Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Righteous Anger

Last week we kicked off our sermon series Seeing Red. We acknowledged that anger is present in everyone life. It can pop up sometimes without warning and have damaging effects. Luckily the Bible has a lot to say about anger.  Last week we outline five characteristics of anger. If you remember they were: Anger is not always bad. Anger makes us acceptable to greater dangers. Anger makes us do foolish things. Anger never produces what we hope it will. Anger is our own punishment.
Today we are going to look at the first one: Anger is not always bad. We are going to explore righteous anger. There are things in our life that should make us angry. Righteous anger can be defined simple as what makes God made should make us mad. We serve a God who created us, knows us, and loves us so whatever makes God angry should make us angry as well. Righteous anger however is never anger towards another person but only anger towards the problem. Because when we are mad at a problem we will be forced, moved, inspired to take action.
It’s no secret that I am a University of Memphis Tiger fan both football and basketball. Like all college sports we have our rivalries. I think every college team has them. But for Memphis in football it is Ole Miss, for you non southerners, Ole Miss is the University of Mississippi.  Ole Miss is less than an hour drive from the Memphis; they recruit in the Memphis area for players. Great High School football players go to Alabama, LSU, or UT. That leaves Memphis and Ole Miss to fight for the rest. Memphis fans dislike Ole Miss Fans. When Will was about four, we are at the game and Will is front row right behind the Ole Miss bench Will screams, “You Stink” every time they came off the field.  It was one of those moments where I was in front of them like, “Will don’t say that.” And then as soon as they leave I’m like “That’s my boy.” See the problem was not anger at the player from Ole Miss, it was anger at the problem of two opposing teams who compete in recruiting. Or the problem was a father taking college football to an unhealthy level. It’s not the person that causes us anger, it’s the problem. So what makes God anger? Simply put it is injustices.
There are two distinct kinds of injustices that make God angry and that should make us angry as well. First are universal injustices.  Those are things in our world that happen that should as follows of God should make us angry. Some people in our faith community have questioned me and my integrity of why are we spending all this money for a mission trip to Honduras. The risk of death for women during childbirth is nine times the rate in the United States.  One in every 40 children dies before their fifth birthday, triple the U.S. rate. One in 50 children dies before their first birthday, almost three times the U.S. rate. In Honduras 70% of the people are illiterate. Most children work in the field to help provide income. That should make you angry because these are children of God who did not ask to be born there. In our own city of Centralia, 1 in 6 kids are food insecure. Being Food insecure simple means lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times. Education. Kids in our community don’t have what they need to succeed in academics. Our kids are hurting and struggling and we automatically want to get mad at the teachers, the teachers get mad at the parents, and the kids just don’t want to go to school. Instead of getting mad at a person, righteous anger gets mad at the problem. 
The second kinds of injustices are personal injustices. These are things that happen to us on a person level. Addictions, alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse are things we witness and we like God should become angry at the problem, not always focused on the person. I want to be perfectly clear here, getting mad at the problem does not in no means automatically relinquish anyone from the responsibility of their actions caused by the problem. We have all witnessed how addictions have torn families apart and damaged innocent children that have lived it. We have all seen how specially in divorce people choose sides and blame the person, not the problem that caused the marriage to end. We must at time must zoom out and not focus all our attention on the person but look at the overall problem.

 So how do we know if our anger is righteous? The litmus test to see if our anger is righteous or is our anger is in line with Gods is three distinct characteristics.
Righteous anger is always, always anger under control. Proverbs 29:22 “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” Because God created us, knows us, and loves us, God knows that deep inside of us, in real life, in real time, there is this thing called vengeance. You did something to me, buddy, I am going to do something more to you. It boils up side of us and we do things, say things, or plot ways to get back.  If our anger is not under control, we start conflict, we commit many sins, we do things that are not pleasing in the eye of God or others who are watching us.
Righteous anger motivates us when others are mistreated. James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Over and over again throughout scripture Jesus tells us over and over again to look after the orphans and widows. You know what that means. Don’t just be listeners but be doers. You know what orphans and widows means. Jesus says anyone who can’t take care of themselves. In my life I have gotten into some stuff because I cannot just stand by when anyone who cannot defend themselves are being abused, taken advantage off or mistreated.
Righteous anger is motivated by the right reasons. Last week I stated that many times anger can be wrapped around the statement of “I’m not getting what I want.” Because we have this selfishness about us. Whenever anything is done in our life, in our faith community we say through our words, actions, and attitudes, “What am I going to get out of it.” When we have righteous anger, anger like God’s, we have selfless. It doesn’t matter if it will get us something down the road, it doesn’t matter if we get recognized, and it doesn’t matter if it will benefit us. Here is where God is going to mature us as a faith community. Genesis 1: 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Did you get this? You were created in God’s image. That means we are all created equally. We are created equally. Equally! God created each of us equally. That means in the eyes of God it doesn’t matter where we live, how much money we make, it doesn’t matter what race we are, or what language we speak, or what country we might have been born in. God hearts breaks whenever He sees his people in pain. I got to hear Eli Wessel speak; his is a Holocaust survivor and wrote the book called Night.  He said the true tragedy of the Holocaust was not that over 6 million Jews were slaughtered. It was the fact that 6 million Jews were slaughtered and no one cared. The greatest sin is indifference. God hearts breaks even more when He sees us witness people in pain, when we see people hurting, hungry, and broken and we do nothing about it. Then God’s righteous anger is turn towards us. When our anger is under control, when anger motivates us when others are mistreated, when anger inspires us into action for the right reasons, we then can make a difference and attack the problem. Maybe the problem is not that we get angry, maybe the problem is not that our anger is not righteous, maybe the problem is we get angry and do nothing..
Pray for me and I’ll pray for you..

