Why I Get Angry Playing Golf

Before I start today’s message I am excited that later today Donna and I will get to see Avengers: Endgame. I promise no spoilers in my next message.

 

 

Now for today’s message.

I play golf in a league on Monday (9 holes) and a full game (18 holes) on Wednesday. I get to play with the same guys on both days.  I too often get really angry with myself when I screw up a shot (or maybe more like two or three in a row) and would like to say that this explosive anger I demonstrate is not typical for me in the other areas of my life. Normally, I am pretty patient with most things. Golf, however, gets under my skin in an instant, and before I know it I am thrown out of the cart, and my evil, twin brother Skippy takes over my game.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Shaul (Paul) tells us in Ephesians 4:26 that we should not sin in our anger. The anger he is talking about is not being pissed off when I follow a great drive with a duffed chip. That is not the kind of anger that Shaul was talking about; however, that doesn’t justify throwing a club, or (what I have forced myself to do instead of throwing the club) wham my golf bag with the club.

Yesterday I bought some cookies and placed them in a pocket of my golf bag for the turn-around. During the front nine, I got angry at messing up and swatted my bag a few times. When I went to eat the cookies, I discovered that I had smashed the cookies and now had a bag full of crumbs. Karma.

I have prayed, really I have, asking God to help me to take away this stupid, energy-wasting anger, but he hasn’t really done anything. Not that he should, because this is something that I do and therefore is something I need to stop doing. My golf buddies understand, and they are all much better at maintaining their composure than I am. That just makes me feel even worse about myself.

So why do I get so mad when the way I am playing golf is the way I should be playing golf? I mean, really- I am not on the PGA tour and never will be. I am a Bogie-plus golfer (that means I will normally score one or two strokes over the par for a hole), so my normal score for 18 holes is in the mid-nineties. Most of the time I will get mad, then relax, then get mad, then relax and do this during the game, and at the end find out my score was what it should be after 18 holes. It then I have to ask myself: what did I get so mad about? I played my normal game!

Here is where God helps me: he uses that still, quiet voice talking to me in the back of my head telling me the reason I get mad is that I am prideful. I think I should be a better golfer than I am, and I know I can be, so when I am not doing as well as I think I should, my pridefulness takes over and I get frustrated (at myself) and that results in anger.

Right now my friend Frank is bobbing his head up and down in agreement with me (aren’t you, Frank?)

So, nu?  Now that I know what the problem is, I should be able to fix it, right?  WRONG!!

Knowing what is wrong is a good start, but that is all it is- a good start. I know where to begin walking humbly with my God (Micah 6:8), but how far can I walk humbly before I backslide? With people I can go miles and miles…with golf, not much past the third hole!

Here’s the worst part…I know it is only a game! My life will not change if I score over 100, or if I score under 90. I’m sure if I don’t get mad my friends will feel less intimidated and I will feel much better if only I can get a handle on this anger thing. I do NOT want to manage it- I want it to go away, completely!

I always pray for self-control, and God keeps telling me this is something I need to learn on my own. I understand that- it isn’t that God isn’t willing to help me, but he won’t do it for me. God has taught me that I must find the strength to overcome my sinfulness, and I can do that by calling on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) NOT to change me, but to remind me I need to change and to warn me when I start to wander off the path of righteousness.

It all comes down to Free Will- our God-given right to choose. I can choose to get mad or I can choose not to get mad. God leads me, he shows me the way, he tells me how to act and instructs me what to do. But in the end, I am responsible for my actions and that is why God will not control me. The same goes for you.

Our God is a God of action: he wants us to walk with him not sit around waiting for him to do it for us. If I want to be less prideful I need to walk in humility- I need to keep myself in check, and I need to remember to work on it. God will help me by reminding me, by having people in my life help me, and by letting me screw up and embarrass myself so (maybe) I will think twice the next time before I do the same, stupid thing again.

I don’t think I am the only person with trouble managing anger in one way or another, and I am thankful that I lose control mostly only with my golf game.  But that is no excuse to allow it to continue.

