Thursday, May 06, 2010

Lost and Found!

Everyday we lose things we value—the keys, a credit card, a cell phone, and we spend all kinds of time and effort searching all over the place, retracing our steps to where we last had the thing, hoping we will discover it tucked between the sofa cushions, or in a coat pocket. Sometimes we get to rejoice, for like the woman in the Bible who lost her coin, she was ecstatic to discover her lost coin was found. Likewise, the shepherd who noticed that one of his sheep had strayed and was missing—he left the 99 safe sheep and looked high and low until he found that one lost sheep. Then he came rejoicing. But do you know that everyday, horrible things happen because some of us lose a very valuable thing...our tempers.
The Bible warns us about the dangers of anger. A quick-tempered man does foolish things (Prov 14:17) A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension (Prov 15:18) We are even advised not to make friends with a person with a hot temper. Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. (Prov 22:24-25) Our jails are filled with people who chose such a friend, and who soon found themselves involved in a violent crime. But there are times we simply cannot avoid being around someone who has a trigger temper...they may be your parents or your children. Often if the child has a trigger temper, they learned it by watching how a parent, grandparent, or teacher, responded to a moment of stress. In that moment a horrible lesson was imprinted on their mind.

What is ‘temper’?
The Miriam Webster Online dictionary defines this noun to mean: “a high quality of mind or spirit” So in reality, we are saying that when we lose our temper, we are losing something very valuable—our minds...and not just any state of mind, but a high quality of our mind or spirit. Have you lost your mind lately? If we were to ask someone where we lost it...they would take us back in time to a moment where a wrong word, or a thoughtless act was responded to in the wrong way. Junior may have spilled his drink for the third time or a spouse may have cracked what they thought was a joke, only to have it taken wrong. Sometimes it is a sassy remark or a racial slur. Sometimes it is a genuine attempt by someone to push your buttons, and it worked! If you go back to that place in time in your mind, you know it cannot be undone, changed, or deleted. Let’s stop losing our minds so we can stop going back and regretfully reminiscing over something we can not change. Instead, let’s learn from our mistakes and move forward.

Living in Peace
The world around us is not a very peace filled place. Turmoil and chaos abound on every front. Each evening as you watch the news, or read the paper, or check the stories on the internet, there is one event after another that tells us we live in a tumultuous world. But God provides a haven for the believer. You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. (Isaiah 26:3AMP) When our mind is fixed on God, when we commit ourselves completely to God, and lean on Him, we can live the promise in this verse. God will keep us in perfect and constant peace. But if we lose our mind in a fit of anger, we nullify the promise. We put ourselves in charge instead of God. When we made God the one in charge, not only of our hearts, but of our minds, we yield to His Spirit. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses (Rom 8:26) He helps us to pray. He helps us to understand the truth. He helps us to focus on the Lord. He helps us be more like Jesus. He reminds when we forget the Word of God. He speaks to us daily, teaching us—but we must be willing to listen to Him. Our minds belong on God, in full attention mode. And when we are in the right mind-set, our tempers will also be in control—under His control. But are you listening? Listen to the tone of your voice? Listen to the volume of your voice. Can you hear His voice above the roar? Calm your tone and volume and start to listen once again.
Too often we make excuses for our lost tempers. We tell ourselves, “It’s just an ethnic thing—I’m Irish—or Italian.” Or we blame it on our temperament… I’m sanguine or choleric or some other modern terminology. But in reality, each one of us does not wear those labels. We are children of God. We take after Him. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us to boldly take on new temperaments because in Christ, we are “new creations”. We need to die to those carnal and fleshly ways and come alive in the Spirit of God. He wants to speak through us, and He can’t unless He is in charge. “ for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:20) Just as the chains of abuse must be broken in our lives, so must the chains of anger, hatred and bitterness.

The Tongue...
James specializes in the tongue. He gives us some great advise.  19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20) and he continues in v 26— 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Just being religious does not make you a good Christian. The fruit of your mouth tells the real story. We destroy our testimonies when we lose our tempers. Even worse, we use what God created for blessing to curse. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (James 3:9,10) We must be teachable. We must have listening ears. How dare we abuse the God who made us and who wants to help us. The Holy Spirit is waiting and longing for us to listen to His voice so He can teach us the things we need to develop the patience we need when those stress filled moments come our way.
Those moments have a valuable purpose in our lives. God designed them to make us more mature—the Bible calls it ‘perfect’. And James teaches us how it works. 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4) Now we rarely think of those tough times as an opportunity for great joy! But when we look at the purpose for which God allows them in our life—to test our faith and grow our endurance—we can rejoice knowing that He is working on every area of our lives, making us both perfectly mature, and absolutely complete. When we reach that state of spiritual maturity, we will discover that we truly do not need all those things we were fighting so hard for. We already have all we need in God. He is our supply. He is our source. He is our peace.
Tomorrow, if you think you lost your temper, and you feel like you have lost your mind, remember the One who specializes in finding lost things—Jesus, the Good Shepherd!
J. Johnson
When I have lost my temper,
I have lost my reason too.
I'm never proud of anything,
which angrily I do.
When I have talked in anger
and my cheeks are flaming red,
I have always uttered something
that I wish I had not said.
In anger I have never done
a kindly deed or wise,
But many things for which I felt
I should apologize.
In looking back across my life,
and all I've lost or made,
I can't recall a single time
when fury ever paid.
So I struggle to be patient,
for I've reached a wiser age;
I do not want to do a thing
or speak a word in rage.
I have learned by sad experience
that when my temper flies
I never do a worthy deed,
a decent deed or wise.
(Author unknown)

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