Questioning the Church about Anger

If a church rejects or rebukes people who are angry, is the church acting from a place of love or fear?  Is such a church angry about people who are angry?

Is it godly to tell angry, hurting and broken people to go to a lonely place or a secular place to get their soul wounds healed before the church can accept such people into their midst?

Did not Jesus come for the brokenhearted and the wounded?  Did Jesus not come to bind up the wounds and set the captives free?  Is the church behaving like His Bride and Helpmate when she rejects and neglects the brokenhearted, imprisoned and wounded? 

Where is the church that can handle the angry people?  Where is the church that welcomes the dissatisfied, the dissidents, the detractors, the disenchanted and the disillusioned as David did?  Where is the church that embraces the unlovely and transforms them, disciples them into mighty fighting warriors for the Kingdom as David did with those dissatisfied dissidents and rebels who came to him when he was in the cave at Adullam (see 1 Samuel 22 for more details)?

Where is the church that knows that Paul was once Saul?  Where is the church with a love so reckless and fearless and heavenly violent that it can bravely and boldly answer the Lord’s call to go to Saul and remove the scales from his eyes?  Where is the church so courageous that it can be sons and daughters of encouragement (like Barnabas, whose name means son of encouragement) to those seeking the Lord from a place of anger, legalism and intensely passionate and fierce devotion (like Saul on his journey to becoming Paul)?

Why is the church afraid of angry people when one of the angriest and most murderous men that we know wrote most of the New Testament?  What does the church have to fear from such people whom the Lord can touch and use to advance the Kingdom farther than any lukewarm convert ever could? 

How often is church reformation and revival birthed from people who are angry with the status quo and stagnant flow of the existing church?  How often is anger the catalyst for change and revitalization in the church? 

How often is the anger that comes against the church used to lift her up and exalt her higher than she could ever go on her own (Stephen’s martyrdom, John the Baptist’s beheading, Jesus’ crucifixion and on and on – the testimonies traverse the centuries)?

Why then isn’t the church persistently pursuing the angry people within and without her walls?

What does the church, who is grounded in the love of God, have to fear from anyone who is angry with her?  Is it not the Lord who saves?  Is it not the Lord who delivers us from all of our enemies?  Is it not the Lord who redeems?  Is the battle not the Lord’s?  Is the arm of the Lord too short to reach even the angriest of people? 

Did not the Lord convert Saul and transform him into Paul?  Does the church still fear Saul?  Does the church not revere and gain endless inspiration and revelation from Paul’s passionate and loving letters to her?  Did not the one who relentlessly attacked the church become one of her greatest lovers, protectors, teachers, providers and pursuers?  Did not Saul’s murderous passion become the fiercest of loving passions in Paul?  How is it that the church is so quick to forget and so hasty to negate the apostle Paul’s powerful testimony of conversion?  Is such a testimony not life and light, bread and wine, faith and fire to the Bride of Christ?

What does the church have to fear from anyone who is angry with her?

To hear more of my thoughts on anger and anger haters, check out my new poetry reading on my Spoken page - For the Love of Anger Haters. (Clink the link below to go check it out.)

Working Well Under Pressure - Assessment

What does it mean to “work well under pressure?”

Does it mean letting people take advantage of me?  Does it mean refusing to set boundaries with anyone?  Does it mean saying, “Yes!” to everyone regardless of my capacity and availability to meet their request?  Does it mean ignoring or refusing to admit my own limitations?  Does it mean sacrificing my health and well-being in order to please other people by meeting their demands? 

This topic of “working well under pressure” came up in conversation recently.  It gave me pause to think about what the phrase means to me.  After giving it some thought, processing my perspectives and doing a little research, I’ve come to the conclusion that my definition of this phrase means assessing the following questions in light of any request or demand someone presents to me:

Pressure Response Assessment

1.     Is it the Lord’s will for me to meet this request for this person at this time?

2.     Is this person’s request reasonable?

3.     Do I have the capacity to meet their request?

4.     Am I available – do I have the time in my schedule – to meet their request?

5.     Does their request have value or serve a purpose that I value? 

6.     Does their request violate my beliefs and values?

7.     Am I the appropriate person to meet their request?

8.     Is it good for me to meet their request?

Considering each of these questions and answering honestly to myself will give me a clearer perspective on how to respond to the person’s request.  If I don’t take the time to consider these things, then I may be hurting myself, the person who made the request or someone that I love.  For example, if I don’t have the time, then I may be over-extending myself which could result in physical and mental stress leading to illness as well as strains on my other relationships. 

