Thorns among the Barbs

Thoughts on my journey to heaven

Archive for October 2009

Anger – where is it coming from?

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I have to confess that i have not really wanted to sort through my soul to find the source of the anger that bubbles up in me. But in order to get better and move on I need to make the determined effort to search, clean house, and lay everything out for God to sort through.

So where is my anger coming from?

I am praying through this, but one of the first places that prompts anger is when I am misunderstood, underestimated, or overlooked. I want to be valid, credible and heard by others. But there are times when this is not the case. Life is real, and we are not always accepted or our words/thoughts are not valued. Accept what I can, acknowlege what is beyond my power and move through this – that is what I am striving to do. But accepting this seeming rejection is not easy.

Another source is my deep desire to have my way. My husband calls it “only child syndrome” but I think it is just deep seated selfishness. I want what I want, and I want it now. When it is not like that my anger bubbles up.

Injustice – or what seens to be imbalanced issues with how people and situations are handled is yet another source of great anger.

But at the heart of my anger is a kernel of truth that just builds explosive anger in me…. i am not in control. I am not in control of anything – my health, my life, my job, my education, my family…. nothing is really in my control.

So why so angry about lack of control? It is tough to say this but I am a control freak – I want every little thing in order, in my control, carefully carried out with my watchful care, and no exceptions. I don;t want angry people yelling at me, and I don;t want to feel sick, or frustrated, or spent or worthless, or helpless. But the truth of life is we are not in control – of anything. We may think this is true, but in its time life will hand a different story to us. Someone we love will die, we will loose that job, or a friend will betray us. And life spins out of our grasp… out of our control. And until I acknowlege my despirate need for jesus to work through my soul and guide me through these turbulant moments the anger will rage.

Jesus, you know me deep inside and you know how you created me. You designed me for life, and hope and godliness, not anger and rage. You know how helpless we are. You understand our very core and know what you want to achieve in our souls. Work in me to turn my anger to praise, and my helplessness to hopefulness in you. Be the one who orders my life, my steps, my breath. I hold my hands out to you empty- I have nothing to give you but me. Thank you that I can give my anger to you and you understand my laments. you know me in my darkest places, and your light floods them out with your word, your peace and your grace. Amen

Written by Barbara Bloom

October 14, 2009 at 10:41 AM

The angry monster within

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Our church sermon series continues with the bondage of Anger – and I must tell you the sermon hit me where I live because I have battled with anger for some time.

As a child I became angry when things didn;t go my way. But I also became quite angry when I was misunderstood, or ignored for my input. Anger has been the weapon of choice to barrel through anything, dismantle any obstacle.. unfortunately it may have put up new obstacles and barriers in the form of hurt, shame and disrespect.

Anger is an emotion– it is the only emotion that is incredibly dangerous because we can do much damage to each other and our selves by misusing it.

Anger is something God has experienced

And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, [Is] not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. – Exodus 4:14

Anger is demonstrated in bot the old and the new testament by God, however always when something is wrong, or incorrect. However God is slow to become angry (Numbers 14)

Anger is given to help us live a godly life and accomplish God’s purposes.
An example given is in Exodus 22:22-24:

Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

In this case the widows and fatherless were being mistreated, and God becomes angry when this is true because widows and orphans are helpless, need support of the village, congregation, others. So anger is a vehicle for correcting this wrong.

Anger is damaging and miss-used:

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:31-32

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. – Colossians 3:8

All of the list of things to put off or not do any more are extensive, but anger is the only one that is an emotion – everything else is a n action.

So anger is something we all battle with, but this is the first time I clearly heard this is a decision, a choice I have made to respond. The heart of the matter is deep inside me I make the choice to express my emotion with explosive anger. And this ought not be.

Lord, I am here struggling to fathom the damage I have done with my active demonstrations of anger. Far too many years of my life have been filled with inappropriate responses when cool heads should have prevaled. I take responsibility for my actions. I have damaged things and people with my rage. I come to you and submit myself to you, asking that you will change me from the inside out that my use of anger will cease, and that you will build in my self restraint, so I may not hurt others. I can trust in your power and strength because you are good, and you want good for us. Amen”

So now the challenge is how to react when anger comes. I know it is not an instant “poof” resolution, but I so much want it to be over, and want to react with gentile grace rather than volitile emotions.

Written by Barbara Bloom

October 12, 2009 at 11:06 AM

Loving our brothers and loving God.

