Doing Life Together

AngerAre you easily angered? Do you have a low tolerance for frustration. Does any little thing annoy and frustrate you? Are you tired of feeling out of control? If so, consider this.

Some children seem to be born more edgy and irritable. They often cry and appear easily frustrated. As toddlers, they are cranky and prone to upset. Researchers think genetics or physiology may predispose some people to be angrier than others.

In addition to the influence of genetics, our culture also plays a role in the way we express anger. Regularly we witness people throwing things, yelling, getting their way at the expense of others, hurting others and basically letting it all hang out. Desk rage, air rage and road rage are all around us. The message is, just release that pent up anger. You’ll feel better.

Family is also a source for learning when it comes to anger management. A family that is disruptive, chaotic and doesn’t know how to handle the emotion of anger creates angry people. You learn what you see. If family members are out of control and have no skills to manage anger, you will follow their lead unless you make intentional changes.

And since anger is a part of our emotional make-up, we all need to learn how to mange it without being destructive. No matter what the source of our anger, we are responsible for what we do with it.

For years, people were encouraged to give physical release to their anger, to “get it out of their systems.” Hit something, punch a pillow or a punching bag. Yell, scream and vent those angry feelings. Research tells us this is not a good idea. When people lash out with angry behavior, it actually escalates their anger and doesn’t calm them down!

So give your pillow a much needed rest and try these five strategies:

1) Take a 20 minute time-out from an angry situation. Walk away, practice deep breathing to calm down your body. Come back to the situation once you are physically relaxed.

2) Take each thought captive (2Corinthians 10:5). Angry emotions are rooted in angry thoughts so learn to stop that angry thought and think on something more positive or good (Philippians 4:8).

3) Choose not to take offense. Even if offense was given, it is your decision to take or refuse it. Always err on the side of giving mercy to others.

4) When you are the target of injustice, do the unnatural but biblical thing-pray for that person (Matthew 5:44). I admit, this isn’t easy to do.

5) Choose to forgive. Because God forgave you, you must forgive others. It’s a biblical mandate (Matthew 18:21-22). Forgiveness is an act of obedience to God and prevents bitterness from forming.

Always remember. You are the only one who has control over your responses. An angry emotion may creep up, but how you handle it is what counts. The biblical directive is to be angry and not sin (Ephesians 4:26). The way we meet that requirement is to respond in a godly way no matter what the source of the anger.

Paul sums it up in Romans 12:19-21 (NLT) ” Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written: “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. Instead do what the Scriptures say: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.” Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.”


Angry bossHave you ever had that moment when you thought or said, “Who made you the boss?”

Someone in authority or a leader makes a decision and you think you know better. If we are honest, this happens all the time. Yet, in most cases, we have no authority over the situation, nor are we asked to offer an opinion in the matter.

A story in Luke helps us  better understand how we are to respond to authority.

Luke 20 is about an owner (God) of a vineyard (God’s people) who allows renters (leaders) to manage his land. At one point, the owner decides he wants some fruit from his land, so sends his servant (those prophets and those who point to Christ as the true Messiah) to get fruit from the vineyard. But the renters beat up the servant and give him nothing. The owner sends a second, then a third servant and all are beaten. Finally, the owner sends his son whom the renters not only beat, but kill.

The heart attitude of the renters was rebellion, saying to the owner, “Who put you in charge?” The point is that when we are under authority, and we all are, the wrong response to an order is to question the person in charge.

The story is about the rejection of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. The leaders of the day did not listen to Him or respect His authority. Instead, they took the attitude, “Who made you the boss? We’ll take matters into our own hands!” And of course, doing so was not a wise move.

The application to us has much to do with respecting God’s authority and leading in a godly way.  Leaders stand and fall according to God’s timing and plan. But when they think they are operating on their own, without God’s authority and not in line with teachings of Christ, they will eventually fall and be judged by God.

Ultimately, we will all face the boss and clearly know, we were never in charge!

woman eatingYou want to lose weight and know what you need to eat. But does stress make it harder to actually make healthy food choices?

Let’s say you are under stress at work. You have to pass a series of exams to get that needed promotion. So much rides on you making the grade. During your study time,  you reach for a snack. You can choose a big red apple or a thick fudge brownie. Did I mention you want to lose weight?

You go for the brownie! Self-control seems to vanish!

Brain scans now give us a clue why this is. According to a study in Neuron, stress impacts the brain’s decisions.

Think of the brain like a neural network composed of  many connections. All those connections are communicate with one another. When you experience stress, the communication in the brain changes. The signal to eat the brownie gets louder.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, activates taste; the immediate reward of that tasty brownie demands your attention; the parts of the brain responsible for decision-making and judgment are weakened.

What happens then is that your desire to lose the pounds goes out the window because your brain is shouting go for the tasty brownie. The more stress, the weaker the brain connections in the long term planning areas. The quick brownie fix wins!

Stress sets the stage for eating those high calorie foods. So all the good intentions in the world may not be enough to overcome stress eating if you are not aware that your self-control is decreasing. Of course, you always have a choice, but understanding how the brain is geared to pull you to the unhealthy snacks helps explain why we eat those foods under stress.

Important then, if you want to lose weight, deal with stress! Lowering your stress allows those brain connections to communicate better and process tastiness, value judgments and long-term planning so you can go for the apple instead of the brownie. Less stress, better self-control.

If you want to lose weight, manage your stress! It appears that stress influences taste and self-control.


For more, Press Pause Before You Eat by Dr. Linda Mintle


I was listening to HLN the other day as I was driving home from work and heard a show about Harvard University’s humanist chaplain. I went to Harvard’s chaplaincy page and found this description, “The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard is dedicated to building, educating, and nurturing a diverse community of Humanists, agnostics, atheists, and the non-religious at Harvard and beyond.”

The list of religious chaplains on Harvard’s page included many, but I was a bit stunned that humanism was listed as a religion. I was taught (consistent with the dictionary) that humanism is a philosophy, without theism. Chaplains are persons called by God. And this humanistic “chaplain” admitted their goal was to eliminate God from the picture. But at Harvard, humanism is listed along side all the religions.

The “chaplain” went on to explain that the focus is to help people to be good without God. But in that conversation was also the belief that religion harms people.

Harvard is the oldest university founded in America (1636). It was founded with the purpose to educate clergy and perpetuate education from a Christian perspective. It’s shield bears the Latin motto that means “truth.”

And interestingly, this contemporary move to help people be good without God is the oldest sin first established in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they believed they could be good without God. This is the definition of pride. It is, as C.S. Lewis points out,  a complete anti-God state of mind.

With pride, one rejects God’s Word and His goodness. This rejection leads to the belief that goodness is attainable without God. That we are inherently good, the root of humanism. Humanism is a growing reliance on self, a dependence on one’s strength and wisdom.

Pride is about self-sufficiency, self-importance and self-exaltation. C.S. Lewis calls pride a “spiritual cancer. It eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment or eve common sense.” And God removed his creation from the garden because of it. So if you want to be good without God, then form an organization or a club, but don’t call it religion, especially if you believe religion is harmful and your goal is to remove God from the picture.