My Christmas Message - ANGER

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Several of the folks delivering the “news” on cable networks come across as not only loud and contentious, but also angry. I don’t think I like angry people. I like relaxed people.

My problem with some angry people is that they are getting angry at the wrong things, in my opinion. What’s a good guideline for what to get angry about and what to be relaxed about ? How about thinking through what God gets angry about and what God tells us to relax about ?

Regarding what to relax about, He tells us not to worry about just about everything. He will provide for us, as He does the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Be relaxed about possessions – “for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” Be relaxed about rank or position. He turns this upside down…. “The first shall be last and the last first”. “Whoever would be first among you must be a servant”. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

Then what should we get angry about ? The things that anger God – poverty, injustice, ignoring orphans and widows in their distress. We know all will be made right in eternity (Psalm 73). But during our time on earth, I think He would like to see us get worked up that there are 143,000,000 orphans around the world, there are 500,000 kids in foster care in the US, and 20% of the world lives on a dollar a day or less. My belief is that He wants to see this anger channeled into action. He wants us to “be doers of the Word and not hearers only”.

So, Merry Christmas and have a relaxing holiday. Then I would encourage all of us to come back good and angry at the start of the new year, and follow through on our anger.

Attitudes and a Special Couple

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On my third day at Gladney in September 2007, I gave a short intro talk and distributed a hand-out. The hand-out was Chuck Swindoll’s comments about Attitude. I’ve been very encouraged to see that it is tacked up somewhere on almost everyone’s workspace, including mine ! It reads as follows:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company….a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past….we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude….I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you….we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

I was privileged to attend an event last week where I witnessed a vivid example of the realization that a godly attitude can trump any circumstance. Zeb and Allison Pent are a young couple in Ft Worth who learned earlier this year that they were pregnant. Just prior to hearing this good news, Zeb had an opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and see first-hand the orphanages and the massive challenges faced by the children who live there and the caregivers who struggle valiantly to meet their needs. After his return home, friends of Zeb and Allison wanted to share in their joy and throw them a traditional baby shower. But having been moved by what he saw in Ethiopia, Zeb with Allison’s wholehearted agreement, decided to turn the focus away from themselves and instead use their happy occasion to raise money for orphan care in Ethiopia (supporting the Gladney Center’s efforts there). Further into their pregnancy, they learned that their little girl would be born with major complications and would not survive. This news is among the most heart-wrenching a couple can hear. I know, because my wife and I heard it 17 years ago. Zeb and Allison named their daughter Glory and in spite of their heartbreak they decided to move forward with their plans for a baby shower to benefit the orphans of Ethiopia, which was the event I attended last Wednesday night. It was an emotional night and one that will have lasting benefit in a far-off country in ways we’ll never completely know.

I’ve never met Chuck Swindoll, but I bet he would agree with me that this is an amazing example of two people who certainly grieved, but who were able to rise above their difficult circumstances because of their attitudes. To be clear and to be true to the message of the evening, their attitudes were and are grounded in their Christian faith.