Laudable Linkage

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Here are a few of the good reads discovered lately:

The Greatest Work You Can Do, aimed at college students but good for all of us.

Fictitious Forgiveness: Why We Cannot Forgive Ourselves, HT to Challies. “Feeling bad about ourselves over undealt with offenses is God’s objective expression of love, not a feeling to be drowned out by self-actualization and self-pampering.”

Implications or Applications: Biblical Narratives, HT to Proclaim and Defend. Written for preachers but good advice for reading and knowing how to apply Biblical narratives.

Altar of the Feels.

Act Your Age. This is aimed at young men needing to “grow up,” but has some good thoughts for all of us.

Go to Bed for the Glory of God.

6 Surprises Every Premarital Counselor Should Cover, HT to True Woman

Dashing Little Ones Against the Rock HT to Challies. Thoughts on one of the most difficult passages of Scripture.

A few about parenting:

What Your Kids Need Is Your Authentic Christian Life.

Spurgeon’s Secret for Raising Godly Children, HT to Challies. I’d disagree with #8, but otherwise agree with the list.

Teaching Our Children About Work.

And finally, this from Pinterest made me smile.

Happy Saturday!

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Uncontrolled Reactions

Photo Courtesy of Photokanok at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Courtesy of Photokanok at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve never been particularly interested in or good at science classes, though I could always pass them fairly easily. My college major of Home Economics Education required a few sciences, though: biology, chemistry, and zoology. I have never figured out the zoology requirement – all I remember from that class is a session about parasites in some countries that could get into a break in the skin if you’re wading and grow the length of your leg – inside your leg. (Yikes!)

The chemistry class was a very basic one that mostly Home Ec. and P. E. majors took. Some of my memories from it were the experiments where we had an unidentified solution and had to try to do different things to it to determine what it was. I enjoyed the puzzle-solving aspect of that. One other memory from that class comes from one of our first times doing lab work. Among the safety instructions was this: if you pick up a beaker or test tube that is excessively hot, don’t drop it. Whether it’s hot from a chemical reaction or from heating, dropping it would likely cause it to break, splash, or spill, causing more damage to one’s skin than a momentary burn. We were instructed to carefully and calmly put it down, and then see if our burned skin was anything more than minor discomfort. I’m sure there had to have been instructions on avoiding that problem in the first place (timed heating, tongs, gloves, etc.), but what stood out to me was the necessity of controlling a reaction in a situation where a natural but uncontrolled one would multiply any damage already done.

This came to mind recently when a reaction of mine could have been disastrous if the circumstances had been just a little different. I find I am in the most danger of an uncontrolled reaction when I’m angry, hungry, frustrated, over-tired, over-stimulated, wronged. But I don’t see any of those listed as excuses in Scripture for not being filled with the Spirit. Yes, there is grace and forgiveness. Yes, God remembers that we’re just dust, and we need to do the same. But He does want us to grow in grace and the knowledge of Him and to continually change us to act more and more like Him. Lashing back at hurtful words, yelling at a child who has done wrong, matching the speed of the car trying to cut us off, could all cause more damage than the original offense.

I’m not talking about stuffing or burying our feelings. Sometimes we need to clear the air, deal with an offense, make a change. But we do also need to be forbearing, loving, and kind, which does not characterize uncontrolled reactions.

Usually afterward I can put the situation in perspective, apply Scriptural truth, see what I should have done. But how to keep from those wrong reactions in the first place?

I read just recently that we have more self-control than we think we do, because there are certain people we wouldn’t react wrongly in front of (a boss, a pastor, etc.), and because we can shift gears if, for instance, we answer the phone or someone walks in. Perhaps pretending that someone I respect is with me or watching me would help – or, more likely, to remember that my Lord is with me and watching all the time.

