Friday, May 25, 2012

Pressure cookers and pea soup

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger.” James 1:19 ERV

"Cloudy, rainy days are perfect for soup." Grandma gathered the ingredients for her prize-winning pea soup recipe. She decided to use her new pressure cooker that night to help the soup cook faster. She smiled to herself. "Oh yes, the family will eat well tonight!"

She checked the rubber sealing ring on the cooker before tightening the lid, then turned up the heat to build up pressure and tenderize the hard, dry peas. Then she left the kitchen to finish some mending.

Within a few minutes, she heard a loud crash in the kitchen. What a mess! The pressure cooker popped its top and pea soup dotted the walls, ceiling and floor. Right away, she knew what happened. Something blocked the steam vent, causing pressure to build up inside the pot with no escape.

Well, supper was a little late that day as Grandma cleaned up the mess and started again, this time using a regular soup pot. We might not have noticed, except that Grandma kept looking at the green polka dots on the ceiling and her new pressure cooker now resided in the attic.

Likewise, when we fail to vent our anger properly, it causes pressure to build up inside us. We may eventually blow up, spewing anger over everyone around us. Or, the pressure will build up to an unhealthy level, causing physical or emotional internal damage.

Today's verse offers sage advice on anger management.

Listen first - this gives you a little space/time to diffuse the emotions of your anger

- Listen to your emotional response to the anger. What triggered your anger? Is it in proportion to the offending event, person or problem or is it magnified out of proportion from past events that weren't dealt with properly?
- Listen to what the other person has to say. We may have made untrue assumptions about something they said or did that caused anger to build up.

Speak second - Take time to choose your words carefully if/when a response is needed

- Speak the truth in love
- Speak in "I" terms about how you feel and not "you" terms which can ignite further anger, hurt or retaliation in others.
- Talk about the problem with a counsellor or pastor first to gain an outside perspective if you are having difficulty.

Keep control of your anger - don't let it control you.

- channel it into a healthy activity
- use it as a healthy motivator - for example, an emotionally wounded person becoming a helper for other victims
- practice forgiveness. It doesn't let the offending person off the hook for their actions - but it does relieve you of the need for getting even.

Lord help me to properly vent my anger so that I don't hurt myself or those around me. Amen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God is...

It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6MSG
"How do you convince an atheist that Jesus exists?" Two teens in my Sunday youth Bible class recently asked this question because they had a family friend who refused to believe there was a God.

Their question led to a discussion of the ways we know Christ is real:
  • Personal experience - I know Christ exists because I had a real, up-close and personal experience with Him when I was a child, following an abusive experience.I knew Him as a big brother while growing up and I've known Him as a Father since I became an adult. I can't imagine living without Christ in my life because of all the times I 've sensed, known, felt His love and presence with me.
  • The experiences of others - When I hear the testimonies of others, my faith is strengthened. In some cases, their stories help me to know I'm not alone - not the only one wh has ever felt a certain way. Other times, I am awed by the things God has done for them.There are simply to many valid experiences by others to say that God isn't real.
  • Nature- the development of a baby in the womb and feeling it move for the first time. The Grand Canyon, The intricacies of a snowflake and the fact that there are no two alike. All I have to do is look around and I can see Him everywhere.
  • Miracles - How a person with cancer becomes cancer-free and the doctors can't explain it. How a migratory bird finds its way thousands of miles to a seasonal nesting area for the first time, even though it's never been there. How situations line up just right for the perfect outcome, even though it looked impossible in the beginning. Even "coincidences" or God's little miracles incognito are evidences of his reality around us. I've seen too many "God-incidences" not to believe.
  • Because the Bible says it's true.The Bible is a life-changing book. When a person sets out to disprove God by discrediting the Bible and ends up believing instead - wow! Now that's a powerful testimony of the truth of God's word and his existence.
While they cannot change their friend's mind, they can pray for him and live their lives so that he will see the reality of Christ in them - then trust God to do the rest.

Lord, help us to live every day so others will see your reality in us and believe! Amen.