I Only Have Eyes For You

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, 
let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. 
Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,  
keeping our eyes on Jesus
the source and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame 
and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, 
so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart.
-Hebrews 12:1-3 

I heard the song, "I Only Have Eyes For You", by The Flamingos (1959); which was actually the most successful cover of that song, written by Harry Warren, and first released in 1934, for the movie, "Dames at Sea".  Harry Warren, was born with the name Salvatore Antonio Guaragna, in 1893, in Brooklyn, New York.  Harry Warren also wrote other well-know songs like, "Jeepers Creepers", "You Must have Been A Beautiful Baby", "At Last", "We're In The Money", and "Chattanooga Choo Choo".

The message of the song, "I Only Have Eyes For You", is the single focus of a person for one other person.  It is a special thing when you tell someone that they are the one for you.  

What about the eyes?  The lover says, "I only have eyes for you".  You might know the children's song that says, "Be careful little eyes what you see.  There's a Father up above, who is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see."  God always sees us and we ought to be careful what we see, and this principal is founded on love.

Jesus taught that what you see is very important.  He said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!" (Matt. 6)  How and what you see is very important.

This is not about legalism or works righteousness.  It is about love. The command is love (John 13:34, 15:12, 1 John 3:23) and the goal of all Apostolic instruction is love (1 Tim. 1:5).  Jesus' teachings, like the collection we call "The Sermon on The Mount", tell us how to live in the kingdom, as Christ-followers, in this world.

Because of the love of God, we are children of God, and love others (1 John 3:1-11).  It makes sense that we would be enamored with Jesus.  He is the one we want to see.  He fills our hearts and thoughts.

But, we can find ourselves being good Christians, doing much good, but having lost the love, the life of love for Jesus and living in love, that we had at first.  And this was the case with the Ephesian church in Revelation, chapter 2:
Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus:
“The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary.
But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. Yet you do have this: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
“Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise.
With the eyes metaphor in mind, I could talk about how we should be careful with what we see and view, which is true; and look at Jesus' words in Matthew 6.  But the critique of the Ephesian church, is about abandoning their first love.  They were doing good work and they were getting stuff right, but they were no longer walking in the love that started it all.

Loving Jesus ought to be our life.  And we live out his life by loving others.  And if we love Jesus, we only have eyes for him.  We won't love the world or the things of the world.  And our love for our selves is based on his love or esteem for us.

We are humbled by his mercy, his grace, and his love.  We see ourselves as his.  We are his church that he is building.  And the church is the bride of Christ.

Brides are singly focused on their bridegroom.  Brides are looking forward to their wedding day.  Brides are getting ready for their wedding to their husband.  Brides are consumed with their single focus of "the day" and the future with the man they love.

Brides are not looking at other men.  Brides do not date other men.  Brides are engaged to be married to one man.

An engaged lady does not look at other men with any romantic love interest.  If she does, then something is very wrong.  If a woman is betrothed to a man, but has a romance with a second man, then she should not marry the man she is betrothed to.

The greatest romance is history is Jesus Christ and his bride.  For his bride to be looking at others or just at herself makes no sense.  The bride is all about her bridegroom.

When we do see our selves in the mirror, we are seeing the bride of Christ.  She is very beautiful to him and he is the love of her life.  We say, "I am my beloved and he is mine!  His banner over me is love!"

When I heard that song, "I only have eyes for you", all of these thoughts began to come to me.  Our lives are about a single focus, Jesus.  When we look at him, we see his love, and it captivates us and animates our lives.

It really is that simple.  When we lose that focus, we are losing our way and are going to get into all sorts of trouble and heart ache.

Here are the lyrics to the song and then The Flamingos version I heard:

My love must be a kind of blind love.
I can't see anyone but you. 
Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright. 
I only have eyes for you dear. 
The moon may be high,
But I can't see a thing in the sky. 
I only have eyes for you. 
I don't know if we're in a garden,
Or on a crowded avenue.
You are here and so am I,
Maybe millions of people go by,
But they all disappear from view. 
And I only have eyes for you.


Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.
-Psalm 126:5-6

Lament.  Do we know what lamenting is or how to do lament?  Lament is a response to loss.

Anger and lament are related, but not the same.  Anger is a response to the "ouch", that might be a loss.  We get angry when our feelings are hurt.

But staying angry is bad: it is unhealthy for us and for others that we are in relationship with.  Staying angry disconnects us from everyone, including God and our true selves.  If I can not get over it, can not get past it, I might just need to let it go, forgive, release it, and just move on.  Maybe and maybe not.

There are some people who are out of touch with their anger and have hidden or repressed anger, that influences their lives and has become part of how they live, that is not healthy or functional.  There are anger groups and anger therapies out there, that try to help people with their anger.

One of the funniest things (ironic) psychological therapists have done, to try to heal anger, is called "Bataka Work".  Bataka's are foam bats.  These first came out in 1960's, as far as I know.  Angry people would hit the bat on the floor, on a couch or chair, or on other people, and attempt to release their anger.  Another variation on this was to throw china plates against a wall and call out the anger.

The bottom line is that it does not work.  It is a placebo, at best; but usually just feeds the person's anger and does not resolve it.  If a person has hidden anger and gets in touch with it, maybe that is good, but then what?

Studies were eventually done, and they were printed up in Psychology Journals, and the Bataks disappeared, for a while; but then came back.  We can only speculate why.  Today, you can buy a pair of "Encounter Bats", for $199.99 on Amazon.

If you are a therapist or a counselor, you may have an opinion, perhaps positive about anger therapies that involve violence, even punching pillows and screaming.  I am not against you, if you are a healer.  I just disagree with you.

I believe in grief work, mourning, and healing from God for broken hearts.  I believe in lament.

If I am stuck, I may have work to do.  Something happened to me.  It was probably a loss.  I might try saying, "bleep happens", or "I'll just get over it", or "I forgive everyone", but when I climb up the ladder from the pit I fell into, and things are still not the same, not back to normal.  Things are slow, things are dark.  Maybe I forgot to, or neglected to mourn or do grief-work: saying goodbye, having the funeral, and letting it go; which includes lament.

Bigger losses are not the kinds of things that just get us angry or make us stuck in anger.  They do make us angry, even enraged with anger; but that is just a part or what we need to do to process and heal from the loss.  And when the big loss occurs, in the shock of it, we do feel like we might be angry forever, because the rage is so acute.

Yes, but we will need to heal.  The appropriate response to big losses is grief and mourning, which includes lament.

In his book, Hurting With God, Glenn Pemberton writes that 40% of the Book of Psalms are "lament psalms".

How many songs do we sing that are lament songs?

Negro Spirituals are an  example of lament songs.  When the songs says, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen", it is serious suffering that is being sung about.  There is something lacking today when Christians do not know and sing songs of lament.

If Christians have sadness that is bottled up and not let out in lament, where does it go?  The Biblical worldview is one of suffering.  Suffering was not just for the Old Testament believers, but is part and parcel of the Jesus follower's life.

The gospel actually promises you that you will suffer.  Lament songs are not "downers", but are healing.  God designed us to grieve, to lament, to complain and ask for help.

What does lament mean?
Lament: a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  "his mother's night-long laments for his father" 
synonyms: wail, wailing, lamentation, moan, moaning, weeping, crying, sob, sobbing, keening.

Lament: a song, piece of music, or poem expressing sorrow.

Lament: a dirge, requiem, elegy, threnody, monody; keen: "a lament for the dead".

Lament: an expression of regret or disappointment; a complaint: "there were constant laments about the conditions of employment".

