angry, we need to ask ourselves which of these three things is causing me to be angry.

IV. COMMUNICATE MY ANGER CORRECTLY

I said before that anger, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. It’s how we allow that anger to be expressed that can become an issue. Ephesians 4:26 tells us, “In your anger do not sin.” This verse implies that there is a way to become angry and not sin. There are right, or appropriate, ways to get angry and there are wrong, or inappropriate, ways. In addition to studying Scripture, prayer, and meditation, there are many books available to help with Anger Management. One is The Language of Love by Gary Smaley. Another is Make Anger Your Ally by Neil Warren. Both of these books deal with expressing anger in positive ways.

Yelling, screaming obscenities, and violence are completely inappropriate ways of communicating our anger. They rarely bring resolution, and more often create more problems.

A friend of mine told a story of a fight she was having with her husband. As tensions flared, things got loud, and pretty mean. All of a sudden he simply stopped and, when she took a breath, he asked her, “Can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” she said. He asked, “What is more important to you…being right, or our relationship?” She thought for a moment and realized, of course, that her relationship with her husband was more important than anything else – she was simply not getting what she wanted and she was throwing a tantrum. When she calmed down, they were able to discuss the issue and bring it to a mutually agreeable resolution. In essence, he reminded her to take a moment and count the cost. When she did, she realized the cost of her anger, of her getting her way, at the risk of jeopardizing her relationship with her husband, was simply too high. She realized she was, in reality, throwing a tantrum; and she wasn’t communicating her feelings in an appropriate way.

V. RETRAIN MY MIND

Getting back to “as a man thinks, so is he,” Romans 12:2 reminds us to, “. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” When we decide to follow the Christian path, we must allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. We can promise not lose our temper all day long and it won’t make a difference unless we make a conscious effort to change how we think and how we behave.

This ties very closely to making that commitment. How we act is determined by how feel, and how we feel is determined by how we think. If we want to change the way you act, then we must change the way you feel. If we want to change the way we feel, then you must change the way you think. Changing our thoughts changes how we feel which, in turn, changes the way we act. But it must be a conscious decision – we must first retrain our minds.

In his book, “Make Anger Your Ally,” Neil Warren encourages people to sit down and write a letter to themselves. In that letter they should write down a word picture that is an ideal response to anger. He says, “Think of the thing or things that make you angry. And then write out how you would really like to respond.” He then asks you to ask yourself, “Do I enjoy getting angry?” “Does it produce the intended results when I get angry?” “Could I get the intended results in a more effective way?” “What could I do differently?” Ask yourself these questions. What would I like to do as an ideal response to that situation?

He then suggests that you read it aloud to yourself once a week for six months. You may even want to insert some of the Scripture passages from today into your letter. Let your words and the words of Scripture change and transform your mind.

VI. ASSOCIATE WITH PEOPLE WHO MANAGE THEIR ANGER WELL

Question: Is anger contagious? Of course it is. Love is contagious, laughter is contagious, and so is anger. Can you become infected by someone else’s anger? Absolutely! Think of what’s called the “mob mentality.” One person gets loud and angry, then two, then four, and so on until the entire mob is out of control. The writer of Proverbs reminds us to choose our friends wisely.

Proverbs 22:24 tells us, “…Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”

If we are serious about changing a habit of inappropriate anger, then we need to start “fellowshipping” with friends who know how to manage their anger.

That can be one of the benefits of the church. When we spend time with others who manage their anger well, we will also learn the skills to manage ours.

There’s a beautiful song by Barbra Streisand called “Children will Listen.” It reminds us, “careful what you say, children will listen; careful what you do, children will see.” Whatever we say or do, we are teaching our children – and others around us.

All anger, or more appropriately, all actions and behaviors driven by anger, are learned. But they can also be unlearned. We’re surrounded by images and examples of inappropriate responses to anger – just watch TV or the news. And those images shape our thoughts and our understanding. Choosing to surround ourselves with others who manage their anger will help to balance out those images of inappropriate responses.

Closing Thoughts

We all get angry. It’s a normal emotional response. And anger is not necessarily bad. But, left uncontrolled, anger, as our quote says, becomes poison. It can infect not only us, but those around us. But no one else can make us angry. Events or situations occur, our bodies and minds respond with the emotion of anger. But it remains our choice as to how we allow that anger to manifest. Rather than blame others, we must accept responsibility for our behaviors and our actions. We may not be able to control the thoughts, words, or actions of others; but we are 100% in control of how we choose to respond to them. And we don’t have to go it alone. The power of Jesus can help us to transform, if we take the steps necessary and if we lean on Him.

Let us Pray…

Scripture

  • Proverbs 11:29
  • Proverbs 14:17
  • Proverbs 14:29
  • Proverbs 15:18
  • Proverbs 29:22
  • Proverbs 29:11
  • Proverbs 19:11
  • Ephesians 4:26
  • Romans 12:2
  • Proverbs 22:24

Acknowledgements

I like to acknowledge and thank Pastor Jim Mooney for his sermon on Christian Love on Sermon Central for his thoughts, many of which are referenced above. Click the link below to read his sermon.****

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to respectfully comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please fee free to share it.

Support Our Ministry

We are a very small church doing wonderful things within our community. In order to continue doing the work God has put before us, we need your help. Please consider making a donation, or sign up as a monthly pledge donor. All gifts large and small are greatly appreciated. Simply click the Donate link in the upper menu. Thank you, and may God bless your generosity.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!