Biblical Strategies Blog

Author Archives: Phil Moser

3 Ways the Prayer Life of Jesus Could Help Shape Your Own

You can read all that Jesus said on prayer in a few minutes. In twice that time, you can read all the Gospel accounts of Jesus praying. However, you will never tap the God-given resource of meaningful prayer in that amount of time. You will need to put in the hours that Jesus did as he learned to pray. Jesus’ prayer life provides an excellent example of the way we should pray. He had a specific plan, place, and purpose in prayer. These are essential if we intend to pray like him.

A Specific Plan: He Prayed Early in the Morning

Jesus prayed “early in the morning.” Perhaps your first thought of the morning is how much you have to do that day. Email is loading up on your phone before you even get out of bed. Your part-time job feels like a full-time job. Kids’ music lessons and sports schedules consume your non-work hours. You volunteer at church and meet in a small group during the week. Before long, prayer is crowded out.

Jesus refused to let prayer take second place. He wasn’t alone in this practice. Consider these Old Testament believers: Moses, Job, and Ezra. Even with full schedules, they made time for God “early in the morning.” Whatever time you choose to pray, it must be a priority. In a tightly scheduled lifestyle, if prayer is the last thing you plan on doing, chances are it won’t get done.

A Specific Place: He Departed to a Solitary Location

Jesus was looking for a solitary place. The Greek word translated “solitary” can also mean uninhabited. Jesus was not known for being aloof. He loved people, enjoyed being with them, and was at ease in groups of all sizes. Yet, when he prayed, he sought to be alone.

We would do well to follow Jesus’ practice. When we pray, we need a location where we will not be interrupted. No cell phones. No texting. No Facebook. Give your conversation with God your undivided attention.

Even when you find a quiet location, your busy mind may still make solitude a challenge. You will need to consciously labor at controlling your thoughts. At times, I have taken a notebook so that if an unfinished task comes to mind, I can simply write it down and return my attention to prayer. I have found that a prayer list or journal can also help me stay focused. Wherever your location, it’s important you’re alone.

A Specific Purpose: He Needed to Make a Decision

Jesus spent time in prayer before he made major decisions. Two occasions bear this out. In the early days of ministry, Jesus was shifting locations of service. If you’ve ever made a move, you know there’s a lot involved in that decision. Jesus had previously moved his ministry operations to Capernaum, and he was getting ready to expand his teaching circuit into the hills surrounding Galilee. To do so, he would be leaving some tremendous ministry opportunities behind. When Peter points this out, notice Jesus’ answer: “Let us go to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” How did Jesus make this decision? Three verses earlier we discover the answer. Jesus was praying “early in the morning.” It seems reasonable that Jesus discovered his next steps through prayer.

Even more important than where he would do ministry is who would lead the ministry. The fact that Jesus didn’t choose perfect people is evident in the transparency of the gospel record. Thomas doubted him. Peter denied him. Judas betrayed him. All twelve argued over who would be the greatest. Yet, prior to their selection, Jesus spent the night in prayer. Luke records, “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles . . .”

Jesus not only prayed about this selection, he literally continued in prayer throughout the night without interruption. When you face a major decision, do you pray like Jesus? Do you spend more time talking to God or talking to others?

There is another truth easily missed in a cursory reading. We may assume that Jesus’ unique relationship with his Father spilled over into his prayer life, yet we don’t see the Father speaking back to Jesus during his time of prayer; we just read that Jesus prayed all night long. It’s not that the Father couldn’t audibly speak back; on three other occasions he spoke in an audible voice so Jesus could hear. Rather, the Father speaking back seems to be the exception rather than the standard.

I confess, sometimes when I’ve prayed over a decision I’ve thought: I just wish God would tell me what to do. Perhaps you have, too. Not so with Jesus. He seems to have discovered his answer through the process of prayer, not because the Father gave a quick and easy answer. He labored in prayer, and so should we.

Taken from Just Like Jesus: biblical strategies for growing well

 

 

 

 

 

How Christmas Makes Living Like Jesus Possible

Mary fought back the fear rising in her chest. She could feel the muscles in her back tightening uncontrollably. Frightened, she tried to recite the verses she had learned as a child. The contraction subsided, and she rested. There was cause for the fear she felt. Having never known a man, she was about to give birth to a son.

Joseph’s deep voice began to hum a familiar melody. It was just like him to hum only the tune so she would have to voice the lyric. Between contractions, she quietly sang along to the song she had written months earlier:

How my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoiced in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.

