Friday, September 28, 2012

Victory Over Anger

For years, I struggled with anger. My anger was often either internalized and then awaited an opportunity for an explosion, or I lashed out at others by way of nagging or harshness about things that had really little or nothing to do with them. I think because it was so “cleverly disguised” in my life (or so I deluded myself), I did not recognize or want to accept that anger was a problem in my everyday living.

I began to identify the extent of the anger in my heart after I became a mom. I had always envisioned myself as a warm, loving, gentle and kind mother. I thought that if I had children, I would be able to nurture them and model godly character to them. Whoa! I didn’t take long before I would find myself exploding over little, insignificant things. Then I would feel extremely guilty for overreacting. Something was not right. Things had to change – I couldn’t continue this way.

It was at this time that I “discovered” that the rage or anger in my spirit was the result of sin. Anger took on a whole new meaning to me. I imagine I had again fooled myself into believing that my anger was usually justified (righteous). Oh my – now pride was creeping into this equation . . . I guess I thought I knew what was best, and when others didn’t follow through with my best plan, I had a reason to be angry. Once again, I had a wrong view of God and a wrong view of myself. God alone is altogether righteous; He alone is the Sovereign of others and of me.

I sought counsel from a godly woman who was mentoring me. She took me to the Word. She directed me to Galatians 5, where Paul exhorts believers to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit-filled life. Well, I’d certainly heard about the fruit of the Spirit before – pie in the sky stuff, unattainable behavior. We looked at the context of the teaching on the fruit of the Spirit. In verses 16-21, Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. The flesh sets it desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh . . . the deeds of the flesh are: . . . jealously, outbursts of anger . . . envying . . . those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Wow!! There is a battle going on – but I don’t have to fight this battle by myself.

Romans 6 and 7 are rich with truth about the battle and my opportunity to allow sin to reign or to let Christ reign. Romans 6:6 says, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Christ, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” In verses 11-13, we are told to “reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” I have a choice. If I were not yet redeemed, I would not have a choice. Even all my good acts would not be done in the Spirit and would be worthless. But because I do have the indwelling Holy Spirit, I can either choose to let sin (anger, envy, etc.) rule my heart and mind, or I can choose to yield my spirit to the Spirit of God.

Coming to grips with this truth has changed my entire thinking. I recognized my attitude and my actions as fleshly. I was dealing with a sin issue, and what’s the first line of defense against sin in a believer’s life? Confession – I wanted to keep short accounts with God (first and foremost) and also with others. Secondly, I need to grab hold of the Scriptures – because the Word is sharper than a two-edged sword. Memorizing and meditating on God’s Word (especially those verses that addressed anger/sin in the life of a Christian) became crucial. You see, I had to replace the wrong thinking in my mind with right thinking. I had to learn to take every thought captive – I couldn’t continue to justify my deeds or to excuse my sin. I resolved to assume the best of others rather than to live in a constant state of disappointment.

In fact, I learned that discontent and unmet expectations contributed to my anger. Did I think I deserved better? Did I believe that I was letting others down and they were not meeting my standards either? I have had to stop and evaluate my heart and literally take time to ask (often aloud), “Who’s on the throne here – Becky or God?” I had to remember whose I am – I had been bought with a price.

I so wanted Christ to have the preeminent place in my life. I wanted to live yielded to the Spirit, and I wanted to exhibit spiritual fruit. So if I didn’t want to live with anger and jealousy, how did I want to live? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . that’s what I wanted to be about! I chose three elements of this fruit (patience, kindness and self-control) that I believed would help me fight against anger, and I did word studies on those words from Scripture. What an eye-opener!

Anger certainly still rears its ugly head in my life, but I do not feel defeated or controlled by my anger. God has given me many tools to fight against this enemy – my flesh. Will I engage in the battle or just let sin neutralize me? I want to be a warrior and an ambassador for Christ – “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!”

My personal keys to dealing with anger are:
  1. Recognize anger as sin
  2. Confess that sin to God and to others – keep short accounts
  3. Study what God’s Word says about anger
  4. Memorize specific verses to help combat anger
  5. Take every thought captive
  6. Assume the best of others
  7. Ask the question, “Who’s on the throne of my heart?”
  8. Do word studies on the fruit of the Spirit
  9. Be held accountable by another believer
If anger is a problem in your life, I hope my experience is of help to you. I’m always interested to hear how God is working in your life.

May the Lord bless you.

Friday, September 21, 2012

All For Jesus

Last night was an amazing evening! I had the privilege of accompanying Dr. and Mrs. Dobson to Houston for a gathering with Vision America. They were honored with the "Heroes of the Faith" award.

