The Topic Is Anger!

Anger is everywhere these days. It is in the air, and it lives and feeds and grows, on-line and in our political discourse. There is a lot to be angry about, like injustice and war and our own impotence to affect change or control our circumstances.

Over the years I have spent a lot of time dwelling on this subject. It has been a consuming topic for me because for a long time (too long) it was my chief identifying emotion. As I realised I had a problem, I began to cast about in search of a role model. While there were innumerable people who handled anger better than me, I failed to find a role model I could imitate! There were people who never seemed to get really angry. I knew I could not do that! There were people who swallowed their anger and bitter experience taught me this would not work for me. Some were passive aggressive, and I did not admire that as a method. Many, many were better than me with anger, but I could not find a wholesome or workable model.

The scriptures not only give me permission to be angry, but actually encourage anger. It seems this is a God given emotion. It is a tool which we wield most clumsily. When I first looked to Jesus, I saw only ‘Jesus Meek and Mild,’ and I allowed this one-dimensional caricature to dominate. Apparently Jesus was not in all ways tempted like me and was incapable of anger. Sure, he got “righteously” angry at money changers, but “righteous” anger was not my problem.

Now I see Jesus quite differently. When Judas betrayed him with a kiss, the Jesus who was indeed tempted in all ways, felt anger. He looked Judas in the eyes, not letting him off the hook and thereby confronted him with his awful betrayal. After Peter’s denial again we see him looking Peter in the eye and the terrible weight of Peter’s denial crashes upon him.

Jesus had taught about turning the cheek. This was not solely to offer the abuser another opportunity, but more so to look that person in the eyes and force them to see your humanity in the face of their inhumanity.

Jesus followed his own model as he dealt with inhumanity and abuse. He was angry and yet did not sin. No one was ever just ‘let off the hook.’ Everyone is confronted with their behaviour and the horrendous consequences that flow from them.

It is not only okay to be angry, but it also seems a Gospel imperative! Like sex we have perverted the gift of anger. We abuse and misuse anger to justify our own inhumanity!

Being angry well is really difficult. I have come to believe though that God does not ask of us that which we can not do through Him. He says, “Be angry and not sin.,” and this is one of the many things we can do “through Christ who strengthens us.”

In this life and times, there is a lot to be angry about. The chore for me is to choose my anger well and to feel and act on it in a way that honours God. I fail often at this. I fall well short of this ‘mark,’ but it remains the ‘mark’ nevertheless! I fail and I repent and reset. I think I am getting better. I think I sometimes hit the mark, or nearly so. My goal is progress rather than perfection for I find that solely striving for perfection frustrates me to the point of abandonment.

We had our first “Finding Freedom” Bible Study last Saturday and it was a really enjoyable time. We hope to see a couple of more people this week.

Linda and I believe we have turned a corner health-wise. Thank you for your prayers.

Tag You’re It!

This week I got an email from a friend letting me know it was Walter’s 90th birthday. Walter and I had lost touch over the years, but we were great friends in the day. When we first began to work together there was a bit of trepidation on both our parts. I had been asked to move to Toronto to work at the National Office. I became the Director, Capt. T.’s assistant. I think I got the position mostly because, in those days, I was quite strong and could carry Capt. T., who had just had hip surgery, up and down stairs and help him into his car etc. Over the next few years Capt. T. and I became joined at the hip (pun fully intended!). We prayed and planned together as he directed our society. When Capt. T. finally retired Walter was his natural successor. I wondered how I would fit in his new team, and he wondered if I could be a member of his team. Over the next months we too became fast friends. There was a team of four of us that prayed and planned for the next few years. We had so much fun! It was the best of times. We laughed and cried together.

I called Walter on his birthday, and we had a wonderful time of reminiscing and laughing. We remarked about how faithful God has been through the years. Walter’s parting words still ring in my ears “Love you brother.”  I am so glad I took the opportunity to call and regret that I had not done it much sooner.