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why Anger?

We are going to spend a lot of time talking about anger, so much time as you may get angry at week after week we keep talking about anger and you will be wanting to move on. So to start off here is why I believe it is important and we need to spend a good amount of time on it. Anger is one of those things that pop up in our lives, sometimes expected, sometimes unexpected. The Bible has a lot to say about anger in our lives. It is ironic how anger shows up in all of our lives in weird ways. Anger is drives and fueled by the core values each of us hold. Some are small, dog eats you favorite pairs of shoes. Some are big someone betrays you, threatens you or you witness abuse in some way. No matter how big or how little depending on our personality and temperament, each of us has a different response to anger. Some people are criers. When they get angry the tears begin to flow. Others of us shut down, the silent treatment, clam up. Some of us become loud, and say or do things we would never do if we were not angry. Some people are slammers, doors, objects; whatever is close takes the brunt of their anger. And last but not least some become physically violent and very inappropriately. Jails are full of men and women who cannot control their anger.
Everyone experiences anger, everyone handles anger differently and each of us handles anger differently according to the circumstances or timing. The Good news is the Bible has a lot to say on the issue of anger. This morning we are going to lay out five thoughts or ideas according to scripture about issues of anger.

1. Anger is not always bad. Anger can mean that something is not right, expectations are not being met. Turn with we to Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”. Notice the Bible does not say do not get angry. It says “in your anger.” The Holy Word of God acknowledges that there will be times when you are going to get angry. But there is a difference between being angry and sinning. James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Anger in its self is not a bad thing but when handled in the wrong way, that is when it can lead to bad things.

2. Anger makes us acceptable to greater dangers. Anger can cause us to do or say things we wish we could take back the nanosecond they occur. Proverbs 25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” The image here is that our self-control is like a wall around a city, the thing that protects us, it comes crumbling down and we will be exposed to things we never been exposed to before, we will cross boundaries and lines in our life we never ever intended to cross. Anger is the gateway. My last mission trip to Honduras did not go as planned. I had promised Abby for her 16th birthday she and I would go to Honduras on a mission trip. All was well until we actually landed and approached customs. Abby had gone through with the group, I went to go through, the lady smiled and took my passport and left, they would not let me through. They took my luggage as I stood over to the side as everyone else on the flight went through. So I am standing there at customs, my passport has been taken, the group has already gone into the country, I can see the group, and they are not letting me through. I begin to go from laughter, confusion, to anger. So here comes this little 4’6’ man in a suit. You know it’s serious when the suit guy comes. He tells me I can’t go with my daughter into the country. I can see Abby crying and I am livid. Seeing all shades of red. Someone somewhere was going to pay. I could crush this little dude with one punch and go on into the country. I felt extremely violated in some way. Anger in our life is really a wall around one statement: “I am not getting what I want.” When we begin to dissect anger in our lives, the majority of the time it comes down to: “I am not getting what I want.”

3. Anger makes us do foolish things. Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” Anger makes us do foolish things. I am not going to spend a lot of time here because each of us has done or said some foolish things out of anger. Its like the breaks from our mind to our mouths stop working. As the little 4 foot dude in the suit, looks at my passport, looks at me, I’m sure I look vicious as I’m red with anger, He shakes his head, “No!” I might not know Spanish but at this moment I know I’m not getting in the country. I see my daughter crying, I am busting with anger, remember I can take this dude with on punch, I know it, instead I say in my louder that already loud voice, “You are crazy, you are a evil person.” That is when the guys with guns showed up and took me to another room. They put me in time out. Here is why.