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And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. –1 John 4:21

It is easy to love those who are lovely, kind, nice, sincere and genuine. The challenge in my life is to learn how to love those people who are none of this. Those people who are abusers, and lie boldly to you.
Just as I start to think I will render to them what they deserve a still small voice reminds me that I am not really very lovable, kind or good at heart, but the God of the universe loves me. So how much more so should I love those who are not lovable.

Just as I think I have a handle on one portion of my character, and it is surrendered to God…. oops, another area rises up to say it needs attention. Loving people should be a quite normal think. It was much more automatic at one time in my life. But then life….

I am certainly not the first person to wrestle with the idea of loving people. But it sometimes feels like a battle with my flesh to let go of anything that is holding me back from that goal. I yearn to have that flesh stripped away so that I am free to be what I was designed to be – someone who bears in myself the image and character of Christ.

So here are my practical quesitons I have asked myself each time I want to not love that person:
1. Do I remember I am loved, and forgiven of much by God?
2. Why am I angry with the other person?
3. Do I remember that Christ died for them too?
4. Is this situation allowed by God?
5. Can I trust God with this person, the situation, and my heart?

Resoundingly I must say to myself that it is a matter of trusting God for how he is working in the situation. Honestly I can tell you that when I need love the most I am the most unlovely. My attention is often short and I forget to think about the situation in terms on not knowning what is going on in the other person’s life. They may be grumpy or down because of something they would never reveal in public. How can I know what storms are in their lives. They have no clue what storms rage in mine either.

But the option of loving or not loving is not in our marching orders. It is a command. It is an order from the top – love them. when they do wrong to you, love them. When they abuse you, love them. When they take advantage of your kindness, love them. when there is no clear reason to do it – love them. Love them…. LOVE THEM.

If we are to obey God, and live a surrendered life yielded to his spirit we must give up the will, give up the right to disagree, and by faith, with an honest heart Love those who are impossible to love.
So love covers a multitude of sins, and at my best when I am clear, focused, and surrendered I allow love to wash away the hurts, judgement and anger… and cover everything.

May that be more routine and common in my life! Amen.

Written by Barbara Bloom

October 3, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Anger is not forever

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Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. –Micah 7:18

Isn;t it great to know that God is not like us. When I read this verse today I felt instant peace to know that while I will make mistakes, the anger is replaced with mercy, and the sins are pardoned.

And the application is this – In my soul how am I embracing this fact as I deal with others. I have to tell you I struggle with a specific coworker who raises all the buttons, and knows just how to offend in a way that is indisputable. I don;t know her heart, but the repeated behavior suggests this is her pattern, and it is intentional. But I know I must not be angry toward her, and instead forgive her, and demonstrate by faith how God demonstrates his forgiveness and mercy to me.

I love the choice of words in this quote – God demonstrates Grace to the remanant of his heritage. In order to unpack this verse we need to know that Micah wrote at a time of strife. The people of Israel had been in captivity, and many were destroyed by the enemy. But the Lord was faithful to preserve a small portion of the people – a remnant. And this small portion would carry on the tradition, the knowlege, the faith in God.

How can this possibly apply to us? This christian life is a war. Our mind and heart is constantly under attack with the enemy’s goal of luring us from the truth. We will make mistakes, succomb to the sin nature, and sin against God. But- we do not need to remain there. Our sin may raise the anger of our God, but we need not be completely dismayed because as we yield to his good hand, confess our sin and turn away from it we will know his mercy and forgiveness.

God;s anger is righteous, just and correct. Our anger is not always justified.

Mercy Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French merci, from Medieval Latin merced-, merces, from Latin, price paid, wages, from merc-, merx merchandise
Date: 13th century
1 a : compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment b : imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2 a : a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b : a fortunate circumstance <it was a mercy they found her before she froze
>

Here are a few questions I have asked myself:
1. What have I done wrong, and how have I sinned against God today?
2. Have I confessed this, and stopped, turned away from that behavior?
3. How would Jesus respond?
4. How can I take tangible steps to change my behavior?
5. Have I prayed?
6. If clearly another is involved, have I goned to them for forgiveness, confession?

Lord, thank you for your infinate grace and mercy toward me. Thank you that you do not remain angry with my failures, and my sinful patterns. Thank you that you are intentional about dealing with sin, and getting us to move on. May I remain teachable and in your hands always. And may I be more like you in demonstratng my forgiveness and showing mercy toward those who offend me. It is only by your power, your wisdom and your grace that I can do this. Amen”

Written by Barbara Bloom

October 3, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Sideline – It’s Apple Season in Ohio!