Of course, the general means of Christian growth help as well: reading, remembering, and meditating on Scripture, prayer, etc. Perhaps specific study in problems areas or in yielding to God’s control would particularly help. The more we are in God’s Word, the more the Holy Spirit can bring it to our minds when needed. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Here are some other steps that I find helpful:

  1. Stop. Just stop whatever the natural reaction is and take a moment to take a deep breath and think.
  2. Pray – for help, for the right reactions, for wisdom.
  3. If possible, get a few moments alone. That helps emotions to cool down and gives time to gain perspective. When my children needed to be disciplined, we always told them to go sit on our bed, wait for us, and think. While we did want them to think about the situation, we also needed that time to make sure our own emotions were under control, to pray, and to discuss the best course of action.
  4. Take care of whatever needs to be taken care of at the moment. (Wipe up the spill, slow down, feed the hungry child, etc.)
  5. Listen to that voice in your head telling you not to react the way you feel like reacting.
  6. Remember the damage that could be caused if you react the way you feel like reacting.
  7. Let it go. Not like the Disney song, but, as someone once said, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. So what if another driver cuts me off, if every line I get in at the store slows to a stop, if interruptions invade my day. It’s not the end of the world. Who says I have any right to expect everything to go exactly my way all the time? (I need to preach this to myself often!)
  8. Don’t feed the flame. This is related to the above, but don’t keep rehearsing over and over whatever got you upset in the first place. That’s only going to keep your emotions stirred up.
  9. Die to self. “See in this which seems to stir up all you most wish were not stirred up — see in it a chance to die to self in every form. Accept it as just that – a chance to die” (Amy Carmichael).
  10. Afterward, consider ways the problem could be avoided next time (leave early enough so that I am not stressed driving, don’t over-schedule, get enough rest, make sure to listen to what the other person is saying and ask questions to avoid misunderstanding, etc.)
  11. Don’t give way in little things and then expect to be longsuffering in major areas.

A word of explanation about that last one: I used to think that if I gave way to temper or frustration in little things when I was home alone, it wouldn’t be a problem: there was no one to see me and no one would be hurt by anything I said or did. But I was wrong, because it fosters the habit of giving way instead of reinforcing the exercise of self-control.

In our last couple of Sunday School classes, we’ve been talking about Moses, specifically the incident in Numbers 20 when the children of Israel needed water and got after Moses about it. Moses went to God, and God told him to speak to the rock, and water would come forth. But after chiding the people a bit, Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it. Now, I confess I would have lost it with the people long before Moses did. In verse 12 God says Moses’ action reflected unbelief. I don’t know whether he was going by the formula that worked before (in Exodus 17, God did tell Moses to strike a rock to get water), trusting in his action or his rod rather than in the word of God, or what exactly. His words, “Must we fetch you water out of this rock” (verse 10) indicates he was trusting in his action rather than God’s word. But for that God barred him from entering into the promised land that he had been leading Israel to for almost 40 years (verse 12), one of the costliest consequences of an uncontrolled reaction recorded in Scripture. On the other hand, David, when slighted and repulsed by Nabal, was going to come and decimate Nabal and his men until Abigail intervened and talked him down with her calmness, reason, and gifts (1 Samuel 25). To David’s credit, he listened and stopped what he planned to do, and God took care of Nabal. Abigail prevented major bloodshed and became David’s wife.

Of course, our prime example of godly, controlled reactions is our Lord Jesus. His turning out the money changers in the temple was not a temper tantrum: it was a cleansing of His Father’s house. He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:22-24). The more we “with unveiled face, behold the glory of the Lord,” the more we”are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. James 1:19

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

________________

See also:

It’s the Little Things.
Irritants as God’s Messengers.
Beholding His Glory.

( Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Testimony Tuesday, Woman to Woman, Works For Me Wednesdays, Thought-provoking Thursday.)

National Family Caregivers Month

Anita at Blessed But Stressed is celebrating National Family Caregivers Month by inviting blog friends to guest post on the subject throughout November.  I am honored to be a guest there today on the subject of Battling Resentment in Caregiving. I hope you will check out the series: I have found a lot of encouragement in the other posts so far.

Two Books: I Deserve a Donut and Taste For Truth

DonutI first became aware of I Deserve a Donut (And Other Lies That Make You Eat) by Barb Raveling through my friend Kim. It originally started out as a list of questions and Bible verses Barb put together for her own use. When she shared some of it with a group of teenagers she was teaching, one suggested it should be an iPhone app. Since she had a son who created iPhone apps for a living, he helped her to do that. Then, realizing that not everyone has an iPhone, she put these truths into book form, both paperback and digital.

