Search Results For "anger"

Ever get angry? I know I sure do. If there is one emotion I’m personally acquainted with—it’s getting hacked off.

Anger can be a legitimate and healthy emotion. The apostle Paul speaks of a righteous anger: “Be angry, and yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26 NASB).

For some of us, however, anger is the only emotion we let ourselves deeply feel and express.

Why is that?

For many people, it stems from past experiences where emotions like sadness and fear were downplayed or ignored or even outright discouraged. As a result, many of us learn to push such feelings down and use anger as a “go-to” emotion. Anger seems safer to feel because it’s far less vulnerable. When were angry, we won’t need others. And when we don’t need others, they can’t let us down.

It may provide a measure of short-term safety, but using anger as a “go-to” emotion and banning more vulnerable feelings will inevitably ruin relationships and block us from finding the comfort of God and others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Is anger your “go-to” emotion? Take a risk and let yourself feel those things that hurt or scare you. And then begin sharing those feelings with God and a friend or two. Involving others and letting them see more of you than just your anger can help you find comfort and in turn, learn how to comfort others.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” –Jesus (Matthew 5:4)


Like any other emotion, anger can be good or bad; it just depends on the motives going on underneath the surface that determines whether it’s good or bad. Anger that is serving selfish purposes as opposed to godly purposes is destructive to loving relationships and is wrong.

There’s a misconception that forgiveness relieves my feelings of anger and pain. Listen in as Dr. Dan Allender describes how God uses our pain and anger over injustices to cultivate an empathy for others who hurt and a zeal for justice against evil.

Disciplining children consistently in love is one of the major challenges of parenting. But when we’re honest about our parenting, we all have been guilty at times of disciplining our children more out of anger than love. And that’s just wrong. But the good news is that if we’re willing to learn, God often uses those failures to teach us and our children more significant lessons about ourselves than when we do well.


Why Forgive?

Alyson Kieda —  April 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

453458265_61cf90be28_z (1) Forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when it seems you are continually forgiving the same person over and over again. If you’re like me, you may forgive, sometimes grudgingly, but you wonder, When will that person ever change? Shouldn’t there be a limit to my forgiveness?

And the act of forgiving can be even more difficult when you learn the extent to which someone you know harmed your loved one and masqueraded the harm done under supposed Christian loving care and concern.

Recently, a wound inflicted on my loved one resurfaced. As I learned of the additional harm that that person had caused, my blood boiled. I felt so angry and helpless and full of regrets for what I could have done, if only I had known. But mostly, I wanted to cause that person harm—maybe not physically (although, if I’m honest, the thought did cross my mind) but definitely emotionally. I wanted that person to suffer for what he/she had done. I spouted and cried and finally prayed about it.

I’m working on forgiving that person once again, but it would be so easy to hold on and nurse the anger and hurt—and to retaliate. But I know that God calls me to forgive. And saying “no” to revenge is the first step. (I’m so glad that God keeps me from acting on such thoughts!)

I think of Peter’s inquiry of Jesus: “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21 ESV). How did Jesus respond? “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (v.22). Jesus did not make that statement lightly or casually. He knew what was soon to come.

What lay before Jesus was betrayal and desertion by His closest friends, humiliation, a brutal beating, mock trials, excruciating pain, and a horrible death. He had much inflicted upon His person that He needed to forgive. Yet He did so willingly! And He not only forgave those sins, but He suffered and died to pay the price for all the sins in the past, present, and future of all who believed in Him, so that they “should not perish but have eternal life.” Why? “Because God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

God loves us that much! In turn, He calls us to forgive others the way He has forgiven us. No, it’s not easy. It’s impossible! But it’s the renovation of our hearts by the indwelling Holy Spirit that enables us to begin growing a heart of forgiveness. When I think of the many sins that I’ve committed—and how much God has personally forgiven me—forgiving others gets a little easier.

destructivemarriage-650x220 (1)All marriages struggle. A certain level of conflict is normal. But some conflict goes way beyond normal. It becomes harmful to the body and soul of those who are victims of this emotionally destructive form of abuse. So when does it step over a line and become destructive and dangerous?

Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles joined us on March 5, 2014, for a heart-to-heart conversation about how we can begin to address the growing problem of emotionally destructive marriages. Leslie brought her 30 years of experience as a counselor and relationship coach to help us better understand that there is hope and help for those entrapped in emotionally destructive marriages.

