Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Do the Next Thing

I often poke fun at a few pat answers I've picked up over my life when dealing with life's difficulties:
  • "It is what it is"
  • "Could be worse"
  • "Just keep plugging away"
Each one has a story behind how it made a way into my thinking. I laugh at them and still I see some truth in each. More or less, I use them loosely and don't give much thought to how deeply planted they have become in my life - when I do stop to think though, I have a tendency to apply these sayings in my life when I am perseverating in cynicism, anger, self-pity, and depression. I speak these words when life is particularly hard and yet I must go on and "keep plugging away."

I had forgotten about another phrase I used to say: "Just Do the Next Thing" In a sense this phrase is similar to "just keep plugging away" but I've always thought "doing the next thing" to be more helpful. I wonder why I stopped speaking this to myself?

Thankfully though I read this post first thing this morning. Then I found this poem:
Doe the Nexte Thynge
(author unknown)

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.
When the darkness does not lift, do the next thing.

BTW, be sure to read this fantastic review of Piper's When the Darkness Will Not Lift.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Official Start of Inline Racing Training Season

Earlier this week when it was perfectly clear, bright and sunny, and 50 degrees outside, I was going to make a bold move and declare the official start to my inline marathon training season. With the winter we haven't had here in northern Wisconsin this year, I figured I'd be skating in 3-4 weeks. I have big plans this year - 2 (perhaps 3) marathons. I am also shooting for 1:30 in the St. Paul marathon. Big plans and lots of training to do. I simply can't wait!!!

Looks like I will have to wait to put on my skates though. It is 9:14 am here in Wisconsin, approximately 9 hours from the start of our first major winter storm of the season - 18 inches of snow expected by Sunday.

But still, its official...the 2007 Inline Racing Training Season has begun. I have much "dryland" work to do like strengthening my core muscles, shedding some fat tissue, and renewing good eating habits.

I have intense leg and cardio sessions planned for this weekend...pulling my kids around in circles in the red sled.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Messy Relationships, Anger, and the Bigger Picture

I've mentioned before the importance of keeping all things in context of a larger story. Paul Tripp tells a story of a messy relationship here and it happens to be about anger:

"the story points out is that in the messiness of our relationships, there's always something bigger going on. Our relationships are never just about us. They're never just about our plans, our purposes, and our happiness. They're never just about who we want to be around and what we'd like to offer or receive from those relationships. No, there's always something bigger going on because there's a God who is sovereign. He puts us right where he wants us and he never gets a wrong address! In our relationships he takes us where we don't want to go in order to produce in us and others what we couldn't achieve on our own."
I really like this guy! His wisdom is incredibly helpful to me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

America's Anger Expert

Found this gem of a resource yesterday: America's Anger Expert (Dr. Les Carter)

I like the website because it is practical in helping process through the spectrum of thoughts and feelings that appear with out of control anger. But most of the material falls short of the heart of the matter, literally. Anger is ultimately about God. My worst relationship where anger is present reveals my heart before God. Resources like America's Anger Expert are good for examining how anger manifests itself in specific attitudes and behaviors. These attitudes and behaviors should point out idolatry and sin. When my heart is sliced and layed open by anger exposing death and destruction, what hope is there? Jesus!

Finding Anger

The following questions, from Dr. Carter's website, are useful in pointing out the idolatry that is at the heart of anger:

"Think carefully what your anger is wishing to convey. Your anger is connected to your sense of self-preservation. Specifically you are wishing to preserve one of three things:

  • Your worth as a human. ("Would you please show me some respect?")

  • Your legitimate needs. ("Would you recognize that I have needs that should be tended to"?)

  • Your deepest convictions. ("I have certain beliefs I will not back down from.")

  • Think about the legitimacy of this self-preservation. Can you recognize that anger can have a valid function?"