The study is based on Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The book is divided up into reasons – or lies – that cause us to eat and different emotions that can lead us to eat. For example, under the first section are categories like Entitlement eating (“I deserve this”), Garbage Disposal Eating (“I don’t want this to go to waste”), Good Food Eating (“That looks good. I should eat it.”), and Social Eating (“She’s eating. I should eat.”) The next section lists just about every emotion that could lead you to eating, with the understanding that the problem there is not just eating for the wrong reasons, but dealing with the underlying emotions as well.

Then, after you look up whatever situation or emotion is causing you to want to eat, you’ll find a series of questions concerning that situation or emotion, a list of Bible verses, and some tips. For example, a couple of questions under Entitlement Eating are “What do you feel like eating? Why do you feel like you have a right to eat in this particular situation? Do you think God would agree with your outlook?” plus six more. There are about six Bible verses listed, among them Philippians 4:11: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” There are about five short paragraphs of tips, including:

The best way to break free from entitlement eating is to adopt a biblical perspective of life. God never said, “You deserve the good life, and of course you have a right to eat.” Instead, He said, “If you want to follow me, you have to be willing to give up everything.”

TasteOfTruthTaste For Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study by Barb Raveling was one I saw recently again at my friend Kim‘s blog, and it works hand-in-glove with I Deserve a Donut (which is why I wanted to review them together.) They overlap a bit, but that is not a problem because renewing one’s mind takes place daily, reminding ourselves over and over of God’s truth, especially in response to the wrong thinking we’re prone to.

The first chapter talks about our part in making changes. I have the tendency to just ask God to change my thinking, which is necessary, but that’s just the starting place, not the stopping place. He has given us specific instructions, such as in II Corinthians 10:3-5 about casting down imaginations and bringing our thoughts into obedience to Christ, in John 8:31-32 about continuing in His Word, and of course Romans 12:2. One of my favorite quotes from the book comes from this section:

“The Greek word for abide used in John 8: 31-32 and John 15: 4-5 is the same word that’s used for living in a house. The idea is that we don’t just visit the Word for 10 minutes a day. We live in the Word. Meditate on it. Chew on it as we walk through the day. Let it fill us and change the way we think about life. Let it fill us and change the way we think about our habits. And even let it fill us and change the way we think about ourselves” (pg. 11).

The rest of the chapters are Bible studies with a place to answer questions about various topics related to breaking control of the hold eating has on us, such as “I Hate Boundaries,” “The Anatomy of a Habit,” Is Overeating a Sin?,” “When You’re Not Losing Weight,” and “I. Need. Chocolate.”

Here are a few more quotes that stood out to me:

God is not all about “do what you want when you want.” On the contrary, God is all about “love me with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” One of the ways we love Him well is to hold His gifts with open hands, willing to give them up if they get in the way of loving Him (pp. 12-13).

(After discussing how a fence keeps children safe in a yard even though it limits them) That doesn’t mean the fence is bad. On the contrary, the fence makes their lives better because it protects them from harm. The same is true for us. Lifelong boundaries in the area of food make our lives better because they keep us safe. Yes, they cramp our style, but you know what? Our style needs to be cramped because there are consequences to eating what we want when we want (p. 13).

In many ways it’s like a home improvement project: You don’t know what you’re getting into. You uncover problems you didn’t know you had. You have to make multiple calls to your friend, the Carpenter, for help. And it usually takes longer than you think it will take (p. 61).

The renewing of the mind, like a home improvement project, is a taking off and putting on. You take off the old self. You put on the new self. You takes off the lies. You put on the truth. You take off a cultural perspective. You put on a Biblical perspective. You take off what you learned growing up. You put on what you learned in the Bible (p. 61).

Unfortunately, it will take more than one conversation to unlearn the lies we learned growing up. We learned those lies situation by situation, and I am afraid we’ll have to unlearn them the same way (p. 62).

I found both of these books very helpful and very convicting. I appreciate Barb’s matter-of-fact style. She assures that our thinking can and will change over time as we renew our minds, though the same temptations can come up again any time and we need to keep bringing our thoughts captive to God’s truth.