But Mary’s sweet song was driven from her mind with God’s promise to Eve, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.”

The final contraction was the worst. The young girl’s body stretched between time and eternity. Satan was insistent upon the child’s destruction, but the Father’s desires would be accomplished precisely on time.  Mary pushed hard and heard her newborn son’s first cry. His tiny lungs inhaled earth’s air as a human being. Amidst the chaotic noise of an overcrowded Bethlehem night, she heard her husband’s gentle voice, “We will call Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Years later, the apostle John would capture this event with nine simple words: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

Jesus Christ, although fully God, was born fully human. If you embrace this truth, you will desire to follow his example. If you do not, living just like Jesus will seem beyond your reach. You might even wonder if it’s possible. After all, you might reason, “He is God and I am not.” Yet, the Scriptures don’t let us off the hook so easily. John, who defended both the humanity6 and deity7 of Jesus, charged us to live just like Jesus. He wrote, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

When I study the deity of Christ, I am drawn to worship him, but when I study the humanity of Christ, I am inspired to live like him. The first causes me to realize what I am not, but the latter causes me to realize what I should be. When I confuse the two, I no longer see my need to depend fully on the resources Jesus used because I assume he used a resource unavailable to me—his deity.

Several years ago, I had two conversations that confirmed the importance of applying the humanity of Christ to the Christian life. The first was with my ten-year-old daughter; the second was with a man in his forties. Both individuals were different in every way, and both were struggling with different temptations. Yet when I encouraged them to walk just like Jesus, they gave the same answer: I’m not Jesus. Jesus is God. I am not. Both overlooked the simple fact that Jesus became man.

Here is a significant, yet forgotten truth behind the incarnation of Christ: Jesus walked where you walk so that you might learn to walk like he walked. Jesus communicates this truth further when he repeatedly uses the phrase “follow me.” Your thoughts, feelings, and choices should be modeled after him. No matter your age, growing well means learning to walk just like Jesus.

Could it be that you, like me, have spent your entire life thinking about the ways you are different from Jesus, when he became fully human to show you the ways you could be like him? Have you emphasized his deity at the expense of his humanity? Have you considered the primary means by which Jesus battled temptation as a man? If his victory over temptation was possible, is yours?

This isn’t an abstract theological idea; this is a life-changing truth. If Jesus was fully human as the Bible declares, then he lived out his entire earthly life under the intrinsic limitations of humanity. His victory over temptation was possible through his reliance upon resources that are available to you and me today. Let that thought settle in. Jesus did not reach outside his human limitations when being tempted to sin. Instead, he operated within the confines of his humanity when he battled temptation. That’s what it means to be tempted like we are, yet without sin.

Embracing Jesus’ full humanity is one of the most significant “how” factors for living the Christian life. Practically speaking, once you are in Christ, your victory will not come as a result of the latest trend, program, or motivational speaker. Your growth and change will take place only as you learn to avail yourself of the same resources that Jesus depended upon. What are those resources? How did Jesus acquire them, and what do you and I need to do to become proficient in their use?

Taken from Just Like Jesus: biblical strategies for growing well

Trust or Worry: Which will Win?

Perhaps the best known Bible verse about trusting God is found in Proverbs 3:5. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Eugene Peterson rendered that verse, “Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.” The anxious person tries to figure it out on his own, and he knows he doesn’t have the resources. This is especially evident when we worry about others. Our relationships with our family members is a good example. Parents are prone to worry about their children’s future. A sister worries about her brother’s drug addiction. A middle-aged woman worries about her aging parents’ failing health. When we deal with others’ choices, the outcome is outside of our control because their will is their own. We cannot make them want what they don’t want for themselves. We can instruct and discipline our children. We can grieve over our siblings’ destructive choices. We can lovingly share our concerns with our parents. But in all of these relationships, we cannot ultimately control their will. It is outside the realm of our ability; their future is outside of our field of vision. So we worry. To ultimately gain victory over this type of anxiety, you will need to acknowledge that your resources are limited and trust in the one whose resources are not.

Most of us only trust those with whom we have a meaningful relationship. For instance, if I was looking for someone to hold $1,000 for me while I went away, I would be most confident in the person I knew the best. My ability to trust you (or not) is clearly tied to my knowledge of you, to how well I know your character, intentions, and purposes. It’s the same way in our relationship with God. If you are not growing in your knowledge of him who saved you, you will struggle to trust him, and you will succumb again to those feelings of anxiety.

