Michael Boling – Chat Don’t Spat

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There are times in every husband’s life they would soon rather forget had never taken place. Last night was just such an occasion for me; a time when I was quick to talk, slow to hear, and very quick to anger. We have all had those moments when we come home from a difficult day in the office dealing with angry customers, a seemingly never ending avalanche of work, or any number of other issues that take place daily in the work environment. After a busy day, we yearn for peace and quiet, time to relax and unwind, and for all those household functions to somehow magically have taken place during our absence.

We can all dream can’t we? Well last night was one of those days when after a hard day in the office I came home to what I perceived was a giant mess around the house. Shall we say from that point on I was not on my best behavior which resulted in a heated and not so pleasant conversation with my spouse to include words that were not in any list of biblically mandated actions that should represent godly speech. As soon as those words came out and the concomitant incorrect actions that accompanied those words were completed, I immediately realized what a fool in the biblical sense of the word I had been. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my wrongdoing and I made immediate amends with my wife, apologizing profusely for flying off the handle for really no reason.

Why do I share such a story? I share this rather unbecoming moment in my life to drive home the importance of being vigilant against the emotional outbursts and vehemence that accompany a spirit of anger. Could the house have been picked up a bit better and things placed in their proper location? Yes. Should the dishes have been taken care of, laundry started, floor swept and vacuumed, and homework completed? Yes. Does the lack of any of those events taking place provide cover and excuse for a husband and father to act the part of a foolish person? Unequivocally no!

God has much to say about the tongue and anger in Scripture. Ephesians 4:26-27 exhorts us “”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” This means that being upset is natural. It is what we do with that anger that is the fundamental issue. There is a vast difference between righteous indignation and misplaced rage. Flying off the handle because the dishes are still dirty in no way resides under the umbrella of righteous indignation. The Apostle Paul recognizes that we will become angry. There will be times in life that ruffle our feathers. Yet the command remains, “In your anger do not sin.” Anger is the Greek verb orgizō meaning “to be provoked to anger, be angry, be wroth.” When that urge to go all Incredible Hulk bubbles up, we are to put off such an approach in favor of patience and longsuffering and any number of other fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 29:11 states that “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” I can firmly state I was a fool last night in giving full and complete vent to my anger. This concept of venting is rooted in the Hebrew verb yatsa’ which connotes the idea of an emotion bursting forth or something departing out of someplace. In the case of anger, it portrays the idea of a fool letting loose this sinful attitude of rage and anger from a heart that has not learned to operate in the fruit of the Holy Spirit known as self-control. It is the wise man that “keeps himself under control.”

Another telling verse is found in Proverbs 19:11 which declares, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” The opposite of this verse is the man’s foolishness drives him to impatience and anger and it is his glory to hone in on an offense in anger. Some translations state it is a man’s discretion or prudence that gives him patience. Such a person is able to understand that which is important to be righteously angry about as opposed to instances that are just part of life and can be worked through with a little bit of biting the tongue.

So how does one gain such wisdom? It is quite simply really. There is only one place from which such wisdom flows and that is God. James 1:5 reminds us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” I know I lack wisdom more often than not in many aspects of life, especially this penchant for being foolish when it comes to anger. The road to a solution to such foolishness is to spend time in prayer and in the word of God. It involves putting on the full armor of God to resist the temptation to be angry and to sin in that angry outburst.

Such outbursts can create rather ugly situations, leaving in their wake hurt feelings, mistrust, and a root of bitterness in the hearts of those to whom the anger was directed. As a husband and a father, it is my responsibility to set the spiritual tone for the family and to be the example of what “be angry and do not sin” looks like in action. This is not easy and Scripture never claims it will be; however, the solution to correcting this error is quite simple – Ask God for help!

In your chats, do not spat but rather operate with wisdom, patience, and understanding. In doing so, you will not only be following the clear commands of God’s word, but you will also begin to become a more wiser husband and father in the process, being able to recognize what is important in life and what simply does not rise to the level of creating emotional chaos in the home about. Quite frankly, a few dirty dishes, laundry, unfinished homework, and some dirt on the floor are never more important than treating your family with love, compassion, and mercy.

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Michael Boling – Calgon Take Me Away?: Scriptures To Help Deal With Stressful Situations

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There are quite frankly some weeks you would rather forget. Often those type of weeks are a result of a rough patch at work, squabbles at home, or any number of other factors. When such difficult times occur, it most always produces that nasty “s” word – Stress. I write this article because I experienced a great deal of stress this past week at work and I admittedly did not deal with that inordinate level of stress in a way I should have.

