People are afraid – but what comes out of their mouths often doesn’t sound like fear; It sounds more like anger, or frustration, or bitterness, or bravado. But no matter the content of the words, the force behind those words is often fear.
Whether people are proclaiming others as being less important than themselves, blasting others for their ‘ridiculous’ beliefs, or accusing others of being narrow minded, or thoughtless, or incompetent, or heretical, or a thousand other things… fear is often the driving force behind the vehemency of our words.
Love is the only solution to this kind of fear. Perfect love drives fear away. (1 John 4:18) It’s not wrong to have an opinion, share your viewpoint, hold your own in a debate, or speak up when you see things differently. But if you let love be the force behind your words you will speak with kindness, patience, and respect.
When the ugliness and subtlety of our fears become the driving force behind our words, or our tweets, or our Facebook posts, then that fear will only result in anger. Whether that anger is aggressive or passive, anger has a ‘tone’ that fear feeds.
Someone will inevitably point out that God gets angry (according to the scriptures) and that Jesus made a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple. People always use that example to justify their own indignation and anger. Except Jesus’ anger was very specific. He was angry at the religious establishment who were making it difficult for people to come to know the living God. And God gets angry about injustice and our indifference to it. That kind of anger is fuelled by love, not fear. So sure, let love stir up all sorts of passions and even angers in you.
But don’t let fear be the driving force behind your anger as is so often the case. The angry headlines, the angry tweets, the angry protests, the angry disagreements are just the fear talking.
Let love loose in your life, and your tone will change. You will be a subversive force for change, not a confrontational one. And in the process you will show others a more excellent way.
1 Cor 13
1 John 4v18
Recently I had to make one of the biggest decisions of my life.
It was one of those decisions that I just knew some people would love and other people would dislike. I knew some people would be delighted and other people would question why. I knew that some people would see my perspective, while others would not understand.
Maybe you’ve had to make similar decisions or are facing one now. For me it was the decision to leave my position as associate pastor of the church that I’d been at for 15 years, and move to a different church only 2 miles away that was searching for a senior pastor. We made the decision and made the move – but it wasn’t easy. Many people were supportive and encouraging, but some found it hard to understand and accept.
I am by nature a people pleaser. I hate conflict. And so to make a decision that I knew wouldn’t please everyone and would actually create some upset was really difficult.
But I don’t for one second regret making the decision.
One of the things I’m learning in life is that you can’t afford to get stuck by other people’s expectations. Other people will have an opinion about you and about what you should be doing. Many of those opinions will be well intentioned, even full of warmth and love. But ultimately, the only opinion that matters is God’s. If you have to make a decision that you know others will find difficult, you should try your utmost to be wise and sensitive. But you cannot afford to become paralysed by worrying about what others will think.
There are 4 reasons that I have total peace, even though others might not understand…Continue Reading...
Feelings are great.
I want to be a person who feels. When we stop feeling, we stop caring. And when we stop caring, it’s called depression.
I wish my feelings were only of the positive, uplifting variety. Joy, wonder, peace, inspiration, satisfaction, determination, insightfulness, creativity, contentment: these are the feelings I like. They are my favourite feelings. They are always welcome.
Of course there are the other feelings too. Anxiety, guilt, frustration, confusion, inferiority, jealousy, weariness, temptation (let’s not even go there…) These pesky feelings are less welcome. In fact I’d quite like it if they never showed up at all. But they do.
The trouble with feelings is that they can be such fickle little things. They can be so elusive. Just when you think you know how you’re going to feel, your feelings decide to change – without even consulting you. And it’s no use wanting to feel a certain way. No matter how much I want to feel happy, I can’t make it happen. Have you ever gone to bed feeling happy, and woke up feeling sad? How does that happen? Those fickle feelings.
Feelings are always going to be hanging around. We need them, and more importantly, we need to learn from them. They can be great teachers if we take the time to understand them. I have found a few things helpful in learning to deal with the highs and lows of feelings:Continue Reading...
If you listen to the coffee-shop conversations, the political debates, the social-media arguments, and the news headlines, you can hear a kind of hopelessness in our world. People have lost their confidence in tomorrow. They have lost the sense that our world could somehow get better. People are angry. But anger is usually just fear in disguise.
Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote “what the world needs now is love sweet love.” It’s a classic tune and I won’t argue with the sentiment. But I think what the world needs right now is hope – real hope.
And real hope comes from the source of true hope.
Romans 15 v 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Everyone is full of something. But imagine trusting God so fully, that the result is a life filled with hope. And not only filled, but so filled with hope that it overflows in your life.
That kind of overflow can have a profound impact on the lives of those around us. Instead of joining in the never-ending negative conversations, why not seek to be a channel of hope to others? Why not start today?