My friend Kim is taking the study very slowly, taking more than one day for each lesson so as to savor and steep in the truths there. That is probably the better way to go. I tended to get to the end of one lesson, see the title of the next one, and think, “Oh! I need that, too,” and I’d sometimes do two in a day – maybe even three on a few days. But I knew that no matter how slowly or quickly I went through the lessons, I was still going to have to go over and over them once I finished. Sometimes I tend to get to the end of a book, or even a word study like some I have done on anger and fear, and think, “There! Done!” But going through those truths once doesn’t renew our minds: we need to bring them to bear on our thinking often.

Barb has applied this same process of questions and Bible verses to other areas of her life, particularly procrastination. I am thinking of doing the same – just this morning I was struggling with a particular area of thinking and reminding myself of God’s truth pertaining to the matter, and thought I should probably write these out both for my own instruction and to have them as a ready reference next time it comes up.

(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)

Laudable Linkage

It has been almost a month since I’ve shared links that I have found interesting for one reason for another, so I hope you’ll forgive a longer list this time, and I hope you find something of interest among them:

Twenty-One Grains of Wheat. A must-read about the 21 people killed by ISIS.

An Extraordinary Skill for Ordinary Christians. Ways any of us can minister to others.

How to Make the Most of Your Bible Study.

Intimacy or Familiarity. Sometimes it is good to read large portions of the Bible to get the overall view, sometimes it is good to hone in on a smaller passage for a longer time. Love the truth that Bible study doesn’t have to be either/or, but that we need both.

23 Things That Love Is.

What My 9-Year-Old Taught Me About Being Willing to Follow God Into Uncomfortable Places.

How to Spot Mean Girls at Church, and How Not To Be One.

When To Overlook a Fault. This is something I’ve struggled with – when to confront and when to overlook.

When Pain Enters, HT to Lisa. Setting aside the Calvinist/non-Calvinist arguments over which so many disagree, there are some good thoughts from one in pain about how God uses it.

Praying For Adult Children.

Spurgeon on Christians Who Rail Against the Times. HT to Challies. Of course we observe the times and interpret them in light of what the Bible has to say, but I do get frustrated with those Christians whose constant theme is harping about how bad the times are. Evidently there were those even in Spurgeon’s day. I love what he had to say: “What have you and I to do with the times, except to serve God in them?” “We must not be “Woe! Woe!” Christians. We must be “Grace! Grace!” Christians.”

Gentle Fiction: What It Is and Why I Write It. I had never heard the term “gentle fiction” before, but it perfectly describes the kinds of books I most like to read.

Forty Portraits in Forty Years, HT to Challies. One photographer took a photo of four sisters once a year over 40 years. Fascinating to see the progression.

Adding Beauty. Love this philosophy of decorating and making home “homey.”

Why Missionaries Hate Airports from my real-life friend and missionary, Lou Ann. I always love glimpses into aspects of missionary life that we might not have thought of or realized.

Dear Moms: It’s OK to Be Unremarkable. Nothing wrong with gleaning neat ideas from Pinterest, posting pictures on Facebook, or making 3-layer cakes, but the point is well-made that we don’t need to “compete” in all these areas.

Are You Too Sensitive?

Six Reasons Your Husband May Not Like Your Women’s Group.

Dear Mom…Worried About Your Daughter’s Reading Material?

Emotional Vertigo.

7 Principles of Sabbath Rest.

God Makes One Baby Boy “Different” To Save Hundreds of Others.

And in the “You think YOU’VE got snow” category, Kathie, one of my FFF friends in Prince Edward Isle, showed 16-foot snow banks in her area and shared this funny clip:

Too much snow for me!

Hope you have a great day!

 

Laudable Linkage

Its been another good week with some thought-provoking posts to ponder:

Open Roof Hospitality. Very convicting to me. If I had been the lady of the house whose roof was being torn up so people could bring their paralytic friend to Jesus, my first emotion would not have been gratitude and joy, I’m sure.

Pressing In To the Ungrateful.

Is It Possible For Christians to Idolize the Bible?

Seven Questions to Ask Before Having a Difficult Conversation.

