Words are powerful. That’s a fact I’ve come to know in my years of writing, counseling, talking, reading, and dealing with other people. The written word can be carefully thought about before we put it out for the world to see. But how about the spoken word? How many times have we said some things that we wish we could’ve taken back?
In a world where the word ‘Love’ has lost its real meaning in a flurry of shallow statements such as “I love chocolate”, “I love books”, “I love Facebook”, how do we know what it really means when someone tells you “I love you”?
This entry has been inspired by Max Lucado’s book “A Love Worth Giving” which has taught me a huge deal about real love. Parts of this entry has been taken from a part of his book on “Love Believes all Things” I’m writing this entry as the first of a series based on his book. His writings have been a wonderful experience to me.
It was the resonating voice of reality that echoed through my head as I looked outside the window on a shuttle bound for the city. I breathed a sigh as the thought repeated itself; “relationships are messy.”
There was a show on TV last Saturday night that talked about relationships – romantic relationships. And with the volley of questions and answers it seemed there were no concrete answers to anything. I don’t know. Every attempt to answer questions seemed to only bring more questions. And it’s not like the world will stop until we find those answers. No, we are left to live life with such questions hovering over our heads – dumbfounded and confused on what to do when confronted with the issue.
I paced across Krispy Kreme and saw a group of young adults engaged in what seemed to be a very serious conversation. My imagination would suggest they probably have conflicts with some members of their group, discussing their concerns collectively in hopes of coming up with a solution, or maybe just to gain agreement from their peers. I can imagine what they might be saying, “I have my concerns”, “why can’t we just do this instead?”, “I don’t understand.” The litter on their table hinted they might have been there for hours, probably talking about the same issue with the same intensity, and yet still to arrive at a conclusion.
As I was walking to the terminal, a young man passed by. He was talking to someone on the phone, his countenance rather grim and his gestures quite tensed. It could be a problem with a colleague he was working with – frustrated with his seeming apathy and disinterest in the work he does, somehow this young man is left stressed to do what his colleague couldn’t (or perhaps wouldn’t) do. He tried reaching out to no avail. He raised his concern but it was as if he wasn’t heard, and probably at that moment he was on the brink of quitting.
An old lady was sitting at the terminal. Her face was hinted with disappointment, perhaps over a relationship she thought was perfect. She recounted her younger years and traced where she went wrong in her decisions. She must have been reflecting on it for months now. Scars and bruises were on her arms and neck. She had a cane beside her, and from the looks of it she seemed to have purchased it rather recently to aid her limping right leg. Probably her limping leg was also just recently. Her bag was held closely to her chest as she waited for the bus.
A young boy, dressed in white and carrying a backpack, was sitting beside me. He had his headset on, and the volume of his music was probably at its maximum. Despite the noise of traffic, the incessant honking, the sound of engines and the ruckus of ongoing construction, I could hear what he was listening to. It was familiar. It was Simple Plans’ Perfect. His lips were moving with the melody; I can tell he was singing along with it. I wondered what else was on his playlist aside from a song about a son’s efforts to live up to his father’s expectations, and then fail.
I sat down on my office chair, closed my eyes, and thank the Lord for bringing me safely to work. And in my casual talk with God I whispered the same haunting line, “Lord, relationships are messy.” I opened my bible and read His word.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4
And then it hit me. Relationships are messy because people are messy. But God didn’t mind getting His hands dirty in the mess of my life. And if I am to confess God in my life, I should also be ready to dive into the mess of relationships.
It’s not what I can get, but what I can give.
It’s not what people do (or don’t do) to me, but what I do (or don’t do) to them.
It’s not how I expect to be loved, but how I am to love them.
It’s not about me. It’s about the One whom I belong to. And He gives me these commands: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love others as yourself.(1)
Relationships are messy because people are messy, but God doesn’t mind getting His hands dirty. And so should we.
(1) CF Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31
Anger comes when you don’t need it… and it is actually worse when you do need it. Today, I am going to write about men who made mistakes because of their anger. I’m not sure if any of them had time to eat chocolate, though. Hmm…. what was I writing about? Oh right, I am talking about Ghengis Khan and Alexander the Great. But before I talk about them, let us read the words below.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not be hasty in your spirit to be angry; for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
Webmaster’s Note: This was written by Danielle Justine Gan a 14 year old girl who is passionate about writing for Christ.