A friend of our family is fond of saying, ‘If you don’t see God as good and loving, you will not be comforted by his sovereignty.” Just because the Bible declares that God is in control doesn’t mean that I’ll trust him. Jesus understood this. He found comfort in trusting his heavenly Father with his future because he had grown in his understanding of his Father’s love. If you do not do the same, you will struggle to trust God with the things you value the most. You will attempt to guard them yourself, and in so doing the habit of worrying will return. Trusting God is essential to overcoming worry, and knowing God well is the prerequisite to trusting him completely.

Taken from Safe in the Storm: biblical strategies for overcoming anxiety

 

3 Changes Necessary to Overcome Worry

Sometimes the most profound statements come from the most ordinary circumstances. Years ago, I was helping my daughter, who was in 5th grade at the time, with her Math homework. The assignment was introducing her to the metric system. Suddenly, I had a flash-back. There I was, sitting in my 5th grade classroom, and my Math teacher was telling us that we needed to learn the metric system because within a few years everyone in America would be using it. I shared the thought with my daughter, and added this comment: “Here we are 35 years later, and Americans are still stubbornly refusing to switch to the system that everyone else uses. I wonder why that is?” My eleven-year old looked up from her homework as if the answer was obvious. She distilled 35 years of history into less than 20 words when she said, “People don’t like change, Dad. Well, unless of course they get something out of it for themselves.”

You will never overcome anxiety without making fundamental changes in the way that you think. Some of these changes, you won’t like much at first. They will seem too harsh, too basic, or too difficult. You will be prone to believe that what you really need is a change of circumstances. So, you switch schools, jobs, and marriages, if necessary. But before long, you discover that the same patterns you had earlier with anxiety reoccur in your new surroundings. What you need is a change of mind, not a change of circumstances. This is why the Scripture says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God.” Paul’s letter to the Philippians carried some of the most practical advice for overcoming anxiety you will find anywhere. In Philippians 4:6-8 we discover that we will need to change how we think about worry, how we think about prayer, and what we think about.

Change how you think about worry. God commands us not to worry; when we do, we sin.

…do not be anxious about anything,

Change how you think about prayer. Make it your pattern, not your panic button.

…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Change what you think about. It’s your mind. You are responsible for controlling your thoughts.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Taken from Safe in the Storm: biblical strategies for overcoming anxiety

When I’m anxious, does God even care?

First Peter 5:7  is one of the sweetest verses in the Bible.  Peter recorded this truth for people who were under severe persecution. He writes, “Casting all you anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” We all have the desire to control things that we cannot, and we often forget how deeply God cares for us. If I had authored the verse, I might have chosen a different quality of God to emphasize. Something like his perfect wisdom or his unlimited power. Logically, it would make more sense to think that even though I am not in control, an all-wise, all-powerful God is.  But the Holy Spirit saw fit to inspire Peter otherwise, and I’m glad he did. When it comes to anxiety, he chose to emphasize the compassionate, softer side of God. When I am fearful, I find comfort in this truth: I’m not alone in my struggle, and God cares.

The challenge, of course, is that anxiety can wake you up at 3:00 AM. The silence in your house echoes the message: No one’s here and no one cares. In these times we feel so very alone. We stare into the darkness trying to find a reasonable solution to the trouble we’re in. The alarm clock interrupts our thoughts, but not our sleep, a shrill reminder that this is the time we should be waking up had our anxious thoughts not awakened us earlier.  As we enter into the day, all those around us seem to interact quite naturally with one another. They laugh about their weekend. They complain because it’s Monday. They tell stories about their relationships or listen to others who do. We smile and exchange formalities as if we’re part of the group, but our anxious thoughts are all our own. They whisper deceitfully: No one knows, and no one cares. But the Bible tells us this is not entirely true. It may be true that the smiling people around you are clueless to your difficulty. It might even be true that some of them, if they knew, wouldn’t care. But God knows, and he cares. This is why the first principle of overcoming anxiety is belief. You and I must learn to believe God’s Word, not our feelings.

