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Posted by Barbara Smith (BWSmith)
This message was originally posted on
Christian Homeschool Fellowship on the Web

You called your experience "agitation." And yes, I know what you are describing to my shame, I do. To HIS praise, Christ is healing me and changing me.

Am I perfectly composed? No but God is helping me sort through and discard the rags and the rage. You say: "I have tried to sit quietly before God but this just gets me more agitated." Marie, your heavenly Father WANTS your attention, don't stop sitting quietly in HIS presence. It is the enemy who wants you distracted and unwilling to compose your thoughts and emotions and your flesh is happy to oblige!

Dancing --physical exercise are release that may be appropriate "vents" for hot angry feelings but only the indwelling Christ can extinguish the flames of discontent. It is only the gentle steady light of the Savior that can show what is in our hearts that is disquieting our spirit.

You are not going insane -- but you may be suffering from a syndrome that has and does 8>( sicken me. That syndrome is idol worship and I beg you indulgence to read something I wrote as God was leading me out of some angry, ugly habits.

ME, An Idol Worshiper?

"And do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them." Deuteronomy 28:14

Anger is sometimes portrayed humorously and we laugh heartily when we see irascible characters lampooned. However, living with angry people is another matter; as is mastering our own anger! Real-life anger is an emotion that exposes how I think about my self, others, and God.

What is Anger?
The Bible speaks about anger in hundreds of verses, usually admonishing believers against it. Is anger always sin? Not invariably. Jesus got mad when He was provoked (Mark 3:5). There is a difference between righteous wrath and anger, and it is easy to identify. Are you willing to look at an emotion that disables Christian parents and cripples their children?

Tom Wenger* *(The associate pastor of the Severna Park Evangelical Church in Pasadena, Maryland. His remarks taken from the "Anger Workshop," June 6, 1995 at the church.) suggests some distinctions we should learn to make, to overcome anger and help our children overcome a besetting sin of this generation. "Anger," Tom asserts, "is a God-given emotion to help solve problems, not to attack people and create other problems." Hence, Tom continues, "Righteous anger follows when we are offended because someone transgresses the Law of God -- for example lying, murder or dishonoring parents." Tom points out that, "Righteous anger is always accompanied by desire for repentance; righteous anger leads us to pray." Righteous anger does not feel entitled to explode, slam doors, smash walls, or holler, "I am really fed up with this!"

However, many insignificant problems of daily living generate anger: causes ranging from misplaced nail clippers, to spilled milk, to rebukes from spouses and Christian friends. But Tom points out these do not necessarily justify anger. Seething, growling, ranting, fuming or glowering, the outward evidence of anger, do not spring from an unselfish concern that God has been offended. No, angry responses commonly spring from a selfish feeling that we are not getting our way.

We do our children no favor by indulging anger -- theirs or ours. "Venting" -- yelling, slamming doors and cursing may temporarily cow a rebellious child into submission, but it will not conform the child to the image of Jesus Christ. Such parental anger only leads to two dead ends. "Children of angry parents," Tom says, "learn to present a front that keeps a lid on things; and to respond to problems of daily living by clamming up or blowing up. If children learn only to control outward appearances, we risk teaching them to become `socially acceptable idol worshiper' instead of young people whose hearts are right with God," warns Tom. Idol worshiper?!

Tom asks us to seriously consider this proposition about anger to see if its fits reality. "The anger that plagues believers and their children is seldom a righteous response to the trampling of God's law, nor does an angry person promote the work of God." Our anger is usually an outward manifestation of an inward passion for worshiping our own personal preferences instead of the true God. Tom argues that anger spews out of a heart full of idols.(Ed Welsh, Addictive Behavior, Baker Books, 1995)

We blithely excuse pursuing our personal preferences the way Israel excused itself seeking after other gods. Anger erupts when our personal idols get knocked about; or when our children believe their personal idols are under attack.

Inventory Your Throne Room
Do you want to rid yourself of anger and rage (See Colossians 3:8)? Do you know what is on the throne of your heart? Our idols may have less ominous sounding names than Dagon or Molech or Baal, but, Tom reminds us, "they are equally as detestable."

