Back to Basics: Murder and Anger

In this series, Back to Basics, it’s my hope to shed some insight about the freedom I found in Christ through some personal stories from my early years of wrestling with fear of Old Testament law.

Back to Basics: Murder and Anger

When I was eight years old, I moved in with my grandparents in North Denver for a few years. They belonged to a cult that only believed in reading the Old Testament and it was my only view to the bible at the time. I knew the 10 Commandments said not to murder, but I didn’t find too much in the Old Testament about avoiding anger.

There were a lot of fights in our neighborhood. It seemed “an eye for an eye” was an agreed upon policy. I remember a few times where adults decided to duke it out in front of kids. Soon, I started getting in some fights. One incident at school resulted in me having to write 100 times “I will learn to control my anger” on loose-leaf paper in the principal’s office.

But, I didn’t learn.

I fought on the school bus. I fought while playing sports. I even fought in the very center of the street one time wearing my new Kangaroo sneakers and being encouraged to “kangaroo-kick” my opponent by crowd of neighborhood kids. Anger just seemed to have a place and our neighborhood offered a ready outlet.

That’s until I saw a fit of anger that would change the trajectory of my life. My grandfather asked me to bring in groceries from the car and for some reason I thought I could handle a large watermelon all by myself. It slipped out of my hands and hit the sidewalk.

From the look my grandfather gave me, I knew I was in trouble. He really loved watermelon and he also had a problem with alcohol. Though he had never hit me, I knew his temper had landed some blows on other family members. He started toward me and I took off running for several blocks until I reached a friend’s house. I called home to ask my grandmother if it was safe to come back. She assured me my grandfather had sobered up and wouldn’t murder me for not being able to carry large fruit.

After that incident, I reunited with my mother sooner than expected and landed in a Texas suburb where fighting and arguing in public didn’t seem so commonplace.

But that image of anger in that incident stayed with me. It was the first time I felt I was really in danger because of someone’s anger toward me and it gave me a glimpse of avoiding wrath by running to escape it.

Years later, when I met Jesus, I learned how he made it possible for us to avoid God’s wrath by not running from Him but to Him instead.

Motivation For Obedience

Motivation For Obedience

“BECAUSE I SAID SO!”

Four words that every parent has uttered, even though most of us probably vowed when we were young to never say them.

But as adults, we have a better understanding that there’s more to that phrase than can be heard by the ears of our children. I know that when I say those words to my boys, I am actually saying, “You need to obey what I’ve told you to do or not do because I know what’s good for you and I only have your best interest in mind. So just trust me when I instruct you. Believe that I will take care of you and protect you.”

But let’s face it, to a stubborn seven year old, that sounds like pure gibberish and does nothing to quench his desire for immediate gratification. And so we lean on that old crutch to get them to respond and hopefully obey.

Don’t you know our Heavenly Father gets a good chuckle every time he hears us use that phrase? Because we, like our stubborn children, are just as guilty of rebelling or avoiding obedience when it doesn’t scratch our itches. We obey quickly and easily when there’s something in it for us, but as soon as He asks us to do something that interrupts our agenda we hesitate, and sometimes even outright refuse.

A few months ago I found myself in a similar predicament that wound up having a profound effect on my understanding of obedience.

Scripture on Perseverance

Scripture on Perseverance

The other day I was packing up decor…taking it down from the house, wrapping it up, putting it in boxes, and then carrying and storing it away. I was just about done and near the end when I bent over to pick up something from the ground and then BAM! All of a sudden it felt like my lower back popped and I went straight to the ground, unable to move.

It’s possible that some of you may have experienced this before (I’m with you people) and it’s possible you’ve never experienced this yet (lucky), but long story short, my lower back seized up and took me out of commission for a few days.

Now anyone that knows me knows that I have a VERY hard time laying down and resting. I’m sure this is pride and I have a lot of issues to deal with (that’ll be in future posts), but I found myself thinking about perseverance. Not only does my body have to heal and I’ll persevere through this back issue, but it made me think of just how much Jesus persevered upon my behalf. Just how much He persevered for all of us.

Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross (after being tortured), and rose again from the grave defeating death and sin in Victory. Let’s just say my “back issue” is nothing compared to what Jesus has done. Regardless of what we are going through, no matter how painful it might be, we must remember that Jesus has done everything for us…that He knows us…that He can sympathize with our every weakness…and that He will bring us through whatever it is we are going through today.

Here is what the Bible has to say with scripture on perseverance:

Parenting With Grace (For Yourself)

Parenting With Grace For Yourself

When I got married at the age of 27, Stephen and I knew it wouldn’t be terribly long before we would start our family. We knew we wanted two or three kids and we had no idea if getting pregnant would be easy or difficult for us. So with only about five or six months of marriage under our belts, we started trying. By God’s grace, after only a few months we found out we were expecting our first baby, and the following May our Bishop Anthony arrived. A perfect 7 lb. 11oz. bundle of pure joy. I remember just sitting and watching him sleep. At different times, Stephen and I would look at each other and say, “What did we ever do before he was here?”

Well fast forward nine and a half years and two little brothers later, and I can list for you about 364 things we used to do before he was here. Things like . . . go see a movie after church every Sunday, eat at a restaurant for under $25 and with almost no meltdowns, drive little cars with 2 doors and tiny gas tanks, and sleep uninterrupted ‘til 10:00am every Saturday. I wish I could say that there’s never a single moment that I wouldn’t give anything to go back to those days, but I’d be a liar. Because the bare-naked, raw, honest truth is that over the years we’ve moved from “What did we ever do before they were here?” to “Why did we have children again?” We are just in a really hard and trying season of parenting. I realize that every season of parenting has it’s own struggles, but for us right now, with energetic boys who are 9, 7, and 4, even the thought of going out in public with all 3 of them sends me into the fetal position. Just about every night I go to bed disappointed that I let another day go by without managing to control myself and my responses to the boys. And just about every morning I wake up praying that maybe this would be the day I don’t let them push me over the edge.

Right now we are wrapping up a three-week stretch of winter break from school. Their old school in Texas got out a week earlier than their new school here in Tennessee, which means their new school starts a week later than their old school. So for 21 solid days we have had zero structure and to make life crazier, we made the biggest move we’ve ever made in the middle of it. And I don’t know about you, but we are a family who thrives in structure and without it we sort of fall apart at the seams. Needless to say, Monday morning could not come fast enough for me . . . I mean, us.

Lately I’ve been going to the Lord and pleading for Him to show me how to be a better mother to these boys; to give me more patience as I deal with their defiance, more understanding as I mediate their arguments with one another, and more of a desire to enjoy them during this season. Something I felt Him say to my spirit is that I’m way too hard on myself. I’ve set my expectations for myself, and for the boys, way too high. I compare our family too often to other families. Then it hit me . . . I give myself zero grace so why on earth would I have any grace left to extend to our children? I strive every day to parent on my own strength, by my own standards, with my own expectations. Until I can get to a place where I’m willing to lay that down, nothing will change.

Resources For Spending Time With Jesus

Resources For Spending Time With Jesus

Whether it’s the beginning of a new year or a new season in your life, one thing is for sure…spending time with Jesus must be crucial for you. Really, spending time with Jesus is crucial for all of us because He is everything.

I’m convinced that’s where the real battle is for all of us and for good reason. If it’s such a battle to spend time with Jesus on a daily basis, don’t you think there’s a reason for this? There’s a reason that we get so easily distracted every single day and oftentimes forget to spend time with God. I know that happens to me over and over again.

For followers of Jesus, everything is centered around our time with Him. It’s time with Him that will remind us we are forgiven, forever. It’s time with Him that will remind us what our purpose is. It’s time with Him that will comfort us, give us strength, show us truth, and more.

Regardless of wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, you can just start today. Make a commitment today before God to spend time with him on a daily basis. Here are some great resources and what I’m using for spending time with Jesus:

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