Matthew 21: Reflections on Anger

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” Matthew 21:12-13

In the past when I’ve read the above verses, I have felt validated in my own anger by this example of Jesus’ anger. It’s a fantastic picture of His passion and his fierceness, two concepts that fire up my own intensity. However, when I was asked to do the scripture reading at my church a couple months ago, the Holy Spirit showed me a new perspective on this passage that took me deeper into understanding of the heart of God. Continue reading

The Problem of Pain

While walking through the deepest pits of human suffering with people, so often I hear the question “Why?” To face the reality of the presence of pain in our lives is one of the most difficult endeavors. A Google search to the question, “Why is there suffering in the world?” revealed answers by various religious organizations, including Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. The most common religious answers sound something like this:

  • God gives humans freedom of choice, and we choose against his prescribed way of living, thus creating pain and causing suffering in our own lives and the lives of others.
  • God is either not powerful enough to stop pain, He does not care to stop pain, or He is evil and revels in the pain that wreaks havoc in the world.
  • God allows pain because He plans to use it in His great Redemptive Plan for His creation.
  • God uses pain to discipline and instruct His children.
  • God uses pain as a “megaphone” to get our attention, or as a warning against further evil.
  • The Bible says that “suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.”
  • And finally, “Ultimately, we can’t know all the reasons God allows pain and suffering, we just know that He does.”

I do believe Scripture supports the majority of these explanations, but consider this: Continue reading

Mental Health – Top 10

10. Adopt a learner’s perspective.

9. Have down time when you are not looking at a screen.

8. Ask, “Why am I feeling what I’m feeling?”

7. Spend quality time with others.

6. Don’t make decisions in the midst of strong emotions.

5. Remember, this too shall pass.

4. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise, and spend time outdoors.

3. Don’t rush to judgments – either about others or yourself.

2. Do one thing every day that scares you.

1. Remember that God is for you.

Giving Forgiveness

I found this to be a helpful explanation of forgiveness, taken from Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s book As For Me and My House, pages 79-81:

“For-give-ness is a holy, complete, unqualified giving.”

Giving Up: “Forgiveness is a willing relinquishment of certain rights. The one sinned against chooses not to demand her rights of redress for the hurt she has suffered. She does not hold her spouse accountable for his sin, nor enforce a punishment upon him, nor exact a payment from him, as in ‘reparations’. … In this way she steps outside the systems of law; she steps into the world of mercy. She makes possible a whole new economy for their relationship: not the cold-blooded and killing machinery of rules, rights, and privileges, but the tender and nourishing care of mercy, which always rejoices in the growth, not the guilt or the pain, of the other.” Continue reading

Anger takes many forms

Now that we’ve considered the benefits of anger (its “good-ness”), it would behoove us to reflect on the types of anger (or the different ways anger is expressed) so that we can identify it in all its shapes and sizes.  Anger can take so many forms that we don’t always recognize it at times, whether it’s our anger or someone else’s.  At times, we can even get the sense that “something just isn’t quite right” but we can’t always put our finger on just what is causing us discomfort.

It can be helpful to distinguish between two types of anger: the anger that is typically more observable and obvious, and the anger that is typically more covert and harder to identify. Continue reading

The Good-ness of Anger

Who hasn’t gotten angry? Anger is such a pervasive emotion that it touches everyone’s life. We get angry with the driver that cut us off in rush-hour traffic. We get angry with our boss, our spouse, our children, and the checker at the supermarket. We get angry with the people who perpetuate injustices in this world.

Unfortunately, we oftentimes take a simplistic approach towards anger. “I want it to roll off my back like water off a duck,” we say. We then try and replace our anger with phrases and behaviors designed to calm us. (See Frank Costanza’s attempt at “Serenity now!”) But does this work? Does this get to the heart of the problem? Continue reading

What is my aim?

Weeding. If there ever was an unending job, this is it. The weeds in my garden were thick. And plentiful. The truism states that the best way to root out weeds is, well, by the roots. Yet, the longer I worked, the hotter it became, the more tired my fingers grew, the prospect of just ripping off the green was tempting. “I can grab a whole handful and be done with this,” I thought. My work became sloppy, and my goal shifted from quality to being satisfied with surface-level appearances. Continue reading

When I want to be the elm…

I was reminded the other day about an elm tree that grew in my parents’ yard during my childhood. Though it wasn’t good for climbing, it was nonetheless impressive. This tree had two defining characteristics: 1) It grew. Elms typically are fast-growing trees, attaining stature in a relatively short period of time. 2) Because of its quick growth, it often would litter our yard with twigs and branches after a storm. (Needless to say, this frequently added to my chores in keeping the yard looking presentable.)

A number of years ago, my parents had to cut down this elm tree. It had been a beautiful tree, but simply wasn’t sustainable in its growth. Contrast this with the neighboring tree, an oak. Continue reading

A Well-Lived Life

I have had the pleasure (and the frustration, at times) of living in both rural and urban locales during my life. As I’ve done some pondering during these beginning stages of CarePoint, some important aspects seem to be reflected in these rural and urban settings – urban environments create the possibility of greater community while rural environments create the possibility of greater reflection. It is both of these – community and reflection – that we believe are essential to a well-lived life. Without community, we are in danger of going astray or becoming self-focused. There is a strong possibility that we end up justifying or rationalizing our behaviors because we lack accountability. Without reflection, though, we are in danger of pursuing things like a dog pursuing the next squirrel. Here, the ditch we might fall into is sacrificing depth by filling our lives to (or even, beyond) the brim. Both of these paths leave us living a superficial life.

Here’s where CarePoint comes in. In our own lives, we have found it beneficial to have someone objective to walk alongside us or to lean on when the silence or loneliness is too heavy a burden. As such, we believe that the process of reflecting and opening ourselves up to others (i.e. living in community) can be healing, encouraging, and strengthening. Continue reading