What happens to most of us when we become stressed? I would submit at a minimum we get snippy and impatient with others and at a maximum we completely fly off the handle in a fit of rage. Neither end of that spectrum demonstrates a godly response to stress. Additionally, there is no amount of Calgon that will magically solve the situation that is causing the stress like some magical elixir of peace. If you do not know what Calgon is then you clearly did not grow up in the 1980s like I did. The video below explains the supposed magic of Calgon:

I am quite sure we would all love to sprinkle a little bath soap into the tub, fill it with hot water so that the stress of life melts away to be experienced no more. Well we can all fantasize as much as we want; however, that particular fantasy is just not going to come to pass this side of heaven.

Does this mean we are doomed to deal with stress and to fly off the handle or to be snippy with those we love for the rest of our lives? While stress will always be a part of daily life due to the sheer demands we all face at work, home, and elsewhere, we can begin to do a much better job of dealing with that stress in a way that brings glory to God and that does not harm our relationships with others. Let’s take a look at what the God’s Word says about dealing with stress.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Seriously? We are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds? Absolutely and for the explicit reason that this testing of our faith produces endurance. This means that stressful events are a good opportunity to strengthen our faith.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:19)

King David certainly experienced a great many stressful events in his life. For instance, King Saul pursued him, desiring to kill him. I would submit that qualifies as being under stress. Anxiety and stress are kinfolk with one often leading to the other. What this verse is telling us is when a multitude of thoughts (i.e. stress) comes out way, the place of solace in those situations is found in the arms of God. He is the one who brings joy to us when stress comes calling.
Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight. (Psalm 119:143)

Here is another beautiful verse from the Psalms again directing us to where peace in the midst of the storm can be found. The Psalmist declares that when distress (i.e. stress) comes upon him, he finds his delight in the commands of God. These commandments are a reference to God’s Word. When we meditate on the Word of God, we will find peace for His Word shines a needed light in the midst of dark and stressful times. When God’s Word permeates us, we are better prepared to deal properly with stress. Instead of yelling, screaming, becoming angry, and the like, we will instead remember the truths found in Scripture, namely as noted earlier that such testing is often an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:2)

I hope you are seeing a pattern developing here. The Psalmist once again notes that our sustainment during times of trouble (i.e. stress) comes from the Lord. When we cast our cares upon Him, He will lift us up and will be the rock we can stand upon. This does not mean we just throw up our hands and not deal properly with the situation at hand as it things will magically disappear. We will always have to deal positively and biblically with difficult situations. We are able to deal with those situations properly when and only when our lives are rooted in God and His Word.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

Now before we go calling our boss Satan hoping God will crush him or her under His feet, let’s remember what this passage is speaking about. We live in a world that has stress because of the weight of sin that bears down upon us. We look forward to a day when sin is no more and all this worry, anxiety, strife, and stress are done away with, a time when the peace of God washes across the universe as Satan and his minions are dealt with for all eternity. Knowing and trusting in this future state helps place our focus in the proper perspective.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

I will end with this verse which about as clearly as can possibly be said lays out what we are to do when anxiety and stress rear their ugly heads. On top of rooting ourselves in the Word of God, we should be a people devoted to prayer, not just in times of stress, but at all times. If you are having a difficult time at work as I was this past week and likely in the foreseeable future, tell God about what you are going through. He knows what is taking place and He longs to hear from you. When you tell God about your difficulties, we are told the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This means that when we are tempted to lash out, stop and pray. When you have that urge to tell your boss or upper management what you truly think about them, stop and pray.

Remember that Calgon will not save you from stress. It may provide a nice warm bathing experience, but only God can help us in the midst of life’s raging storms. So when you are stressed, when you feel like giving up, when you have that urge to scream, curse, and yell at anyone who will listen within a 100 mile radius, stop and meditate on the verses we just read and discussed. We will not always get it right and there will be times when we do not deal properly with stress. However, when we throw ourselves in the arms of the One who loves us, cares for us, and is watching out for us, we will be better equipped to deal with that “s” word.

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John Piper – May Grace and Peace Be Multiplied to You

full_may-grace-and-peace-be-multiplied-to-you The apostle Paul starts all of his letters with the prayer that “grace and peace” will come to the reader. But he never uses a verb. He never says, “Grace and peace be to you,” or, “Grace and peace come to you.” He assumes the verb.

Peter makes it explicit. He begins both his letters, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Paul would be very happy with this verb. It’s what he means when he says thirteen times, “Grace to you and peace.” The verb behind “be multiplied” is used twelve times in the New Testament and always means “increase” — move from lesser to greater.

There are at least seven important implications in these words for our lives.

1. Grace and peace are experienced.

Grace and peace are not only the objective status we enjoy before God. They are also the experiential enjoyment of that status. It is gloriously true that God made an objective peace between him and us by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:14–15). And he did it by a historical act of divine grace that was firm and unchangeable (Ephesians 2:8).

But Peter says that grace and peace are “multiplied” to us. They are not static. They are not only a status. Peter is offering to us, and praying for us, that we experience an increase of grace and peace.

