Remember! Remember!

In 1863 some women in Columbus, Mississippi went out to the local cemetery to place flowers on the graves of the Confederate soldiers.  They noticed a section of the cemetery had graves for Union soldiers.  They placed flowers on those graves also.  They honored the dead soldiers and offered prayers for the families.

A couple of years later, Henry C. Welles in Waterloo, New York, closed his drug store on May the 5th and invited the entire community to honor the soldiers who had given their lives.  They also placed flowers on graves and flew the flag at half-staff.   Many communities participated.  This was first known as Decoration Day.  At the end of World War I, the memorial emphasis was shifted to people who had given their lives in all American wars.  In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a National Holiday by an Act of Congress.

Memorial Day is designated to recognize those who have paid the supreme price in their military service.  It is not just a legal holiday where people enjoy family outings and barbeque bashes – it’s a day to remember.  Remembering is something many of us are not very good at doing.  It takes no effort to forget – it takes a lot of energy to remember (Tweet this). 

For many years, Frank Harrington served as senior minister of the Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.  He once told about a friend who was traveling in England.  His car broke down, and while he was waiting for the car to be repaired, he decided to walk around the small town.

In the corner of an old and quaint cemetery, he noticed a stone wall.  In that enclosed area were 50 graves of young men between the ages of 17 and 25.  The men were from New Zealand, and they had died in that village during World War I.  At the entrance to the area was a marker with this inscription – “We shall never forget in this village their sacrifice.”  This triggered the imagination of the visitor, so he wanted to find out what these young men had done.  He walked around the village seeking an explanation for their valiant service.  Nobody knew!  When he asked, all the villagers looked at him with quizzical expressions on their faces.  The village – which had promised to remember – had forgotten. 

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses talks a lot about all the blessings of God.  He tells about how we drink from wells we did not dig and eat fruit from trees we did not plant.  Then comes a stern warning – “Be careful lest we forget” (Deut. 6:11-12).

The 2016 graduating class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point will be given graduation rings.  Each ring will contain small amounts of steel from the World Trade Center.  It will be a graphic, constant reminder to them of the 9/11 terror attack on this country.   The ring will help them remember.

Freedom isn’t free.  We stand on the shoulders of over 1.1 million people who have given their lives for our freedom.  While today we see many people in this country who do not honor our history and our flag, that does not take away from the honor and sacrifice of people who gave their lives.  No greater sacrifice has been given for us than for those brave men and women, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, who have paid the ultimate price with their lives.  Celebrate Memorial Day for its real meaning.

2 Peter 1:12, 15 says, “I plan to keep on reminding you of these things even though you already know them and are really getting along quite well . . . hoping to impress them so clearly upon you that you will remember them long after I have gone.”

Remember – remember – remember this Memorial Day.

Are Smartphones Smart?

How smart are smartphones?  They can make us smarter or dumber.  The result depends on our attitude and application of the device.

It is estimated that by the end of 2016, there will be 7.2 billion cell phones in the world.  Americans have spent $23.5 billion over the last seven years replacing broken smartphones.  The Wall Street Journal reports about 65% of smartphone users in the United States check their device upon waking in the morning.  On an average, 18-24 year olds check their phones 53 times a day.  I think some older adults exceed that number!

The smartphone can be extremely helpful.  In tackling the God-Sized Vision to start five million churches and win one billion new believers by 2020, much of the training of pastors is done by the use of smartphones.  Smartphones can carry inspirational information.  I record a one-minute audio devotional thought everyday and post a devotional blog each week on Facebook, both of which can be accessed on a smartphone.  Thousands of people find this helpful.  The same avenue of Facebook can carry a lot of other information that will have a negative effect on people.  Facebook is neither good nor bad – it can make us smarter or dumber.

The smartphone can be a great tool for communication in many ways.  There are many helpful apps that warn us about bad weather, traffic jams, news items, sports scores, etc.  Smartphones have immense potential for doing good – they also have immense potential for creating unwholesome lifestyles.  Distracted walking caused 11,101 injuries in 2011.  Utah Valley University has added a texting lane in its Wellness Center because of the dangers of texting and walking.  Misuse of smartphones can create “Smombies.” Jim Dennison writes:

“Smombies” are people who stare at their smartphones while walking like zombies.  They are a problem:  According to University of Washington study, one in three of us is busy dealing with a smartphone or other electronic device at risky road crossings.

