Archive for May, 2015

What a Temper

mcgrawWithin the free will of man is the insidious cup of brew we call anger. Even though it has been displayed by God’s righteous indignation against the wickedness of man, we are most assuredly warned to avoid it. We have neither the holy love nor the patience to partition it out. We are forewarned of its mortal danger in James 1:20 – for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. We are commanded to abstain from it in Colossians 3:8 – But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. We are called on to substitute prayer in place of it, 1Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. If all else fails, and anger is manifested, we are at all costs to avoid sinning, Ephesians 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Our Father allows us the choice to be angry, but bids us not!

One of the greatest baseball players of all time was a left-handed batter from New York whose name was John Joseph (Muggsy) McGraw. He debuted for the Baltimore Orioles in 1891 and ended his career with the New York Giants in 1906. He had a career batting average of .334, stole 436 bases and brought in 1024 runs. He later managed the New York Giants until 1932 and has the distinction of having the Major League History, 2nd all-time highest number of ejections from the game (132) (Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves is now 1st.). It is his anger and quick temper which he will always be remembered for, not his gift of playing baseball. On May 15, 1894, while playing for the Baltimore Orioles, McGraw got into a fight with Tommy Tucker of the Boston Beaneaters. Tucker went sliding into third base and McGraw kicked him in the head while attempting to apply the tag. A fight between the two ensued, followed by a bench-clearing from both teams. As the skirmish escalated, fans began to pour onto the field and a full blown riot was unleashed. As the melee continued, someone in the stands started a fire that engulfed and destroyed the stadium, which in turn set ablaze 170 businesses, all of which were destroyed.  Beware the seeds of anger.  Once they are planted in the soil of frustration and jealousy they will inevitably produce fruits of rage, mayhem and ruin. Pro 30:33  For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

 Peter’s anger cut off a man’s ear. Jesus, who had the right to be angry, put the ear back on so Malchus could later hear the words of love.

Jonah’s anger would have burned a city that he had just proclaimed God’s mercy to.   God’s patience kept a great fish from slowly digesting his messenger to the lost city of Ninevah.

Saul’s anger would have destroyed many Jews who had become Christians.  Christ’s gentleness changed Saul to Paul and made millions of Christians out of Gentiles.

Cain’s anger killed his only brother.  Christ, who is the shadow of Abel’s spilt blood, speaks to us today, billions of brothers saved by the sacrifice of one.

Pharaoh’s anger would not let God’s people be free.  God’s eternal plan gave them liberty by way of the sea.

Man’s anger crucified God’s only begotten Son.  Christ’s love, went to the cross to keep God’s anger from crucifying us.

Whenever you read of man’s anger in God’s holy word, it is a raw, uninhibited, brutal, self-promoting, unredeemable conflagration of misguided, poorly thought-out, unholy fury.  We are to keep this misfit called anger, in check.  Squelch it, smother it, quiet it, calm it, lock it up in a room and lose the key.  We are to kneel to God in prayer, rather than rise up to roar.   We are to be fast and ready, anxious to hear and promote good thoughts and assign good motives.  We are to be temperate and think carefully before we ever open our mouth and unfurl our thick, abrasive, slippery tongue.  In the end, should we succumb to anger, let it come unbearably slow as sap from the tallest spruce on a cold winter’s day.

James 1:19  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

Darryl Fuller

 

The Power of Confidence

churchtrustalWhen we observe Peter in the gospel accounts before Jesus is taken before the rulers and then crucified, we see an energetic, optimistic and boldly confident individual.  As the crucifixion unfolds, that air of confidence vanishes.  Now we see Peter afraid, confused, and even angry and his boldness shattered by his master’s humiliation.  Life has a way of changing our demeanor, within minutes.  We can, like Peter, be bold and sure of ourselves, ready to wield the sword on our enemies one moment, then timid, afraid and even vulgar the next.  What we need is a well of power that sustains us through triumph as well as tragedy.  We need an everlasting hope that energizes us the most when our confidence is at its lowest.  Good News! That power is available and free, given to those who will obey the one who gives it freely.Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

            Toward the end of World War II, when we had defeated Germany but were still at war with Japan, President Truman made a trip to Potsdam to meet with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. This was the first meeting of the “Big 3” since Roosevelt had died a few months earlier.  President Truman was a man of dapper appearance and could hold his own in any crowd, but he did not have the aura or presence of power that Roosevelt carried.  This was noted by both Churchill and Stalin in their diaries and memories.   Truman appeared to Stalin as someone who was timid, fidgety, and lacked confidence.  Churchill commented that Roosevelt was confined to a wheelchair but stood taller than most and Truman stood with most men but should have been in a wheelchair.  On July 21, 1945, that changed.  General Grove, head of the Manhattan Project, detailed in a letter for the President, the success of the first Atomic bomb detonated in the New Mexico desert five days earlier.  The news was both terrifying and electrifying.  It told of a weapon more powerful than all the armament ever assembled and put together at one time.  Now the demure President Truman, held what no other leader ever held, complete and total destructive power.  With this newfound power came tremendous confidence.  It is well documented that the next day, Truman brimmed with bravado. This was a whole new man; vigorous, confident, stubborn, unbending.  “He told the Russians just where they got on and off and generally bossed the whole meeting,” said Churchill. Give a man the biggest gun, he’ll let you know he’s not afraid to use it.

                Greater still, the power of the gospel which brings life rather than death.  With this unlimited power, Peter and the other apostles are bold and exude confidence.  In Acts 2, Peter addresses the huge gathering and faints not when they are accused of being drunk.  He boldly proclaims the children of Israel’s guilt in crucifying Christ.  He confidently commands the beggar in Acts 3 to “Look at us” and then heals him of his infirmity from birth.  He unashamedly preaches this gospel, in the name of Christ to those in the temple and exhorts them to repent.  When they are carried before the rulers, he again charges them with the death of Jesus (Acts4:13).  They are thus threatened and beaten but not deterred. (vs.19)

How powerful is the gospel?  Consider our illustration above for a moment.  Once Truman knew he held the ultimate weapon, he brimmed with confidence.  A big gun can do that for a man.

Once Peter understood the truth of the gospel, no threat to destroy him could stop him from proclaiming the good news.  Moral of story; Boldness with the ability to annihilate is no match to boldness in face of annihilation.  Let us have confidence in proclaiming the Good news!

Darryl Fuller