If I don’t set boundaries with others,

then I’m hurting myself and the ones i love.

Every time I make a decision, I am saying yes to one thing and no to everything else.  So even if I have trouble saying no to people, when I tell someone yes, I’m still saying no to everyone and everything else.  This means people-pleasers, and everyone else for that matter, say no far more often than they say yes.  And at some point, this boundaryless behavior will catch up to the people-pleaser and cost him more than he wants to pay.

It is a sign of emotional maturity and psychological health to be aware of our own limitations and weaknesses, to set healthy boundaries with others, and to prioritize our health and well-being.

It is loving to know who we are, to know our limitations, to know our strengths and our weaknesses and to delight in our humanity.  In a godly context, working well under pressure means placing our burdens at Jesus’ feet and only taking up His burden and His yoke, which is different for each of us based on how He created us. 

It’s part of the joy of being saved to include the Lord in deciding how we will respond to the requests and demands that other people try to place on us.  We get to be in relationship with a perfect God who knows our hearts, the hearts of others and the future.  We get to make these decisions with Him and rely on His wisdom and knowledge to lead and guide us.

Our first priority is to love God.  Our second priority is to love ourselves as God loves us.  Our third priority is to love others as we love ourselves.  We cannot honestly love others unless we first receive God’s love for us and learn to love ourselves like He loves us. 

Our first priority is to love God.

We are not loving God, ourselves or others if we are boundaryless.  People-pleasing is not love.  Boundarylessness is not love.  Codependency is not love.  Over-achieving, over-responsibility, and over-performing are not love.  These things are all grounded in fear, not love.  All of these things are about earning, manipulating and controlling acceptance and love, which is no love at all. 

There is no freedom found in manipulating and controlling people.  There is no honor in it.  Of course, there’s also no honest risk-taking or vulnerability, either.  Both of which are scary, unpredictable and have no guaranteed outcome.  To love is to risk – exposure, vulnerability, the outcome, rejection.  But it is the only way to truly give and receive love because it honors the other person’s free will choice to respond however they want to my invitation, my vulnerability, my willingness to take a risk on them.  An honest response to love is so worth taking the risk!

An honest response to love is worth taking the risk!

July Photo Journal

Some shared views from my vantage point:

Breath of beauty in the midst of a busy city - now that I have a “regular job” again and am not solely dedicated to writing, I incorporate at least one daily walk around the office building block to refresh my creative soul and delight in the Lord in a new location and vocation. These lovely flowers are a welcome and wonderful respite from the gray concrete of the cityscape. They remind me that beauty can flourish in the most unlikely places and that light shines even brighter in the darkness.

Breath of beauty in the midst of a busy city - now that I have a “regular job” again and am not solely dedicated to writing, I incorporate at least one daily walk around the office building block to refresh my creative soul and delight in the Lord in a new location and vocation. These lovely flowers are a welcome and wonderful respite from the gray concrete of the cityscape. They remind me that beauty can flourish in the most unlikely places and that light shines even brighter in the darkness.

Cool Damp Sunset Road - There is something refreshing, haunting, lonely and peaceful about this photo. The colors are cool, even the yellows of the sunset. The road is long and mostly empty. The cars appear to be mere shadows. I don’t know what the future holds or where it will take me, but I know the One who guides my footsteps and guards my life. And with Him, I can do anything and go anywhere. I do not fear the road ahead, no matter what it looks like. All my hope is the One who is leading me on.

Cool Damp Sunset Road - There is something refreshing, haunting, lonely and peaceful about this photo. The colors are cool, even the yellows of the sunset. The road is long and mostly empty. The cars appear to be mere shadows. I don’t know what the future holds or where it will take me, but I know the One who guides my footsteps and guards my life. And with Him, I can do anything and go anywhere. I do not fear the road ahead, no matter what it looks like. All my hope is the One who is leading me on.

Brilliant and Blazing Flowers of SoCal Summer - The sun hit the flowers and ignited their colors to a vibrancy not visible any other way. May it be so for me that the Son shines on me in such a way that His glory and majesty are revealed in the colors of my life.

Brilliant and Blazing Flowers of SoCal Summer - The sun hit the flowers and ignited their colors to a vibrancy not visible any other way. May it be so for me that the Son shines on me in such a way that His glory and majesty are revealed in the colors of my life.