Here’s one solution: Officials in the city of Augsburg have installed traffic lights embedded in the pavement.  The idea came after a fifteen-year-old girl was killed by a tram.  Police say she was distracted by her smartphone as she crossed the tracks.  The new lights are more obvious to those looking down at their devices while walking.

Technology fixation is not just dangerous while we are ambulatory.  Hearing loss, sedentary weight gain, sleep disruption, and damage to the eyes, neck, wrists and fingers are all connected to excessive smartphone use.  In addition, media multitasking contributes to poor attention span, depression and anxiety.  One study showed that people who multitasked while doing cognitive tests dropped as many IQ points as if they had just smoked marijuana.

In other words, smartphones make dumb people.  What’s the answer?

Experts tell us to make rules such as: no smartphone usage at social events, while driving, or during interaction with others.  Turn off all alerts at certain times during the day.  Some people even create a long, frustrating password that makes it harder for them to turn on the phone casually.”

Smartphones can make you either smarter or dumber.  The choice is up to you.  It can be a tremendous asset in your life or it can quickly become a liability.  Are you in control of your smartphone or is your smartphone in control of you?  (Read Rom. 8:26-28.)

Be smart and ask God to help you analyze how smart is your use of your smartphone!

On Your Mark – Get Set – Act!

In life we are all confronted with challenges.  We have to decide how we are going to respond to a specific challenge.  How we respond begins to define who we are.

Someone has said, “Based on the challenge, the best thing to do is the right thing.  The second best thing to do is the wrong thing.  The worst thing is to do nothing.”  Albert Einstein said, “The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm.  It is dangerous because of those who watch and do nothing!”

A lot of people like to dream and theorize and talk and offer suggestions – but productive people do something about the situation.  Each year several people get a McArthur Foundation Grant which ranges up to $175,000.  There are no strings attached.  They are called “Genius Grants.”  The term “genius” means the grants go to people who have actually done things.  “Genius” applies only to accomplishments – not to potential.

What do you need to act on today? One year from now, what are some things you will look back and wish you had started today?  James 4:17 says “Knowing what is right to do and not doing it is a sin.”  Let me meddle a little bit:

  • Maybe you need to lose weight.  Thinking about it and reading about it won’t do it.  You have to act now.
  • Maybe you need to save money for retirement, college tuition, etc.  Just thinking about it and knowing it’s a good idea won’t accomplish anything.  You need to act and start saving today.
  • What about an attitude change?  Maybe it’s something you have thought a lot about and you know you need to do.  I think attitude is more important than the reality of a situation.  You might not be able to do anything about the situation, but you can change your attitude.  The time to start is now!
  • What about forgiving someone?  Forgiving someone is essential for God’s forgiveness for us (Mat. 6:14-15), but it won’t happen until somebody takes the initiative.  The time to forgive is now.
  • What about dropping the use of profanity?  It certainly would improve your vocabulary, and you would express yourself more effectively.  You will also be a more pleasant person to be around.  The time to stop using profanity is now.
  • What about building a relationship with someone?  Talking about it won’t cut it.  The time to start is now.
  • Maybe you know someone who has a need that you can meet and you have ignored it.  (Read James 2:14-17.)  That person’s situation may not change unless you act.  Don’t just talk about it or pray about it – take the initiative – act now.

Prayer is a powerful force.  It’s essential in our lives.  But be careful – prayer sometimes can be a substitute for action.  It’s easier to pray about something than to act on it.  When Moses was leading the children of Israel, they came up against the Red Sea.  Pharaoh’s army was closing in.  Moses’ people were organizing a “Back to Egypt” committee.  Then God said to Moses, “Quit praying and get the people moving forward. March!” (Ex. 14:15 NLB).

Think about all the things you need to start today that will make you a better person one year from now.  You won’t be better because you thought about them – but because you acted on them.

On your mark – get set – act!

Let God Help You Get A “Yet” Mindset

 

In life we have two choices – we can focus on the bad things that happen or we can focus on how good God is.  Our tendency is to focus on the negative, but that can play tricks with our minds.  The Bible reminds us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Ps. 23:7).  Our mindsets govern our actions and attitude.

There is a book in the Old Testament called Lamentations which addresses a negative mindset.  In the first three chapters, Jeremiah gives a long litany lamenting how bad things are.  His beloved city, Jerusalem, which “once thronged with people, was silent now.  She sits like a widow broken with grief alone in her mourning.  She was once a queen of nations, is now a slave” (Lam. 1:1).

Jeremiah describes his initial reaction.  “I begged my allies for help.  False hope, they could not help at all.  Nor could my priests and elders.  They are starving in the streets while searching through the garbage for an ounce of bread” (Lam. 1:19).  “There is no one anywhere to help” (Lam. 1:21).