Alright, I will explain later why I am writing this essay, but as of now, I will tell you about these men first. Oh, and also the reason I wanted you to read the verse above is because though these two men may be smart; they are fools. Alexander was a Grecian conqueror, who practically, took the known world then and made it into the greatest empire in the world. Alexander is a good example of the consequences of anger. He and his men were drinking wine and making jokes about their fellow Macedonians, those who died in battle between them and the “barbarians.”
Clitus, Alexander’s friend, didn’t think it right to make fun of them and expressed it publicly. Alexander teased him for such “cowardice,” at this both of them started a heated argument. The last of Alexander’s patience was thinning. It only broke when Clitus embarrassed Alexander’s reputation as an excellent fighter and leader. This ended with Alexander killing a long loyal friend with a spear. Once he realized what he did, Alexander cried that night and the next morning, and he did not stop until he had no more tears to shed.
Gengis Khan was a Mongolian ruler of a vast empire, but he had a problem with his temper. A good example to show that this is true comes from a story known as “The King and His Hawk.” In this amazing literature, which is retold by James Baldwin, Gengis Khan went out hunting with his hawk on a hot sunny day. Tired and thirsty, he started looking for a brook he saw last time. You see, he went here before. Well actually, a lot of times. Oh well, let’s continue the story. When he found the brook, he took a cup from his bag and filled it with water, may I mention he was getting the water between two high rocks.
When the cup was full, he lifted his hand to drink it, but the hawk flew by and knocked it out of his hands. This happened two more times.
Gengis Khan was very angry, that when he repeated filling his cup, knowing that the hawk will repeat its actions. He killed it with a sword that he held in his hand. His cup flew on top of the rocks, so he had to climb to retrieve it. When he reached the top he found the most poisonous snake lying in the water dead and oozing blood. When he realized what had happened, he instantly felt guilty and sad. He took his friend and brought it home to bury it.
Sometimes, we develop attitudes that harm us more than we could ever imagine. It hurts us so bad that it could never be healed or repaired. The most prominent attitude is rebelliousness. Since every person is born with hard headedness, it becomes much more important that we try to control ourselves. If we become rebellious, there will be consequences, bad ones. To help us to stop being rebellious, we have to be able to keep our temper in check. Keeping our temper under control will help us to yield down, and not make enemies. Do you know that being hot headed refrain other people from going near you?
That is sometimes the reason why it is hard for us to understand the person trying to help us, resulting in us being very rebellious and rude. Especially since experience is a VERY HARSH teacher. When I was young, my mother would always try to get me to improve my character. She especially tries to get me to control my temper, and to say words without making it sound rude. It’s very hard and I practically get annoyed almost every time. She always reminds me to watch my tongue and temper. It’s especially complicated since my temper always shift. From being happy, I become angry, and then I become gloomy. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It just naturally happens… Until now actually.
Proverbs 25: 28 “Like a city that is broken into and without walls, is a man who has no control over his spirit.”
In Proverbs 25:28, which is written above, means (in my perspective) that if a person cannot control their temper, they will end up…. practically busted. Most likely, nobody would want to be with you, or help you for that matter. Sometimes they actually end up in jail. Well, not all of them but you should at least have heard of someone. Let’s just say that if you don’t control your temper, you end up practically in REALLY BIG TROUBLE. And don’t worry there is a twenty percent chance of you knowing someone, who knows someone, who has a cousin who knows someone who ended up in jail because of anger problems. Joke!
James 1:19-20 “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath: For the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.”
If you have the book Achieving True Success, then turn to page fifty one. This page talks about Meekness vs. Anger, which is very much related to the topic above. Meekness is yielding your personal rights and expectations, with a desire to serve.
If you are meek, you are strong, for you have won a battle within yourself that is more precious than rubies or gold.
– Danielle Justine Gan (another maxim from me)
Meekness, even if you don’t believe it, has rewards. These rewards are, becoming more understanding and gaining strength. You see, if you become understanding, there would be a greater possibility of avoiding unnecessary fights. Below are two stories. No three…. Well, actually, two and a half…. Just read.
