Friday, May 25, 2012


Benjamin Franklin said, “Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” Let’s face it, we sometimes get angry. When you do, how does it cause you to react? Do you hold it in until you burst? Do you instantly blow up? Or do you control the anger? God desires you to react correctly in situations that stir up anger. James 1:20 says, “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

So what causes anger? James 4:1, 2 tells us the root, he asks, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something and don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Sound familiar? Here’s the point: Anger is not their fault – it is yours. We must realize that things don’t always go our way. We also can’t control the actions of others. But we can and should control ourselves. How we react is a reflection of our heart.

Psalm 139:23-24 gives great advice when it comes to anger. The psalmist says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”. We must let God search our hearts daily. Anger is really an overflow of the heart. If you fix the heart you will fix the anger.

Well you might say, “My outburst of anger isn’t that bad. At least I’ve never killed anyone.” Oh really? Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22 that anger in our hearts is just as bad as murder. 1 John 3:15 also says, “Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them." Now everyone loses their temper occasionally but these verses are talking about habitually despising someone. It is a deep-rooted bitterness. You know, when you can’t stand to even hear their name because just the thought of it makes your blood boil.

Unsettled resentment, bitterness, and anger can lead to “the way of Cain” if we are not careful (Jude 1:11). Cain’s murder of his brother Abel started in his heart. There is a destructive pattern when we refuse to nip sin in the bud. We have to learn to let go of grudges and cling to forgiveness. Isn’t it time to trade anger for forgiveness, bitterness for compassion, and resentment for love?

I guarantee you will get angry in life. But how you respond when anger arises is key to being like Christ and having righteous fruit like joy and peace. I’ve read the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5 and righteous indignation is not one of them. Paul tells us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice (Ephesians 4:31-32). We must be compassionate and forgiving instead. So when the pressure mounts or someone gets under your skin, don’t let anger win. Try being still instead of losing control and resorting to anger and wrath. This will allow God to move (Psalm 37:7-8).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Defeating Depression

Statistics show that over 50% of people have dealt or are dealing with depression. How do you overcome? How do you escape, as Charles Spurgeon said, “dungeons beneath the castle of despair”? Let me give you a solution and perspective that will help. The Psalmist said, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (42:3-5). We have to remember that our attitude affects our actions. We change our attitude by overwhelming it with truth instead of lies.

Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Whenever depression tries to creep in you must remember God is for you not against you (Romans 8:31). I constantly tell myself this phrase: “I will never change my life until I change the way I think.” We must get rid of the stinking thinking that brings us down. Remember, the devil is a liar. John 8:44 says, “When he (the devil) lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Ask yourself these questions: “Who are you listening to? God or the devil? Truth or lies?” Listen, the devil will lie to you and the world will try to pollute you. We must no longer live in the futility of our thinking with darkened understanding and separation from the life of God (Ephesians 4:17-18) but take every thought captive and make it obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Sometimes our problems confuse us. We think God is far away and oblivious to the struggles going on in our lives. Remember this: Psalm 10:1 and 17 say, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? …You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.” This is GREAT NEWS!

When we are depressed we need to remember a few things. First, God’s compassion and mercy never fail and are new every morning (Lamentation 19-23). Great is His faithfulness to us! Secondly, we will never change the way we think until we renew our minds. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We must think like Jesus and think about ourselves just like Jesus thinks about us. Romans also tells us that those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace (8:5-6).

Do you want peace and true life free from depression? Then you must devour God’s word instead of letting the words of the devil and the world devour you. His Word is living and active and can divide not only soul and spirit but can judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Are your thoughts and attitudes depressing and hopeless? You must read God’s Word daily to gain a new perspective on your life. It is time to suppress the depression that oppresses by allowing God to impress upon you His true expression of abundant life.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Although she owned a string of hotels, the Empire State Building, and was a billionaire, Leona Mindy Rosenthal Helmsley was convicted of 33 counts of tax evasion in 1989. According to Time magazine, she emerged as a penny-pinching tyrant who tried to stiff just about everybody. No amount of money was too small to fight over. In 1982, after the sudden death of her only son, she sued and won most of his estate of $149,000. She left his four children with $432 each and his widow with $2,171. What a picture of greed.

“Glad I’m not like that. Glad I’m not greedy” some might remark after reading this. But greed is not merely craving more. Greed is more about not losing or sharing what one already has. Have you ever seen a kid with a toy that they wanted no one else to play with? That kid could care less, they have tons of other toys. They don’t even want more toys. They just don’t want to share that one on which they have a death-grip. Why is it we withhold from others the very things that will someday become someone else’s when we die?

Jesus explained greed in Luke 12. A rich man was doing all he could to become richer. His land was very fruitful and his barns were overflowing. Instead of giving God credit for his abundance and sharing with others, he just built bigger barns to stockpile what he could never possibly use on his own in several lifetimes. Generosity and sharing are what the Lord requires of our lives. Some would call this the redistribution of wealth, giving from those who work hard to those who hardly want to work. That’s a far cry from scripture that tells us if a man will not work he will not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We should give to those in true need – the poor, widow, and the orphan. Jesus said this guy was rich in material possessions but lacked a rich relationship with God (Luke 12:21

The man from Luke 12 was a fool. In this Earthly life, he invested for retirement (maybe 10-20 years) but was totally unprepared for eternity. While generosity, giving, and sharing do not earn a place for anyone in heaven (as we are not saved by good works), those who are saved should do good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). That rich fool died that same day and left all his hoarded possessions behind, probably for others to squabble over. What a terrible final decision in life. Everyone will die one day, stand before God, and give an account for their lives. What is more important? A rich relationship with the Lord or earthly riches apart from the Lord’s blessing? Jesus reminded us to, “Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no holes in them. Your treasure will be safe---no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be" (Luke 12:33-34).

Where is your heart? Greed is not merely withholding abundance but withholding what we already possess and should be using for the Lord. Remember the greedy little kid and his toy? When we lay claim on all the stuff around us and selfishly hoard it for our own pleasure, we stiff-arm the truly needy, and we become that greedy little kid.