August 24, 2016 “I’m outraged!”
Actually I’m not, but I used to receive emails and snail mails that began that way about the latest evil or unjust or unconstitutional thing one or more of our government officials just did. And the implication and hope was that I would also be outraged, and take their recommended action.
Now I’m not making light of some of the awful things some of our government officials have done. But the last thing in the world I need is someone encouraging me or giving me license to be outraged.
Sadly I have many vivid memories of being outraged in my first 20 years of life, whether they be on the golf course or on the basketball court or wherever. Sadly some of my old friends still remember some of those explosions. But even more sadly, this root cause of so many of the grievous murders (mass and non mass) we have witnessed over the last eight years or so is rarely identified and discussed. This root cause of so many of the domestic fights and marital splits and estrangements between parents and children is rarely identified and discussed.
Experts in warfare say it is impossible to overcome or defeat an enemy when you are oblivious to its existence. And today perhaps more than any other time in the history of our nation we have scores of young men who are truly seething with anger, about to explode, and many of our national leaders are seemingly oblivious to it. This is most obvious when they use guns to express their anger (and hatred), and all the focus is on the guns instead of the anger that drove them to use a gun.
Lest we get sidetracked in the ongoing debate about guns, please indulge me telling more of my story.
Due to grievous failures in my pursuit of higher education at U.T. Knoxville, as well as failures in relationships with young ladies, and failures in my relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ, at the invitation and urging of my former youth leader – I moved to San Jose on my own a few months short of my 20th birthday. Seemed to some like an irresponsible move since I had no job, wheels, place to live, minimal dollars, etc. But it really was a desperate move, and because of my desperation and God’s jealous pursuit of my devotion and His amazing grace, I experienced a dramatic shift in the direction my life was going. For the first time in my life – helped by the fact that I only knew one person on the Western 2/3rds of the country – I began to respond to God’s loving pursuit of me. I began to devour the scriptures, go for long prayer walks, and take advantage of every opportunity to gather with other believers who were in the same pursuit I was.
And it was in the midst of that dramatic shift that the Holy Spirit began to put His finger on my anger issues, and tendency towards violent responses to people that I was angry with. Honestly He has been dealing with this issue (among many others) ever since, and forty years later I have come a long way towards the freedom from anger and rage and violent tendencies that used to plague me.
Many, many things have contributed to this increasing freedom, and it has not come without cost. Please again indulge me as I share some of the steps our great Healer and Deliverer has led me to take.
1. I’ve had to give up the “righteous anger” excuse. Is there such a thing as righteous anger? Yes I believe there is. But most of my anger issues have not been “righteous”. The father of lies loves this excuse and it has kept a number of Christian leaders in bondage. No time to explore that topic in this missive.
2. I’ve had to recognize that “…the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:20 Ever! Many Christians do not yet believe this. Sometimes I have to repeat this to myself when a given situation or circumstance is pushing my buttons.
3. I’ve had to ground myself in the forgiveness and cleansing that is my inheritance through the blood of Christ by memorizing various scriptures such as: “If we confess ours sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 The devil loves to try to get me to wallow in shame and condemnation and accept his lie that I will never change and “will always be this way”. Thankfully the blood of Christ not only cleanses, but also empowers us to stand tall in our journey towards freedom – refusing to give ground to Satan’s lies.
4. I’ve had to cut soul ties with people and activities/programs that give rise to my flesh in this matter. Because I developed a love for boxing in my very early years and boxed off and on throughout my early college years; and because I watched every professional boxing match (T.V. or Closed Circuit) I possibly could for all those years, using my fists was a natural response in many situations – real or anticipated. The Holy Spirit made it very clear to me all that had to go. In CA in recent years, I’ve had countless invitations from friends and neighbors to watch UFC fights. I’ve had to decline, which hasn’t always been comfortable. The issue is not they are bad for watching these fights. The issue is my flesh is weak, and staying in the Spirit has required my abstinence.
King Solomon once warned, “ “Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man. Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.” Proverbs 22:24, 25 Other things I’ve had to do (again primarily because of the weakness of my own flesh) is quit listening to Radio/T.V. personalities like: Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, etc., because while I may agree with some of their views, I do not agree with their spirit (in many cases), and in the weakness of my flesh I am affected by their spirit. (Obviously there are plenty of folks in Mainstream media, whom I don’t listen to or watch for this and other reasons). And at some cost I’ve had to cut ties (or greatly lessen association with) with various individuals over the years who refused to see this problem for what it is.
5. I’ve had to discipline myself to pray (and sing) in the Spirit as well as with my mind when appropriate as there is a level of personal edification or sanctification that I believe only comes with that blessed resource of the Spirit. “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…” I Cor. 14:4 “…I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.” I Cor. 14:15
6. I’ve had to deepen and stir up my faith and trust and confidence that God is good and in absolute control of my circumstances and in absolute commitment to meeting my needs so that fear and anxiety (which can lead to anger) has no place in my life. Proverbs 14:29 “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” This understanding or knowledge of God is priceless. And its lack is at the root of so many of our problems as a society.
Well this blog post, like most of mine is way too long. But I hope this helps those who are ready to be freed from the bondage of anger. It is part of your inheritance in Christ.