What makes you angry? Is it godly or is it prideful? We all, each of us, need to ask ourselves this question when we feel the rage starting; and then we must try to stop it before it is noticeable. This is what I have to do more earnestly for myself, and I will still pray for God to help me.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just don’t get mad. If only it was really that easy.

Thank you for being here, please don’t forget to subscribe to this ministry, and use the link above to please subscribe to my YouTube channel, as well.

I welcome comments, suggestions, and even disagreements- all I ask is that you be nice.

L’hitaot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Do You Really Want to Risk His Wrath?

No video today.

I am a member of a number of Christian, Messianic or Hebraic Roots discussion groups. They all have value for learning and sharing ideas, yet it is a shame so many people within these groups undervalue themselves and others with their obnoxious and prideful statements. You can recognize them because when they are faced with opposite opinions they spit out a bunch of bible passages (taken out of context) and eventually end up calling the one(s) disputing with them pagans, Satanists or worse.

When people are discussing a topic and one of them ends up resorting to personal attacks and accusations, that indicates they are not able to adequately defend their position; it also demonstrates both emotional and spiritual immaturity.  Ask them to leave it at “You have your belief and I have mine, so let’s agree to disagree?” and they ignore you, continuing to force their ideas down your throat.

The real issue is pridefulness- those people are too prideful to accept that they may not be the only correct answer. As such they do not have the humility or respect for others to simple allow someone else to have their own belief. Worse than that, they use biblical passages to justify their accusatory and judgmental attitude. It’s always the same thing: God wants us to tell the truth, or God told me this is so, or God says we are to judge others.

They forget God said that we will be judged as we judge others. Oops- that could be a problem!

Whenever I see someone writing these sorts of things, even when they aren’t nasty but just stubbornly refusing to accept that anyone else may have another belief or idea that could also be correct, I think of Job and his friends. I assume we all know the book of Job well enough to recall that after his friends misjudged him because they thought they knew what God was all about, God was not too happy with them. This is what he told them (Job 42:7-9):

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has. So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the Lord commanded them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

Job’s friends had been telling Job all about how God works, what he wants, what he believes, what he knows…basically they were talking for God as if they knew him and what he thought. That is what got God so mad.

People who tell others absolutely that we need to use God’s holy name, how it is pronounced, what God wants us to do, what God told us isn’t important, why God made the rules he made, etc. all are doing exactly what Jobs friends did. I suspect, although I can’t say for certain, that God still isn’t too happy with people who do that. Since God tells us he doesn’t change it only seems logical that if Jobs’ friends ticked of the Lord with their assumptions about what he feels and thinks, people who tell others today what God feels and thinks would be in the same spot Job’s friends put themselves.

For the record, let me say there are many, many places in the bible where God tells us, absolutely, what he likes and dislikes, what he says is wrong and what he says is right, and these things we can state clearly are how God feels. He told us so.

My complaint (and concern) is for those people who assume they know what God wants and tell others what they should believe or do. I believe when they do that they are risking his wrath.

I would like to ask people to be polite and respectful of others. We can speak the truth with love and if we believe something absolutely but someone else doesn’t, then let’s justify our opinion without attacking their opinion. And never attack a person for what they believe. When I think someone is relating a misinterpretation of a biblical passage, I will say I believe what they have been taught is wrong and then I will interpret the passage the way I believe it should be done. I will also ask them to re-read it praying for holy spirit guidance. I won’t say they are wrong, but that they were taught incorrectly. This way they (hopefully) won’t take it as a personal attack. You can’t change someone’s mind, but you can punch holes in their argument with facts. Again, you can attack their position but do not attack them. And if they are adamant not to change their mind and start to get upset or hostile, then end it. Wipe the dust from your sandals and move on.

There is an old joke: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.

We can’t change someone’s beliefs or mind unless they are open to listening. If it becomes obvious that they aren’t going to change their mind, you’ve done all you can. Move on to the next subject. I have often just told people I won’t change my mind and I see they won’t change theirs, so let’s move on to something else. It’s sad that most of the time my respectful attempt to end the discussion reaches deaf ears.