He continues, “I cried until tears no longer came.  My heart is broken as I see what has happened to my people: little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets.  They cry out, ‘Mama, Mama, we want food’ and then collapse on their mothers’ shrunken breasts.  Their lives ebb away like those wounded in battle” (Lam. 2:11).  Jeremiah describes himself like one who “cannot escape.  I am fastened with heavy chains.  My path has been filled with detours” (Lam. 3:7).

In the midst of this sad litany, Jeremiah changes his way of thinking.  The key word is in Chapter 3, verse 21, when he says, “Yet.”  I love that word “yet.”  It means that change is fixing to take place.  He says, “Yet there is one ray of hope.  God’s compassion never ends.  It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction.  God in His faithfulness, His loving kindness begins afresh each day” (Lam. 3:21-22).

The quality of life we enjoy sometimes hangs on the ability to use that word Yet.  Read my blog from July 15, 2015, about the prophet Habakkuk regarding the Yet mindset.  Habakkuk knew how to let the Yet mindset govern his thinking and actions.  When you get down, get up to the Yet mindset that focuses on His compassions and His mercies and His faithfulness.  (Tweet this)

One of my favorite hymns, based on Lamentations, says – Great is Thy faithfulness /Great is Thy faithfulness / Morning by morning new mercies I see / All I have needed Thy hand hath provided / Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

This hymn is a great witness of how faithful God is.  We discover it every day.  The last verse says – Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth / Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide / Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow / Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

That’s a Yet mindset!  It doesn’t deny the fact that things can be tough, but it affirms the fact that God’s faithfulness is stronger than our toughest situation, and His blessings are in the thousands!

We have a choice.  A choice determines a consequence.  You can choose to live on the negative side – and focus on how bad things are – and you can be completely overcome.  Or you can say “Yet” and let God help you change your thinking to the positive side – to focus on how faithful and merciful He is.  The Yet mindset makes possible unbelievable results!

Let God help you get a Yet mindset!!

Radical Risks Are Rewarding!

Some risks we take are fairly safe.  Other risks can be radical.  It takes a radical risk to love other people as we love ourselves (Mat. 22:39).  John reminds us that “the one who does not love does not know God” (I John 4:8).  Here are some simple, but radical, examples:

Last year a fifteen-year old boy, Yasir Moore, went for a job interview at a local Chick-fil-A in Raleigh, North  Carolina.  He stopped at a department store to buy a tie so he would look more professional.  The store didn’t have any clip-on ties, but one of the employees, Dennis Roberts, showed Moore how to tie his own tie.  He then offered some advice on the interview.

Yasir Moore was so appreciative that he reached over to hug Dennis on account of the advice and how to tie his tie.  Another customer had been observing this and quickly took a photo of this encounter.  Immediately, it went viral.

Yasir was so appreciative, he said, “In the world today you don’t see a lot of good things happen where people help each other.”  Yasir is a black man; Dennis is a white man.  The ability to help and receive help transcended racial lines – as genuine caring always does.  That’s radical!

Genuine caring isn’t restricted to a certain race, age, occupation or gender.  Last year in Fresno, California, several members of Hell’s Angels lived up to the last word of their name.  They waited in line for five days to buy bicycles for needy local kids.  They were going to take advantage of Black Friday sales so they could purchase over 200 bikes from a local WalMart.  They gave the bikes to kids who couldn’t afford a bike.

One member of Hell’s Angels commented, “It’s not the jacket I wear; it’s not the motor I ride, it’s not a glove.  You ain’t got enough money wearing anything to make me feel the way I feel when I give these kids these bikes.”  The greatest feeling in the world comes when we do something radically loving for someone else.

Maybe you read about the President of Kentucky State University.  He elected to take a big pay cut so the other school employees could get a raise.  Dr. Raymond Burse knocked $90,000 off his salary to give the University’s minimum wage earners a $3.00 bump to $10.25 an hour.  That raise will also apply to all new hires even after Burse goes out of office.  That’s radical!

Burse says his reasons were simple.  “You don’t give up $90,000 for publicity.  I did this for the people.  I didn’t expect any publicity.  This is something I have been thinking about from the very beginning.”