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Nothing beats the taste of crisp fresh picked apples on a cold fall day, with the colors, the smells, the sense of a new season. I love fall, and I love our little apple hunting adventures. This year we discovered a web site that lists all of the orchards in ohio… so we can plot and plan our grand adventure. Here is the site:
apple_bushel

http://www.allaboutapples.com/index.htm

and then there is a second website that I think may be the ohio orchard growers site:

http://www.ohioapples.com/

If you live in Ohio – take a day off, and take a drive, smell the wonderful aroma of apples, cider being pressed, family fun, fall colors and the simple joys of celebrating blessings of the rich harvest God has layed out for us to enjoy. Happy Appling to you!

Written by Barbara Bloom

October 2, 2009 at 4:24 PM

What is at the heart of anxiety?

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Anxiety seems to be so prevalent in our world today – and there are so many factors that can quickly make one anxious. Look around and the economy is alone a challenging factor. But add wars, natural disasters and the basic stressors of daily life build up.

The truth is anxiety can disable us. We can become so engulfed in the floods of emotion, sense of helplessness, and fear that we loose sight of what is true. Anxiety is a monster that needs to be tamed. At those darkest points of my life I have willingly let anxiety wash over me in wave after wave, resulting in days wasted in gripped fear, and apathy. But this is not the abundant life Christ calls us to.

At some point I am thankful that the Lord does not allow me to stay in that place of discouragement. And I am thankful that his word, the bible, has a powerful effect on my soul. So if you are there can I encourage you to read Phillipians chapter 4:

Phil 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Phl 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

First lesson learned – when I am discouraged, or anxiety riddled I need to turn back to the lord and pray. He already knows where I am, and what my needs are, but I need to surrender them to my creator, and choose to trust in him with my whole heart, mind and soul. Prayer is a discipline that should grow to be more automatic as we grow in our faith. And I must admit that when I pray I am washed over with a peace that can only come from God.


Supplication is defined as : (also known as petitioning) is the most common form of prayer, wherein a person asks God to provide something, either for the person who is praying or for someone else on whose behalf a prayer of supplication is being made.

Lesson 3 – Everything must be with a thankful heart – Can I thank God in the hard times, when my heart is heavy, or the situation has pressed in and there is no way of escape, and no obvious solution? Can I thank God that he knows my frame, and knows what I can handle each moment of the day? My heart says there are times when I cannot look beyond the desire to respond, answer, fix, resolve the issue at hand. But the truth is we are never really in control. But we are HIS, bought with his precious blood. And Jesus knows the plans that he has for our life. We can trust in his faithfulness and his character to see us in the midst of the situation. An old pastor years ago reminded me that everything is filtered through the hands of God. How comforting to know even the most unsettling storms in our lives are in HIS hands. So am I thankful? I am learning to say thank you, not trust the emotions, but by faith thank God and move forward.

Lesson 4 – Don;t trust the emotions, or your eyes. What we see and how our emotions engage situations may not be the truth. We must stand on the word of God, rest in his character and wait for his peace to flood our souls. Don;t let the enemy distract or cause you to stumble. Hold fast to the truth and fix your eyes on Jesus.

OK, so you have prayed, and made requests for others with a heart that is thankful to God. Now what? I love this verse – get it in your heart and your head because it is so good – Phillipians 4:7 says that the result is peace, flooding our soul, and protecting our mind as we remain sheltered in Jesus. Peace, Shalom, that unspeakable “I can;t get there myself” everything is a storm but I am at rest knowing that God sees the outcome peace. And it is a response that comes from the heart of God.

This passage mentions the heart and the mind – have you ever thought about that for any length of time? Heart, the center of our emotions, and mind, the center of our thinking. Both are engaged – not just one or the other. I know that I must yield both mind and heart to God and allow him to syncronize them as he alone can do.

Father, take this word to release us from anxiety, and give us the boldness to come to you with every care, worry and problem. Grant us the ability to thank you for each situation, knowing that you are working out in us character building as you shape us into the image of your precious son. Flood our minds and hearts with your peace so that we may watch as you direct our paths through the danger. Thank you for your powerful love for us. In you will we trust and wait. Amen