Lament: mourn (a person's loss or death): "he was lamenting the death of his infant daughter".

more synonyms: mourn, grieve, sorrow, wail, weep, cry, sob, keen, beat one's breast: "the mourners lamented".

Lament: express one's deep grief about: express regret or disappointment over something considered unsatisfactory, unreasonable, or unfair: "she lamented the lack of shops in the town".

more synonyms: bemoan, bewail, complain about, deplore, rue; protest against, object to, oppose, fulminate against, inveigh against, denounce: "he lamented the modernization of the buildings".
When Psalm 126 says, "Those who sow in tears", it is talking about people who have cried.  The whole psalm is about restoration.  But, it was a given that folks had mourned, grieved, and lamented; because it was a part of their culture, that we can see, just by browsing through Psalms 1 to 125.

About 40% of The Psalms are laments.  Why?  Because life is filled with loss and we need to process those loses.
"Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy."
That sounds paradoxical.  It is.  Believers, faithful ones, or followers of the Lord; have scars where life has hurt them, but they are filled with a depth of joy.

"Let me see your scars", is something that should be a staple of Christian community and communitas.

Many believers have wrestled with things, before the Lord, and some have wrestled with the Lord; and have a limp, for life.  We have fallen on the rock and been broken.

I come from a family that did not lament, that did not grieve and mourn well.  I imagine that there were many funerals that we were invited to that we did not attend, in my childhood.

I did not start learning about healing through gracious grief, until I was an adult.  When I did not know how to grieve, the Lord was gently shepherding me; and one of the things I did was to fill notebooks with pages of lament and go for long walks and just ponder.

I know that 'meditate' is a bad word for some believers, but one of my favorite verses is the one where it says that Isaac was out in the field at twilight time, meditating, when he saw the camel train coming in the distance, that contained his wife (Gen. 24:63).

Looking back, I have had the experience of doing 'lament walks', 'lament talks', and writing my laments.  I do believe in the value of journaling!  It is funny that no one taught me to journal.  I journaled as a kid, and when I got in touch with some pain, as a young adult, I filled stacks of them with what?  Lament.

A bridge grew in my life of my pain and God's love.  I met God in my grief, sorrow, agony, and emptiness.  Out of my pain, that I expressed in lament, came God's life.

I smiled so much that people noticed.  I reaped a harvest of joy.  I have experienced loss and jaw-dropping restoration.  I know what it is like to feel low and go through the grief, mourning, and lamenting; then to come out and into a new space, that I did not know existed.

But, the thing is, I became transformed and was a different person.

And so it goes, over and over.  Life is cyclical, a process, with seasons.  Lament is a part of the full life.

Complaining Prayer

God, hear my voice when I complain.
-Psalm 64:1a

We tell each other, either openly or in our minds to, "stop complaining!" I hear it and say it all the time and I even feel guilty for complaining. We might say to each other, "complain, complain, complain; all you do is complain!"

Complaining takes a bad rap. But in this verse, complain or complaining is a good thing.

Other examples of good complaining in the book of Psalms are:

  • "Pay attention to me and answer me.  I am restless in my complaint." (55:2)
  • "I complain and groan morning, noon, and night, and He hears my voice." (55:17)
  • "I remembered God and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed."  Selah (77:3, NKJV)
  • "I pour out my complaint before Him; I reveal my trouble to Him." (142:2)
Psalm 106:24-25 recounts an instance of negative complaining, from the Exodus/Numbers period:
  • "They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word, but complained in their tents, and did not heed the word of the Lord." (NKJV)
Exodus and Numbers record a number examples when the children of Israel complained, either about water, food, or leadership.  Has anything changed today?  

Jude, in the New Testament, has a word about negative complainers:
  • "These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want." (Jude 16, NLT)
That verse is about people who are discontent (HCSB) or malcontents (ESV).  

There is bad complaining, yes.  But there is also good complaining.  Good complaining is when we take our complaints to God.

We are supposed to say what is wrong.  We are supposed to be honest, to God.  Grinning and bearing it is not the way of Christ.

Is complaining good then?  Yes, but.  It's very good to complain AND take the complaint to God.  When someone complains in our hearing, we are their priest who hears the complaint and then helps them take that complaint to God.  

A great example of this is Hannah, in First Samuel, chapter 1.  She has a complaint, a very emotional prayer on her heart.  Her complaint is a prayer.  Eli misreads her at first, but then hears her and prays for her.

In the priesthood of all believers, we function as priests to one another.  A priest is simply a person who helps another person connect with God.

Sometimes, we get overcome with hopelessness and our hearts are sick.  This is part of being human.  Pray anyway.  Wail, moan, complain, cry, and be in agony: but just do it towards God.

It is a huge mistake to take our disappointment and then judge God as "not good" and make that bitter judgement and walk on in it.  Big mistake.  You will need to repent and get delivered from the negative entanglement of that, if that is you.

Remember that when the "ouch" of life happens, we need to take the hurt to God directly or to another person, who will help us with it.  Voicing it is a big part of it.  

Our stories are that bad or disappointing things happened to us, and sometimes we did it to our selves, or missed the boat on something.  But God has got us, in his hand, as his children, and we totally trust God and love God, no matter what happened to us.  We have complaints.  Some are curiosities and some are filled with howling pain.

But the thing is, we tell God about them and walk them and talk them out with the Lord in connection, and our hearts are not bitter and we are completely optimistic and expect God to do good things, in us, around us, and through us.  We are continually encouraged because the Spirit of God is always encouraging us and we continually say, "I'll take that encouragement... thanks!"

A good response to a complaining or kvetching person is prayer, as in, "have you prayed about it?", or, "are you praying about it?", or, "let me pray with you about it". We need to move from the place of complaint to prayer. Complaints are prayer requests, in disguise, and we need to see God as the solution, the answer, and the provider for all our needs.

Yes, Prayers can be complaints.  In Psalm 64, the specific complaint is the threats, terror, dread, or fear of the enemy.  That is not about discontent.

We have real problems, like our real spiritual enemy, and we can complain about it.  A complaint does not have to me about discontent.

Contentment is a huge issue.  We need to be content.  But we also may complain to God about the troubles in our life.

Like the old hymn says, "take it to the Lord in prayer".  Grumbling, murmuring, and bitterly judging God and others is not good and will prove destructive.  But prayers that are complaints laid out to God, or laid out to others and prayed, are good.

Basically, complaining that contains judging, condemning, bitterness, and discontent is bad and destructive.  Bad complaining is when we lack faith and faithfulness, and contains curses towards others, self, and God.  The person taking part in bad complaining is disconnected from God, from others, and from their self.  Bad complaining makes things worse and fragments and binds you.

Good complaining is simply telling God the trouble, telling God what is wrong, telling God what is happening to you.  Complaining is related to lament, which is another topic, I will touch next.

God is Calming To Me

You calm the roaring seas; calm the roaring waves, calm the noise of the nations.

You silence the roar of the seas, the roar of their waves, and the tumult of the nations.

You who still the noise of the seas, The noise of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples.

-Psalm 65:7 (CEB, HCSB, NKJV)

God is calming.  God silences the roar.  God stills the noise.

God is so magnificent that he is the commending presence in any situation, no matter how big or how loud.  God's trustworthiness is so immense that it overcomes every obstacle.  God is so glorious that praise for him wells up and must be given always, in every situation.

If you have been to the ocean, at the beach for instance, you have had the opportunity to hear the noise of the crashing  waves.  When the tides come up onto the sand, they make a roaring noise.  You have to yell to be heard over it.

Whatever you are going through in your life, that makes a noise in your heart or mind, that might be obtrusive, annoying, or disheartening; God can still and quiet it.  God can silence it and bring calm.

