We Usually Believe The Opposite

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8)

Let those words sink in because most of us live like the exact opposite is true. Check out this 2-minute explanation …

A Leader’s Appropriate Anger

…he became very angry (1 Samuel 11:6).

Sometimes we think of godly leaders as always being cool, calm, and collected. But to remain calm when the situation calls for a vigorous response is unbecoming of the title of “godly” leader, and may even be a sin.

The Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead had been surrounded by the forces of King Nahash. His terms of surrender to these Israelites was unduly harsh: “I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you as a disgrace to all Israel! (v. 2).

When this message got to King Saul, “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry.” He sent messengers to all of Israel demanding all the able-bodied men to come out to join his army in counter-attacking King Nahash.

Notice that what prompted Saul’s anger was God’s Spirit coming upon him. Since Israel was about to be disgraced, Saul had to act! Also notice this: “And the Lord made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one” (v. 7).

The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is apathy. God expresses strong emotions without sinning. When the Spirit of God made Saul angry at the oppression and potential disgrace of His people, Saul acted. To not act—to shrug his shoulders in apathy and say, “That’s not my problem”—would have been a sin.

Sometimes Christians want to suppress a strong feeling of hate or anger. But when God hates something or is angry at something, we would do well to pay attention to that and feel and act as God would have us act. The Bible tells us not to sin in our anger, but it never tells us not to be angry. 

Anything that is keeping someone from God’s love or God’s presence should arouse our righteous anger to do righteous things.

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows the right things to hate.

This is part 19 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Correctly Handling Your Strong Emotions

And it grieved me bitterly… (Nehemiah 13:8).

Leaders believe so strongly in what they have been called by God to do, that opposition to God’s plan arouses very strong emotions in a leader!

When Nehemiah was angered at those who either deliberately or unintentionally sinned, his anger brought swift and decisive action—

  • He threw away people’s stuff
  • He issued explicit commands
  • He confronted other leaders
  • He issued strong threats
  • He beat people up (really!)
  • He excommunicated

Yet in all these actions he did not sin. He prayed in between many of these episodes, “God, remember what I have done. Show me mercy. Reward me for this good I have done.” And nowhere after these prayers do we see God rebuking Nehemiah for mishandling his emotional responses.

A mark of a godly leader is one who handles his strong emotions in a God-honoring way.

A leader’s prayer: Father, in my anger keep me from sin. May even my strongest of emotional responses bring glory to You.

This is Part 12 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts by clicking here.

Break Free From Porn—5 Quotes That Will Help You

The Porn CircuitThe Porn Circuit is a great book to make you aware of the dangers of pornography. You can read my full book review of this free downloadable book here, and check out the first set of quotes I shared by clicking here.

Here are some additional quotes specifically to help you break free from the hold pornography has on your life.

Your #1 strategy … LEARN TO HATE PORN!

Hate what it does to you, to your relationships, and to those involved in sex trafficking because of the porn industry.

#2 … Create some positive activities you can do when you’re tempted to look at porn.

“The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making logical part of the brain, and each time that a person resists temptation and each time a positive habit is reinforced, the prefrontal cortex gets stronger. That means a person’s willpower grows and the cues and cravings for porn use grow weaker.”

“This approach (of introducing positive habits) makes plastic sense because it grows a new brain circuit that gives pleasure and triggers dopamine release which, as we have seen, rewards the new activity and consolidates and grows new neural connections. This new circuit can eventually compete with the older one, and according to use it or lose it, the pathological networks will weaken. With this treatment we don’t so much ‘break’ bad habits as replace bad behaviors with better ones.” —Dr. Norman Doidge

“Whatever rewarding activity is pursued, it needs to be an activity that is reoccurring. Building new rewarding neural pathways requires time and ongoing repetition:

  1. Neurons that fire together wire together. Repeating a pleasurable activity instead of the compulsive activity, such as porn use, forms a new circuit that is gradually reinforced instead of the compulsion.
  2. Neurons that fire apart wire apart. When a person refuses to act on a compulsion, like porn and masturbation, it weakens the link between the activity and the idea that it will provide relief.”

#3 … Start using the 3-second rule.

“When watching TV, walking through the mall, or driving past billboards, temptation can strike when least expected. Many therapists recommend using the 3-Second Rule, which involves three steps:

  1. Alert: Realize that you see something inappropriate. It may only take a split-second to recognize a tempting situation.
  2. Avert: Close your eyes or look away. These first two steps should be instantaneous.
  3. Affirm: Give yourself a mental high-five to congratulate the effort. Say to yourself, ‘I saw that by mistake, and I quickly looked away. I’ve been clean for (xx number of days) and I’m going to stay that way.’”

3-Second Rule

#4 … Don’t forget to watch out for H.A.L.T. times.

“Physical care is vital to vigilance. HALT is the acronym often used by therapists to remind people of when they can be most vulnerable it stands for: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Simply going to bed on a regular schedule to get a good night’s rest can help one’s brain be more focused on positive habits and more alert to fight temptations. Not only eating but also eating well can improve mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise keeps the mind more focused, the body feeling great, and improve sleep.”

