How to be Angry

Jesus calls us to follow Him and be His disciples. We are called to serve as Jesus served. Part of our service is helping people achieve greatness, whole and complete as the image-bearers of God. That’s what good servant leaders do. We let people become who they’re going to become.

Servant leaders lead through acts of service. That means we can hear what someone’s asking us to do, and then do it. For that, we need to have an open heart, right? We can’t be stubborn and pig-headed. We need ears to hear and eyes to see. We have to be moldable.

We have to be aware of that in our marriages. We have to be moldable in marriage. In marriage, if you disrespect each other, there is going to be anger. It feels like, “Hold on a second. You’re not respecting me. You’re not treating me like a human being. You’re not telling me who I truly am.” It’s frustrating!

And you’re going to disagree. There will be angry moments. It would be great if we could go into every relationship with no expectations. That’s how it should be. But there will be expectations.  It’s in our nature, right? And where there are expectations, there are failed expectations. If you have expectations — and you will — you’re going to be let down. When you love somebody, you’re so close to them. You’re transparent and you’re vulnerable. You become so open to them that it’s very easy to get your feelings hurt.

That’s why you have to be moldable. You can’t be stubborn and pig-headed just because your expectations weren’t met. That is not a time to get angry! Anger like that is selfish anger, and it’s uncontrolled. Selfish anger says mean things. It tears others down. It throws daggers. It brings up past mistakes. When you lose control, it’s usually because you’re trying to take control. You want your spouse to be a certain way, and when they’re not, you try using anger to control them. That is selfish anger. It lets you wound people with your words. You start tearing them down because you want them to feel your pain. That is a dangerous place to go.

Jesus taught us self-controlled anger. Self-controlled anger is being able to say, “I’m really upset right now. I’m mad, and I’d like to talk this out. What you did hurt me, and I’m kind of angry about it. I would like to tell you why.” And then you talk it out. You can talk it out with patience. Love is patient, right? Love is kind.

So when you’re angry or impatient about something, you’ve got to be able to tell your wife or your husband. And then you can talk it out. Love will always win. Self-controlled anger will always win, because it allows healing. When you can talk it through, the wound can be exposed and healed.

Love will always win because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide us. He told us, “I don’t expect you to be perfect, nor do I expect you to handle everything like I do. That’s why I’m giving you grace. I will always love you. I will always be proud of you. You have my unmerited favor. But realize: Don’t judge. Don’t fall into selfish anger. Remember, you have flesh on your bone. Until I come back, you’re going to mess up just as much as anyone else. You’re no better than anybody else.Realize that, and don’t judge.”

See you Monday.

Intimacy and Judgment

Jesus made the twelve disciples his intimates. He sat with them all the time. He would ask them questions. Once he asked them, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples replied that people were saying Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah. Jesus said, “Okay. Who do you say I am?” And Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Then Jesus warned them to tell no one. Mark 8:27-30

You see, he built intimate relationships with the disciples. He talked to them, asked their opinions, and made them His confidants.

He went on talking to them, and the Bible tells us:

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:31-33

That’s amazing. Jesus looked at Peter, His dear friend, and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan.” Continue reading

Christian Dads (Part 3)

In the Old Testament, they loved God out of fear. That’s because frightening things kept happening. They were struck down by lightning or invaded by stronger armies. So their love was a fearful love.

But I think God said, “No, this needs to change. I’m going to change my relationship with my beloved children. I’m going to make a new covenant, and that will change our relationship. I will send my Son to pay the ultimate price, and then my children will be able to love me out of respect and gratitude.” Continue reading

Christian Dads (Part 2)

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”  (John 5:19)

It is the duty of every Christian man to replicate, to the very best of his abilities, everything that he sees Jesus do. John’s Gospel expresses it perfectly here. Just as Jesus does what He sees His Father do, so our children will do what they see us do. So what we do is really important. We are called to be just like Jesus.

Jesus did not judge us. He loved us. When He came, He stood up for a lot of different points of view. If He got angry with anybody, it was the Pharisees, because they were the religious leaders. They were like the presidents of our seminaries, or the pastors of our large churches. People looked to the Pharisees for moral wisdom and spiritual guidance. So Jesus said to them, “You’re embarrassing me! You’re embarrassing everything that we stand for! You are whitewashed tombs!”

Jeremiah 31_3But He never judged sinners. Ever. He didn’t judge them because He knew, 100%, that when He went up on that cross, He would be taking their shame. He knew it! He said to the prostitute who was about to be stoned, “Go on, I do not judge you. Stop doing what you’re doing, sure, but just go. You are forgiven.”

