Why Bite Your Tongue?

Ever find yourself sequestered in your home, stuffing gingersnaps in your mouth, to prevent a bunch of words from coming out?

Like say for instance, half a story is being told in your community with such regularity that its general “truthiness” has cemented into fact. But you know the other half, and the only thing holding it back is a thin layer of gingersnaps.

What do you do?

Caramel Gingersnap Sandwiches

(Photo credit: jensteele)

Well, if you’re me, you walk around mad about it for 90 minutes or so, seething at the injustice, imagining how your withering rebuke will wipe the smug off a few faces. Believe me, if there were an Olympic event for the withering rebuke, I’d be the Michael Phelps of it.

But here’s the problem, I really want to act like Jesus and Jesus didn’t act like that.

In fact, he taught that God is our vindicator, not us. At the mother of all bogus death penalty trials, one prompted by religious and political fear mongering, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the chance to respond, and he didn’t. He remained silent. When Jesus was being tortured to death, he finally opened his mouth to say, “Father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing.”

See, my natural response to personal injustice oozes self-righteousness and sanctimony, and who doesn’t love that in a Christian? Or if I choose not to tell someone off, I’ll tell five random people about it instead, so we can all be annoyed together. Mean, gossiping Christians – another thing people love.

As it turns out, my “natural response” is the problem, it’s what Jesus came to correct. He showed us how live here, and then died for our inability to do it. Or to put it another way:

Without Jesus, I’d be on the horn right now, spreading malice, division, strife and slander, all in the name of justice. Hmm.

But with Jesus, I’m just eating gingersnaps and talking to you. Maybe he’s even raising an eyebrow at that.

Love Dinner Thank God Love Dinner #3 is Saturday night because I need practice.

Without it, my cranky, unregenerate self shoves her way to the front, spits out the gingersnaps and lets somebody have it. Because I don’t want that, I’ve decided we’re going to spend LD3 and the month of December practicing one of the hard ones in Ephesians.

You ready?

Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32 AMP

To join our online community of “bible doers” working out Ephesians 4:29-32 in your own world, just do it and tell us what happens. Post in the comment section or via the contact page. We’ll run the best stories, with a link to your blog here.

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Is Your Mind a Mess in the Morning?

Ever find yourself launching a mental argument with your boss/customer/spouse/kid two minutes after crawling out of bed? There you are sleepy-eyed, brushing your teeth, practicing how you’re going to set them straight. Adrenaline slips through your veins and you walk out of the bathroom angry, bitter and depressed, cobbling together a defense against grievances real and imagined.

Or is it just me?

In cattle this is called “being on the muscle,” and frankly I don’t want to act like some pissed off cow 16 hours a day. But for a long time I thought I had no choice – I didn’t know I could control my mind.

 Villefranche

My teacher says our minds are the battlefield and whoever wins control of that ground, commands the whole person and ultimately the whole life. That’s why, she says, satan works hard to crank us up first thing in the morning, before we’re even really conscious. If I am mad before I leave the bathroom I spread strife and bitterness like a champ.

Ever considered that?

Nice Lights

Where does your morning depression come from? Were you depressed when you went to bed? What are you so mad about? Are you dreading something? Dread is a relative of fear, you know, so what are you afraid of?

Maybe, just maybe, someone is planting your garden for you.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12

But why are spiritual forces interested in keeping me bitter and depressed? Well, look around at all the “angry Christians” – an oxymoron if there ever was one –  do you want what they have? Depression, anger and fear hinder the love of God and remember, this is war.

So here’s what to do about it:

1. Notice it. Stop bushing your teeth and watch the angry nonsense. WTF is a rational response.

2. Stop it and replace it with something else – a mantra.

Nice Sea

I use this little book all the time to help me. It lists hundreds of scriptures by topic – anger, depression, fear, worry, money, rejection, patience etc. Each scripture is reworked into the first person and meant to be spoken aloud. The Bible says words are containers for power, so why not fill our space with the word of God rather than the black smoke of our bitter fulminations?

So, try it and tell me what happens. And in case you’re short on time, I’ve pasted a few on my pix of the French Riviera, tailor-made for your bathroom mirror. Feel free to print em up.

What are some of your favorites?

Are You Mad at God?

One of my favorite passages in The Bible comes from of the book of Job. I love it because it is a poetic and beautiful rejoinder to a man complaining to God.

Job had reason to complain. He was an uber-wealthy guy who served God well. For reasons he didn’t know, he lost everything: His family, his home, his vast wealth and was left sifting through the ashes of his life, his body covered in weeping sores. His friends came over and tried to help, probing the scriptures, trying to sort out what Job had done wrong.

Job never cursed God, but for 36 chapters, he and his friends speculated.

Finally, out of a whirlwind, God spoke to Job.

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

Pleiades (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man and I will demand of you, and you declare to Me. 

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? …Have you entered the treasuries of the snow, or have you seen the treasuries of the hail…Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the signs of the zodiac in their season? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule upon the earth? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds so that an abundance of waters may cover you? Can you send lightnings, that they may go and say to you, Here we are? (excerpted from Job 38)

Then Job replied to the Lord: Behold I am of small account and vile! What shall I answer You? I lay my hand upon my mouth. Job 40:3-4

Whoa!

IMG_0018Ummmm frankly, I expect a little more coddling than that when I have a problem. But why should I? We’re talking about the creator of hoar frost, the aurora borealis and lightning. I hurled insult at Him all the years I refused to serve Him, taking credit for the success in my life, and blaming Him for the suffering.

Either God is sovereign over all of it or he isn’t. Gird up your loins little girl, and choose!

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs 9:10 says and that’s the message I get from Job. If we plan to cultivate a life of faith that radiates love, kindness, courage, justice, peace and confidence, we must get comfortable with the mystery and respect it, accepting joy and suffering as parts of the human equation. Clinging to God through both is the key.

Happily, the Bible is littered with promises to encourage us.

  • For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
  • Come to me all you who are heavy laden and weary and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
  • But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Job did that and his story ends like this:

And the Lord turned the captivity of Job and restored his fortunes, when he prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10