Thursdays With Oswald—Your Thought Life DOES Matter

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Your Thought Life DOES Matter

“Beware of saying, ‘Oh well, it doesn’t matter much what I think about in secret’; it does, for the opportunity will come when what you think about in secret will find expression and spurt out in an act. The Bible always speaks of sin as it appears in its final analysis. Jesus does not say, ‘You must not covet because it will lead to stealing’; He says, ‘You must not covet because it is stealing.’ He does not say, ‘You must not be angry with your brother because it will lead to murder’; He says, ‘You must not be angry with your brother because it is murder.’”

From Our Portrait In Genesis

This is why the Apostle Paul tells us to take all of our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). What you are thinking about IS determining who you will become in the future. Capture those negative, unbiblical thoughts and replace them with the truth found in God’s Word.

10 Quotes On Emotional Health From “Brain Savvy-Leaders”

Brain-Savvy LeadersOur emotions start in our brain. Charles Stone wrote a very helpful book called Brain-Savvy Leaders, in which he covers a lot of ground inside our heads. One aspect is our emotional health. I encourage you to read my review of this book by clicking here. Below are some quotes Charles shared on our emotional health.

“Gratefulness is actually good for brain and body health.” 

“When the emotionality of leaders takes over, they compromise their ability to lead well in these ways:

  • impulse can overwhelm intention
  • imagination gets pushed aside by instinct
  • defensiveness stifles healthy positions
  • automatic behavior shuts down reflective thought
  • emotionality gets in the way of intentionality.”

“Fear, conscious and unconscious, is prompted by the amygdala. The brain naturally focuses on problems and the negative. It overestimates threats and underestimates opportunities. In fact, two-thirds of the brain cells in our amygdala are primed for negativity and fear. Negative networks in our brain outweigh positive ones by five to one. And negative emotions are more easily consolidated (made more permanent) into our long-term memory than positive emotions.”

“Fear can even be subconscious, especially if we’re surrounded by bad news, critical people, or if our self-talk is constantly negative.”

“Neuroscientists have found that stuffing, denying, or a ignoring our emotions reinforces them, affects short-term memory, increases blood pressure, and robs our brain’s prefrontal cortex of the mental energy it needs.”

“Although it may seem counterintuitive, tagging your emotions, through labeling and naming them by putting feelings into words, actually recruits our impulse break and dampens activity in our panic alarm.”

“Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.” —Chinese Proverb

“Since our brains process and remember bad events more thoroughly than good ones…it’s vital that we develop the discipline of being aware of our thoughts. … Thinking about our thinking is called ‘metacognition.’”

“Emotions play a significant role in decision-making and influence how well your team will embrace change. Just presenting facts without engaging positive and hopeful emotions will seldom move your team forward. The brain can only handle so much change at once. Trying to create too much change too quickly can engage the brain’s fear center and cause an away response, thus hindering change.”

“In one research study in Israel, Dr. Tal Shafir looked at the impact of movement on the brain of twenty-two young male and female participants. They looked at video clips of actors performing various emotions that corresponded to sad, fearful, happy, or neutral. Happy movements included raising their arms in the air, skipping, and jumping. Sad movements included closing their chests and slumping forward. The participants then either mimicked the movements or imagined themselves doing them. The emotions they reported mirrored the corresponding movements. So, if you need a mood boost, keep a good posture or throw your arms up and out into the air.”

Previously I shared some other quotes from this book on how we learn, and on how to keep our brain healthy. Please check these out too.

What To Do When You’re Burning Mad

Angry“Speak when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” ―Laurence J. Peter

Of course we all get angry. If we let it out we might burn up the people around us, but if we hold it in we might blow up inside. What are we to do when we’re burning mad?

Nehemiah was in the midst of a massive building program, with enemies of Israel threatening to attack at any moment, and then people start coming to him with reports of the ungodly lifestyle among some of Israel’s leading families.

To say Nehemiah was hot is an understatement (Nehemiah 5:6). The Hebrew word means boiling mad, scorching hot! We would do very well to notice how he handled this situation.

First, “I pondered these accusations in my mind…” (v. 7a). He didn’t fire off the first thoughts that came to mind.

Second, “…then I accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are loan-sharking your own countrymen’” (v. 7b). He made a very specific point without elaborating on all the gory details.

Third, he gave them an opportunity to respond (v. 8).

Fourth, he called them all together and said, “What you’re doing isn’t right. You are not following God’s ways, and you are giving God a bad reputation to those outside our community” (v. 9).

Fifth, he used his personal lifestyle as an example (v. 10).

Finally, he asked them to change their behavior (v. 11).

Pretty simple:

  • Wait
  • Think
  • Make the accusation simple
  • Give them a chance to respond
  • Hold them to a high standard
  • Live out the standard yourself
  • Ask for a change of behavior

The next time you’re burning mad, try this and see what happens.

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