We live in a world where feelings reign supreme. Listen attentively to the conversations around you, and I’m sure you’ll agree. Every day, people are making life-changing decisions from a feelings-foundation. Statements like, I feel like this is the best decision for me, or I just don’t feel like I love him anymore are commonplace. This mindset has even drifted into our spiritual conversations. I often hear people say I feel like this is God’s will for me or I just had a feeling that it was the right thing to do. Because our feelings are personal, deeply felt, and sincere, they are easy to believe. But that doesn’t mean that we should believe them. The root word for “believe” occurs 241 times in the New Testament. Nearly half of those times it is used by the apostle John. He directed us to believe the Father, his promises, his Word, and his Son. But not once did he say we should believe what we feel. This is the necessary starting point for victory over feelings of anxiety. It’s time to ask yourself: what do I really believe?

Taken from Safe in the Storm: biblical strategies for overcoming anxiety

Five Essential Weapons to Stand Against Temptation

King David was a man after God’s own heart, yet his temptation with Bathsheba revealed a lack of the kind of character he exhibited when he was younger. God had chosen him as king (instead of one of his older brothers) for his purity of heart. However, as his story unfolded, those key inner qualities that he once possessed began to fade. While the compromises may have seemed small at first, they left him vulnerable in his battle with sexual temptation.

After 25 years of listening, learning, and guiding people through the regret and devastation of sexual failures, I’ve discovered that their stories have common touch points. Like David, the individuals I encounter also lack an internal fortitude to strengthen their will when temptation beckons with sexual desires. I’d like for you to imagine those inner qualities as “five small stones.” Just as David reached into the brook and gathered five stones to slay Goliath, these inner qualities are powerful weapons to be utilized in our battle for sexual purity. As a young man, David practiced them with proficiency. He was as internally accurate as he was externally—he could hit the target of temptation, just as he struck Goliath. But if you could do a postmortem on David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, you would see that, later in life, his spiritual sling lacked projectiles. Those five key qualities—so essential to his battle with sexual temptation—had fallen into disuse. In that moment, David was an unarmed warrior. For each of us, these stones are just as valuable when we battle sexual temptation. With them, we can stand against desire. Without them, just like David, we’ll fall. Here are the five small stones that wield great power against sexual temptation.

Humility: To walk in humility is to recognize that you cannot win the battle with sexual temptation in your own strength.

Integrity: To practice integrity is to make a commitment to transparency during temptation, and to confession after sin.

Loyalty: To desire loyalty is to love God by using your body for his glory, not your temporary pleasure.

Responsibility: To exercise responsibility limits your opportunity for temptation because you are preoccupied fulfilling your commitments.

Accountability To live with accountability is to guard your vulnerabilities through the Word and fellow believers.

Ask yourself are you still wielding these vital weapons? At one stage in his life, David had them, but, as they fell into disuse his vulnerability to sexual temptation gained free run in his life. If the mighty warrior can play the part of a fool, what chance have we to enter the battle theater unarmed and remain unscathed?

Taken from Strength for the Struggle: biblical strategies for standing against temptation

How even the strongest can fall to sexual temptation

The bellowing of the giant echoed across the valley floor. The boy-king looked down into the Brook of Elah.  Shimmering waters rolled over the small stones at the waters’ edge. Undeterred by the giant’s size, strength, or reputation, the boy-king picked up five small stones and slipped them into his shepherd’s bag. These were not your typical rocks for child’s play. They were barium sulphate—twice the density of normal stones. When launched from his sling at 100 m.p.h. they would have the stopping power of a .45 caliber handgun. At nearly ten feet tall, the giant appeared invincible, but appearances can be deceiving. The boy-king had five stones and the skill of a sniper. He raised his voice in answer to the giant’s intimidation:

This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down! That all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hands! 

Goliath was out of his league. And on that spring day, while thousands looked on, the giant fell to the little-boy-king named David.

Twenty-five years have passed. The boy-king has become a man. He’s looking down again, but it’s not for five small stones to slay a giant. David is on the roof of his palace, and his eyes scan the rooftops below. He knows what he’s looking for, though he’s acting like he doesn’t. He’s seen her bathing once before; the image keeps returning to his mind—beckoning him to forbidden pleasures. It’s only a glance, he reasons. If she appears, I’ll look away. Suddenly she’s there, on her rooftop—just as if his memory had called the image to life. His pulse quickens. His breathing comes quick and shallow. He knows what’s next—the memory of those past images awakening his desire. He turns his head away, but his eyes reach back toward the woman bathing. A battle ensues.

Look away.  She’s not your wife.

 It’s just a glance. No one will see you.

 This is wrong.  You’re a married man.

 You’re free tonight.  Is she?