All my worries, all my challenges, all my disappointments, and even if I have racing thoughts; God brings me into calmness, stillness, and silence. 

Admitting Weakness

I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me.
-Psalm 61:2

I read this scripture and was challenged by it.  The challenge was that my heart is also weak or without strength.  I had a revelation that I need more.

My Bible that I usually read first, is the CEB, the Common English Bible.  So when I first read this verse, the other morning, I read, "When my heart is weak".  I was challenged by those words.  "Is my heart weak?"  "Yes, my heart is weak."

Here is the HCSB and the CEB, side by side; Psalm 61, verses 1 to 4:

  1. God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.  God, listen to my cry; pay attention to my prayer!
  2. I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength.  Lead me to the rock that is high above me,  When my heart is weak, I cry out to you from the very ends of the earth.  lead me to the rock that is higher than I am
  3. for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.  because you have been my refuge, a tower of strength in the face of the enemy.  
  4. I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.  Selah  Please let me live in your tent forever!  Please let me take refuge in the shelter of your wings!  Selah
I noticed that verse two leads off with "When my heart is weak", in the CEB, preceding, "from the ends of the earth".  But, in every other translation I can find, it says something like, "From the ends of the earth I call to You, when my heart grows faint."  I don't know why the CEB scholars flip it, but I suspect that they believe that the Hebrew gives them license to.

So, when I first read this verse, the other morning, I first read, "When my heart is weak", and that got emphasized to me.  That part of the verse, Psalm 61:2, challenged me; which is the story I want to tell.

I just read something yesterday about the danger of interpreting scripture too subjectively and then applying it to others, and I understand that.  This is an instance of my sharing about the text applied to me.  But I also am looking at the original author's intent and how it applies to all believers from then until now.

I think there are two good ways for preachers and teachers to share, preach, teach, or encourage others with a text, and one not so good way.  One, is to share the text, applied to me, and then say, "this might apply to you".  The second way, is to share the text as applying to we or us, and say, "this is for us".  The third way, that is weaker and not as good, is to share a text, and say, "this is for you".

Some preachers and teachers unfortunately have a style, where the third way is their way.  They talk at the people, they talk down, they scold, they rebuke, they judge, they spank people and rake them over the coals with their messages.  What is strange and unhealthy is when this is not the exception, done in lowliness, tearful love; but the weekly rule, done in anger, and applauded.

These same three ways also apply to bloggers and Christian writers.  

My goal is always to communicate the first or second way.  I originally titled my blog my "notes", because these are notes from what I am learning with things sprinkled in that I am re-learning.  The notes are for myself and for whomever may read them and benefit, and to the glory of the Lord.

When my heart is weak

I wrestled with this text and with what God was and is saying to me.

The challenge was, am I going to let the text speak to me, or resist it and say, "I'm good"?

If I do not say, "my heart is weak", when it indeed is, then I don't get the grace I need for my heart's activities in life, which includes my relationship to God, to myself, and to others.

Sometimes we won't admit our weakness, but we ask for leading, and wonder why we don't get led by God.  I don't have trouble admitting that I need help, as in guidance and leading.  But I do have trouble admitting that I am weak.  God gives grace to the humble.  God resists pride.

When I read this psalm again, it was a challenge to me.  I read, in my Bible, "When my heart is weak".  The text challenged me or confronted me, saying, "Your heart is weak".

No need to be offended, because the diagnosis is for healing.  The call is to get, ask for, a strengthening of my heart.  I suddenly realized that when and if I do not ask for this, I will not get it, and then I will interact in life - with God, with myself, and with others, from a weak heart.

There are all sorts of ramifications and disadvantages to having a weak heart.  For one thing, having a weak heart means that I have not been led up to the rock that is higher than I.  It is like not taking a promotion or an upgrade.

It is amazing that the door to going higher and receiving strengthening is the humility to admit weakness.

I looked up what other translations have in Psalm 61:2, for this description of the heart that is proclaimed:

  • when my heart is overwhelmed
  • when my heart is weak
  • when my heart is faint
  • when my heart grows faint
  • when my heart is without strength
  • in my despair
  • in the agitation of my heart
  • when my heart fainteth
  • when my heart was in anguish
  • in the feebleness of my heart
  • when my heart is in heaviness
  • in my weariness of spirit
  • with a sinking heart

It struck me that if I do not recognize my weakness, that my heart is weary, sinking, in anguish, or faint; then I will interact with my world - God, myself, others, and my and other's circumstances; from the place of my heart that is weak and weary, perhaps broken.  I will end up giving limited, not as hopeful and not that heavenly, counsel to myself and others; because it is out of the heart that the heart speaks.

And my sick heart also will inform my thoughts, which will be discouraged and less hopeful and less encouraged.

The path or doorway to going higher, up and onto the rock, is the humility to say that my heart needs help.

I catch myself thinking through my weary heart.  There is a verse that says, "hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life" (Prov. 13:12).  Heart sickness is easy to get, if you have hopes, promises, or desires that you are waiting for.

The antidote for a weakened heart is to cry out to God.  That cry is, "lead me to the rock that is higher than I".

I also have to have some self-awareness and the humility to realize that I need help.  One of the terrible things about pride is that pride is not  teachable.  Don't get caught in the pride trap.

I am really struct my the fact that my circumstances, each and every stressor and difficulty; is an opportunity for the goodness of God to manifest.  The message of this verse, Psalm 61:2, or this part of this verse that says, "When my heart is weak, or without strength", is to admit or confess my weakness, so that I can rely on God's strength.

He does strengthen me, but that is not really the message here.  The message is that God is available to be my rock and my refuge and my fortress, my hiding place, and my place of rest - always.  Every circumstance is a challenge to God's goodness, God's grace, and God's faithfulness.

The door that leads to God's provision for me is admitting my weakness.  I am a son and a slave.  I have a life, with responsibilities and obligations, relationships, and aspirations.  But I am never self-sufficient or alone or the power.

He is strong and I am weak.  It is a huge insight and something I aspire to live in, that the Lord is my strength.  It is a continual practice to live by and through the Lord.

If I admit my weakness, there is the rock of his steady foundation offered to me to stand on and dwell on.  But if I refuse to admit my weakness, there is struggle, pain, exhaustion, confusion, and my own choosing,  and a life of  not seeing the way to the peace on the rock offered to me every day.

The word to me is to admit my weakness, confess it, make it a prayer.  Laments are the most honest and real prayers.

God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.
I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength.
Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.
I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings.  Selah

God, You have heard my vows; You have given a heritage to those who fear Your name.
Add days to the king’s life; may his years span many generations.
May he sit enthroned before God forever; appoint faithful love and truth to guard him.
Then I will continually sing of Your name, fulfilling my vows day by day.

Anger part 3: The Hidden Anger

Better an open reprimand than concealed love.
-Proverbs 27:5

Some angry people have hidden anger: repressed or suppressed anger.  This list can be found on many websites and no one seems to know who first complied it.  A few of the behaviors listed are different, on different versions of this list.

The list is not exhaustive nor exact.  In fact, I eliminated "has ulcers" as being one item.   Let's just say that, "some people with hidden anger do this or have this."  I believe this list is helpful in becoming aware of your possible problem with hidden anger.

It might be helpful to repeat that anger in and of itself is not bad.  We have anger when we have loss or hurt.  It's like saying "ouch!" when we stub our toe.