Chris is a senior pastor and a Batterer Intervention Specialist who brought his experience and wisdom from years of teaching the Scriptures to his local flock and ministering to over 200 men who have been convicted of some form of domestic violence.

Together they combined forces to enable us to offer a uniquely Christian perspective on how to see, understand, and confront the emotionally destructive patterns in marriages at risk.

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar as well as the bonus feature 30 minute Q&A after the webinar, click the link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage PPT.

To get a free sample download from Leslie Vernick’s book, click the book title link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. For additional resources from Leslie, check out her website at:

For a free download of an RBC booklet by counselors Jeff Olson & Tim Jackson (one of our hosts) click the title link: When Violence Comes Home. Another booklet on verbal abuse by Jeff Olson is also available at: When Words Hurt.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you understand more about abuse and what can be done to stop it, click the link: Abuse.

I look forward to Christmas . . . and yet I don’t. I like listening to and singing along with the mostly cheery-somewhat melancholic music I hear on the radio and in stores, and I enjoy the tinsel, bright lights, and other festive decorations. I like decorating the tree and wrapping gifts. I love family gatherings and yummy meals and the sharing of gifts. And this year I especially look forward to the joy of watching my two little bright-eyed grandsons open their gifts.

But frankly, I have mixed feelings about much of the “to-do” about Christmas. I don’t like the expectations associated with gifts. So often I’ve given someone a gift and then learned that it was something the receiver already had, didn’t want, didn’t fit, or simply didn’t like (though usually that was kept hidden). And before that came the process of thinking about what to buy and then shopping, while avoiding the crowds, and hoping to get the perfect gift on a limited budget.

Speaking of budget, there were years when I did all my shopping in the month before Christmas and ended up using credit cards to buy the gifts or to pay necessary expenses in the months that followed. I’ve mostly solved this problem by buying fewer and less-expensive gifts on sale with cash and throughout the year, but sometimes that just gives me more time to agonize over whether or not I’ve purchased the right gift.

And though most family gatherings are cheery and fun, not all have been of the same caliber of togetherness and joy. (And this year will be sadder because both our dads/grandpas will not be here to celebrate with us.) In the past I’ve also gotten so caught up in preparing the food and making sure everyone was comfortable that I’ve missed out on conversations and moments the others shared. Now when everyone gathers at my house I’ve solved that dilemma by ordering pizza and having everyone bring salads or desserts.

And then there’s the letdown when all the hustle and bustle is abruptly over.

If that were all I had to look forward to in this holiday season, I’d be like all the rest of the world that has no real reason to celebrate. Thankfully, I do! I celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. In a seemingly insignificant birth to two insignificant people, Jesus quietly entered this world with only lowly shepherds to witness His coming (Luke 2:1-20). Yet that birth was heralded by angels and set in motion the chain of events that gives significance to my life here on this earth and in the life to come.

That’s why I can take special joy in setting up my manger scene, singing carols of praise in God’s sanctuary, and savoring the stories of His birth found in Scripture.

I’m eternally thankful that He came, and I pray that I keep Him at the center of my celebration—not just in this season but all throughout the year.

A Christmas Carol

Tim Jackson —  December 11, 2013 — 7 Comments

Christmas Tree Topper Star–flickr/Creative Commons/Wilson Hui

I recently rewatched the 1984 made-for-television film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ famous 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. It was at a movie night that I host for the men at my church. We watch movies and then discuss the issues raised by the films that challenge, encourage, or discourage our journey into becoming the men God calls us to be.

What struck me was a scene early in the film that set the tone for the rest of the story. It’s the first place the ghost of Christmas past took Ebenezer Scrooge—back to a dreary boarding-school classroom where a boy sat alone with his books on Christmas Eve.

Why was he there? And why was he alone?

Ebenezer’s father had sent him to the boarding school because he blamed Ebenezer for the death of his mother. She’d died during childbirth. As an adult looking back, Ebenezer rationalized to the ghost that this rejection justified his compensation of hiding in his books—a decision that would eventually lead to a heart increasingly incapable of giving or receiving love.

Over time Ebenezer solidified his withdrawal from any and all relationships that held the potential risk of pain, firmly entrenching him in his miserly management of money and stocks devoid of human compassion under the guise of “it’s business.” His ill-placed commitments led to a level of cruelty and hard-heartedness that left him where he began—alone with his ledgers as his only companions on yet another Christmas Eve.

How sad! Not just for Ebenezer Scrooge (whose name has become synonymous with miserly and misanthropy in the English language) but for all who follow his path of a life dominated by the fear of rejection and pain.