One time, well just a few minutes ago, my sister came in my room while I was studying. I was really annoyed of course and asked very rudely what she wanted. She came in my room and told me she’s giving me something. We sat on the bed while she presented the gift. When she revealed it, I was happy but not enough to show it. It was a beautiful, fake, silver necklace, with a Papa Smurf pendant. I was so happy, that when she left I felt guilty. Until now I’m wearing it (Papa Smurf looks so cute!) and yes, I really need to apologize later for being rude.
John kissed Mary’s cheek. Instead of getting angry, Chad, Mary’s husband, asked who John was, and why John kissed Mary’s cheek (in a polite tone). Chad came to know, in a formal way, who John was and why. Which in this case, John is Mary’s younger cousin.
Third Story (Now if….)
Talk about embarrassing! So you see, understanding the situation would be best for everyone.
Now to talk about strength, when I say strength, I don’t entirely mean being buff and stuff. In the example of Chad and John, you saw one scene, but with two results. Why? It is because in the first scene, Chad kept his temper in check. That is the kind of strength I’m talking about, the ability to control the temper of oneself.
So that you can try to be meek, here is a list of “I wills”
(Founded in the book of achievements)….
1.) I will be slow to get angry.
2.) I will not boast.
3.) I will not grumble or complain.
4.) I will look for ways to help those in need.
5.) I will be willing to go last.
Job was a favoured character in the Bible. I always gave him some respect. After all, my cousin’s name is also Job. Anyway Job of the Bible, was a man who loved God and kept his temper in check. Even if he had leprosy and lost everything he had. In the end he was blessed with twice of what he had.
My Maxim ( I wrote it man! YA!)
People love a man of peace,
They tend to stay away from one with rage,
They bless those who controls themselves,
And have no fear to curse who don’t.
– Danielle Justine Gan
Mahatma Gandhi (Ouch! My mom’s hitting my arm in excitement.), was a “peace maker.” He wanted independence from the British, but peacefully. Though, a lot of his teaching ended in bloodshed, unintentional of course. The reason that this happened is because….
1.) He encouraged civil disobedience to their foreign rulers. Obviously, this will end up with them enraging the British instead.
2.) And also because Gandhi was not with God when he suggested this.
But like what I said before, peace makers, even “peace makers,” are always loved. Now if you want to know where THE Gandhi is, he’s dead, but if you want to meet Gandhi, he is in the hearts and minds of many Indians. Because of trying to make peace, he became their national hero.
Now William Carey, who was also a peace maker of India, was a preacher of the Bible. He translated the bible into forty languages or dialects, possibly more. He is known as the “Father of Modern Missions.” Unlike Gandhi, he fought for God, peacefully, and succeeded, why? Because….
1.) He was doing it for the Lord and not himself.
2.) He did not need independence because he was already free, but he wanted to help the Indians from their false and wrong belief.
3.) He trusted the Lord to do his will, his motto is actually, “Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.”
So you see, doing things for Jehovah has a good, and a great, cause. Getting angry is alright, but only if it is because someone offended the Lord. In other words, it is more of being indignant. In the Bible, Jesus was indignant twice.
The first time was when he went inside the temple and saw that the temple was being used as a market place. He was so angry that he actually destroyed the stores and let the doves go free. This story can be found in Mark 11: 15-19. The second time was when his disciples tried to shoo away the children that wanted to and see Jesus. He told his disciples to let them come to him, and said in Mark 10:15, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” So it alright to be angry, that is for the right reasons.
As we are mostly aware, a conversation is formed by two or more people. Whether close friends, the best of friends, just friends or mere acquaintances. I have learned that it is the same with prayer.
Many of us mistake prayer as an activity: an act to do before/after meals; before bedtime, before driving. Some also think of it as an emergency button. Something to be pushed in times of desperation, emergency or need. Others think of it as a way to adjust how God thinks. Still some of us however, think of it as a duty, a part of his or her daily routine in order to be good.
Comparing it with our daily conversations, many of us only talk with our seatmate because we didn’t hear what the teacher said about an assignment. Others only had a talk with a colleague because he/she is in very good terms with your superior. And still some only had a conversation with a vendor because he/she is a famous gossiper.