The names of our idols are so much a part of our vernacular that we believe they are part of our nature. Tom points out, "Twentieth century apologists declare man longs for `security' and `significance'; for `self-esteem' and `approval'. " To the contrary, the Bible declares that the chief end of man is to rejoice in the Lord no matter the circumstances!

In the inner throne room of your heart, what are we bowing to instead of Jesus Christ - beauty, prominence, security, health, prosperity, perfection? We can't bow in two directions simultaneously! Whatever we think about a lot and love the most is an idol, and we all have them - whether it is personal peace, convenience or affluence! Anger explodes - or freezes - when "idols" are knocked about.

Our darling youngsters are also adept at building thrones for their idols, and their angry outbursts can mean their idols are getting knocked about. Do you wonder what the idols of your child's heart may be - popularity, greed, competition? Their anger originates in their hearts and is fed by the choices they seek or encounter. Angry children have hearts that tend to attract and to seek friends with angry hearts, and they feed their angry emotions with violent art and music.

Pray that your children might not sin against God in their hearts (Job 1:5). The powerful persistent prayers of parents for their children can successfully that attack the "high places" in their hearts. The first altar that must go, however, is located in our hearts. Get rid of whatever you have put in Christ's rightful place!

With undivided hearts, we can begin to solve the problems of daily living, and equip our kids to be godly problem solvers instead of angry manipulators. Remember you can't persuasively teach what you haven't learned to practice.

"In moments of calm, talk to your kids," counsels Tom. "Parents derive their authority from God, to represent God. Tell them what God expects of His representatives and their children, and set reasonable behavior expectations. Be consistent with your judgments and be consistent in how you treat different children. Establish and follow a system of reasonable rewards and consequences. Allow them to be angry -- but teach them how to deal with anger."

Many angry outbursts in the home happen when children do not obey their parent's instructions. Have our children learned they will get only angry reactions and not firm, godly chastisement? When this happens, we see we have not taught them how to avoid sin! (Ephesians 4:25-27). "Children will respond when they know they must," Tom said. "Their response is at the level of requirement." Parents don't do their children any favors by excusing disobedience until we explode in anger and frustration. Therefore we must promptly use external influences to train timely responses in our children. Doing so, we begin to overcome the awfulness of our anger, and avoid exasperating them. Because we live in a world full of sinners, "overcoming anger is never a closed issue, nor does anger submit to quick remedies," Tom reminds.

Real change happens when we both address our idols and help our kids to understand the root of their anger. Tom asks us to examine what is fomenting anger in our home.

"Analyze the problem. Address the problem that is inciting anger, but do not attack the person," even when this sin is infuriating. Judge if "a child trampling my authority or God's authority," Tom recommends. "If the problem is a sin against God, such as lying, do not tolerate it."

Next consider if "the anger generating problem is an idol of the heart - mine or theirs?" (Who is getting crossed, or whose idol is getting knocked?) Respond according to the severity of the problem. If the problem is a question of manners -- how they dress or cut their hair -- then advise and encourage your child to do what honors God, Tom recommends.

Finally, "decide if the anger-producing problem simply an irritation like cracking knuckles or tapping a table. Then appeal to them to avoid or cease behavior that disturbs others for the sake of courtesy." Again, act promptly, before the sounds or movement have driven you to distraction. As you pray without ceasing for your children's hearts to be set on seeking God . . . believe God will give you the powers of persuasion that enable you to bring glory to Him! The earlier we begin working on anger, the better, Tom urges.

Do you fear too much has happened for you to recoup? "Too late," you lament. "Not Necessarily," Tom replies. Remember Paul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the early Christians? Long after he left the care of his parents, Paul was transformed from an angry persecutor to an apostle of Christ by the intervention of Christ Himself (Acts 9). The Lord can do as much for you and for your children. So, although you may count much of your prior life as loss, like Paul resolve to press on that you may take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of you! (Philippine 3:12)

Taken from:
Teach Me Lord That I May Teach
(or what we learned, thinking we were homeschooling the kids)

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© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.

Please send a copy of the publication to:
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Arnold, MD 21012

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