Let’s end today’s message with a quote from Proverbs 12:15:

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

 

Perfect Relationships That Aren’t Really Perfect

I have thanked Dear Abby many times for the fodder her column provides me for this blog. I am, once again, ready to deal with an issue that is so often found in the letters she receives.

If you have ever read any of the letters she is sent, I am sure you will notice, just as I have, that there are so many people who write in about their spouse, friend, or significant other and state that they are just so wonderful, so kind, such a good parent, B-U-T….

It’s the but” that gets me: but…they get really nasty when they drink and they drink every night, or but…they don’t ever take me out, or but….they work all the time and are rarely home, but, but, but

Some of these issue are relatively minor, just the kind of quirks that get on your nerves now and then and you learn to live with for the sake of the relationship. However, there are those issues that are, or should be, “deal-breakers’ within a relationship, and the writer of the letter doesn’t seem to realize how bad it is.

In my first marriage, in my previous life, I read a book called “The Dance of Anger” by Dr. Harriet Lerner, and this was written mainly for women but my relationship was so bad that I wanted to see what it said. The basic premise is that when two are in a bad relationship, it becomes comfortable. So much so, that when one person starts to work out the problems and make the relationship better, the other party will actually go out of his or her way to start arguments and bring the disharmony back. This is because the bad relationship is more comfortable than the new good one. It was an interesting lesson for life, not just for marriage. And the book rang true: the more I tried to work it out, the more she made things worse. I am sorry, yet relieved, that I had to stop dancing with that partner long ago.

So what does this have to do with God, the bible and salvation? Plenty! We are in multiple relationships while we are alive: we are in a relationship with the world, with our spouse, our friends, our workmates, with God, and with the enemy of God. Yes, we are in a relationship with the enemy, and it should be a very bad relationship, one where we never get along, and the more he tries to win us over to his side, the more we refuse and rebuke him.

The Devil is an adulterer: he wants to come between us and God.

Unlike the writers of these types of Dear Abby letters, where they are covering their eyes with blinders or putting on rose-colored glasses to make their relationship problems seem smaller than they are, we need to see with open eyes and use discernment instead of lying to ourselves. We need to recognize the issues within our relationships and correct them. If someone is sinning against us, we need to work it out, or get away. Turning the other cheek doesn’t mean standing there while someone hits you- it’s a metaphor. DUH! It means don’t return evil for evil- that is the message we see more than once throughout the bible. Turn the other cheek means forgive, accept differences, don’t allow evil but don’t hate the sinner (hate the sin, yes, but not the sinner.) That is turning the other cheek. And if someone actually does hit you, then let it go. If he or she tries to hit you again, avoid it as best as you can by ducking, blocking or running away. Always protect yourself when someone wants to hurt you, and don’t return the violence unless you have no other choice.

I think we all put on “blinders” now and then, especially when it involves someone close to us. They say love is blind, and it often is, but it doesn’t have to be stupid. If you love the Lord, then ask for His sight through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) so that you can see clearly.  Seeing the truth about someone doesn’t mean that you must leave the relationship if there are problems, it only means that you will be able to better see how to fix it. Hopefully, if your partner tries to “dance” you back into the bad relationship, you can sway this way and that, or change the dance altogether. In some cases, we need to “bite the bullet” and suffer the pain of getting a better partner (I am not condoning divorce- I am talking about any type of relationship between two or more people, not just marriage) and starting over again.

The most important relationship we can have is with God, through Messiah Yeshua and the Holy Spirit. God is eternal, God will always work with you, and God will never let you down. He is forgiving and compassionate, yet fair and just, so when we screw something up He will help get us back on the right path, even if it means a slap to the side of our head!  He is always willing to dance with us, and when we let Him lead, we can dance better than Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, put together!