Enjoying the Moment and Savoring Daily Delights - This is a photo from the last week before I accepted an offer for a “regular job.” I remember thinking to myself that I wasn’t going to entertain any notions of worry and that instead I would enjoy every moment right up to the end. I didn’t want to waste any time on fear of what the future held or disappointment in having to return to the corporate world. I purposed in my heart to delight in the Lord each day and not let anything steal my joy and peace.

Enjoying the Moment and Savoring Daily Delights - This is a photo from the last week before I accepted an offer for a “regular job.” I remember thinking to myself that I wasn’t going to entertain any notions of worry and that instead I would enjoy every moment right up to the end. I didn’t want to waste any time on fear of what the future held or disappointment in having to return to the corporate world. I purposed in my heart to delight in the Lord each day and not let anything steal my joy and peace.

The Yellow-Petaled Road - The Lord decorates even the ground that I walk on. It’s amazing to me to see how the Lord takes time to create delightful paths for my feet to walk on and my heart to dance along.

The Yellow-Petaled Road - The Lord decorates even the ground that I walk on. It’s amazing to me to see how the Lord takes time to create delightful paths for my feet to walk on and my heart to dance along.

Wounded Lions are Still Lions

Proverbs 28:1 says that “the righteous are as bold as a lion.”  

I think about that verse a lot.  I want to be bold like a lion.  Sometimes I am.  But often, I am not.  I’m wounded and it’s a challenge to be bold when I’m recovering from soul wounds inflicted by an enemy intent on destroying any semblance of righteousness in me.

But the Lord reminded me recently that wounded lions are still lions.  Being a lion is in my supernatural DNA.  It’s not something that the enemy or any human being can remove from me.  I am a lion.  Even though I am wounded, I remain righteous because of Jesus.  His sacrifice on the cross and subsequent resurrection are what make me like Him – a righteous lion, bold and courageous, pure and blameless. 

God continues to heal my wounds.  And in the meantime, I walk as lion, albeit it’s a bit of limp more often than not.  But make no mistake, even wounded lions are still lions.  My identity and destiny are safely tucked away and hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3).  Nothing can separate me from the One who calls me His own, loves me beyond my capacity to comprehend and takes infinite delight in me. (Romans 8:38-39 and Zephaniah 3:17).

Because I am a saved and a daughter of the King of Heaven, my pride and coalition is the Bride.  To break it down: a pride is a group of mostly female lions and a coalition is group of male lions.  Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior are made righteous by His sacrifice.  And as I mentioned above the righteous are as bold as lions.  We who are saved are also referred to as the Bride of Christ.  Thus, we who are as bold as lions – both male and female, both coalition and pride – are the Bride. 

We are bold, radiant, pure and holy because of Jesus!

Motherhood, Karate and Kingdom Character

What on earth can those three things possibly have in common, you might be wondering.  It’s a lot simpler than you think! I have several friends who have confessed to me the trials of motherhood.  They feel unappreciated by their families and unimpactful in the world.  They wonder how constantly wiping bottoms, changing diapers, feeding mouths, doing laundry and running countless errands can possibly be worthwhile.  They feel bogged down by the seemingly mundane, monotonous, never-ending chores of motherhood.

To be sure, there are moments of joy and recognition that these mothers drink up like a cool glass of water on a hot summer day in the dessert.  But they believe most of their time and work is uneventful, uninteresting and unimportant.

They couldn’t be more wrong.  When I think of the value of what they do, I think of the Karate Kid movie, circa 1984.  In particular, I imagine the scene where Daniel is complaining to his karate teacher, Mr. Miyagi, that he hasn’t learned any karate and that all he’s done so far is free labor for Mr. Miyagi.  Then Mr. Miyagi has Daniel show him the motions for painting the fence.  Daniel moves his arms up and down in the motion Mr. Miyagi told him to use for painting the fence.  Mr. Miyagi then teaches Daniel that this motion is a defensive block in karate.  Mr. Miyagi goes on to reveal to Daniel that washing the cars and waxing them in the specific motions also built up strength in Daniel’s arms and built neural pathways in his mind for these very specific moves that are also defensive movements in karate. 

These seemingly mundane actions were actually powerful moves Daniel needed to know to protect himself in a fight.  And he learned it all without even thinking about it or trying to learn, just going through the monotonous motions until it became like second nature to him, until he could do the motion instinctively.  He also built up the increased strength to provide power to sustain and enforce the motion.

