Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some Thoughts on Anger

We must make certain that we don't give the devil a foothold by hanging on to our anger. Read Ephesians 4:26-32 and pay special attention to what God is saying about this subject of anger. Pray about what God may be saying to you about this. Then take a few minutes and read these good thoughts below from Dr. Charles Stanley.

A righteous life has no room for lingering anger, whether in the form of rage or resentment. Fury that hardens in our hearts becomes a stronghold for Satan.

The fleshly method for "curing" wrath is to either let it out (rage) or suppress it (resentment). Neither is effective for solving problems or making an angry person feel better. God's way of dealing with this dangerous emotion dissolves it and sets the believer free. As today's passage reminds us, we are to "let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from [us], along with all malice" (v. 31). But to do so requires that we recognize it's there.

Whether we are annoyed at ourselves, another person, or God, we have to own that feeling. Pretending that the emotion doesn't exist or that we've somehow risen above anger is useless. If you're angry, admit it and then identify the source. Knowing who or what ignited the initial fury can prevent people from misdirecting irritation onto the innocent.
Here are some questions to help in identifying a source of anger:
• Why am I angry?
• At whom am I angry?
• What caused me to feel/act this way?
• Where or when did this feeling start?
• Have I been angry a long time?

Once we know the source of our anger, it's time to forgive, no matter what. Fury and unforgiveness often go together, and they're heavy baggage that will drag you down. God calls us to set them aside and take up love and kindness instead. Forsaking anger means walking in His will with a light step.

After we learn how to deal with lingering anger in our lives, we need to discover God's principle for preventing long-term resentment. The key is to deal with this dangerous emotion promptly.

It's important to realize that believers can have moments of anger and still remain right with God. Yet anger that is allowed to linger and fester is an opportunity for Satan. He quickly plants justifications in our mind: That person deserves to be yelled at. You shouldn't be treated that way! God understands that you're frustrated. By handing people excuses to build a defense for harboring fury, Satan creates a stronghold in their lives. It is a foolish man or woman who hides behind that wall (Eccl. 7:9).

We are not to lay even one brick for the Devil's stronghold. Instead, believers must respond to provocation by forgiving others as God forgives. His mercy is unconditional; there's no wrong that He does not pardon. Believers cannot stand before God and justify harboring long-term anger. So we must release it at once through forgiveness.

We can further protect ourselves by identifying frequent irritants. When those situations (or people) loom, we should pray that God makes us quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). That is the spiritual fruit of self-control in action.

Anger produces only rotten fruit—sour relationships, a poor witness, etc. The wise believer takes a two-fold approach to dealing with it. First, heed the Bible's 300-plus warnings about this dangerous emotion and be vigilant against it. And second, forsake your anger in favor of forgiveness.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Maybe Churches Need a Few 80 Year Olds

I received this from my wife today. It's from the blog and ministry of a minister's wife from Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. The spirit and commitment of the woman that she's talking about is a blessing for any Christian, but especially one who's 80 years old! Wow! Enjoy and be challenged!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Night Before

So by now, some of you may know that Abigail, my 6 year old daughter with the eye condition, is being fitted for and receiving an ocular prosthesis called a scleral shell tomorrow. This is all happening first thing in the morning. We have to be at the surgery center at 6:30am. Whew! The procedure starts with her going under anesthesia so they can make a mold of the eye. Then we will go and see the ocularist as she works on making Abigail a prosthetic shell to go over her little eye. If all goes well tomorrow, we will actually come home tomorrow night with her scleral shell in her eye. Pretty big and exciting deal. It's amazing how God has given doctors this knowledge about the human body. Truly amazing!

As I was praying and pondering today in my office something very strange happened to me. I got worked up over doing this procedure for her. I love my Abigail just the way she is. In fact, I love her so much the way she is, little eyeball and all, that I think I'd just like to keep her that way sometimes. It makes her special...different. I'm reminded however that this is a medical necessity for her. This will help her eyelid to open up all the way and will help fill the eye socket so the orbital bones don't atrophy. She's going to look and feel pretty normal after this as both eyes will look a lot alike.

Till the doctor sprung on us this summer that we needed to do this now, we hadn't planned on doing this till she asked for this someday. That was when we understood it to be more cosmetic. I've never known it to bother her before, except for the occasional idiot in line at the grocery store that wants to ask us right in front of her, "What's wrong with her eye?" But through this process and getting ready for it, I've been made aware from Abigail that it does bother her some. She gets tired of the questions and looks. You will just never see her react to it.

Our early childhood director relayed a story to me that happened on a Wednesday night at church a couple of weeks ago. She was teaching Abi's group and a little girl in the class, who's known Abi for more than a year, began a grand inquisition into what was "wrong" with Abi's eye and kept getting in her face to look at it. It was a little pestering. Then, the teacher said that Abigail replied rather matter of fact, "That's the way God made me."

That's right, Abigail. Don't ever forget that. That's the way God made you. There was no quiver in the Creator's hand as He formed you in your mother's womb. As I've seen you grow up from day one I've seen your smaller eye, and it's quite wonderful if you ask this daddy. There are many reasons that God gave you this special eye, and one of them might just be the journey of faith that He needed to take your parents on to draw us into total dependency on Him for ALL things.

I know that this will help her in many ways as we journey forward in life. I'm excited about those prospects. But I pray that Abigail will always know in her heart that God made her on purpose with supernatural intentions, even if some people may see her eye as flawed. Aren't we all flawed physically in some way? I think that's the way God likes us. Maybe if we could just see a glimpse of each other with His eyes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I can write about criticism today, because today, no one is criticizing me. Okay – they probably are, but at least I don’t know about it right now. So it seems like a good day to do it so no one thinks this blog is directed at them because it's not, really. (And if you're feeling guilty after reading, repent!)

Aristotle once said: “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

I guess its bad that I don’t know of anyone criticizing me today, because I must not be saying, doing, or being enough. I used to be the guy that always cared about what people thought. When I took this position at Oakwood in 2008 (ya, 3 years now!) I knew from God and His Word exactly what we needed to do to turn this church around and go God's way again. I found myself being paralyzed sometimes by criticism of the changes we were making. Made me want to slow down or even stop. Bob Russell told me, "Eric, if you are one step ahead of your people, you're a leader. If you're three steps ahead, you're a target." That is so true! Leaders have to find that delicate balance. But at the same time, I see many church leaders, even locally here in Enid, that are controlled by the courts of church member opinion. When that is the case, you can't lead to where God needs you to take His church. Sometimes I think that if I was the guy who didn't give a rip about what other people thought, that might make me a more effective leader. Maybe a good barometer of your leadership is whether anyone is criticizing you or not. Criticism=movement.

The theme for Oakwood this year is "Follow Jesus to a place you've never been." That means pain. That means discomfort. That means effort. I’m so excited about the future of this place. And maybe now I can’t wait to hear people criticize it. Partially because it will help us figure out where we are wrong, and partially because it means we’re actually saying, doing, and being something significant to God and His Kingdom.

I spent a few hours with my staff every week planning ministry opportunities, discussing where people are at, where they need to be. We have a lot of good ideas that might make people a little uncomfortable. I will be criticized for these decisions, I'm sure. It’s very delicate. Some will think I’m going to lead from youthfulness and some will think I’m leading from old age. Ha! Some will think I changed too much, and some will think I didn’t change enough.

It’s okay – I’m going to lead. And when criticism comes, I’ll listen, learn, and continue to “be.”

“To be or not to be,” is not the question. I will be. And I will be criticized.

Be weird...because normal isn't working.