You see, sadly I learned that many of us have shallow conversations with God because we’re used to having this type of conversations everyday. We become too busy and hectic with our own schedules and agendas that we tend to neglect the fact that we had not communicated with God, or not really. We forget the fact that He is very much involved in our lives; our Father and the Lord Almighty.
In Luke 18 verse 1 and Luke 11 verses 5-13, Jesus shares 2 parables of contrast of what God is not. He talks about a Parable of the Persistent Widow pleading to an ungodly judge for justice and an unhelpful friend who wouldn’t lend bread for a friend. At the same time, Jesus teaches how to pray without ceasing.
The widow chose to be persistent with her plea for justice and so the judge agreed. The friend chose to ask for bread with audacity and so his neighbor got up from his bed and gave him. Our choices matter.
1. Be Persistent. Remember when you were 8 and you wanted so bad to go to the amusement park and so you pleaded with your parents to bring you? You gave them all sorts of reasons as to why you wanted to go. You also most probably asked more than at least 5 times, am I right? You kept doing so until your mom said yes or when your dad told you, you can’t. In short, you only stopped when you received an answer.
When we were young, we persisted our parents for something we want because we know that only they can answer and satisfy what want. We depend on them. So why is it that now, when we are older, we forget that God is dependable and He answers ALL our prayers?
Is it because we fear He won’t answer our petty requests? Or perhaps God is not capable of the impossible?
2. Be confident. To answer the first question, we find Luke 11: 9-10, Jesus says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
For the second question, we have Luke 1: 37 (NASB) “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Confidence has a lot to do with trust. Trust has a lot to do with understanding. Understanding only comes when you personally have a relationship with God. So we go back to basics: do you have a personal relationship with God? If yes, then great. If no, then I would understand that this would be quite a big step. But still, I personally encourage you to take it for you will be surprised with what God can do with you. For those that have, please bless our readers and share.
Confident prayers come with expectations. Just like when you call a close friend and asks her to call you back. You expect a call or an answer. Pray expectantly.
3. Be Reverent. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, he started with “Our Father, who are in heaven, Holy be Your Name”. Jesus revered His Dad. Note that He has a personal relationship with Him to start with. Then Jesus acknowledges that God is in the realm of power and control. I like how Tom Holladay pictures heaven this way. God is bigger than what you and I could ever imagine. You are talking to the God of the universe, the Creator of all, how then can He not be honored and praised?
We each have our own conversational style when we talk with our friends and loved ones. In this day and time, with the help of technology, we even have different modes too. God however, has no form or style that He prefers. You don’t even have to worry about timing.
God welcomes you to pray. Talk with Him today.
Two weeks ago, I’ve decided to stay home on Saturday since I’ve been out on after-office meetings the whole week. It actually gave me the time I needed to catch up on podcasts I subscribe to but barely listen. That time I listened to Timothy Keller, and his message was a bit (well, actually it was a lot) sobering. He talked about having a crushed spirit – its priority, complexity, solitude and how to heal it.
“The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?” – Proverbs 18:4
Before, I would often find myself in seasons where I feel disconnected with everyone – that “nobody understands” me or what I’m going through, and people who attempt at doing so will most likely fail. During these seasons I would just lie in bed – confining myself in isolation but at the same time waiting for someone, somewhere to reach out. I would check my phone every so often if anyone sent me anything that would have the slightest semblance of care or concern. I’d have my headset on to drown out both silence and noise while I draw for hours on end, trying to sketch on paper whatever it was that weighed my heart down – struggling to have visual recognition, hoping to make some sense out of it.
Other times I would be in the middle of the crowd, yet still feel detached – often wanting to withdraw.
In all honesty, sometimes I still experience these phases.
I remember one friend back in college telling me, “I wanna understand how you think.” I answered, “Don’t. You’ll go crazy.” I was serious when I said it because sometimes I, too, would reside with the notion that I don’t and can’t understand my own self. All I know is that something was wrong, but I couldn’t determine exactly what it was.
Perhaps back then, I had a broken spirit – one that put its hope on things it knows will eventually be gone, one that I tried to bear but couldn’t. I had a spirit that was confused, disillusioned, and bruised; a spirit longing to receive loving arms and kind words but found none, wanting to give but found no one. I had a spirit that was weighed down, deferred of hope; a spirit that was completely and utterly alone.