The truth that stuck with me that night as I walked outside into the wintry blast was this: People who are a pain are in pain. Turn back the pages in their story far enough and eventually you will find a painful situation they’ve been running from all their lives. And it’s not until they face it in the presence of love and grace that they can break free from the chains they’ve woven in life that have kept their hearts cold, hard, and dead.

Fortunately, in A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens doesn’t leave Ebenezer there. There’s a resurrection, a transformation of heart that required supernatural intervention. And he ends up on his knees praying for the opportunity to be a different man.

Transformation always happens that way. It comes through seeing our painful past, recognizing how we first attempted to survive that pain on our own, owning how the subsequent series of choices forged a lifestyle of control and avoidance that insured our safety from that pain . . . and our loneliness. It’s through brokenness that we come to the end of ourselves and turn in desperation to the only One who can remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26).

The real carol of Christmas is that the Transformer of human hearts, Jesus, has come as a humble baby in a manger, not to condemn those whose hearts have been hardened by trying to survive in a hostile environment, but to offer a way out, to rescue us from ourselves that we might share in His life (John 3:17).


Santa Arrives!—Flickr/Creative Commons/MIKECNY

I recently heard a woman’s compelling story of victory through Christ over a persistent sin in her life. One thing she stated stood out in light of the upcoming Christmas holiday. She shared that when she learned as a young girl that there was no such thing as Santa, she also began to wonder about Jesus. She reasoned that if her parents could lie about Santa, surely Jesus could be a cleverly devised lie as well.

You may not have experienced what this woman did when she learned the truth about Santa, but you probably felt some disappointment, disillusionment, or even anger. I know that both my husband and I were disappointed when we learned that Santa wasn’t real and for us Christmas lost some of its magic, and that’s why we didn’t insist to our children that Santa was real. What we told them was that once upon a time there was a real person named Saint Nicholas and that Santa was patterned after him. We also told them that we give gifts at Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ birth. They were totally fine with that.

I’m not saying we should never tell the children in our life stories about Santa or the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy, but I think we need to think twice about how we do. After all Santa is a myth, and when we perpetuate the myth of Santa we can inadvertently downplay the true meaning of Christmas. We relegate the story of Jesus in the manger to just another heartwarming but fictitious story.

The story of Santa is a sweet little story, but that’s all it is. Jolly old Saint Nick brings gifts, but Jesus was the gift—God’s gift to us. Let’s remember this holiday season to put the emphasis on the Christ child, the Son of God, who left heaven to come to Earth to live as an example for us to follow and to suffer and die so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life. It doesn’t get any better than that!

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

The Rules of Grief

Jeff Olson —  October 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

Winding Road, by Ruben I, Creative Commons/flickrOver the past couple of years, as I’ve struggled to figure out what a world without a mom and a dad looks like, I’ve learned and relearned a few things about grieving that a griever and someone who is trying to care for someone in their grief may find helpful.

I’ve learned that the first rule of grieving is that there are no rules. Grieving is neither neat nor orderly. There is no clearly defined path or timetable to follow. Different aspects of grief (the painful separation, disbelief, anger, guilt, hopelessness, etc.) fade in and out of our hearts with no discernible pattern. And there is no way of knowing how many times we will experience any particular aspect or so-called “stage” of grief.

I’m learning that just because we feel or wrestle with something once doesn’t mean we will never do so again. Most people experience several recurring feelings and questions as they grieve, sometimes as if it were for the first time.

Since watching both of my parents draw their last breaths, I’ve been reminded again that it’s okay to grieve. As King Solomon observed, there is a time for everything, including a time to weep” and “a time to mourn” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

No matter what aspect of grief wells up inside of us, I’m learning that it is important to give ourselves permission to feel and express it. It’s important to let the feelings and thoughts come—raw and unfiltered—and to put words to them. William Shakespeare rightly noted, “Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak . . . bids it [the heart] break.”

As crazy as it makes me feel sometimes, I’m learning that I need to mourn. According to Jesus, comfort awaits the griever (Matthew 5:4). I’m learning that leaning into the pain of loss opens me up to lean on God and others for comfort.

Lastly, I’m learning that Paul was right when he wrote that Christians grieve with hope. It is the hope of seeing our loved ones again when Jesus returns that helps to make unbearable loss more bearable (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

To learn more about helping folks in the throes of grief, tune into our upcoming Webinar, Shepherding Others Through Loss, on November 6, 2013, at 2 p.m. EST.