Anger is bad, destructive, or sinful when we are angry much of the time.  On the one end of the spectrum, raging is bad: out of control yelling and screaming, possibly with harsh judgments or controlling and threats, possibly with name calling or cussing and cursing, including character assassination.  This is bad, unhealthy, sinful, and destructive: not ok.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who have buried, hidden, repressed, or suppressed anger that is unresolved.  They have a style of stuffing rather process and release.  Perhaps they were hurt, abandoned, abused at times in the past, by a shameless person who did not admit fault, and who often was a primary relationship to them that they needed for survival and could not get angry back at.

This list might help you to see that you have an anger problem.  If you "see it", and can say "that's me", then you might say "now what?", or ,"what can I do to not be this way?"; what I would advise is to get into recovery.  Find out what getting into recovery means for you.

Recovery is not something other than being a Christian.  To be a Christian is to be in recovery.  Paradoxically, Churches and Christianity are filled with people who are not in recovery.  What I am saying is that a person can have many of these items below operating in their life and be a Christian.

Recovery is intentional as is someone seeking healing, health, and to grow or become wiser.  Healing and recovery are also spontaneous, when we seek and live in Christ.  We will always be broken, weak people; even when we are in Christ.  But brokenness is different than carnal, fleshly, worldly, obsessional sinfulness that is rooted in unbroken willful sin.

Many Christians are not disciples, or rather, our idea of what a disciple is has gotten away from what the disciples were in the NT.  A disciple is not only a learner, but someone who leaves everything to become a learner.  Jesus said that each one of us, that want to follow him, is to "take up his cross".

That means death.  What if we get it that being a Christian is about his cross and my cross?  His cross is an amazing thing - he died for our sins on the cross.  But what happens if I believe that, but I do not obey his command to take up my own cross?

Maybe I do not even know what that means.  Or maybe I do not want to know and I do not want that part of what it means to be a Christian.  What is a person who self-identifies as a Christian, but they do not obey what Jesus said and is written in the NT?

I will leave it to God to judge, but I do believe that this person is going to have more problems than they ought to have.  This person is going to have less spiritual health in their life.  This person is not going to have the vital, intimate relationship with God, that they could otherwise have.

Hidden Anger Checklist

1. Procrastination in the completion of imposed tasks
2. Perpetual or habitual lateness.
3. A liking for sadistic or ironic humor.
4. Sarcasm, cynicism or flippancy in conversation.
5. Over-politeness, constant cheerfulness, an attitude of "grin and bear it".
6. Frequent sighing.
7. Smiling while hurting (bringing in the clown to protect us) .
8. Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams.
9. Over controlled monotone speech.
10. Difficulty getting to sleep or sleep throughout the night.
11. Boredom, apathy, and loss of interest.
12. Slowing down of movements.
13. Getting tired more easily than usual (anger saps energy).
14. Excessive irritability over trivial things.
15. Getting drowsy at inappropriate times.
16. Sleeping more, possibly 12+ hours a day.
17. Waking up tired instead of rested and refreshed.
18. Clenched jaws/grinding of teeth especially while sleeping.
19. Facial tics, spasmodic or tapping foot movements, swinging leg when seated, and tightly clenched fists (white knuckling).
20. Very stiff or sore neck.
21. Chronic depression, extended periods of feeling down for no apparent reason, and sitting around with a long face.
22. Being overly critical of everything and everyone.
23. Playing music loudly.
24. Unable to get people out of your head.
25. Rehearsing arguments in your mind.
26. Driving fast in an aggressive manner.
27. Putting more effort than required into physical tasks.
28. Being irritating towards others.

"This is not about rage . Rage is anger out of control and taking over your whole being.
This is about the feelings we call "irritation", "annoyance", "getting mad", etc.
All these negative feelings share one thing in common: they are considered undesirable at best and sinful or destructive at worst."

Do you often say, "it annoys me", or "it makes me so mad", or "it is so irritating"?  Do you constantly have a need to "vent" or maliciously gossip about others?

It is actually healthy and loving to tell a friend or a loved-one, "I am really angry at (or with) you".  This was very different, when I first experienced this from a friend or mentor.  But I learned to hear
the love and caring in the statement.

It would probably be helpful to express the anger and then immediately express the hurt or loss suffered behind the anger.  When your angry friend or loved-one expresses anger, you can learn to "suss-out" what the hurt or loss is that is behind the anger.  This works best when there is a foundation of love already there, that the relationship is built upon.

I mentioned recovery, and discipleship.  I would also like to add that learning how to walk, including dealing with anger, is worked out or learned in relationship.  We have to have the vertical relationship with God, but to grow, we must have horizontal relationships with other people.

Who is your sponsor and who are you sponsoring?  Who is your mentor and who are you mentoring?  Who is fathering or mothering you (in a the good sense!) and who are you fathering or mothering?  Who is your safe friend and who are you being a safe friend to, that is even closer than a sibling?

Growth is worked out and happens in duos and trios, and sometimes in quartets, quintets, sextets, septets, octets, and nonets.

Hide Me From Horrible People's Plans of Verbal Abuse

Hide me from the scheming of wicked people, from the mob of evildoers.
-Psalm 64:2

There are very bad people who have it in their minds to verbally abuse others with lies, gossip, slander, maligning, or cursing.  They want to shoot their abusive words at people in an ambush or surprise attack, for maximum damage.

We can pray for God to hide us from them.  

You can be visible, popular, or famous; and still ask God to hide you from wicked people and their schemes.  

The enemy, Satan, uses people; and people, inspired by the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13) plot evil against other people.  We need to maintain a relationship with God, where we have the humility, no matter how successful we are, to ask God to hide us from the plots, schemes, and plans of wicked people.

Being hidden from horrible, wicked people is a good thing.  Peter was hidden from Herod, in Acts 12.  Obadiah hid prophets in caves (1 Kings 18).  

Our Christian lives are now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  It is a blessing or blessed state, to be hidden in God (Ruth 2:12).  Hiding in God is equivalent to resting in God (Ps. 91:1).  

Hiding in God is the place of rescue from enemies (Ps. 143:9).  Have you learned to rest in God, when you are under attack?  Have you learned the principal of not having to clear your name, but let God be your vindicator, judge and arbitrator?

God's shelter is a place of hiding from all that is said about you: slander, false accusations, malicious gossip, and every verbal abuse (Ps. 31:20).  We are in Jesus hands (Jn. 10:28).  We are God's treasure, his jewels, that are hidden in him (Mal. 3:17).

Being hidden is also to not be glorious to the world, in the world's eyes, but to be obscure (Jn. 5:41) and getting glory by being hidden with Christ in God (Jn. 5:44, Col. 3;3).  

The whole of the matter or the rest of the story, as told by Psalm 64, the text, "Hide me from the schemes of wicked people", in context is this:

For the choir director. A Davidic psalm.

God, hear my voice when I complain:
  • "Protect my life from the terror of the enemy."
  • "Hide me from the scheming of wicked people."
    • "From the mob of evildoers."
      • "Who sharpen their tongues like swords."
      • "And aim bitter words like arrows."
        • "Shooting from concealed places at the innocent."
        • "They shoot at him suddenly and are not afraid."
      • They encourage each other in an evil plan.
      • They talk about hiding traps and say,
        • “Who will see them?”
      • They devise crimes and say,
        • “We have perfected a secret plan.”
      • The inner man and the heart are mysterious.

But God will shoot them with arrows;

  • Suddenly, they will be wounded.
  • They will be made to stumble;
  • Their own tongues work against them.
All who see them will shake their heads.

Then everyone will fear and will tell about God’s work.
  • For they will understand what He has done.
The righteous one rejoices in the Lord and takes refuge in Him.

All those who are upright in heart will offer praise.

God has a plan.  God sees.  God hides us and protects us.  God deals with people who say and plan horrible things towards his people.