When you feel in your spirit that your relationship, whatever type it is, has something amiss, then go to God and ask Him to open your eyes. The best standard you can use to measure the worth of your relationship is the bible- it tells us how we are to treat each other. If your relationship fits (now be firm with yourself when you look at your relationship, and do not put on blinders) the way we are to treat each other according to the bible, even with a glitch here and there, then you are OK. If it doesn’t seem that your partner is doing as he or she should, then consider changing it or leaving it.  Yeshua tells us He came to be a wedge between family and friends (Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51) and that if we aren’t willing to give up family, friends and everything, we can’t be His disciples (Mark 10:29.) He isn’t telling us to dump everyone we ever knew, but He is saying that following God’s way is going to cause division in our relationships, and to be ready for it. On the other hand, following God’s ways can also make all our relationships better.

No two people will ever get along perfectly, and if anyone ever tells you they never argue or always have peace in their relationship, keep away from them! They ain’t human! Donna and I have fights, we do get angry with each other, and sometimes we get on each other’s nerves for no reason whatsoever. The worst time is when we are both in a snit, and thank God that most of the times when one of us is in a snit, the other isn’t, and can ignore the desire of the flesh to get back. The only reason I can brag about our marriage is because God has given us His blessings and helped us with the peace we receive from His Ruach HaKodesh.  As Shaul said, I am not bragging on myself, but I am bragging on the Lord and all He has done in our marriage and lives.

So, to finish- if you are having relationship problems, go to God with it. Ask Him to open both sets of eyes to the truth, and to give both hearts a spirit of forgiveness and compassion. Overall, your relationship with God is the most important one in your life, and when you maintain that relationship all your other relationships will be more pleasant and rewarding.

hating is easier than loving

They say good always triumphs over evil, and love conquers everything. I believe that both are true, but only in a spiritual sense: in the real world, I have seen that hate can be stronger than love and evil often wins out.

Sometimes evil does get what’s coming to it in the real world, but it always reaps the whirlwind in the afterlife.

I know people who can’t let go of their anger or hatred, and I can see it eating away their kishka’s (intestines) slowly. Hatred is a wormwood that infects the heart, and since (biblically) the heart is the source of intelligence, when we hate we not only damage relationships, but we get stupid, too!

Anger from pridefulness leads to hatred, unforgiveness feeds the hatred, and jealousy is (maybe) the worst form of hatred. And I believe (disagree if you want- that’s OK) that hatred is stronger than love in most people. To me, love is like clear, fresh water that extinguishes all anger and pride, whereas hatred is an all-consuming fire that is never satisfied and feeds on itself, never getting smaller and always growing stronger.

If we hate someone, usually they hate us back, but love is very often unrequited. In the long run, many more people love someone who doesn’t love them back, yet hatred will almost always return hatred. That’s how it feeds on itself. And hating is easy- very easy! To hate you only need to love yourself more than others, be prideful and unforgiving, and want everything to go your way. You see anyone and anything that prevents your desires from coming to fruition as the enemy. That is almost a description of human nature, isn’t it? Hating is a curse- not to the other person, but to the one who hates. Yet- we don’t care! Once we are in “hate mode”, we are gone! We lose control of our senses, our emotions, and we do and say things that will hurt ourselves and everyone around us. Hatred is death.

Love, on the other hand, is gentle, takes strength of character and humility, is forgiving and accepts everyone as they are, whether or not we agree with their choices. No mater what, we still love them. We know that they are children of God and if you love God, you have to love (at least, a little) His children.  I am not speaking about “hold me-kiss me-marry me”  love, but love in the spiritual sense.

Shaul (Paul) says in 1 Corinthians 13 that without love, he is nothing.  Hatred eats us alive, from the inside out, and then grows beyond us affecting everything and everyone we come into contact with. Well, love does the same thing, only it strengthens us from the inside out, and our love for others will also affect everyone and everything around us, but instead of burning and hurting (as hate does), love makes people feel better about themselves and the world. It may only last a moment with them, but it makes an impression. Even those that are consumed by hatred will be convicted by our loving example and will (probably) feel uncomfortable around us.

Hate is easy because it it fits well with our sinful personality. Love is hard because it takes self-sacrifice, forgiveness, and compassion- the exact opposite of what we call “human nature.”