In our efforts to heal our broken spirits through self-help books that either ignore or deny the intricacy of our very being – reducing us by focusing only on either our physical, emotional, relational, moral, faith or existential aspect, we discover all the more the truth of our solitude. One may relate to another, but one can never fully understand another.
Perhaps Keller is right – that by consequence of our uniqueness and complexity, we are absolutely and inconceivably alone. That by virtue of our innermost longing to have something to hold on to – things that are supposed to bring us peace, security and the desire to live, and at the same time knowing deep down that everything in this world will pass away, having a crushed spirit is both inevitable and unbearable.
That is, until God steps in.
Ever had a time in your life when you got so offended that you were cringing with hateful emotions? Perhaps someone shamed you in public or a younger sibling disrespected you in front of friends with whom you hold good reputation? Or perhaps you are denied something – a material thing that you really wanted, or a relationship you were trying so hard to pursue. Unexpected things in life can trigger anger which can lead to hate – which can lead to bitterness.
The Danger of Bitterness
Almost all murders that have happened in our world today is a result of unchecked anger which planted seeds of bitterness. This bitterness then grew its roots and tightly grasped into its host’s heart and soul – sucking out any good that the host could have done in its relationships with other people.
“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” – 1 John 3:15
The root of a plant is something that is usually unseen. It is below the surface of the ground it is on. The root is an anchor for the plant – it enables the plant to take shape and grow. Bitterness has been attributed to a root. It goes deeper and deeper into your heart and emotions. And the more you try to weed it out, the harder it is and the more painful.
The plant will grow thorns in your heart – whenever people try to get closer to you, your bitterness will wound them.
Bitterness is a parasite that rots your heart – but the worst part is, it eats up other relationships too.
Bitterness needs two things to grow:
- A hurting host
Results of Bitterness
When you let bitterness grow and establish its roots in you, the plant that results can vary – from murder, slander, gossip, hatred, anger, impatience, divorce, irateness, death, sadness, sickness, depression, etc… Whatever the resulting plant is, it will consequently affect other relationships.
You don’t know it, but bitterness is an act of holding on to a hurt and anger until it has a hold on you. No one wants anything to have a hold on them intentionally – but you won’t recognize that it’s exactly what bitterness is already doing to you.
The Core of Bitterness
Bitterness needs special kinds of soil to grow on. And these can be identified as unforgiveness, being withdrawn, sulking, complaining, grumbling, having a critical spirit, ingratitude, absence of peace and joy, and other forms of self-centeredness. Having these things in your life prepares the way for bitterness to take root. You have to change your heart to good soil in order for you to avoid bearing bitter fruit – and bear good ones.
Consequently, if you allow bitterness to take root, you will lose intimacy with the Lord – making your bitterness an idol. And you will be unable to bear good fruit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” – Galations 5:22-23
As a Christian, we are called to bear good fruit. Meaning, you have to take away bitterness in you.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8
“But whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” – Psalm 1:2-3
- Surrender to God’s sovereignty. Bitterness drives you to your own desire to be bitter without surrender to anyone.
- Ask for forgiveness from God.
- Forgive the offender.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” – 1 Peter 2:23
Jesus surrendered to God’s sovereignty. He did not harbor bitterness towards the people. He even asked God to forgive them – meaning He also forgave them. He did not allow even one inch of bitterness to take root in His heart.
Do not allow bitterness to take root and hold you. Free yourself. Surrender to God and forgive.
There are those specific moments in your life when you’ve done something wrong. You know it and you feel something tugging somewhere in you – perhaps in your soul. People call it guilt. Most of the time, we don’t want to face it. So how do we deal with guilt? More importantly, how do we achieve a blameless conscience?
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the LORD does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
– Psalm 32 of King David of Israel
In this chapter, we see king David telling his story of how it felt to be burdened with guilt. You see, guilt varies on its heaviness depending on the weight of the sin you have decided to do. Guilt crept on to David as he committed adultery with a married woman, Bathsheba, planned the death of her husband Uriah, and took her to be one of his many wives. Did David love her? Yes he did. But that doesn’t justify anything. Love never justifies sin. Only death does – that’s why Christ had to die for our stead.