Although Dr. and Mrs. Dobson certainly do not consider themselves to be heroes, I can't tell you how many people, often with tears in their eyes, expressed their respect and gratitude for the ways God has allowed Dr. and Mrs. Dobson to impact their lives and their families!

The evening was filled with faith and patriotism -- from a powerful rendition of "How Great Thou Art" to a call from Dr. Dobson to "stay in the field." Dr. Dobson was introduced last night as "a national treasure," and that he is. He spoke about the sanctity of human life and defending righteousness in our culture. His passion and compassion for children shone through. I wish you could have been there!

I've worked for Dr. Dobson for over eight years, and I know him to be a lover of Jesus, a warrior for the family and a man of integrity. He is tender-hearted and has a wonderful sense of humor. But one thing I've seen from my first day on the job is that he is a man on a God-given mission. His fervor for God and courage to stand for godly values challenge me to make the most of my days.

There is a song called "All for Jesus" that captures this sense of mission. Here are the lyrics of this great song:

Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.

For it's only in Your will that I am free,
For it's only in Your will that I am free,
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.

You can also give it a listen here.

I hope you are moved to join those who want to live with complete abandon to our Saviour and the work He has for you in these days!

God bless you and fill you with His strength.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is there a place for me?

Is there a place for me?

There’s a road out there – a winding path that goes in unexpected directions. As a young adult, I was pretty sure (in my youthful naivety and arrogance) that I knew where I was going over the next 30 years – I would graduate from college, meet the man of my dreams and marry him, have children, raise incredible kids . . . Those thirty years have come and gone. I hadn’t really considered what my “lot in life” would be after the raising of the children had passed.

It’s always been of great importance to me to live with purpose. I knew my purpose when I was mothering Ryan, Austin and Kristin. Have you ever asked, “What now?!” That question poked at me for a while. Could there be something else that I could do that would be meaningful and fulfilling?

Last week in our staff devos (we’re so blessed to have devotions together as a team everyday), I asked them, “Why are you here [at Family Talk]?” By the way, I work with an exceptional group of people. I love them and appreciate their dedication and hard work! But, even though I thought I knew these folks and probably had a good idea about why they came to work here, I was blown away with their responses to my question. Many talked about the circumstances that brought them to this organization – amazing accounts of divine intervention. Others shared their strong sense of calling to use their skills and passions for the mission of Family Talk. One precious young lady said that she knows a year later now that this is the one job God had for her! Wow!!! And the respect, love and gratitude for our president, Dr. Dobson, were expressed over and over again. It was a marvelous time for us to gather together and reaffirm that God has plans for us at Family Talk.

My dear friend, LuAnne Crane (VP of Broadcasting and Co-Host of the daily program), said that the truth of Ephesians 5:15-16 grips her – “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” She stated that she can no longer be complacent but must live with intentionality, especially because her children are watching her. No more mediocrity for LuAnne! She is compelled to live by her convictions – overltly! – because her children need to see a mom whose daily calendar and priorities are completely determined by her Christian convictions and worldview. What a beautiful perspective and objective! LuAnne is thankful that her role at Family Talk gives her a forum in which to live out these truths.

I, too, know with certainty that God has a place for me at Family Talk. There are tasks that He has equipped me to do, lessons to learn, challenges to face and relationships to build. It is remarkable to me that the God of the universe has opened these opportunities to me and that I can make a difference for Him!! I cannot tell you how my heart overflows with a sense of significance and belonging. God’s goodness is beyond words! Another verse in Ephesians rings true to me: Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen!”

Yes, I still have a purpose. You do, too.

Yes, my life can be fulfilling and meaningful. Yours can, too.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Blessed Quietness

A cup of Earl Grey tea and a porch swing. Every now and then, it's a grand thing to enjoy some of the simple pleasures of life.

I like what Mother Teresa said, “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.” There is something very nourishing about quietness. In those moments (too rarely chosen), my entire demeanor can be lifted and refreshed with even a small dose of silence. And, just as Mother Teresa said, when I have tasted silence, that's when I can touch a soul.

Sometimes the sort of silence that can enrich or influence the life of another person is when I keep my mouth from sharing everything I think I know. Over the years, I've learned that it's not always necessary or profitable to offer my two cents. Yes, there are certainly occasions when I have worthwhile conversation points, but very often my greatest contribution is to listen -- to offer the gift of silence and by doing so to reinforce the value I place on another person.

Does the beauty of silence apply in the workplace? With my spouse? With my adult children? In friendships? When that crazy driver cuts me off? I believe it does!

Consider practicing this quietness -- this act of restraint -- and touch a soul!