“So, Mr. Cynical Steve, if you are so certain that hate is easier than love, and hatred is the norm, why even bother with love? How can we possibly attain it?” The answer is that God is able to show you how to love. God loved us all, even while we were sinners, enough to forgive us over and over, and finally to allow His only son to die so we could be saved. Yeshua loved us enough to give up, for all eternity, His divinity and take on a mantle of flesh so that He could die in order to save us from ourselves.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends .” (John 15:13)

This is the example we need to live up to, and with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) dwelling inside us, we are encouraged to love. Hatred is a fire; fire can be extinguished with water; Yeshua (Jesus) said He is the Living Water, and that is what we need so we can extinguish hatred and become free of the fire. The waters of the this world can run dry, but the Living Water is always available.

The easy way is usually not the best way, just like if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. We have to fight to be loving, we have to run the race with our eyes on the prize to keep hatred behind us, we have to be willing to sacrifice our pride, and we need to understand that even when others hurt us we have to love them back. None of these things are easy to do, and are even harder to maintain when we are in a relationship that feeds on anger and unforgiveness.

I read a book once called “The Dance of Anger” (by Harriet Lerner) which said that when two people are in a relationship that is fed by negative reinforcement and destructive, when one of the two try to change it, even when that change is beneficial and good, the other person will go out of their way to bring the relationship back into disharmony because it has become comfortable. In other words, if we argue all the time and I try to stop arguing, you will be the one who constantly tries to start an argument. Or, if you try to calm me and work with me, I will do everything I can to undermine your attempts at peace so we go back to hurting each other. I read that book in my previous life, when I was in a very bad marriage, and what the book says is true. I ate crow for months, and did everything I could to avoid arguments. I even accepted that my family, my friends, and everything I ever held dear to myself (including my morals) were wrong. Yet, whenever I tried to make the relationship better, she tried to bring it back to where it was. She wanted to vent, and the more she vented, the windier it got- there was no venting because the fire of hatred and unforgiveness is unquenchable.

The answer to hatred is that you need to just stop hating, i.e. remove the fuel: that is the only way to put out the fire. With humans it is very hard- nearly impossible, but with God, all things are possible..

Sometimes you just wanna get away from it all

I was asked, and accepted, to be a member of the Board of Directors at the church where I worship. It’s a Christian church but they are a Hebraic roots movement, which is sort of the same as a Messianic Synagogue, except where Messianic Jews accept Yeshua as Messiah and remain Jewish, Hebraic Roots Movement is where Christians want to know more about their Jewish roots and they honor Torah, but are not “converting” to Judaism. I guess they’re two sides of the same coin.

In any event, I was asked to work on getting the website for the church upgraded, updated and , well…up. I did some research, we had a reference from someone in the Congregation who had personal experience and knew the person and after meeting with him I recommended we go with him. There are three others on the Board, two of which said they were fine with what I suggested and the amount, and the third said to not pay it all up front, which we decided was a good idea. I emailed the site host and made our offer, which he accepted and said he would send us an invoice and get started.

That’s when one of the members started to waver, asked questions about other costs, said he never agreed to an amount (that was never suggested), etc. Then he started to ask why we can’t use a free site, or a cheaper site. The last straw, for me, was when he said if we all don’t agree then we have to meet and hold a formal vote. I was told, before I joined, that we did not have to be unanimous, and the issue about having to have a meeting and a formal vote when one disagrees was never even suggested.

Well, I was fuming. I don’t like surprises, and I don’t like indecision. All I saw was cold feet, even though every point he made was valid and useful. The problem I had was that he didn’t make these until we started to move. Where was he, I was thinking, over the past two weeks of emails I had been sending? Why is he making all this fuss now, when everyone else (yes, all 3 of us) had decided to go ahead.

I don’t like that. The events and how they happened, as well as the emails (the last one I sent was so hot it had to be typed with an asbestos keyboard) finally resulted with our Pastor telling us to cool it, get back to being godly in our dealings and no more emails or texts. We need to be face-to-face now. And he was, of course, absolutely correct.