4. Anger never produces what we hope it will. James 1:20 “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Anger never leads us to where we hope to go. Getting mad, didn’t let the little dude in the suit go,” Ok senior you are anger, sure come on into our country.” Doing foolish things out of anger never leads us closer to God. Doing foolish things out of anger never leads us to be a better spouse, a better job, a better boss. We are never better parents because we acted out of anger. We are not better church members when we allow ourselves to speak out of anger. Acting out of anger never leads to the righteous life God wants for us. I got put on a plane to New Jersey, snowed in in New Jersey, but eventually I return home back to Centralia. It wasn’t the journey I wanted but the results were the same. I left Centralia, traveled to Honduras, and returned home. But my journey was not what I imagined. Anger is like that. It is not that you can’t complete the trip, its just it is harder, takes longer, and is further to get to the destination you were trying to get to. So when we parent out of anger, it is not that you won’t get the result you want, your just adding time, to the journey you are taking your kids on. When we lead out of anger there are these unexpected circumstances that come because feelings get hurt, relationships get severed, respect gets lost, the wall of self-control goes down and anger has influenced how we are leading and managing our lives.

5. Anger is our own punishment. Proverbs 19:19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again. A hot tempered person has to pay the penalty. Simple put when we live out of anger there will be a price to pay. When we act out of anger maybe that price is a severed relationship, yes the relationship can survive but it will never be the same. Maybe the price is distance between someone we love. Maybe the punishment comes in the form of a loss of respect, hurt feelings, regrets, embarrassment, we have all been there, but when we act out of anger there will be a price to pay. I didn’t get to share Abby’s first mission trip experience, but in November with others from our faith family, I’ll get another shot.

My prayer for the next five weeks is that God through the power of the Holy Spirit will do some work on your heart. It starts now. I want you beginning today to be aware of when and how you are getting angry. Be conscious of when and how you get angry. Where are those moments that get you angry. When angry rises up pause, rise above your anger and ask yourself why. Why am I angry? Why did that upset me? Why did that tone of voice upset me? Why does that person or this situation get you angry? Pause and ask yourself “What is it that I want, that I’m not getting” that causes me to get angry.
During this series I strongly believe God is going to do a lot of maturing of us as individuals and as a faith community. I believe that if you and I give God permission to do what He wants to do, that is put a light on those areas, this is how we get better, this is how we grow, it’s not complicated, it’s simple saying, : “God, I’m open, help me get better.” Help me to live an examined life.If we do that God will show up is some weird and crazy ways in our life. We will begin to see life changing stuff. Marriages, relationships, distances closed. Ife change will happen.

Some of us here have hurt someone out of anger and there is a distance intentionally or unintentionally. But there is a distance between a parent and child, a coworker, a family member, a spouse. Some of you know exactly what that is and are feeling it on the inside. That is called a conviction. Not at condemnation, so own it. Some of us need to make a phone call, send a text, write a note of email, and simple say I’m sorry for the way I acted, I’m sorry for the thing I said and begin to let God do some healing in your life.

Pray for you, simple is this. “Lord, you have permission to show me those times and places where I have seen red and help me to dig my way out and restore what I have lost. Amen”

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Seeing Red

Everywhere you look people are getting angry. It is a simple fact of life. I would challenge you to turn on the television, go to the grocery store or Walmart, (who hasn't seen a parent beat their kid in the Walmart)  or even read Facebook and something or someone will make you angry. Anger pops up in our lives both expected and unexpected. It can show it’s self in convenient and inconvenient times. It is funny how anger shows up in our lives in weird ways. Some are small like when you are in a hurry and there are hundreds of people in the checkout line and only one lane open. Some are bigger like situations when we feel we have been done wrong or hurt by someone or something. Anger is unavoidable in our lives. However because of our personalities and temperaments each of us has a different response to anger. Some people yell. The minute they get angry the tone and volume of their voice changes immediately. Others are criers. When they get angry they tend to tear up. Other people handle anger by totally shutting down, giving people the silent treatment, and totally avoiding the person or situation. Still others express anger physically my slamming doors, kicking or punching inanimate objects, or in unhealthy disastrous cases even lay hands on other people. Regardless of how we react, everyone experiences anger and everyone handles anger differently depending on the level of our anger and the situation. Wither we strive to avoid it, embrace it, or go looking for it anger is a part of our life.

The Good News is that the Bible has a lot to say about anger. In the next six weeks we will explore in our sermon series “Seeing Red” what the Bible has to say about anger. We will examine our own life to see the areas that cause us anger, how we handle anger, and areas where we can grow to be able to handle anger in healthy, productive, and constructive ways. If we are not careful anger can damage relationships, cause us to react inappropriately that can strain bonds between spouses, siblings, parents, and children. If we are not aware of the things and situations that cause us to get angry, anger can cause irreversible damage to both our relationships and health. Why is this sermon series important? Because anger has caused each of us to have done, said, or reacted out of anger in our lives that have caused us pain, hurt feelings, embarrassment, and a moment in our life where we hold regrets. If life has you “Seeing Red” join us as we explore what God has for you to avoid those times we regret our words, actions, or attitudes. Because life is too short to always be “Seeing Red.”
For those of you who can not attend or be apart of this sermon series I have been asked to post the written text here. Please note the written text and what is preached can be drastically different due to the interruption of the Holy Spirit..
See ya soon but until then take care of yourselves and one another.