We do not need to vindicate ourselves.  If we give in to the need to do so, we will end up spending all our energy on it and also end up down in the mud with our muddy accusers.  We need to abide in, hide in the Lord.

Don't be shocked, surprised, disheartened, or devastated when you are ambushed by verbal attacks.  Learn humility and meekness.  Learn how to love your enemy (human persons).

Hide in God.  Let God protect you and fight for you.  Let God vindicate you.  Let God be your vindication.

When attacked, go deeper with God.  Ask for hiddenness.  Face God when verbal attacks come your way.

You will be betrayed, slandered, maligned, maliciously gossiped about, lied to, called names, made fun of, taunted, threatened, cursed, and cussed out.  Do you still want to be Jesus' disciple, Abba's child?  I hope so.

"Come to Jesus, get saved, and you won't have any more problems", is not the gospel.  You will have more problems, but more solutions, grace, and unspeakable joy in life everlasting that begins now.  You will have hope that you didn't have before.  You will peace that you never thought possible.

There are rainbows with the storms and there is rock that you with stand strong on in the storms.  Perseverance and contentment will be your way of live in the love of God.

Every negative that comes your way, including horrible people dogging you with verbal abuse; is an opportunity to receive a blessing from God.  Being hidden in God is our birthright, part of the whole package in Christ.  Every negative should turn us towards God, who provides for his kids.

You have a testimony and you are a testimony to the onlooking world of God's goodness.  You are an epistle, a letter, a story about God's redemption that is ongoing.  "Let me tell you what God has done and is doing in my life."  

God does "show and tell" through our lives, as examples or what he does and who he is.  There is a time in the future when everyone will bow to God (Is. 45:23, Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10).  God is in the process, about the business, of encouraging people to come to that place, now, in this life; through his work in our lives.

Letting God Shield You

Consider our shield, God; look on the face of Your anointed one.
-Psalm 84:9

Are you letting God be your shield?  The Israelites were taught that God was their shield (Deut. 33:29), and the teaching goes back to Abraham (Gen. 15:1), and the shield metaphor is used by Paul (Eph. 6:16).

The revelation to Abraham was, "I am your shield", to Moses and David it was, "God is our shield", and to Paul comes, "Take up the shield of faith".  And it is notable that the word for shield that Paul uses is the large shield, that the whole body of the warrior could get behind, and not the pizza sized shield, like Captain America's, that was swiftly moved.

If your Bible is the New Living Translation, you will read that the king is "our shield".  Some commentators interpret the text this way, as to the author asking God to strengthen the king (perhaps David) for the sake of the people.  I think that this language is not a problem for God or us.  The Psalmist may have been referring to David, but we can interpret it as referring to God or Christ, because both David and Christ are God's anointed, David at that time and Christ for eternity.  And we are anointed in Christ. 

The Biblical idea is that there is a shield and it is true that God worked through the kings of Israel as shields.  When Abram, later to be called Abraham, was afraid, God said, "Don't be afraid, I am your shield".  Later, the children of Israel learned to make God their shield, because there are enemies of God out there.  After Christ had come, Paul enjoins Christians to "take up the shield".

My point is that if we do not keep this in mind, that we need shielding from attack, then we will be open to attack and get wounded.  We need to live in consideration of the shield of God.  We need to have a shielding relationship with God.

And the context of Psalm 84 is that God is our dwelling place, our house:
How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord of heavenly forces!
My very being longs, even yearns,
for the Lord’s courtyards.
My heart and my body
will rejoice out loud to the living God!
Better is a single day in your courtyards
than a thousand days anywhere else!
I would prefer to stand outside the entrance of my God’s house
than live comfortably in the tents of the wicked!
-Psalm 84:1-2, 10
What if we made it our practice to dwell in God's presence as a lifestyle and saw that as our number one defense against the attacks of the enemy?  When we step out from under the shadow of God's wings (Ps. 91:4), we get hit over and over and wonder "what?" and "why?", and we look for God and perhaps pray, but we kvetch and complain.  All the while, God is available to shield us, but it was we who walked out from under his protection.

As the psalmist said or sings, "Consider our shield", we also must have a working relationship - a relationship that works, is functional, with God; where we are shielded by God.  Getting constantly hit by the enemy and taking up offenses, being anxious, worried, depressed, angry: having all those buttons constantly pushed so much that we are just out of it and sidelined as warriors, is not our destiny or inheritance - it is not God's plan for our lives.

God's plan is that we would be people that walk with him and talk to him and listen to him and have his heart imparted to us, because we are walking in his love, being loved and then loving others.  Dwelling with God, in his presence, following the Romans 12:1 lifestyle of worshiping always, being always thankful (1 Thess. 5:18); and remembering that the gateway to God is thanksgiving (Ps. 100:4).

There is no other Christian life outside the life of walking with God and dwelling in God's presence.  When Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (Jn. 14:6), he was serious.  The only way and the only life and all truth is in him.  And getting saved or becoming saved, having salvation through him is not just an intellectual decision, like deciding what color to paint your house or who you will vote for; but becoming a Christian is about receiving his life for you and giving your life to him.

And giving your life to him (he is your whole and only way and your whole and only truth and your whole and only life) means that he now has you and you now have him.  He is your shield, but you have to make a habit of coming under that shielding by dwelling in his presence.

You have to let God shield you. If you are un-shielded or outside the shield, it means you need to take steps, step into, being shielded again.  Inside the shield there is protection.  Inside the shield, I have God's perfect love and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 13:4-7 & Gal. 5:22-23).

Let God shield you. Consider the shield and cultivate an active relationship with God where you ask God to shield you and you come into his presence for shielding.
To live the life in God, we must learn to come under and live in God's defenses.   The consideration of the defensive shield of God goes both ways - God provides for it, but we take the step to live under and in it.  It is provided, but we must go there.

God Will Revive Us

You, God, showered abundant rain; You revived Your inheritance when it languished.
-Psalm 68:9

Are you discouraged?  Has your journey been long?  Have you been under siege?  Have you been betrayed, disappointed, or just hurt by people you thought were friends?  Are you heartsick from the delay of your hope?

God wants to revive, refresh, restore, confirm, sustain, strengthen, perfect, and establish you... again.

Are you weary, weak, parched, exhausted, tired, and languished?  Languished means, "to continue for a long time without activity or progress in an unpleasant or unwanted situation."  You may feel languished, but maybe you are dormant, like a dormant volcano.

God takes action to care for those who are his.  God takes the initiative.  He initiates.  Our God is an active, moving God.  God will revive the languishing ones who are His inheritance.

We usually think of inheritance and something that we get, but the deepest meaning of inheritance is something we give to God.  We are God's inheritance and he takes care of us as his.

We are the called ones who are chosen.  We have surrendered to the King and become his subjects.  We are disciples in that we are life-long learners who carry the teaching of God, now in Christ, into our whole lives and throughout the world.

His inheritance is our lives that have been transformed.  His inheritance is the gift of our lives that we have unpacked and worked out in Christ.  His inheritance is the life that he gave us that we give back to him in a life of thankful worship.

There is refreshing, reviving, renewing, re-establishing, and confirming that comes from God, sovereignty.  It is like coming into a downpour of rain, or receiving an unexpected gift.  We can position ourselves to receive it, and we should.  We can seek God's touch and gifts, which we ought to.

Another encouraging thought from this verse, is that God will do it, because he cares and he takes care us us.  That is what the psalmist is saying.  He did it and by implication, he will do it again, because that is his nature.

We might not know how or when God will refresh us, but the song here tells the story that he did it and therefore it is his nature to do it.  The message is that God is good, and since we are his, his inheritance, he is a good father, a good steward, and will see that we need to be confirmed again and brought out of languishment.