So, what was my tirade about? It’s wasn’t really about the person who was blocking movement (I don’t mean that to be a derogatory statement) and it wasn’t really about having to ask the vendor to hold up starting for a little bit. It wasn’t really about anyone being a bad guy; in fact, if there is a “bad guy” to this story, it’s me.

The level of my anger was not justified. I wasn’t angry because of his suggestions, which were fine, or because of his timing, which was very bad, but I was angry because of my own pride. I felt betrayed, misled and embarrassed: here I had been asked to get this done, something they had been wanting to do for a while, and after being tasked with this, putting in time to research, meet with the vendor, and email everyone with the results, I got approval from two and the third did not say “wait on this” , but the moment I said “Go!” I was grabbed by the nape of my neck and told, “STOP!!”

I believe that the way our third member handled this was wrong- but that is no excuse for me getting so angry as to even threaten to quit (I hadn’t even been to two meetings yet.) That sort of ultimatum (usually) is the result of pridefulness, which (I have said over and over) is the mother of all sins. My pride is what caused us to be shut down, email-wise, and my pride probably made what was just bad timing, and a minor delay, into a major event. I am sure that after we can review all the information I have since sent out, comparing cheap hosted sites against professionally constructed and hosted sites (which I, in my pridefulness, already knew about), we will continue to go forward with the vendor most of us agreed would be OK.

And I expect that, because we are (well, at least they are) godly men, we will get past this with nothing more than a sense of how we can better handle disagreements in the future.

In the meantime, I have to preach this Friday night at Shabbat services and I am preaching about loving each other as God loves us- pretty much what I wrote about for this past Monday’s posting. That was before I blew my top. Now I feel really bad about myself, I feel undeserving of going before a congregation, and I feel ashamed.

So, what should I do? I’ll tell what I should do- I should get over it and get moving, again. I fell down, so what? I am getting up again, I am going forward, I still feel that I wasn’t wrong in what I said but that I was wrong in how I said it (the story of my life!) I know it’s going to be OK,  but I won’t feel better until I apologize face-to-face, shake his hand and hug him, and hear that he has forgiven me.

In the meantime, I am not going to beat myself up. I made a mistake, that’s what we do, we humans. We make mistakes. And I know that he will forgive me because he is a man of God, a man who is spiritually mature, and a man I can trust. I am glad I know him.

I hope he can feel that way about me one day.

Pride is a horrible thing, and being a horrible thing, it makes us do horrible things.  I am prideful, and I am working on it, with the help of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).

The most important lesson here is not so much to watch what we say (which we should) , or think before speaking (then shut up, anyway), but to know that we will fall, we will fail, and we will do it more than once. And after all that we must keep going and striving to improve. The Enemy wants me to feel bad, he wants me to call the Pastor and tell him I am not worthy to preach to anyone, and he wants me to quit being on the Board.

Sorry, Satan- I’m not falling for that. I will fall, but not for your line of fertilizer, Buddy-boy! I will keep at it; I will continue to preach because God has given me that gift (which has been confirmed to me by many) and I will stay on this Board because if they asked me to be on it, I should trust their judgment. They are more spiritually mature than I am. They can teach and develop me, and I can also help and enhance this Board because I am working on being better and God is behind me.

We all fall, we all do stupid things, and we all hurt someone or get hurt by someone. So what. Really- so what! I still have God, I still have Messiah, and I still have breath to praise Him and strength to keep trying to be better, for Him.

You never really fail at anything until you stop trying.

See Today Through Tomorrow’s Eyes

This morning’s Drash falls somewhere between spiritual maturity and anger management.

The other day I was praying and began to wonder why I, a person who knows Messiah, who knows God’s plan, and who knows the wonderful future I have to look forward to basking in the glory and love of the Lord, get mad at anything. Especially the stupid, little things that get under my skin, like, oh, let’s say, USERS!!!!

Sorry. If anyone reading this is one of the people my company supports, it’s not you I’m talking about.  🙂

So, as I was thinking about the future, I also started to think about how it always seems to take forever when looking forward to something, but when you look back it seems that life happened at supersonic speed.