“…holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:19
A shipwreck is usually attributed as something disastrous amounting to a huge loss. It says in this verse that if you do not hold on to faith and a good conscience, you will shipwreck your faith. Can conscience turn bad? No, but conscience can become calloused – numb. If you don’t deal with your conscience, you will experience spiritual shipwreck.
Conscience is the inner voice of the soul that tells you what is right or what is wrong according to what you know and believe in.
Conscience is not always accurate
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” – Titus 1:15-16
Conscience can be defiled. It can be corrupted. There are so-called believers who go to churches but have pre-marital sex, there are so-called believers who pray and hold small groups at their homes but have extra-marital affairs which destroys his own family and another one, there are so-called believers who struggle with pornography and masturbation. Then they justify by telling themselves “There’s nothing wrong with what I did”, “It didn’t hurt nobody as long as no one knows”, “I deserve to be happy” – but something feels wrong inside.
To your mind, you can reason and debate. But it is very hard to debate with your conscience.
The problem with conscience is that it can become calloused – the first sin is different the second time. Pretty soon what used to be sin, looks and feels different. The callousness has imprisoned you and weighed you down – it has enslaved you.
How long will you let the dead duck enslave you?
There’s a story about Johnny and his grandmother’s duck and it goes like this:
Johnny had a slingshot which he was practicing with. Then he saw grandmother’s duck and thought that he would try to hit it with his slingshot. He pulled and let go WHACK! It hit the duck dead-on. Nice shot. Now the duck is dead. That was grandma’s beloved duck.
Johnny’s sister, Sally, saw everything.
Later that day when Johnny went in the house, grandma was there and so was Sally. “Sally, go do the dishes already – as you’ve promised.” Grandma motioned for Sally to go to the kitchen sink. “But grandma, Johnny volunteered to do it for me.” Sally pointed to Johnny.
“What? I didn’t volunteer to wash the dishes today!” Johnny was startled.
“Remember the duck.” Whispered Sally to Johnny’s ear.
“Okay grandma, I’ll wash the dishes.”
The week after, grandpa wanted to go fishing and wanted everyone to go. “Except for Sally. She promised to clean the house today.” Said grandma.
“But Grandma, dear Johnny volunteered to clean the house today for me.” Sally went over to Johnny’s side and put her hand over her brother.
“Is that true, Johnny?” Grandma looked at Johnny.
“What? No! I want to go fishing!” Johnny knew what was coming.
“Remember the duck.” Sally whispered to Johnny’s ear.
“Okay grandma, I’ll clean the house today.” Johnny’s face was downcast.
The week after, they were going camping. Johnny knew that Sally would use grandma’s dead duck to make Johnny do things for her again. So fearfully, he went to grandma thinking “I can’t take it no more. I do the dishes everyday and I missed fishing with grandpa… This time I’d rather tell grandma what happened than miss camping.”
Johnny opened the door to grandma’s room – and she was there on her rocking chair. She looked at him “Yes Johnny?”
He sheepishly stepped inside grandma’s room – his face down as he was looking on the floor, “Grandma, I’ve got something to tell you…”
“What is it?”
“Grandma, I killed your duck while I was practicing my slingshot.”
“Yes I know. I saw everything.”
Johnny looked up to grandma, his eyes wide in surprise. He didn’t know what to say.
Grandma looked directly at him without smiling, “I was just waiting on how long you’re gonna let Sally, through the dead duck, enslave you.”
We are given a conscience
That’s a fact. God has given each and every man a conscience. It is up to us to shape it, to calibrate it’s direction, and to align its sensitivity to the Holy Spirit – which is done through renewing our minds to God’s Word.
“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” – Acts 24:16
To have a clear conscience means you have a guiltless mind too. It is a freedom that only people who have once been guilty knows. And oh, how precious that feeling of freedom is. Have you ever felt it?
The Holy Spirit speaks to and through our conscience. He uses the mind to reinforce that truth in your conscience.