Motherhood is similar in that the tasks mothers do for their children build up character, wisdom and understanding in their children which builds a strong foundation for their children to stand on throughout the rest of the child’s life.  The chores of motherhood build up strength in their children that will protect the child in life. 

  • When mothers wipe bottoms, change diapers, wipe up spit-up and do other cleaning-the-kid tasks, they are teaching their children that God cares about their messes and will clean them up and make them new again each time they turn to Him. 

  • When mothers feed their children, they are teaching their children that God knows their needs and provides for them. 

  • When mothers comfort their children when they are crying or hurt, these mothers teach their children that God is compassionate, a comforter, that he cares about their feelings and that he is always with them no matter what they are going through.

  • Another thing that mothers teach their children by the mother’s behavior is how to treat other people.  When a mother is compassionate, attentive, responsive, honorable and affectionate to her child, she is teaching her child how to interact with people. 

  • She also teaches her children social skills by how she interacts with other adults and how she speaks about the other adults when they are not around. 

I could go on for a very long time about all the powerful ways that mothers reveal who God is to their children through the mother’s actions.  But I believe that you get the idea from this sampling of examples.

Everything a mother does impacts her child and teaches her child about God and about relationships.  Nothing a mother does is insignificant, unimpactful or unimportant.  It is all critical in teaching the child in the way they should go (See Proverbs 22:6).

In the books of Kings in the Bible, many of the kings of Judah and Israel are introduced in this way:

1)     the king’s name

2)     the king’s age

3)     how long the king reigned

4)     his mother’s name

5)     where she was from and

6)     whether the king did good or evil in the eyes of the Lord

What I believe this tells us is that it was the mother who influenced the character of the king.  That is no small thing.  The impact of the king’s character affected the entire kingdom over which he ruled.  When the king did evil, the people were oppressed and under attack from their enemies.  But when the king did good and served the Lord, the people were blessed, the land was blessed, they had victory over their enemies and the kingdom flourished. 

Now that we are under the New Covenant, we are sons and daughters of God, royalty in the Kingdom.  Whether we do good or evil in the eyes of God has an impact on our spheres of influence and on all those connected to our lives.  Our character matters.  And it’s our mothers who have the greatest opportunity to lead us in the ways of the Lord.  In God’s eyes, motherhood is very big deal. 

For any who know me, this may seem like a strange article from a daughter who was abused by her mother.  But it’s not really.  I know full well how much my mother influenced my character, shaped my relationship skills and informed me about who God is.  My mother’s teaching in all these areas was evil.  I’ve had to learn how to trust the Lord and allow Him to do a mighty work in me in order to realign my character.  I’ve suffered many evils from my mother’s teachings.  I have much to grieve for all that she stole from me.  I’ve had to fight more battles than I care to recall in order to be where I am today.  I needed my mother, but she rejected me. 

I believe that a good and godly mother can have the same powerful impact on her child’s life that my ungodly mother had on mine.  I believe this because it’s inherent in how the Lord wired us as mothers and children.  Mothers teach.  Children learn.  It’s who we are and what we do.  The choice mothers have is in what and how to teach their children.  The choice children have is when they become adults to examine what their mother taught them in light of the Lord’s love.  If it is good teaching, the adult child can choose to keep it.  If it is bad teaching, then let go of the bad teaching, process the harm, forgive the offense and let the Lord heal the wound.

I want to be sure to clarify that I do not wish to put any undue burden on mothers to be perfect.  Not one of us is.  We all make mistakes and do sinful things.  The important thing is cling to the Lord in all things – in motherhood, in forgiveness, in teaching, in learning, in growing and in becoming more like Him.  My purpose in sharing my thoughts on motherhood, karate and Kingdom character is to honor the value, importance and vital impact that mothers have on their children, the world and God’s Kingdom.

Here’s a poem I wrote as I pondered writing this article and the heart of the value of motherhood:

 

I charge you, women of Yahweh

To arise each day

With a holy fire

Burning in your eyes

Set your face like flint

To paint the fence

With Mama Bear vengeance

Fight for the hearts of your children

 

Though your work may seem mundane

Do it for His holy name

 

Even if no one sees

Know that He is pleased

 

Your efforts are not in vain

You bring glory to His name

 

So, wax on and wax off

You Kingdom Mommas!