Wednesday, November 19, 2008



When your future is out of control, you will have fear. When your present is out of control, you will have anger. People and circumstances just aren't doing what we want them to do and are out of control-the spouse or child who is out of control, the driver who just cut you off on the freeway, the water heater just blew up and your car has broken down-again!

In addition to the people and circumstances that are out of control, there is one more thing that continues to fuel anger in your mind. It might be called brain-chatter. Here is how it works. You can do the following: Expect the worse. Personalize everything. Live by the power of the "shoulds", shoulding yourself to death. Specialize in mind-reading games, thinking you know what's really going on. Take in criticism and block out compliments. See everything in terms of black and white. Compare, compare, compare. Over-generalize-always and never! Blame and attack. Insist that nothing be changed. You must always be right and never, ever wrong. Thinking this way is a guarantee to fuel your anger!

Anger occurs when you are frustrated with your present being out of control. And every time you try to control your life you are rejecting God's ability and willingness to control your world. There is a certain sense of surrender you must give in order to allow God to control your life.

Maybe the most important factor in surrendering the controls of your life in the present is the Spirit of Jesus Who now lives in all who are genuine followers of Jesus. Just to give you a sketch of what the Spirit of Jesus does in your life, check out the following:

(1) He is the seal of God in us (Ephesians 4:30). He is like an engagement ring that promises the fulfillment of marriage. The Holy Spirit's presence in our lives is our guarantee that God will continue to do His work in us until the return of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus-the presence of Jesus living inside us right now.

(2) He leads us to life. This work of the Holy Spirit is closely related to His sealing. Paul alludes to this work when he says, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). Through this work of perfecting us God intends to "conform us to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). He's leading all believers to being like Jesus. In this work of leading us to life "the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16).

(3) The Holy Spirit is our enabler (John 14:16,26). It's like spiritual adrenalin! There are times when His enablement is very clearly recognized for what it is, such as at the time of Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell believers permanently). This would be a special enablement of the Spirit.

Many people feel the need to label the experience (the second blessing, the baptism, the filling, slain in the Spirit, etc.), seek it again, propagate it as an experience for everyone, and hold it up as a prerequisite for spiritual maturity. This kind of experience can become so important ("I can't know God's fullness without it!") that people will do anything to get it. Just keep in mind that "all the fullness of God dwells in Jesus in bodily form" and the mission of the Spirit of Jesus is to glorify Him.

(4) He instills desires in us. In Galatians 5:16-17 Paul says: "But I say walk by that which is spirit (reborn spirit), and you will not carry out the desire of that which is flesh (old sin nature). For the flesh sets its desire against that which is spirit, and that which is spirit sets its desire against the flesh". The reborn spirit has spiritual desires in contrast to the desires of the flesh.

(5) He intercedes for us. The Spirit "helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26). He is our constant Helper in our finite efforts to relate to the infinite God of the universe.

(6) He illuminates the Word of God for us. The non-spiritual man (non-believer) "does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are (only) spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things" (I Corinthians 2:14-15).

(7) He gives us wisdom. "But if any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5). It's a wisdom "not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age" (I Corinthians 2:6). He will give us wisdom so that we can make wise decisions for His glory and our good.

(8) He works all things together for good. In the same context where the Spirit is said to be our prayer partner, one of the most popular promises of all is delivered: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). It's not that He'll work everything out to be good, but that He'll work everything (trials, tragedies, etc.) together with something else for good.

Once you surrender your will and the controls of your life over to the Spirit of Jesus one day at a time, then you have the possibility of turning your anger into a force for God and your good. Anger is a feeling that is neutral. You will have these feelings from time to time. There is nothing wrong with being angry.

There are two passages that offer great insights here. In Ephesians 4:26 it says: Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. In other words, don't let this natural emotional expression of anger fester into resentment. And then in James 1:20 there is a warning: For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.