The 3-Second Pause That Can Save a Morning and Spare Some Pain.

Six Observations About Speaking to Pastors Right Before They Preach. Although these are especially true for pastors for obvious reasons, many of them hold true for anyone. Once when my husband was the head usher in a very tightly packed church and was trying to find seats for people right before the service, someone who was also a neighbor chose that moment to tell him that he thought the lawn mower that we often let him borrow had been stolen. Hard to concentrate on anything in the service after that. 🙂

The Do Not Depart site has been focusing this month on what we can learn from the lives of Godly Women: Inspiring Stories of Faithful Daughters, mostly from the past. You know how much I love biographies, so I have enjoyed this series. So far they’ve shared from the lives of Corrie ten Boom, Susanna Wesley, Elisabeth Elliot, Helen Roseveare, Harriet Tubman, and Monica of Hippo (Augustine’s mother).

I saw this on Facebook and thought it rang very true. 🙂

Sports

The bad weather that was forecast for last night did not happen, yay! Have a wonderful Saturday!

Irritating vs. Irritate-able

Irritated

One of my sons, when he was a youngster, got hold of the word “irritating” – as in, “Mo-ooom, he’s irritating me.” Now, we tried to teach our boys not to irritate each other on purpose, not to hit, tease, “bother,” bait, infringe on the possessions or person of the other, etc. But sometimes in just everyday living together, we’re going to get irritated with each other. Someone in the innocence of their heart can make too much noise, be somewhere I was going to be or use something I was about to use, etc. So, after listening to whatever had irritated my young son, sometimes I would deal with the issue, but sometimes I would say something like, “You need to work on not being so irritate-able” (Spelled and pronounced that way on purpose for emphasis). That was not a satisfying answer. The problem is with the other guy, Mom! You need to make him stop!

I find myself getting far too irritated far too often. Sometimes it’s the other thing or person that is being irritating, or causing the issue: the stupid recalcitrant computer, the driver who wasn’t watching what he was doing, etc. But too often, it’s just a matter of my own irritate-ableness. Touchiness, my mom used to call it. I started to list my most frequent irritants, but we all have our own (and I don’t want to offend anyone 🙂 ).

So what can I do when I am feeling irritated?

1. Fix the issue, if possible. Find out if there is something wrong with the computer, leave early so every red light isn’t aggravating, slow down and take the necessary time to accomplish something so haste doesn’t create more problems, gently ask the other person to refrain from or change whatever they are doing,etc..

2. Forbear. A former pastor used to say forbearing was just good old-fashioned putting up with each other. In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul says, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Not just forbearing, but forbearing in love. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins,” I Peter 4:8. Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

3. Humble myself. The verses mentioned speak of humility and meekness. Who am I to think that the entire world should revolve around my whims and preferences?

4. Focus on the other person. Those verses also speak of love. Instead of focusing on that irritant, I need to focus on that person as another child of the Father whom He loves every bit as much as He loves me and seek ways to serve him or her.

5. Do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I need to remember that I’m probably unwittingly irritating someone else sometimes who is graciously (I hope) being forbearing with me. I need to handle the irritations that come from other people as graciously as I would want them to handle mine.

6. Don’t make excuses. There are certain times and seasons and hormones and circumstances that make one more susceptible to irritability. I admit it is really hard for me to be civil, much less loving, when I haven’t had enough sleep. And during certain hormonal surges I’ve wondered how in the world God expected me not to blow up at someone with all that going on. But He gives grace when we ask Him and rely on Him for it.

7. Behold our God. II Corinthians 3:18 says we’re changed more and more into Christ’s likeness as we behold Him. When I look inside and tell myself I need to be more kind, loving, forbearing, etc., I get discouraged and fail because I don’t have it in myself. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). But when I look at Him, that irritability seems to just melt away.

“Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13b.

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. Romans 3:24-25.

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4.

“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.” Galatians 5:22-23.

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Psalm 103:8.

“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:8-9.

8. Pray. Something that I pray for myself and my loves ones often is Colossians 1:9-14:

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

Verse 9 reminds me that I need His strength and power to be patient and longsuffering, and that He will even enable me to do it with joyfulness!

Have you found any other tips for dealing with irritability?