I am very happy about these words and take them as a promise, because God is the same today, as he was in the eyes of the psalmist who wrote this.  I am living in expectation of God renewing, reviving, recalling, refreshing, and re-establishing me and every believer that I know, in this time and season.

Perseverance is so important and this word encourages us to keep on.  In the meantime, I need to get my rest.  We can get overtired when we do not rest.

Sometimes, when we are discouraged, because of the long wait, the battle weariness, or the heart ache from disappointements; we do not rest.  We get restless and that makes us worse off.  The antidote is rest.

The big refreshing rains are soon.  We need to be and stay encouraged that God is coming with rains.  We need to come to Jesus and walk with him and find  rest for our souls as we wait for the rains.

I am encouraged by what Psalm 68:9 says.  I am expectant and I am believing that God is coming with rains of refreshing.  Today, tomorrow, this week, and next; and until and then even during God's refreshing; I will get my rest, so that I can enjoy, receive, and be here for the long run.

For today, in believing what God will do, and more importantly, who God is; I will rest and get my rest, taking care of my rest and letting God take care of the rest.  Sounds funny, but the point is to let God be God and live out my belief in the loving Father by calming my soul and resting in Christ. 

The way I get to that thought from this verse is the "You", "You", and "Your" pronouns.  It is all about God and God's nature to care.  And God calls us his inheritance.  We are his and he cares about and takes care of what is his.

Knowing that and getting that gives me pause to let that continue to be a revelation to me.  In turn, I  believe it and live accordingly.  And that leads to resting in Christ today, as I await the outpouring.

Resting, like waiting, is active and full of faith (faith-full-ness).  I do want to get my sleep and I do need to take a day of rest.  But I also live and work productively, from my rest.

I am rested and blessed and live resting in the beloved of God.  And I do this, even when I am in need of being revived and am feeling majorly dormant.

Some of us have been languishing in prisons.  Some of us have been hibernating.  Some of us have been on the back side of the desert.

All of these (us) need reviving, renewing, re-estblishing, and confirmation from the Lord.  And he is going to do it.  Be encouraged and begin to cultivate expectant faith while resting in the beloved today.

The Move of God

God arises. His enemies scatter, and those who hate Him flee from His presence.
-Psalm 68:1

We are beginning to experience a move of God.  I wondered about that term we use, "move of God".  This idea contradicts the notion that God is fixed and static.  But the idea captured in Psalm 68:1 is of The King standing up, from his throne.

The immediate affect of God moving is his enemies scattering.  When God comes, the enemy has to go.  Much of the good that happens when God moves, is all the bad that has to go.

There is a war that has been going on, since the beginning of time, between God and his enemy.  The enemy has taken territory, and when God moves into that area, the enemy scatters and flees.  People who make friends with the enemy of God become God's enemies as well.

In the New Testament, we are told by James that becoming a friend of the world makes us enemies of God (James 4:4), and John tells us that we are not to love the world nor the things of the world and if we do, we do not have Father's love in us (1 John 2:15).  We learn that there is a serious distinction between loving people who live in this world, and loving just "the world".  The bad side of the world, that we are to avoid is the desires and pride in the world (1 Jn 2:16).

The world has been the battlefield, with people as targets and captives of God's enemy, since the beginning.  The way that the enemy lures and captures people is first demonstrated with Adam and Eve; when the serpent tempted them to fall.  Since that time, men and women have been falling into the enemy's traps and becoming captive.

But, God has been on the move and has had a plan to crush the enemy, which God did in Christ (Gen. 3:15).  We know that the reason Jesus Christ came was to destroy the works of the Devil (1 Jn. 3:8).  And those evil works are all the wrecked lives that God redeems in Christ.

The essence of the move of God is that the enemy is routed.  All kinds of human suffering is relieved.  This is described in Luke 7, when John the Baptist was in prison and very discouraged.  He sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was God's Messiah.  Jesus replied that these are the markers of his ministry: "The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news."(Luke 7:22)

This is Power Evangelism.  Notice that the power is first, then comes the good news.  When God moves, there is power released.  That power brings deliverance, healing, and salvation.

The work of salvation was finished on the cross, but we are seeing salvation appropriated into lives when they come into contact with the living God.  This same God is the God that David and the Israelites looked to, in the Old Testament times, back to Moses, and through the Prophets.

Back to the idea or concept of the move or moving of God.  The first time we see God moving, in scripture is in Genesis 1:2, when it says that the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the earth's waters.  The King James Bible has it written, that the Spirit of God moved on the surface of the waters.  This is our "proof text" of God moving.

You might have heard or noticed that in "moves of God", which have also been called revivals,  awakenings, or visitations; that people's bodies react.  We fall, we shake, we cry, we cry out, and even do acrobatics.  This is perfectly natural that human bodies are going to react in the presence of God.

God is omnipresent.  God is everywhere and sees everything.  But there is a manifest presence of God, when God draws near, comes, visits, dwells, and moves.  Even though it was in the Old Covenant times, we see this phenomenological dynamic with God on the mountain in Exodus.

God met with Moses and wanted to meet with everybody, up on the mountain.  God, being God, is and was omnipresent, but on the mountain, he was manifestly present.  The same principal holds true today, that God can move to be more present or increased in presence.

We say, "Come, Holy Spirit", and we are inviting God to come more.  He is already here, but we are asking God to increase his presence.  When we say, "Let it come", we are are speaking with the authority of Christ, to make or give an authorization for God's power to manifest among people in a space.

"Let it come", is not a command to God, but an announcement, command, and invitation to people, to the natural realm, and to the demonic, if they are present; to let the power and presence of God come.  It would be like a police officer saying, "Make way", because someone is about to come through.

The same authority that Jesus gave to the original disciples (Matt. 10:1, Luke 9:1), he gives to all of us through the great commission (Matt. 28:18-20).  God comes and God moves and there is an increase in God's activity through the authority given to the church, which are the people of God.  And that authority is over the works of the devil, which includes demonic activity and all sicknesses.

When God moves, people get saved, healed, and delivered; and often healed and delivered before saved; which we call power evangelism.  Evangelism still goes on, even when there is not a move of God, because the good news is always true and is powerful.  But during the moves of God, like some are starting to experience: when God draws nearer, and when God moves, the enemy flees easier.

The enemy flees from Christians always, but we are not always walking in the same degree of power, from God, which makes it harder to make the enemy flee.  Remember the story of when the disciples could not get an exorcism finished, and Jesus remarked, "This kind does not come out, but by prayer and fasting"(Matt. 17:21)?  They needed more power and fasting increases or multiplies prayer power.

Let God arise!

These are various translations of Psalm 68:1
May God arise (NIV)
Rise up, O God (NLT)
God shall arise (ESV)
Let God Arise (NASB, KJB)
God arises (ISV)
God springs into action! (NET)
God will arise (God's Word T.)
Let God rise up (CEB)
Up with God! (Msg)
Do something God! (CEV)
May the true God rise up and show Himself (Voice)
Here is the whole of Psalm 68 in the HCSB:

God arises. His enemies scatter,
and those who hate Him flee from His presence.
As smoke is blown away,
so You blow them away.
As wax melts before the fire,
so the wicked are destroyed before God.
But the righteous are glad;
they rejoice before God and celebrate with joy.

Sing to God! Sing praises to His name.
Exalt Him who rides on the clouds —
His name is Yahweh—and rejoice before Him.
God in His holy dwelling is
a father of the fatherless
and a champion of widows.
God provides homes for those who are deserted.
He leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious live in a scorched land.