He was prophesying to her. He was saying, “Look, when I get nailed to that cross, and that blood starts dripping from my body, and I get whipped and beaten, I’m doing it for you. I love you, and this is why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because you feel shame over what you do. These people want to stone you? I’m going to die for you, because I love you.”

Think about the people that hated Jesus. They were the religious leaders. They looked at others and condemned them for their sins. They said, “This is not how it’s supposed to be done! You’ll have to pay!”

You see, love just didn’t make sense to them. To be like Jesus, they would have to become servants. They would have to change how they looked at everything. They would need to forgive sinners, be kind to them, serve them, and love them. But that isn’t how they looked at things. They could only imagine making sinners pay.

And Jesus said, “No, no, no, no, no! That’s not how it goes! I’m going to pay the price for it. I’m going to take all of this on. I’m going to die. My Father will turn his back on me because I am going to take all the sins of the world upon my shoulders. Why am I going to do this? Because I love the sinners. And when I resurrect from the dead, they will be redeemed. They won’t have to live in shame. They won’t have to live in guilt. They will live in freedom! And they’re going to want to change because of it.”

I think this is what Christian dads should try to give their families. More on that next time. See you Thursday.

Christian Dads (Part 1)

I believe my job is to be the best replication of Christ that I can possibly be.

I ask myself what it means when the scripture says that a husband is to be to his wife as Jesus is to the church. And for me, it comes down to one exact thing. I stand in the gap. How my family is viewed is on me. How my marriage is going is on me. How my children are raised and the decisions that they make while under my roof is on me.

Maybe someday my son will get in a fight at school and he’ll punch somebody. I’ll get called into the office and they will say, “This is what your son did.” On that day, I’ll look at my son and I’ll look at the school principal and I’ll say, “This isn’t what my son did, this is what I did. This is on me.” I’ll take full responsibility for it, and I’ll address it.

God_changesI’ll deal with my son directly. I’ll teach him to take responsibility for his actions and to apologize for his mistakes. But first, I will go to the child’s father and apologize. And I’ll make sure that the child, the one my son hit, will know that it was my fault. As the head of my family, I’ll apologize for it. I think my son will take responsibility and apologize, after he sees me do it.

I think that when my son hurts someone and then sees me, his father, literally turn to that person and say, “I’m so sorry, this is on me,” he’ll want to change. When my son sees me accept shame and embarrassment because of his decisions, he’ll want to make better decisions. So my son won’t see me yell at him or say, “This is your fault.” My son will see me say, “This is my fault.”

And I think anyone who sees that would say, “I need to make better decisions.” Think about it. What would it feel like if someone is always being embarrassed because of you but they never embarrass you back? They never blame you or call you out in front of people. Instead, they always take the embarrassment for you. How would that make you feel? You’re going to want to change!

This is what Jesus did on the cross. On the cross, He took our shame and embarrassment. We respect what He did. His sacrifice inspires us to be different. Because of Him, we want to be better. We’re not always going to make the right decisions, but we want to be better. And I think that’s how our kids will do it. They’ll want to be better because they will see their fathers say, “It’s on me. This is my fault. And I’m sorry.”

I really believe in this. I think if you do this, your kids and your wife will respect you for it and they’ll be better for it. Your family will be better for it.

I also think that when it comes down to it, men aren’t willing to accept this job. And if you’re not willing to accept it, then I say you’re not willing to be married.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Seeds of Growth

My job as a husband and a father is to nurture my family into becoming the fullness of who they are. I can only do this by living with them in grace. I have to let them be free, and to deal with situations as they arise.

Trying to control them is like pushing them down. They cannot grow if I’m pushing them down. And so I allow them to be free. They don’t have to worry that I’ll judge them. They don’t have to fear that I’ll get angry. There is so much freedom in grace! It is absolutely amazing to me.

And I realize this seems like a simple concept, but most of us deal with it on some level every day. Continue reading

Marriage Full of Grace

Christian legalism focuses on the box. Christian legalism emphasizes no. It says, “You’re not allowed to do that. You’re not allowed to do this.” And that causes problems!

It causes problems in a lot of marriages. I’ve been there, but I no longer try to control my wife or my children. If you try to control your wife, then things will get bad for your family. I’ve seen men, including myself, say to their wives, “You know what, as long as you live the way I say to live, then everything’s okay. But if you don’t, then I’m going to get angry, and basically, you’re not going to like it when I’m angry.” And when men start controlling, it gets really bad. Then you’ve got your family living at the address of misery. Continue reading