A lot of what triggers the anger with people who seem out of control in our lives is the tendency for us to judge in a condemnatory way. It's that old problem of wanting to be right and straighten out the rest of the world according to our standards.

To this I want to share something I heard many years ago: There's so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it's very difficult to decide just which of us should reform the rest of us. I think what we must do is to get over ourselves and to turn the controls over to Jesus. And the only way I know to do this is to surrender to the Spirit of Jesus who lives within you.



Every day when you wake up, you are blasted with the message that there is something fearful out there that can harm you or bring on inevitable disaster for you and even the planet. I don't care what channel of news you watch; they are all the same. There is a feeding frenzy on the bad news and when the bad news begins to turn into good news, the news isn't worth covering any longer.

We just witnessed this with the fires here in southern California. When the fires are threatening, there is non-stop coverage to the point of layers of repetition. Or, if there is a slow day in the news-a day where nothing disastrous is imminent or a serial rapist is not on the loose or no asteroid is heading straight toward planet earth, then they still are bound to make something up and interview a man who once talked with a space alien.

Bad news is everywhere! When this stream of bad news is set before us, it is usually about something that is about to happen or could happen-in the future. This bad news always elicits fear. Fear occurs when your future is out of control. Remember years ago when we were in the gas crisis; the lines at the gas stations were amazing. Those who waited in line might have had gas in their tank, but they wanted to top it off. They were fearful that there would not be any gas tomorrow.

Fear is a horrible thing that can actually paralyze you and keep you from moving forward with your life. Fear of the future can also cause you to make bad or unwise choices. There are several common fears. There is the fear of missing out that we see demonstrated by Adam and Eve in the Garden. Moses feared being embarrassed when he was to go before the people of Israel and before Pharaoh. This was a sense of feeling inferior for sure. Paul probably suffered from the fear of being wrong and therefore lived a dogmatic life, attacking the people of the way who were walking to a different drumbeat. Fear is always about the consequences we feel we are going to face in the future. Those who fear the future are most likely to fumble the present!

By the way, have you noticed that many of your fears have nothing to do with you personally? Like when the fires are burning without any possibility of getting to you, it still generates fear. This is also true of the mighty hurricanes that rip through certain parts of our country or earthquakes anywhere in the world. Just like second-hand smoke; I call this second-hand fears. Whatever makes your future spin out of control, fear is the result. Fear turns out the lights in your life so that you are faced with darkness and doom in your future. Fear is the darkness where negatives are developed.

What's interesting is that you can't control the future. There is nothing you can do. It takes a certain amount of pride to think you can. So, what is the answer to this dilemma?

In the book of I John there is a great antidote given for fear-to actually cast it away from you. It says: 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. PERFECT LOVE DRIVES OR CASTS OUT FEAR FROM YOU! Perfect love is complete love. If we can experience this complete and full love, then fear will be cast away!

In this passage there are three kinds of love relationships referenced. FIRST-God loves you. This is the first step in casting out fear so that you don't have to experience its paralyzing hold on you. God loves you no matter what and He is not waiting for you to perform well enough to achieve acceptance with Him. This is the essence of the Good News of Jesus. Jesus came to communicate the love God has for us. You are to make the decision to receive God's unconditional love for you.

SECOND-You love God. You are to reciprocate God's love for you by responding to Him-actually focusing on God with a heart of gratitude and love for Him. Practically speaking, as you learn to follow Jesus, you show your love for Him by your obedience to Him-trusting Jesus with everything!

THIRD-You love others. You first receive God's love for you, then reciprocate this love back to Him and finally you are ready and freed up to release your love for one another.

Now think about this! If you are caught up in God's love for you, your love for God and then your love for one another, there is no room for fear. Therefore, fear has to go! When you are experiencing this kind of love in your life, you will find your faith muscle getting stronger and there will be no fear of your out-of-control future. You can turn your fears over to Jesus and let Him at the controls.

Try this on for size: When fear knocks at your door because your future is out of control, send faith over to answer it.