David was at his best when he could manage his emotions. He was at his worst when he did not. He knew what was right and wrong. He was named a man after God’s own heart. He was put in kingship by God’s anointing. He did not lay a hand on Saul and taken matters into his own hands. Why did he commit adultery, treachery and murder? David violated his conscience.
David knew how to be guilty, and as he shares in his psalm, he also learned how to be free from guilt through experience. Experience will teach you – but experience is painful.
David also knew how to be free from guilt and a heavy conscience. He felt how it is in his psalm to be ‘Blesssed’.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
God wants to forgive us and free us. He doesn’t want us to have a guilt-laden and heavy heart. But we don’t want to confess. We don’t want to be really forgiven. Because that means we have to face and know the gravity of our sin and face the consequences.
“If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do— when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering. “ – Leviticus 6:2-5
Being sorry and having a repentant heart means you are willing to accept the consequences. In this passage, the offender must make restitution to show that he admits his sin and accepts the consequences.
But unless you confess your sins and realize the gravity and horror of your sin, you will keep repeating it. Repentance is turning away from sin COMPLETELY and turning to God. Yes you might keep on sinning BUT your heart is set on God and not on sin anymore. There is a difference.
A guilt-laden heart and heavy conscience blocks your intimacy and relationship with God. As a Christian, this is a serious problem.
When God bothers you
Usually when we feel our conscience bothering us because the Holy Spirit wants us to realize something, we withdraw. We don’t go to church, small groups, we don’t want to meet other Christian friends. We withdraw from God. We want to keep the sin instead of going to God for help. If you have guilt that is bothering you, worshiping God and ministry suddenly becomes a chore. The joy has been sapped out of it – because you have become disconnected to its real purpose.
What happens when you listen to God?
The end result of a guilt free life is thankfulness.
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” – Romans 4:7-8
It is our birthright and inheritance as Sons and Daughters of God to live a guilt-free life.
That is what Christ died for.
In this life, we have so many options. So many choices. So many things we can buy, eat, drink, wear – so many things to have. It’s a consumer-driven world. The choices that the world is offering us is exceedingly many, in order for us to indulge, and buy. For what? Well, the world tells us – for us to be happy.
This entry has been inspired by the book “The Journey of Desire” By John Eldredge. It has also been inspired by a recent talk with one of my dgroup-mates. To you and to your ‘other half’, I dedicate this entry.
The Devil will give you a lot of options
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:1-4
We as human beings are hungry. All of us have appetites. Appetite is not bad – it is not a sin. But it has to be controlled. This verse tells us that Jesus was hungry – as much hungry as you and I could be when we haven’t eaten for 40 days and nights. Then came the Devil tempting Him saying ‘you don’t have to stay hungry. There are options… Tell these stones to become bread.’
At this point, Satan wasn’t lying. There really are options. Jesus could’ve really turned those stones to bread. And much more, Jesus could’ve turned the other stones into Chicken, Hamburger, Pizza and perhaps even a cool glass of Royal Milk tea. The options increase the more we are willing to trust ourselves and what we can do – rather than trust God.
Where is the lie then?
The lie is that the options will bring you what you most deeply want and need. And once you believe that lie – what you thought could bring you happiness and fulfillment instantly turns into an idol. Jesus responded “Man does not LIVE on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – Jesus knew what LIFE was all about. He knew what it was to really live.
Bread and water will fill you up. It will renew your strength. But Jesus knew that He was looking for something else. He knew that turning these stones into bread can quickly divert his attention from needing and wanting God (His mission in the desert) into needing and wanting bread.
There are so many options that the Devil will use to cover up that which you really yearn for. Often, that which you really yearn for is where God placed His purpose for you.
You have to check that desire within the desire
These options will kindle and attract your desire. And once it does, it often blinds you of asking yourself ‘why’. Why do you desire to buy that iPhone 5 as soon as it comes out? Why do you desire to get a ‘yes’ from that beautiful girl in red? Why do you desire to watch pornography?
Think: Do you really just want to see a girl naked? Or do you want to do it because the world says you’re more of a man when you do? Doesn’t it mean that what you really desire is a better sense of masculinity and not the girl herself?
What is that desire behind and within your desire? You have to examine it. If you don’t, the Devil will start drowning you in options so that you’ll just keep saying ‘yes’, ‘I want it’, and soon, ‘I need it’.