This story means a lot to me this week because at that same time I was in my annual funk as I recalled the birth of our son, Jamie, and his tragic death. Each May I fall over this same emotional cliff. This week Walter’s conversation was my parachute, halting my descent into sorrow. I am grateful for that but especially grateful for the reminder of God’s faithfulness over the years!

Linda and I have been battling physical health issues this week. Her cough had me quite frightened at times, but we are both on the mend, though she lags behind still.

At Threshold House we have had a ‘good news/bad news’ time. Our newest resident, Jonathan, is fitting in well and we are so happy to be a part of his journey. At the same time Mo, our Night Pastor, let me know that for personal and family reasons he needed to move back to the Moncton area. We are actively seeking a new Night Assistant. We would value your prayers for this search.

This Saturday morning, we are starting a new “Finding Freedom” study at Threshold House. I am really looking forward to this. It will be our home grown follow up from our “Life’s Healing Choices” study. Our experience that when we start these kinds of studies, that the enemy disrupts, so we are asking for prayers for this effort.

Once my health and strength are back we will begin our Friday Fellowship Drop In. The donated pool table and dart board will join our card and board games.

So, we have lots to pray about. Tag you’re it!

Make Me a Blesser

In the spring of the year, we delight in seeing signs of hope and growth. These signs hearten us as we shake off the affects of winter hibernation. The first crocus, the forsythia bush with its yellow burgeons or the greening lawns whisper at first and then shout, “New Life is on the way!” Such is ‘the Rite of Spring.’ It is an exhilarating time!

I was witness to another delightful sign of hope. It was ‘a sign’  of new life and hope for the local church. A group of about a dozen very ordinary people gather weekly to study a book, “BLESS” by David and Jon Ferguson. It is not just that we are studying this book together, but the excitement involved! There is a palpable commitment and enthusiasm to be a blessing.

God’s original commitment to Abraham was that Abraham would be blessed and that he would be a blessing to the rest of the world. The Fergusons propose that God has not changed strategies. God’s desire for the Church is that we bless the world so God might be glorified.

They follow two missionary groups. One is a group of ‘Converters.’ This group was determined to faithfully preach the Word of God so people would hear and respond in faith. The other group were ‘Blessers.’ This group sought to love people and bless them in Jesus’ Name. At the end of the missions the ‘Converters’ had extremely limited success but the ‘Blessers’ reported many more conversions. Blessing rather than converting proved the more effective way!

This past week we read about the importance of prayer in being a blesser. It is after all, only God who can bless! Beginning with prayer puts ‘the horse before the cart.’ Praying also involves us in listening. Jesus says, “My sheep know my voice..” By asking who and how we can bless we discern our Great Shepherd’s voice. We read story after story of people who listened and acted on decided that  the Shepherd’s voice. Then we regaled each other with our own experiences. By the end we decided that enlisting the ‘supernatural’ ought to be the most natural of things for us.

We parted with a commitment to put this to the test in our own lives and to report back next week about our experiences. I am filled with that ‘springtime’ hope. I see signs of a fresh awakening to the possibilities of God blessing our families, neighbourhoods, and community as we seek to bless! This is the very kind of awakening that birthed the early Church. Ordinary people who have experienced God’s blessing choosing to bless others, only the mind of God could conceive such a life-bringing strategy.

This week we had another ‘sign’ of life. Jonathan M. became our newest resident at Threshold House. We are very pleased to have him join us, and we look forward to all God is going to do in and through his life.

Linda and I had a lovely visit with a Mothers’ Union. These lovely ladies had some really creative ways they would like to bless the residents of Threshold House. We look forward to this growing relationship.

We have had several pieces of furniture donated and renovations continue. We held a BBQ for the residents and their families and friends last week We hope this is the first of many such events.

Please keep us in prayer. Linda and I have both had some battles with cold and flu which has depleted our energy. Thanks.