That’s when it hit me- stop looking forward and only look backwards.

I don’t mean we should ignore the future, or never plan for anything- that’s silly. We all need to have something to look forward to because without a future there’s no hope. What I mean is that we need to look at what is happening to us today with tomorrow’s eyes, as if we were remembering this current event instead of living through it. That way the immediacy of the emotional impact is lessened to a large degree.

It does take practice, it takes retraining your own reactions, and it ain’t easy. I have not mastered it…not by a long shot!

But I am certain that if I can just stop for a second, remove myself from this moment’s feelings just long enough to force myself to believe it is days or years later, and I am looking back on what is happening at this very instant, what memory of this event would I want?

I truly believe that if I can do that, I will not react but will act; I will be able to do what I would have wanted to do, that so many times I wish, looking back, I had done.

This simple, but not so simple, thing is what can make a difference in one’s life. It can help us to be more like what God wants us to be, and less like what the world has trained us to be.

God’s time is not like ours- I think that is often why He can be so wonderfully compassionate and understanding, and also so angry at us when we don’t think we are doing anything that bad. It’s because God sees what is happening and what will happen, whereas we can barely look beyond the end of the nose on our own face!

That is what looking with tomorrow’s eyes allows us to do- see past our noses. It takes work, and as I’ve said, it isn’t easy. That’s where the spiritual maturity part comes in. With a powerful prayer life, and constantly dying to self to allow more room for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to fill us, we can call on God’s Comforter to help us overcome our emotional, fleshly reactions so that we can look at what is happening this very second as if it were a memory.

And when you learn to see now as if it were long ago, your emotions will slow down, your anger will abate, and you will be able to make what you do now the memory you want it to be later.

Try it! After all, what have you got to lose except unpleasant memories and people being angry at you?

Looking in All the Wrong Places

Do you know the love song that goes, “I was looking for love in all the wrong places…?”

We get two newspapers every day; one has Dear Abby and the other carries Ask Amy. As I said yesterday, I often see something about God, or the results of not having God in our lives, in the newspapers. These two columns certainly do not disappoint when looking for such inspiration.

Between the two of these this morning I read about:

1. A woman who has had the same boyfriend for 13 years (get off the pot already!) is mortified because he called her a bad word in the heat of an argument. He apologized, but she just can’t let go of the pain;

2.  A widower is too attracted to online porn and is wants to know if he is spending too much time looking at it;

3. A woman who eats lunch often with a co-worker told the person not to drink and drive and that person got upset and defended herself, telling the woman it’s none of her business. Now the woman is so upset and so disrespectful of the other woman she doesn’t think she can eat lunch with her anymore.

Oy! What is wrong with these people? Didn’t they ever hear about forgiveness? The woman who has a boyfriend for 13 years? Commit already, or get someone who will. And in 13 years this is the first time he said something hurtful. The word he used is the term for a female dog, and he apologized later. I can tell you, in the real world, calling a woman a B**ch is nowhere near some of the things I used to say when I was not a Believer, and I got back the same. You’re mad, you’re in a heated argument, you’re a stupid, self-centered egocentric human being who is born into sin, and you say something hurtful because you feel attacked, too.  When things calm down, you regret what you said and you apologize. This happened what? Once? In 13 years?  And the woman is devastated? C’mon, grow up! No wonder you’re 13 years into this relationship and you aren’t even engaged. If I was the guy and I saw this, I would be thinking what other small and relatively insignificant things might I accidentally or unknowingly do that are pretty much harmless, but will throw this woman into a fit of angst that she can’t get over? Time to move on before I waste any more time here.

The widower that thinks he is online too much. The answer given was pretty much on the spot- if you think you’re spending too much time online, you are. He starts by saying he still has a healthy sex drive- there’s not much about pornography that is “healthy”. Get out into the world, help other people instead of watching people sell their bodies and do perverted things.