Radical caring for others is mathematically sound.  It will add volumes of joy and happiness, subtract loneliness and depression, divide your grief and adversity, and multiply your blessings and rewards. (Tweet this)

My friend, Anne Graham Lotz, reminds us that in dealing with others, “Our first concern is usually for our own well-being and having our needs met.  And our second concern is that others respond positively to our overtures.  If they don’t, we refuse to continue to love them.  But Jesus outlined a radically different kind of love – a love that puts the needs and well-being of others before our own to the extent we would sacrifice our time, our energy, our money, and our thoughts in order to demonstrate it.  We demonstrate it to others whom we may not like or with whom we may be incompatible or who may respond negatively or who may never do anything for us in return!  Now that’s radical!”

How radical will you risk being?

What Is Really Valuable?

One of the most difficult things in life is determining the value of any item.  When you go into a store, price tags indicate how much a certain item is worth.  Sometimes a store’s price tags get mixed up.  In life sometimes the price tags on values get mixed up.

How much is something worth?  Recently an antique photograph collector went into a flea market in Fresno, California and purchased a photograph for two dollars.  When he looked at it more closely he discovered that it was a rare picture of the legendary Billy the Kid.  The photo has been called “the Holy Grail of Western Americana,” and it is currently valued at $5 million.  A $5 million item was purchased for two dollars!

David Gonzales bought a dilapidated house in the town of Elbow Lake, Minnesota for $10,000.  He was going to fix it up.  As he was removing some of the newspapers used to insulate a wall, he found an old comic book tucked in with those newspapers.  He looked at it and thought it might be worth something.

He was amazed to discover that it was one of the rarest comic books of all time – the 1938 Action Comics #1 that introduced the world to Superman.  The comic book will be auctioned for about $200,000.  How much was that $10,000 house really worth?

In January 2014, 26-year old Ken Hoang was visiting Chicago and using his cell phone to take photographs of the icy Chicago River when he dropped his cell phone on the ice.  When he tried to retrieve the cell phone, he fell into the water.  Lauren Li, one of his friends, then dropped down to help him, but she slipped into the river.  They began to yell for help and another friend came and stepped on the ice and fell into the water.

Ken Hoang was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  Lauren Li was missing for a couple of days before her body was pulled from the water.  The third friend was found alive, hospitalized, and released.

Cell phones are important.  People get attached to cell phones, but are you willing to swap your life to try to retrieve a cell phone?  Are you willing to follow a friend into icy water to help them retrieve what they think is valuable?

Jesus was always encountering people who were asking questions about life.  One day some people confronted Him and asked Him about the values of life.  Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Every day we are exchanging precious time for something we consider to be valuable.  The question is – is it worth $2 or $5 million?  Is it a $200,000 treasure or just a $10,000 dilapidated house?  Are we so attached to some things that we swap our lives for something that is not worth giving a second thought?

There were some missionaries who had to be evacuated from a country recently.  They had to flee for their lives.  They were not allowed to take any of their possessions.  All they could do was get out themselves.  When they were interviewed and asked how tough it was to leave all their possessions behind them, they commented, “We carry our possessions in our mind and heart, not our hands.”

What is really valuable?  What are you spending your life for?  Check out Jesus’ answer in Mark 8:34-35.

Leaving a Legacy

How do you want to be remembered?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?  What memories about you will live longer than you live?

There is an interesting group known as the National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA).  This group has concocted a way that folks can leave a legacy.  They have devised a plan to allow people to have their tattoos posthumously removed, preserved and framed so they can be hung on a loved one’s wall.

This is the way it works:  When a tattooed person dies, NAPSA sends over a preservation kit to be brought to the funeral home.  The tattooed area of skin is sliced off and sent to this organization.  It takes about three months to have the tattoo framed and delivered to the family.  NAPSA says “Your story, your spirit and your legacy can live on for generations to come.”

I don’t want a tattoo to be my legacy.  Actually, I don’t want a tattoo! There are far more important things for which I want to be remembered.

In his book I Almost Missed The Sunset, Bill Gaither writes about teaching school in Alexandra, Indiana, where he had grown up.  He and his wife wanted to buy a piece of property where they could build a house.  He noticed some property he liked.  It belonged to a 92-year old retired banker named Mr. Yale.  He owned a lot of other property, and he always told people he didn’t want to sell “because I promised the farmers they could use it for their cattle.”

Bill and Gloria Gaither visited him at the bank and inquired about the property.  He said, “Not selling. Promised it to a farmer for grazing.”  Bill Gaither told him they were teaching school and thought he would consider selling it to somebody who would settle in that area.  Mr. Yale then asked him his name.  Bill said, “Gaither.  Bill Gaither.”

