Tuesday, August 11, 2009



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.