Transfixed—his body’s stillness does not reveal his mind’s struggle. The internal battle is fast and furious; his will weakening under the onslaught. What had started as curiosity is now the full grown desire for pleasure. His imagination is racing ahead with the images he has captured. Entitlement is not far behind: You’re the king! What’s wrong with lookingsince you’re the king and she’s your subject? Find out her name and invite her to the castle.

There once was a boy-king who, with five small stones and a sling, watched a giant fall and gave God the glory. But when he became a man, he chose to stand unarmed on the top of his palace, locked in a life-and-death struggle with the giant of sexual desire.  This time, the giant didn’t bellow intimidating curses across the valley floor. It whispered promises of unrealized pleasure—of being desired and desiring in return. And on that spring day, the giant won the battle, defeating the king who had pursued his own pleasure, and at great cost to the kingdom.

Taken from Strength for the Struggle: biblical strategies for standing against sexual temptation

Standing against sexual temptation by seeing others as Jesus saw them.

Jesus saw people differently than we do. When the disciples saw children as a nuisance; Jesus saw them as citizens of heaven. When the religious leaders saw the tax-collectors as despicable; Jesus saw them as reachable. And when men saw prostitutes as disposable; Jesus saw them as redeemable—women in need of healing and forgiveness.

Learning to see others as Jesus saw them is an effective means to stand against sexual temptation, both in thought and action.  Jesus didn’t see people as sex objects to be desired.  He saw them as human beings, made in the image of God, broken and in need of healing.

On occasion I have counseled parents whose daughters were dancers in gentleman’s clubs. The image the parents gave was not one the paying clientele saw. Their daughters were broken women, struggling with bouts of fear and anxiety. They loathed their career, but lacked the confidence to believe they could do anything else with their lives. They depended on drugs to dull the pain they felt when they took the stage. Their stories were full of sadness. My heart broke as I listened to their parents tell the real story behind the stage personality.

Learning to see others the way that Jesus saw them takes into account the brokenness of those who have been sexually abused. Studies have shown that before the age of 18, one out of every six men and one out of every four women will have experienced sexual abuse. Those numbers are staggering. When I speak on this subject at conferences, I will typically have the men who were born the first two months of the year stand. Then I’ll have the women join them who were born the first three months of the year.  Then I tell the audience, those standing represent statistically the number of men and women in a crowd of this size   that were sexually abused. I’m always amazed at how many people are standing. Those in the audience grow quiet as they come to grips with the pain that has been caused by uncontrolled sexual desire. This is what it means to look at others through the eyes of Jesus.

A friend of mine learned to look through Jesus’ eyes on a global scale. In many parts of the world, sex-trafficking runs rampant. Women and children are taken from their homes in rural villages with the promise that there are good paying jobs in the cities. Once they arrive in the city, they are locked in brothels and forced to work the sex trade. My friend understood that unless they were given an additional work opportunity and taught a different trade, they would be caught in an endless cycle. He and his wife discovered a brothel in Asia that covered two city blocks and housed 20,000 women and children who were available to the highest bidder. He grew so burdened that he  and his wife packed up their belongings and started a business down the street from the brothel. Slowly, but surely they did what others before them have attempted: rescuing these women by teaching them a respectable trade and providing a safe place for them to survive.

This is what it means to look through the eyes of Jesus. We don’t see sex objects to be desired. We see broken people in need of healing and forgiveness.

Taken from Strength for the Struggle: biblical strategies for standing against sexual temptation

 

What you Believe about Anger Enables Your Anger Problem

Because anger is a mixture of our emotions, thoughts and choices, it often feels like something that happens to us. Our prideful tendency is to shift the blame to others, causing us to feel justified in our victimhood. We express this position when we say things like, “You make me so mad,” or “I wouldn’t get angry if you didn’t treat me like that.” But are we willing to relinquish that level of control to another person? Is that what we really believe? In the moment it might feel that way, but is it an accurate expression of what is really happening? When we practice an unrestrained expression of our feelings, we become more confident that their motivations are truthful, and we quit trying to discern whether or not they actually are.

The Greek language is, among other things, very descriptive. Its verbs communicate meaning through mood, form, voice, and tense. The voice of the verb indicates the doer and/or receiver of the action. In the case of anger, the active voice would read, “I made you angry;” whereas, the passive voice would read “I was made angry by you.” In the first case, I was the doer of the action; in the second case, I was the receiver of the action. But the Greek language, unlike English, also has a middle voice where one can be both the doer and the receiver of an action. The Bible scholar W.E. Vine makes a significant point about the word “anger.” He notes that eight of the times it occurs in the Scripture, it is in the middle voice. In those instances, it literally means, “I made myself angry by what you did.”What makes this Biblical truth so challenging to grasp is that anger rarely feels that way. It genuinely feels like: I was made angry by you.