He does not mean that God is variable, as if he were a gracious God some days and not others. Nor does he mean that the objective status of peace between us and God comes and goes. If we stand in the unshakeable grace of God (Romans 5:2), and if we are reconciled to God in unchangeable peace (Romans 5:1), then what is multiplied to us is an increased and deepened experience of grace and peace. This reality is not simply status. It is the overflow of status in serenity, strength, and sweetness.

2. Grace and peace vary in measure in our lives.

That is what the word “multiply” means. “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” May there be an increase of grace and peace in your experience. Grace and peace are not static. They go up and down in our lives.

Hour by hour, and day by day, our enjoyment of grace and peace changes. It ebbs and flows. One moment we are carried by a wave of grace into a harbor of peace. An hour later, after a painful phone call, we are storm-tossed out of sight of land again. That is reality. We need to own it and seek continually to receive the gift of these words: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” New measures for new moments.

3. There is always more grace and peace to be enjoyed.

Paul and Peter never assume your present experience of grace and peace cannot or should not be increased. They assume the opposite. They do not say, or imply, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you, unless you have all there is to have.” You never have all there is to have. That’s why this prayer is at the beginning of every letter. You always need more grace, more peace.

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Michael Boling – Peace in the Middle of the Storm

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Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)

It is quite evident we live in a chaotic world with the crises du jour taking top billing on the local and world news reports. Be it the latest terror threat, weather event, financial crisis, or the latest governmental or court decision in support of ungodliness, peace seems to be always out of reach.

Thus, it can be very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of chaos that is all around us each and every day. There is the appeal of wanting to throw up our hands in despair when it seems evil continues to rule the day. Often we say we trust God is in control, but if we were honest there is probably at times a bit of unrest, angst, anxiety, and worry that resides in the back of our minds. When that happens, the temptation can be to waver in our faith and to not stand strong on the foundation of God’s Word against the rising tide of wickedness.

When these times of indecision and wavering come and trust me they will, passages such as Psalm 119:165 is something we should return to time and again. Those who love God’s Word (His commands) will have great peace and nothing will make them stumble. Why is that? Why is loving God’s Word noted as a source of peace and a place of stability?

We can find the answer to those questions by looking elsewhere in Scripture. For instance, Isaiah 26:3 declares “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” A steadfast mind is one that is focused on God, the things of God, and His Word. Isaiah 48:18 notes “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” This verse speaks of the reality that if we pay attention to God’s commands, peace will flow like a river in our lives.

Jesus reminds us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” What did Jesus leave with us? He left us the Holy Spirit who is writing God’s Word on our hearts, that foundation of truth upon which we can rest during the storms of life. The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” The Holy Spirit operating in our lives does not make us timid in the face of wickedness. Conversely, when we don the full armor of God, we are able through the power of the Holy Spirit to do battle against the forces of darkness.

I will end this post with the Aaronic blessing and a favorite song of mine as reminders to look unto God from whence comes our help. He is our rock and salvation. Whom shall we fear in times of trouble? The answer is we should not fear because we are committed to obeying God’s Word and resting in the peace that passes all understanding.

‘Y’varekh’kha Adonai v’yishmerekha.
[May Adonai bless you and keep you.]
Ya’er Adonai panav eleikha vichunekka.
[May Adonai make his face shine on you and show you his favor.]
Yissa Adonai panav eleikha v’yasem l’kha shalom.
[May Adonai lift up his face toward you and give you peace.]’

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Ray Ortlund – Going Soft Against Wrath

A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

What is the wise response to an angry person who says something cruel, false or demanding? Proverbs 15:1 helps us in those awkward moments at home, at work, in our churches.

The key is “a soft answer.”

So, you’re standing there, stunned by those words that have just exploded in your face. In that instant of decision, as your mind is forming a response, “a soft answer” is the category you need. What is that?

Maybe, for Sure

The word “soft” means tender, delicate, gentle, even weak. We don’t like being weak, especially when we find ourselves in the crosshairs of anger. We would rather justify ourselves. It is hard to be wronged. It is doubly hard to be wronged and not fight back but respond softly.

Of course, if the angry person is a heretic, bent on wrecking your church, he or she must be confronted strongly. But if that person is not a danger but only immature, then a tender, delicate, soft, weak answer might help that person see things in a new way. Maybe not. Maybe nothing will help. When God himself answered Jonah’s anger softly, Jonah wasn’t satisfied (Jonah 4:1–11). But with the wisdom of Proverbs 15:1, the tension in the air might not escalate. The awkward moment might even be turned into something positive.

But dishing out anger in response to anger will surely go badly. Here is what we can always expect: “. . .a harsh word stirs up [more] anger.” A harsh – literally, “painful” – response can include words with sharp edges, a tone of sarcasm, implied threats of retaliation. There are many ways for the encounter to escalate quickly.

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