God, when You went out before Your people,
when You marched through the desert,Selah
the earth trembled and the skies poured down rain
before God, the God of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
You, God, showered abundant rain;
You revived Your inheritance when it languished.
Your people settled in it;
God, You provided for the poor by Your goodness.

The Lord gave the command;
a great company of women brought the good news:
“The kings of the armies flee—they flee!”
She who stays at home divides the spoil.
While you lie among the sheepfolds,
the wings of a dove are covered with silver,
and its feathers with glistening gold.
When the Almighty scattered kings in the land,
it snowed on Zalmon.

Mount Bashan is God’s towering mountain;
Mount Bashan is a mountain of many peaks.
Why gaze with envy, you mountain peaks,
at the mountain God desired for His dwelling?
The Lord will live there forever!
God’s chariots are tens of thousands,
thousands and thousands;
the Lord is among them in the sanctuary
as He was at Sinai.
You ascended to the heights, taking away captives;
You received gifts from people,
even from the rebellious,
so that the Lord God might live there.

May the Lord be praised!
Day after day He bears our burdens;
God is our salvation.Selah
Our God is a God of salvation,
and escape from death belongs to the Lord God.
Surely God crushes the heads of His enemies,
the hairy head of one who goes on in his guilty acts.
The Lord said, “I will bring them back from Bashan;
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea
so that your foot may wade in blood
and your dogs’ tongues may have their share
from the enemies.”
People have seen Your procession, God,
the procession of my God,
my King, in the sanctuary.
Singers lead the way,
with musicians following;
among them are young women
playing tambourines.
Praise God in the assemblies;
praise the Lord from the fountain of Israel.
There is Benjamin, the youngest, leading them,
the rulers of Judah in their assembly,
the rulers of Zebulun, the rulers of Naphtali.

Your God has decreed your strength.
Show Your strength, God,
You who have acted on our behalf.
Because of Your temple at Jerusalem,
kings will bring tribute to You.
Rebuke the beast in the reeds,
the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
Trample underfoot those with bars of silver.
Scatter the peoples who take pleasure in war.
Ambassadors will come from Egypt;
Cush will stretch out its hands to God.

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth;
sing praise to the Lord,Selah
to Him who rides in the ancient, highest heavens.
Look, He thunders with His powerful voice!
Ascribe power to God.
His majesty is over Israel,
His power among the clouds.
God, You are awe-inspiring in Your sanctuaries.
The God of Israel gives power and strength to His people.
May God be praised!

Ephesians 3:20

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—

-Ephesians 3:20

Ephesians 3:20 & 21 is the doxology (glory saying) of the first half of the book of Ephesians.  The first half of Ephesians is theology: dogmatic and kerygmatic  (incontrovertible principals and preaching) that are indicative.  The second half of the book is application: ethical, didactic, and parenetic (moral principals for behavior, taught encouragingly and persuasively) that are imperative.  The proclamation of what God has done is the indicative, followed by the exhortation, which is the imperative.

Ephesians 3:14-21 has been called the highlight of the whole book, as is John chapter 17, the highlight of the Fourth Gospel: "the reader is shown that praying stands above reasoning, even theological".(1)  

For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith.

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Paul gives us oxymorons to describe what God does for his children, when he writes that he wants us to know Messiah's love that surpasses all understanding.  That is an oxymoron.  It is similar to Philippians 4:7, where Paul that the peace of God surpasses all or every thought.  "Praying stands above reasoning, even theological", says Markus Barth.  In Ephesians 3:20, Paul says that what God will do is above and beyond all that we can ask or think, which comes about the the power that works (is exerted) in us.
To him who by the power exerted in us is able to outdo superabundantly all that we ask or imagine— (Barth's translation)
The Holy Spirit works irresistibly in the saints of God.  He is the power that creates the ability for the superabundance to take place.  Paul says that he desires that we may know all of God's love and the Messiah's love.  But there is so much that we cannot contain it - it is beyond our ability to contain, and yet we are to be filled to overflowing with what we can contain, always desiring more.

In similar fashion, God has answers to our prayer requests, beyond what we can think or even imagine, that takes place through his dynamic power that works in our lives, because we are Father's children.  This brings glory in the church and Christ Jesus, through to all generations and forever.

Some have suggested that dreams are the place where God's plans, ideas, or intentions are shown to us.  Dreaming is part of the last days ministry (Joel 2:28 & Acts 2:17).  In Psalm 126:1, the author says that, "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream."  In other words, what God did was so good, it was like a dream (come true!).

God has an inheritance for all his children that is like a dream come true.  There is treasure in heaven, but God is all about bringing heaven to earth now.  There are warehouses of supply in heaven that God is eager to shower down on his children on earth.

Ephesians 3:20  is a prayer, penned by Paul, from God, for Christians:
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.
"Now", means now.  "To Him", means God.  "Is able", is timeless, referring to God's ability.  "To do above and beyond",  means God's superabundant provision for the saints.  "All that we ask or think", refers to our desires in prayer.  "According to the power", refers to the power of God in each believers' life, probably in and through the Holy Spirit.  "That works in us", is the power of God working in our lives.

I like what this man wrote in The Pulpit Commentary (1889):
Two things make us strong in prayer - a deep sense of need and a strong hope of supply. Perhaps we shall hardly venture to ask some blessings, but we ought to consider that we are either to approach God on our own merits or on the merits of Christ. If we pray for blessing on our own merits, we can hardly be too stinted in our asking; but if on the merits of Christ, we ought not to disgrace God by asking little things on such a wide basis of encouragement. We have, in fact, got a carte-blanche put into our hands by Christ, saying, "Ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you." We are to ask up to our power of thinking, and far beyond it; for "God giveth liberally and upbraideth not?" "Prove me now... if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (T. Croskery)

Ephesians 3:20 in parallel translations from biblehub:

New International Version
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

New Living Translation
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

English Standard Version
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Berean Study Bible
Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,

Berean Literal Bible
Now to the One being able to do exceedingly above all things that we ask or think, according to the power working in us,

New American Standard Bible
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

King James Bible
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us--

International Standard Version
Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us—

NET Bible
Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think,

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But to him who is more than almighty to do for us and is greater than what we ask or imagine, according to his power that is active in us,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

New American Standard 1977
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

Jubilee Bible 2000
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

King James 2000 Bible
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

American King James Version
Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

American Standard Version
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Douay-Rheims Bible
Now to him who is able to do all things more abundantly than we desire or understand, according to the power that worketh in us;

Darby Bible Translation
But to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us,

English Revised Version
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Webster's Bible Translation
Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

Weymouth New Testament
Now to Him who, in exercise of His power that is at work within us, is able to do infinitely beyond all our highest prayers or thoughts--

World English Bible
Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

Young's Literal Translation
and to Him who is able above all things to do exceeding abundantly what we ask or think, according to the power that is working in us,

Markus Barth's translation:
To him who by the power exerted in us is able to outdo superabundantly all that we ask or imagine—

1. Markus Barth, Ephesians 1-3, Anchor Bible Commentary, p. 377

Anger part 2

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent?
-Genesis 4:6

There is a lot of anger in the world.  Christians are angry.  Love is supposed to be our forte, but so many of us are more seething and simmering with anger than experiencing and being love.

The first instance of anger, in the Bible, is the story of Cain.  In anger, he killed his brother.  We don't just have that fact, but the story is about hurt or jealous rivalry, with God attempting to intervene, and Cain making the wrong choice, even after an encounter with God.

In our lives, we might feel justified in our anger.  We would say that this or that happened and it might have been brought about by a certain person in our life, whom we become angry with.  What is very unfortunate is that as a Christian, we retain the anger, the bitterness, and the unforgiveness toward the other and wonder why our Christian life is not joyous, fruitful, or filled with peace.