Finally, this woman who is (my guess) probably too much about her own opinion, so much so that she feels she is allowed to tell another adult that she shouldn’t do something. Now, in all fairness, maybe she presented herself in a nice and caring way. It is good to be concerned about the health of others, and drinking and driving (the woman doing this was deaf, which makes it even worse) is a bad idea, but when you tell someone they shouldn’t be doing something, and they become defensive and tell you to mind your own business (whether nicely or straight-out), you probably should. You made your feelings known, and they were rejected. People have a right to reject your opinion; it’s not a put-down, and it certainly isn’t reason to reject them totally, as this woman seems to suggest she wants to do now. This has pridefulness written all over it, on both sides. The unstoppable force has met an immovable object, so what do you do? You change course. You say to yourself, “I don’t think what she does is right or safe, I told her, and she doesn’t want to hear it. Let’s talk about something else.” That’s how you handle it- you said your piece, it was heard and rejected, you did what you wanted, she did what she wanted, it’s over: now, let’s eat.

Why do I read this stuff? Often I start reading it, then I just have to stop. I get too upset and frustrated with the total lack of God in people’s lives, and often really angry at the ones who write in how they are “God-fearing” and have been “good Christians” all their lives, then complain about someone in a way that shows pridefulness, no desire to be understanding, and a total lack of compassion. They are the ones who make it hard for the rest of us to demonstrate God’s love and goodness (BTW…no one is “good.”  Yeshua said that, and if the Son of Man, who is also the Son of God, is adamant that no one, not even Himself, is good- only God is good- then no one should call themselves a “good” anything!)

These people show us how horrible life is without God. How do I know they aren’t Believers? I don’t. They may be Believers, or not. They may practice a religion, or they may be Atheists. In any case, if they aren’t asking God for guidance, they are going to the wrong place for advice.

That’s what the title for this Drash is about- going to the wrong place for answers. The advice columnists mean well and do serve a good purpose most of the time. I have nothing against them. However, go to them and you will only get worldly advice. You will be told you need to get therapy (this is a standard answer; I think they must have family in the mental health business) and they are willing to say, now and then, to get involved in activities where they worship. They will even, on occasion, recommend talking to someone the person trusts, like a religious leader. But for the most part, their advice will be politically correct. I have been reading these articles for a long time and cannot remember once Abby or Amy or Miss Manners or anyone ever saying that the writer needs to get more of God in their life.

When we have issues with our partners, our family, our boss, co-workers, whoever, we need to see, first and foremost, what God says. God is the ultimate source of what we should do, how we should act, how we should treat others, and (I think most important) how we should act when others don’t treat us as we would treat them. I don’t know if you agree or not, but I think one of the most important, and difficult commandments God gives us, is to forgive those who hurt us. We aren’t commanded to ask forgiveness, but we are commanded to forgive. It seems to me God is more interested in how we react to being sinned against than He is about when we sin. Sin isn’t good, no way! But it seems to me God really wants to see what we do when we are the “damaged party”; like that is the true litmus test to show how humble and spirit-filled we are. The Besorah (Good News) talks about when Yeshua was led to slaughter, how He didn’t say a word against those that were wrongfully accusing Him. I’m sure there are many reasons why, but one reason has to be that He was humble and accepted being wronged before He would assail at His accusers. He could have easily used His wisdom and the Ruach to not only defeat the accusations, but totally destroy the people. After all, in the End Days, He will utterly defeat the Enemy with no more than a word from His mouth.

But He remained silent, He remained humble and did not return evil for evil.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for our rights, but we need to think , case by case, if our rights as a human being under a legal system, or within a cultural environment, are more important than the way God wants us to act. And when we aren’t sure about how to react to a  perceived wrong done against us, we should go to God first, then again, and lastly we should go back to God. If we can’t get the right answer from God, we need to listen better. Yes, go to your Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, Minister, go to people you worship with and know who have shown you they are Godly and know the Word of God. Remember the advice that Yacov (James) gave: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Listen to people as compassionately as you want those people to talk to you. But let God give you the answer.

Next time you feel like going to Dear Abby, go to Dear Abba, instead.