Let me illustrate with an imaginary character by the name of Jack. Jack has anger problems. He knows it. His boss knows it, and most significantly, his family knows it. Like all of us, Jack’s inner life is comprised of his thoughts, emotions, and choices. But because of the deceptive nature of emotion, it always feels like circumstances are conspiring against him. And because he determines truth largely by how he feels, he believes other people are causing his anger. It’s almost as if he’s not an active participant. The reason Jack feels this way is that when he’s angry, his thoughts seem to run on their own; he doesn’t feel in control of his emotions. The only thing left of Jack’s inner identity is his choices. Yet, with his thoughts and emotions fueled by his anger, it feels as if his choices have been taken away as well. He’s even expressed it this way: I don’t have a choice but to get angry. Jack feels like he’s boxed in. We might even think of him as “Jack-in-the-box.”

But the Bible teaches that Jack isn’t trapped in a box where his emotions, thoughts, and choices are decided for him. Notice the propositional statements of Scripture: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1). I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13). Or do you not know that you are the slave of whatever you choose to obey (Rom. 6:16). For you were called to freedom, brothers…through love serve one another (Gal. 5:13). As a believer, a better presentation of Jack would look like this image. Jack is set free to engage his emotions, thoughts and choices as he will. He received a new heart at the point of salvation. That new heart, filled with the Spirit of God, enables him to set his thoughts upon Christ, engage his emotions around the things of God, and make choices in light of the will of God. Certainly this is a process, and I would not want to infer that an emotional change takes place overnight. Still, our emotions usually follow what we have chosen to think about. With his new heart, Jack can now make choices and think differently than he did before. This is a theological reality that is incredibly freeing.

But, when Jack is angry, it doesn’t feel that way. From his perspective in the box, it feels like anger is happening to him—like others are causing his anger. His son’s refusal to do his homework consumes his thoughts, his daughter’s belligerence fuels his emotions; and when his wife greets him at the door with a honey-do list, Jack feels like his choices for the weekend have already been made for him.  As shown below, from where Jack stands in the box, it feels like his thoughts, emotions, and choices are out of his control. When anger is at work, he doesn’t feel free in Christ. He believes he has no other choice but to get angry. Because of our tendency to shift the blame for our wrongdoing to others, we are prone to interpret our anger in the passive voice. We are quick to say, “You make me so angry when you do that.” This is the angry man’s belief system: he believes that others are causing his anger.

But remember that the Bible speaks of anger occurring in the middle voice. So, to bring what you believe in line with what the Bible is teaching, you need to say, “I make myself so angry when you do that.”   Jack believes he is in a box because of what others are doing, but the truth is that he is the one controlling his thoughts, emotions, and choices. Biblically speaking, Jack’s anger occurs in the middle voice—he is the one causing it. This is why you will never overcome anger without first correcting your belief system. While anger feels like something that’s happening to you, it is actually something that you are doing to yourself. Your belief system matters. When you think about how you were wronged, you feel more justified in your belief system, and anger naturally follows. If you meditate on anything long enough, you will begin to believe it. The order matters: thinking leads to belief, belief fuels your emotions, and the emotions erupt in angry speech, actions, and attitude.

Understanding anger in the middle voice actually brings great hope. You are free in Christ, even when it doesn’t feel that way. Work on bringing your belief system in line with the Scriptures; bring every thought captive, and you will discover that he who the Son sets free is free indeed.

Taken from Fighting the Fire: biblical strategies for overcoming anger

4M Training: a unique approach to spiritual growth for men

Biblical Strategies is excited to introduce 4M Training: a unique approach to spiritual growth for men. We encourage men to: Mature in their faith, Master key habits, Minister inside and out, and Mentor the next generation. This is done through a brief teaching video, guided small group discussion and accountability as the men develop the key habits of Bible reading, Scripture retrieval, prayer, and walking in the Spirit. Here’s a look at Unit 1: lesson 1 (both the video and the manual). Welcome to 4M Training: a unique approach to spiritual growth for men. Available November, 2017.

To view the video click here.

Here is the introduction and lesson 1 from the 4M Training Manual.