Check your heart. Examine yourself. Renew your mind. Know God’s Word so that your options won’t be as many as the Devil gives you.
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:14
Finding real life doesn’t have to go through so many options. In fact, it is very narrow. There is only one true, deep desire that will fill you up.
Our purpose in life is to glorify God. Live it out. Only then will you be really happy, fulfilled, and satisfied.
Today, we live in a world full of expectations and demands. Our parents, teachers, boss, friends, colleagues and even strangers expect something from us; said or unsaid. Many times we meet them but inevitably sometimes we fail (or the other way around). And what happens when we do? Our emotions heighten. These could be sadness, shame, guilt, disappointment, anger, frustration.
Whatever it is, what you most probably will feel are negative emotions. Question is, how do you handle them? Are you proud of it? Could your loved ones testify that you handle your emotions well?
This article is inspired by reading, “Overcoming Emotions that Could Destroy” by Chip Ingram and Dr. Becca Johnson. This book has given me a lot of insight about handling my personal emotions that I believe can help you in handling yours.
Based from the book, there are 3 kinds of angry people: the Spewers, the Stuffers and the Leakers. But before we talk about each of these, let me share some of the tips that I found useful to avoid anger.
First and foremost
You have to know what others expect of you. It has to be clearly stated. And you have to ask yourself, “Is this in line with reality? Can I do this?” If yes, then go, be excellent and happy. If not, then there are 2 options: Either you quit or you try harder. But it is important that you remember the choice you made and that you stand by it because this will be tested when the going gets tough.
In the same manner, you have to make it clear what you expect of others. Don’t assume that it’s common sense. Don’t expect that the person should already know because chances are he or she is being consumed with fear or panic and could not read your mind especially when you’re already irritated.
But it is in fact inevitable that we get mad. Indeed, God has created us not just as intellectual beings but emotional beings as well. Jesus Himself got mad when His Father’s House was being made into a marketplace. But you see His was righteous anger. So, being angry because your boyfriend went out with his friends instead of dating you does not really fall into that category, does it?
Neither does getting mad at your superior because she failed to appreciate how great the effort you had put in on her assigned task. These friends are disappointments that lead to anger. Disappointments come from unmet expectations. And they come in different ways a number of times!
So what type of angry person are you?
If you are someone who tends to blow-up when mad or who lets out his or her emotions to feel better, then you’re most probably a spewer. Of the 3, spewers are the most prone to regret saying or doing things during a conflict. Stuffers on the other hand do not think it is right to express anger. They feel more comfortable not dealing with it in fear of rejection, angry outbursts and others.
But if you tend to do things that you know displeases someone you’re mad at, like being late in a meeting knowing it’s important to a person, then you’re a Leaker. Leakers also tend to ‘share‘ emotions with others whom they know feel the same way towards that person to make them feel better.
Identifying which type of angry person you are would help a lot in warning you that you’re in the angry zone when the emotion starts to creep-in. When the tone of your voice starts to get a pitch higher or when you’re starting to have a record of the person’s wrongs or when you’re getting critical of even the little things someone does; you should know now, my friend, that you are angry. Accept and acknowledge the feeling. Don’t deny and pretend it doesn’t exist. So what do you do after this?
Pray. Before you call your spouse/partner or your best friend, talk to your Maker. He saw everything that happened. He knows you and the person you’re mad at. He knows your motives. Ask Him things: why it happened, how it could happen to you of all people. Be honest with Him.
Process. As the authors of the book has emphasized, anger is just the tip of the iceberg. Identify what have caused the problem. What was your initial feeling before getting mad? Was it loneliness, hurt, disappointment? How could you better address the feelings without sinning or hurting yourself?
Praise. Bring everything back to God. It is not easy but He is ultimately responsible for all the good and bad things in our lives. Have faith that this happens to make you a better person. Or perhaps, it happened for you to depend on God or for you to start talking with Him again? Be thankful.
As one of the leaders in our church says, lower your expectation and increase your appreciation. Take responsibility for your choices. Remember the choice to be mad and stay mad is yours.
Our emotions differentiate us from each human being. And how we react towards our emotions make us human beings. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
Be masters of it.