Immediately, Mr. Yale said, “Are you any relation to Grover Gaither?”  Bill said that was his granddad.  Mr. Yale said, “Interesting.  Grover Gaither was the best worker I ever had on my farm.  Full day’s work for a full day’s pay – so honest.  What did you say you wanted?”

Bill told him the acreage he was wanting to buy.  A week later Mr. Yale told him he had the property appraised and said, “How does $3,800 sound?  Would that be OK?”  Bill first thought he was talking about $3,800 an acre.  Mr. Yale was going to sell him all fifteen acres for $3,800!  Bill Gaither knew it was worth much more than that.  He got the property!

Thirty years later Bill Gaither and his son were strolling on his beautiful property that had once been pasture land.  Bill Gaither said, “Benjy, you’ve had this wonderful place to grow up through nothing that you’ve done, but because of the good name of a great-granddad you never met.”  What a legacy!

I seriously doubt tattoos will last very long.  If they do, that’s a poor legacy to leave.  I’m completely confident that a good name is a wonderful legacy to leave.  “A good name is more desirable than great riches.  To be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Prov. 22:1).  “A good reputation is more valuable than expensive perfume.  And the day you die is better than the day you are born” (Eccl. 7:1).  “Finishing is better than starting” (Eccl. 7:8).

Leave a legacy that will honor God and bless people!

Is It the Whole Truth?

Some statements are factually true, but they don’t tell the whole truth if you look at the bigger picture of what is being communicated.  Witnesses in court swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Here are some examples from sports of how something can be true, but not totally true.

Alabama State University built a state-of-the-art college football stadium five years ago.  I went over several times to speak with the coaches and football team.  Let me give you a trivia question – Who coached the first Alabama State University football victory in the new Hornet stadium?  People immediately answer, “Coach Reggie Barlow.”  That is not true.  People then have a puzzled look on their face.  The first game played was the Turkey Day Classic with Tuskegee, and Tuskegee won.  The next year, Alabama State did win, but it wasn’t their first win.  Following the first game against Tuskegee, the next game played was the Black and Gold game ending Spring practice.  I was invited to be the honorary coach for the Gold team.  My assistant was Roger Schultz.

I had Isaiah Crowell on my team.  As you may know, he has a great future with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL.  We got the ball and let Isaiah run it.  He made several large gains and scored.  We got the ball back and we kept giving the ball to him.  He scored again.

Coach Barlow came over to me and said, “John Ed, you can’t run Isaiah every play.”  I asked him, “Why not? He’s making yardage and we’re winning.  Unless you say differently, we are going to keep running him till the defense can stop him.”  The Gold team, my team, won the Black and Gold game!

So I coached the first Alabama State victory in the new Hornet Stadium.  As a coach, I am undefeated.  I have a 1000% record.  I don’t plan to coach anymore and am retiring with a perfect record!

To say that I coached the first victory for ASU in Hornet Stadium is the truth, but it doesn’t tell the whole truth about the bigger picture of Alabama State University football in the games that actually count on the books.  I did get doused with Gatorade, and I did help Isaiah Crowell get to the NFL, but that wasn’t the whole truth.

One of the great basketball players of all time is Kobe Bryant.  He is retiring at the end of this year.  Any place that the Lakers visit is sold out because people want to see Kobe for the last time.  He recently played in his last game in Phoenix.  The Phoenix Suns won 119-107.  The interesting thing is that the Suns have a 19-year old rookie guard who scored 28 points in his one and only game against the retiring Laker star Kobe Bryant, who played in his Desert Finale and scored 17 points.  Devin Booker tweeted “I am 1-0 vs. Kobe.  That is the memory I get to tell everybody, and there is going to be proof of it.”  When Bryant started his NBA career, Booker was not even born!

Booker is 1-0 against Kobe and outscored him.  That is a true statement, but it doesn’t tell the whole truth about the basketball accomplishments of Devin Booker and Kobe Bryant.  It’s the truth, but not the whole truth.

Stacey King was a great college and NBA basketball player.  Towards the end of his career, he played with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  In one of his last games, Michael Jordan scored 69 points and was taken out of the game with less than a minute to go.  Stacey King replaced him.

With a half-minute left in the game, Stacey King was fouled and made two foul shots.  He retired right after that, and at his retirement he was asked the question, “What is the greatest moment in your basketball history?”  Stacey King replied, “The night Michael Jordan and I scored 71 points together!”  That’s the truth, but it doesn’t communicate the whole truth.