Monday, February 19, 2007

Anger Quotes

Depression and Anger
"The most concise definition I know is this: "Depression is frozen rage." If you have a consistently serious problem with depression, you have not resolved some area of anger in your life. As surely as the night follows day, depression follows unresolved, repressed, or improperly expressed anger. Healing for Damaged Emotions, David A. Seamands, 1991, page 125
Anger is imitation
"Anger is always a form of imitation. Either we are imitating the way mercy trumps anger in the character of Jesus, or we are mimicking the destructive anger of Satan (John 8:44) There are no choices." Depression A Stubborn Darkness Light for the Path, Edward T. Welch, 2004, page 160
Injustice, Unbalanced Anger, and Depression
"Perfectionists have a very deep disproportionate sense of justice and injustices. They feel a deep need to right the wrongs of the world, to correct things, to pull up the weeds that are growing with the wheat. Now, that feeling is valuable; it exists in every reformer, in every preacher and missionary; and to some degree it should in every Christian. That sense of injustice surrendered, cleansed, and controlled by the Holy Spirit can be a useful instrument in the hands of God 'for spreading scriptural holiness and reforming the nation," as John Wesley said. But out of hand, out of balance, with the anger problem behind it unresolved, the sense of injustice is very destructive, producing depression and disrupting good personal relationships." Healing for Damaged Emotions, David A. Seamands, 1991, page 125

Friday, February 16, 2007

Anger in the image of God

All of life needs to be considered from the top down. I am learning the more I live the more nothing makes sense unless it is considered starting first with the big picture, grand story of God and His Kingdom. What I mean is life's most annoying problems can be dealt with better in light of God's unfolding drama. The story seems to infuse meaning into all of life's struggles. Is it weird to thank God for my struggles because without them I would not know Christ?

Paul Tripp does a fantastic job in this lecture: "Anger is one of God's most beautiful charactaristics" (The link actually takes you to Tripp's ministry home page. The video is on the home page.)

The big take-away for me: two angers are at war with each other - Man's vs. God's, yet man imitates God when acting in the image of His anger. Most people speak of God's love. But does God's love mean anything without God's anger? You'll have to watch the video to know why I am questioning. Interesting.

(PS - Another, more personal, look at God's anger here: Sinners in The Hands of an Angry God. Believe, it is much more personal...hopefully it least it better be.)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

That Your Glory Be Known

Shawn McDonald is one of my favorite musical artists. The acoustic folk sound easily stirs my heart (live is even better.) The video below is of Shawn's "All I Need" off his Live in Seattle album. Watch and listen how the intensity of the song shifts and increases at the lyrics "that your glory be know, that your glory be shown." (approx half way...and try not to get distracted by the guy raising his two tone hand/arm...what's the deal there?) The shift is subtle and you need to watch the whole video to understand what I mean:

Here is another video. The song is "Home" off the same Seattle album.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Heart of Anger

For me to work on a change in my life I need to see the primary motivational link to becoming more like Jesus. To see the end in mind. I need to feel confident that the change I am embarking on will in the end glorify God. When it comes to changing personal behaviors I have learned to look (first) at the relationship between what goes on in my heart compared to God's Sovereignty and perfect Holiness. I always find a fight between my will and God's perfect will. I want Holiness and Christ likeness in my life. I want it! But I see a battle between who gets to orchestrate my growth in Christ. Does God have total control or do I believe I can add to what God has planned? The battle imitates the original rebellion in the garden. What it comes down to it, what rages on is a heart struggle to be god myself. So I take this understanding and apply it to my growing understanding of the anger in my heart.

Anger can be found I believe by asking a simple question: "What are my personal needs and where have they been unmet". Why this question? Because the answer will give a glimpse into the heart by calling for a judgment response. This simple question seems to call for a judgment about right and wrong. Here is where anger begins in the heart I believe. Anger may come about because of a legitimate wrong done to me or someone else. In this sense anger seems to imitate God by making judgments about right and wrong. This is where I really need to be an expert of my own heart because anger can quickly turn into anger against God. In other words, anger over God's glory being violated can easily turn into anger over my own rights (and glory) being violated.

When anger becomes an issue of my own needs not being met then anger reveals more about my own heart than about another person or circumstance. Anger becomes an issue between me and God.

In the end, anger is about spiritual allegiances. Who will I trust? An effective case study of this truth can be found in the story of Israel's journey in the desert (Exodus 16-17). The truth is best summarized by Exodus 18:8, "You are not grumbling against us,' Moses replied, 'but against the Lord'"

Monday, February 05, 2007

Series on Anger

"Fear is the most obvious co-conspirator with depression; anger is the most common. The formula is a simple one: Sadness + Anger = Depression" Depression A Stubborn Darkness, Edward T. Welch, page 153

"Anger will not always be the cause of your depression, although some researchers want to tell you that it is a likely cause. But anger is frequently revealed by depression. The wisest way to approach this subject is to assume you are angry." Welch, page 154

If I blog much at all in the next few months the topic will be on Anger.