Imagine that in the midst of your fretting and fuming, that God shows up and asks you, "Why?"  We might immediately repent or we might not listen and not answer God, and continue in our anger.  The latter is what Cain did what we often do today.

We make the mistake of living Christian lives, ignoring God.  It is a mistake to live, forgetting that Jesus promised us he would always be with us.  When hurtful things happen to us, God is there in all his goodness, love, and grace towards us; but to live in God, we must choose to practically walk with him and receive from him, which is the essence of the Christian life.

We have the same heavenly Father that Cain had, who is concerned for our welfare.  God comes to each one of us and says, "Why are you furious?"  The lesson is to tell God your hurt.

Anger is a secondary emotion.  It is a reaction.  Anger comes from hurt or loss.

Cain was angry with his brother.  Cain's anger was not resolved through connecting his hurt heart to God, and grew into judgement of the worst sort.

We get angry because our need is not met or we suffer injustice.  Whether we were purposely sinned against or we just did not get something we hoped for, anger that grows into bitterness, rage, and unforgiving judgement is not justified.  We can develop an angry style if we continually view our relationships from a demanding point of view that is irrational.

Some people enter into all of their interpersonal relationships with demands for validation, love, and acceptance.  When their unspoken demands are not met, they experience rejection and respond with anger.  The root of their problem is not with all these people, but in themselves.

Self love is the foundation from which we love others.  It is not loving to constantly be offended  by people for not validating us.  I can not function in relationships in a healthy or whole manner if I do not love myself.

When I am continually taking offense at others for their not meeting my demands and become angry at them, with a folding arms and pouting style; I am not loving them.  And the reason we adopt this style is because we do not love our selves.  God designed us to love him and love ourselves, then love others unconditionally.

When a hurt happens in life and we feel it, we might get angry.  We can decide to stay angry and even get angrier.  Or, we can feel the hurt.

When we feel the hurt, that might be uncomfortable, but feeling can lead to healing.  Anger does not lead to healing, but disconnects us from our pain and our relationship, with the other, with our selves, and with God.

Part of the process is to feel it and validate the pain, hurt, or loss; without resorting to judging and punishing someone else.  We often need to forgive.  We also might need to negotiate the hidden demand that resulted in the hurt.

Was I or am I making an unrealistic demand on others that ends up hurting myself?  Is there room for me to grow in self love, so that I can love others, and might I need to cultivate that self love through letting God love me, and seeing myself as a loved person?

Some of the practical ideas here are from:

Caring Enough To Confront, by David Augsburger; pp. 36-40

The Life is in The Love

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.This is how we recognize the Spirit of truthand the spirit of falsehood.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command:Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

-1 John 3:11-4:21 (NIV)

I believe that the life is in the love.  How is your love life?  Are you living in the love?  

Are you living the life of God's love lived out by loving others?  The life is in the love.  Jesus came to give us life and that life is expressed through love.

The definition of a Christian is someone who is loved and loves.  We receive God's love and then love others.  That is what it is all about.

Being born again (John 3:16) is not just an event, but a life.  You say you are born again or born from above, but show me the life.  The born again, born anew life is a life of love.

There are a wide variety of styles, forms, personalities, and emphasizes among Christians, but the commonality is love.  The love is from God, through Christ.  Christians are loving people, in many forms and styles.  At least, they are supposed to be.  We all can celebrate each other, because we have his love and we love.  Unity, not uniformity.

Notice all this talk about love from John, who calls himself, "the disciple whom Jesus loved".  Each of the New Testament letters or epistles were answering something.  They are written to address problems in the regional church.

Imagine if people were emphasizing something else besides love, as the message from God and the way of the new life in Christ.  In the beginning of the passage I have above, in verse 11 of chapter 3, John reminds his readers that the message about the Christian life is, "love one another".  In marked contrast is the way of Cain, who cut the throat of his brother; which John bluntly says was, "of the evil one", which is referring to Satan.

If you know the story, which John recites, Cain murdered his brother over his brother's righteousness which was played out in the way he made an offering to God.  Cain had hate, rather than love, for his brother.  John makes the application that you can not hate your brother and have eternal life residing in you.

There is a lot of hate in the world and many Christians hate other Christians, to which John is saying that these are not really Christians.  Hate that Christians have for other Christians is masked in contempt, ridicule, sarcasm, judgement, and condemning critique.  The sectarianism that says that we have it right and other so-called Christians are wrong, is not love and is not Christ.

It is a given that the world, or the spirit of the world, hates Christians.  But for Christian to hate Christian is preposterous and disconnected from Christ.

There is a line in a song, "You don't know me, but I'm your brother".  We have brothers and sisters from other mothers, but of the same father.  Have you noticed that God loves variety?  He invented the concept.

If we have the love, we are not threatened by the differences in different tribes within the body of Christ.  We meet in the absolute belief in Christ, his person, his laying down his life for us.  We follow him by laying down our lives for others, in him.

A human point of view is to put knowledge before love, but for the Christian, love comes first.  The person who puts knowledge before love, in the name of spirituality is not following Christ.

Well meaning people can fall into the trap of following knowledge, but not following Christ.  They say they are following Christ, but they are all about their knowledge: doctrines, beliefs, theology, and ecclesiology.

Their gospel is the gospel of their set of beliefs, their church, or their theology.  They call men and women to their beliefs, and to their church or denomination or branch in the tree of the whole church which they don't necessarily recognize.  They are selling their type of Christianity and saying that their type is where the life is.

But the life is not in the knowledge, even if it is experiential knowledge.  The life is in the love.  The life is in the person of Jesus Christ, who came, who lived, who died, who rose, who ascended, and today intercedes for his church.

The life of Christ is not just something you read and write or say.  It is something you do.  We can talk and write and read all we want, but what is really important is what we do; how we love.

And real love is not just in words written or spoken.  Real love is actions: loving deeds.  When what you do is for the other person and is sacrificial on your part, that my be genuine love.  You give up convenience, your time, your energy, your monies or possessions for someone else.  That's genuine love.

The love we have is rooted in Jesus, who loved when he was here, living in the flesh, as a fully human being.  In our lives, we are carrying on with the love that he had when he walked the earth.  The fact that Jesus lived in human flesh and loved, and then calls us to live our lives in love, is the bedrock of our living.

To believe that Jesus was not human or that Jesus of Nazareth, born of the virgin Mary, was not the Son of God, who is Messiah; is heresy and not Christianity.  If we lose sight of Jesus as a man, who taught love, who taught how to love God and love people; we are missing what Christianity is all about.

The life is in the love.  He lives in us and teaches us how to love, how to live loved by Father and how to love others.  The life is in the love.

Jesus Christ came in the flesh to redeem our humanity.  In our flesh, we love others, because he is in us.  We give our human presence and we touch people with our human bodies, which Christ is in.

The human body is good and Christ uses our bodies to touch this world.  We are his missionaries, his hands, his feet, his eyes and ears, and his voice speaks through us to the world today.  He has redeemed us, including all of our bodies to use for his purpose.

The voice of God speaks through God's people who are in Christ and whom Christ is in.  And the message is one of love, unconditional love and sacrificial love.  We often judge people before loving them, but Christ loves people, and no matter what their sin or their troubles, he calls them to himself and loves them with compassion and mercy.

The test of Christianity, if you are a Christian, is how you love.  The life is in the love.

The playground, playing field, or practical working out of Christ's life in our lives is in the life of love.  "How are you loving?", is the test.  And it starts at the doorway of God loving me.

I am loved and I in turn love others and repeat.  That is the simplicity and depths of the Christian life.  The life is in the love.

Whitewash The Tombs