Jesus begins many of his teachings with “I tell you the truth.”  In John 8:32, Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Truth is not always absolute in our conversation, but it is in Jesus Christ!

Anger Is Like a Bomb

In November 2015, a British mom and dad photographed their two kids climbing and jumping on the barnacle covered buoy that had washed up on the beach.  They did not realize it was a World War II bomb.

Kelly and Gareth Gravell were playing on a Welsh beach when they found the three-foot wide metal ball and their kids Erin, 6, and Ellis, 4, happily climbing over the object.  A few days later a local official announced that the buoy was in fact an old military mine and called in the Royal Navy to blow it up.  Garrett said about his kids, “Oops.  Thankfully they are fine and still here.”

Anger is like an inconspicuous bomb on which we allow our kids to play and sometimes play on them ourselves.  Anger looks harmless at first, but it has a destructive potential if detonated.  Especially dangerous are bombs and anger that have been around awhile.  In his 1994 newspaper article “Wars’ lethal leftover threaten Europeans,” Christopher Burns writes, “The bombs of World War II are still killing in Europe.  They turn up – and sometimes blow up – at construction sites, in fishing nets, or on beaches fifty years after the guns fell silent.  Hundreds of tons of explosives are recovered every year in France alone.”

Thirteen bombs exploded in France in 1993, killing 12 people and wounding 11.  Yvon Bouvet, who heads a government team in the Champagne-Ardennes region that defuses explosives from both World War I and World War II, said “I have lost two of my colleagues.”

Unexploded bombs become more dangerous with time.  With the corrosion inside, the weapon becomes more unstable, and the detonator can be exposed.

The most dangerous bombs are those that appear to be something else – like a barnacle covered buoy.  Anger is most dangerous also when you don’t recognize it for what it is.  But when it explodes it hurts every person near it.  It can close doors of opportunity – it can impair relationships  –  it can cause tremendous damage.

Frederick Buechner said, “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun.  To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue at the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come . . .  in many ways it’s a feast fit for a king.  The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself.  The skeleton at the feast is you.”

The person who receives the greatest destruction is the one who is playing with anger.  Anger is an acid that does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to the vessel in which it is poured. (Tweet this)

There are a lot of anger bombs lying around from the past.  Don’t admire them or play with them.  They can explode at any time!  You better know how to deal with them.  Call in the Expert – Jesus Christ – who knows what they are and how to carry your anger bombs to a safe place to detonate them.

Listen to God’s instructions:  “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent” (Ps. 4:4). “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32). “A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted” (Prov. 12:16). “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Prov. 15:1). “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (Prov. 25:28).

Examine carefully what you are dealing with – is it an undetonated military bomb or undetonated anger?  Both can do tremendous damage.

Shouting Time!

Rev. Robert Barnes was serving a church in Philadelphia, PA.  His church had just bought a lot nearby so they could expand their parking lot.  A small patch of Easter lilies had been growing on the lot for several years.  The paving company came in and bulldozed the lilies, they then poured the asphalt.  It wasn’t long before the congregation was using the new parking lot.

But an interesting thing occurred.  The following Spring they began to notice something strange.  The pavement of the new parking lot was starting to buckle and crack.  Sure enough, the Easter lilies were poking up through the asphalt!

The meaning of Easter is that hope is always stronger than despair.  It’s the fact that possibilities always exceed problems.  It’s the fact that life is stronger than death.  It’s the fact that God is in charge of everything.  You can bury life in the ground, but sooner or later it will spring up once again.  Life is poking up through the asphalt of death!

My friend Leigh Ann Raynor has written these words –

Easter Changes Everything

Every sorrow and every joy

Every battle, every defeat, every victory

Every fear and every act of courage

Every worry and every assurance

Every illness and every healing

Every conflict and every resolution

Every weakness and every strength

Every selfish act and every act of generosity

Every sin and every act of forgiveness

Every doubt and every belief

Every life and every death

Easter is something to shout about.  The great British minister W. E. Sangster became ill in the 1950s.  He developed an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy.  Eventually, his voice failed and he was unable to swallow.

On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter.  In it he said, “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice to shout ‘He is risen,’ but it would be even more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”

Easter is shouting time!  Paul writes that the Lord will return with “a mighty shout and with the soul-stirring cry of the archangel and the great trumpet call of God” (I Thes. 4:16).  It’s shouting time! Easter lilies are breaking through asphalt.  Resurrected life is breaking through the chains of death.  Hope is breaking through the cement of despair.  Victory is breaking through the scoreboard of defeat.

Let’s shout!