Are you ready for bed?

Couple sitting up in bed, both looking away   Original Filename: couple.jpg

“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” –Ephesians 4:26b

Great line of scripture. I wonder: What if the whole world did this?  We could all be mad at each other during the day, hurling rocks and insults and such, but as soon as the sun sets…we’re cool as cucumbers.

The human race would have somehow learned to let go of their anger each night, and instead, we’d all gather in the streets, reconciling with our enemies, dancing in the joy of release.

I wonder–come morning, would we pick up where we let off?  Hurtful remarks over Raisin Bran? Nations at war with nations?  Facebook posts pointing fingers every which way?  Can you say, “Outrage du jour?”

Or would a night of peace change our minds?  Would conflict seem less palatable in the light of the day?  Once you have seen your adversary in the gentle moonlight, would it be harder to hate them under sunny skies?

Maybe anger would just fizzle away.  We’d learn we just didn’t need it.  We wouldn’t need the road rage, the jealous fits, the political diatribes.  We might need to hold on to a little righteous anger, just for those times when gross injustice warrants it. But even the anger we might tend to direct at ourselves would lose its power.

Now, I’m sure there would be quite a lot of resistance if I were to suggest that anger can be eliminated from the human makeup.  These emotions come from the more primitive parts of our brains, and they’re hard wired into us.  We will likely have to face anger again and again. However, it really is possible for us to reduce the grip anger has on us.

Prayer.  Meditation.  A good therapist.  A long walk.  Medication, even.  These are just a few things humans do that reduces anger.  Want more examples?  Journaling.  Breathing. Creativity.  Forgiveness.  Listening.  Sharing.  Serving.  A long, hot shower (my personal favorite), and yes, counting to 10.

The anger some folks carry is a very heavy weight.  Maybe not something you can fully “deal with” between brushing your teeth and putting your slippers on. But as you get ready for bed tonight, remember that God offers a plethora of ways to help at least lighten your load of anger.  Try some of them.

And if your new bedtime ritual works, and the peace of Christ comes upon you, you may even feel the urge to run out into the street, to celebrate.

God willing,

the rest of us will be there too.

Have a great week,

Mitch

its-bedtime-logo

 

 

 

So, are you a Hulk?

So, are you a HULK?

“Mr. Mcgee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” – David Banner AKA The Incredible Hulk

And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’  – Jonah 4:4

I knew a guy, back in the day.

He was a nice enough guy, popular for a 4th grader, good looking, well behaved. We were almost friends.

But when we would play football on the playground, he became a different person. He would begin to scream in rage.  He would stand up tall and flex his muscles, seeming to double in size. Veins would throb in his head. His shirt would rip at the seams. He would tackle unsuspecting opponents with a vicious satisfaction. You could see the adrenaline transforming him into a monster.

After every game it would take him a good fifteen minutes to calm down and return to his mild-mannered self. It got to the point where the other guys didn’t want to play with him anymore.

I talked to him about it once. I said, “you get so angry when you’re playing games. It’s like you’re out of control”.

He nodded reluctantly. “I know. I think there’s something wrong with me.”

No, he didn’t turn green, but in just about every other measurable way, he was our playground’s Incredible Hulk.

I know, I know, the Incredible Hulk is a superhero. A good guy. But not for this devotion. See, there are lots of Hulks out there, and more often than not, Hulks Smash through life in an unhealthy way.

Do you know any Hulks? Contrary to what comic books and TV has taught us, Hulks come in all shapes and sizes (and colors). The one thing all Hulks have in common is that, no matter how they appear on the outside, there’s a ticking time-bomb of anger inside, just waiting to go off.

You may have one at your office. You may have one in your family. You may be married to one.

You may be one, yourself.

Anger is one of the hardest emotions for us to control. I liken it to rocket fuel. Powerful, explosive, dangerous when it’s unfocused. While it is possible to channel your anger into something productive, there are millions of people in our society who never learned how to do that.

 

A surprising example from the Bible is the prophet Jonah. God sent him to Nineveh on a mission of mercy, but Jonah exploded back in a barely concealed rage. He was angry at the people of this foreign city, whom he believed should be destroyed. He was angry at God, whom he believed was being too easy on these people.

If Jonah had his way, he would have turned into the Jolly Green Giant and stomped the city to the ground. His uncontrolled anger kept him from listening to reason, and listening to God.

Some of you know all too well the danger that comes from living in close proximity to a Hulk. Some days may be good days, and other days may be nightmares. Domestic violence, dating violence, and bullying are all examples of out-of-control Hulk behavior. If you feel trapped in a situation involving a Hulk, please know that God wants more than that for you  (and them). Make sure you are safe, and talk to a pastor or a counselor.

Others of us come across Hulks in traffic, in lines at the DMV, and quite often at the ball game (especially if there’s beer involved). My advice? Walk away. Hulks tend to deflate if there’s no one around to get their blood pumping.

And if YOU are the Hulk, ready to explode with rage, even when you do your best to avoid it, know this: There is nothing about your great anger that makes you incredible. In reality, it’s a detriment to the grace-filled life God has called you to live.

It’s probably time to get some help,

And a new shirt.

Have a Banner Week,

Mitch

 

 

previously posted in 2011

That $%#^@ from Aurora.

I started to look up his name.

I’ve already heard it or read it a hundred times, but I wanted to make sure I was going to spell it correctly.

And then I stopped.

This guy gunned down a theater of people.

Do I really want to point out his name?

Truthfully, I have enough on my mind. It’s been a busy week. I have matters to attend to at work and at home.

Now, thanks to this inhuman act, my thoughts and prayers have been on people I’ve never met, who share with me the love of movies, and who never saw this coming.

Maybe my brain is just too full to remember your name, buddy.

I’ll think of you as $%#^@.

Or Monster.

Or maybe I won’t think of you at all.

Maybe you’re sick. Maybe insane. Maybe you need help.

Surely, you need help.

But I don’t want you to be famous for what you’ve done.

I want to say a name, but it isn’t yours.

I want to call out to the One, Jesus,  who can provide Peace to this violent world.

I want to hug my wife Jan and my dog Charlie, and remember to cherish the lives of those I hold dear, and never take them for granted.

These are the names I lift up.

And I pray for the families of Jon Blunk, Alex Teves, Matt McQuinn, John Larimer, Jesse Childress, Rebecca Ann Wingo, Alex Matthew Sullivan, A.J. Boik, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, Jessica Ghawi,  Gordon Cowden, Micayla Medek,

And yes,

I will pray for you, too, $%#^@.

Angrily, perhaps…

but I’ll pray.

Peace,

Mitch