As I watched Erna go up the stairs in tears I realized I had done it yet again. I had allowed my frustrations and annoyances to spill over and I directed them at her. I wanted to justify my actions but I knew with a sinking feeling that I was wrong and I needed to put it right.
A few minutes later I made my way to our room, apologized to my wife, and asked for forgiveness. I was graciously forgiven.
Later that day as I processed what had happened, I realized afresh that I needed to ruthlessly eliminate anger from my life.
The problem of course is that we live in an angry era where anger is the dominant social emotion of our age. Anger and its cousins, Frustration and Annoyance, are everywhere these days. All social media express large amounts of anger and frustration, most church foyers contain thinly veiled annoyance and anger and every day we hear reports of angry people shooting, bombing and stabbing. Clearly anger is natural, normal and ubiquitous. So why do I need to eliminate it?
Because anger is dangerous, hurtful and contagious.
Angry people who kill create angry people who want to bring back the death penalty or launch a "holy war". Angry parishioners expressing their displeasure over music or preaching create angry parishioners who want to defend the people being attacked. Angry spouses attacking their partner destroy their marriage and poison their children and grandchildren.
Anger is dangerous, toxic and always destructive.
I know that the Bible talks about a good anger which is often portrayed as righteous indignation. I am not going to deny that but I will be blunt: none of us are righteous enough to express our anger righteously.
Please think about this with me for a minute. In the New Testament we read about the fruit of the Spirit. These are the nine character traits of someone who is filled with the Spirit so consistently that the character of the Spirit dominates the individual’s life. Not only is anger not on the list, it is incompatible with the Spirit’s fruit. Try mixing anger together with love, joy or peace. Anger is so toxic the Spirit’s fruit disappears. Again, try adding anger as a descriptive word for gentleness, patience and kindness. It is illogical.
Therefore I believe we need to take some simple steps to eliminate anger’s presence. Let's begin by being aware of and taking responsibility for our own anger. Our anger is not someone else's problem. We need to be responsible for our anger and not blame anyone else for causing it.
Secondly, when we are aware of our anger we need to treat it like the dangerous toxic emotion it is. We must immediately reject it and not give it any more energy or space in our lives. It doesn't matter if everyone else is angry, as followers of Christ we should not be.
Thirdly, we must repent of our anger and ask the Holy Spirit to replace it with the fruit of the Spirit. Anger will never bring about the righteous life God desires for us and therefore we need to ruthlessly eliminate it from our lives.
I want to eliminate anger from my life. I don't want to hurt my wife or anyone else with my annoyances and frustrations ever again. Instead, I desire the Spirit’s fruit to be what dominates all of my choices and attitudes. I know it is almost impossible but I earnestly desire for it to happen and I am on my way. Will you join me? Perhaps we can start the first ever anger anonymous meeting.
Camp Tulahead is a small bible camp just outside of Princeton BC. Every week, seventy campers between the ages of eight and seventeen, come to Tulahead to hear about Jesus and experience God's love through the Tulahead staff.
Throughout this past month I have been working as a leader of Tulahead's LIGHT program. LIGHT is a three step leadership and discipleship training program that helps youth ages fourteen to seventeen learn about God and themselves, while equipping them to serve and lead both at camp and in the church. Over the last three weeks my co-leader and I have had the amazing opportunity to work closely with ten young people participating in the first two levels of the program. These incredible kids came from both Christian and non-Christian backgrounds, but all were eager to learn, serve and grow.
During their time at camp we were able to witness and facilitate tremendous growth and healing in the lives of each of these young people. Now they have all returned home to be lights in their homes and communities. Next month we will have nine more young people participating in the first and third levels of the program. We are so excited to see what God has in store for the weeks to come.
Over the past two years, SBC has taken initiative in forming the Summerland Congregational Emergency Response Team (SCERT) which is a group of people from SBC and other Summerland churches, trained to respond to any emergency or disaster that threatens our community. To date we have trained over 50 people in areas of Congregational Disaster Preparation, Meet and Greet (guiding people to and through the Evacuation Reception Centers during a disaster), Food Safe Course, and Emotional and Spiritual Care (assisting those victims that are distraught and fragile during any local disaster.)
On the weekend of July 18-20, there was a growing forest fire in the West Kelowna community which resulted in an evacuation notice for 2500 residents. Local resources were stretched to their limit so I was called by Disaster incident command to deploy two teams to assist in the ESS response to those involved. From Friday to Sunday, nine people from SCERT were mobilized and put in ninety-four ‘man hours’ of volunteer service. We sent four people to the Mt. Boucherie school, which was functioning as a evacuation reception center. These four people were engaged in ‘Meet and Greet’ roles as the evacuees arrived at the center, as well as operating the canteen and food area where victims could get food, drinks and encouragement. Another four people worked out of the #3 West Kelowna Fire Station and utilized the Salvation Army Food Service Truck to prepare and serve food to the first responders who came for meals. Additional meals were then packed and transported by our team to the fire line where fire fighters stopped to eat and renew their strength for the battle against the fire which threatened to spread to homes and local power lines.
Though only a small part of a large response team, our SBC folks were acknowledged for their service to our neighboring community. (They even made it onto the evening news!) I am grateful and proud of our people at SBC and their interest and commitment to serve our community and those nearby. Jesus told us to: “love one another as I have loved you!” John 13:34 and we are also told in Gal 5:13 “through love, serve one another.”
This fall I want to invite you to "What Now?", a one day conference on what leaders and parents can do in response to the exodus of young adults from the church.
In 2011, University of Lethbridge sociologist and Canadian youth and church consultant James Penner presented an earth shaking report entitled Hemorrhaging Faith which revealed that for every three children attending Protestant and Catholic churches in the 1990’s only one remains connected with the church as a young adult now.
Never before have I felt such an urgency for the church to respond to an issue. The reality is we will continue losing approximately 2 out of 3 of our current Sunday school children if f we don't respond to this trend. We risk becoming irrelevant to this current generation.
As a church leader, and more importantly as a parent, I want to do whatever I can to respond to this reality. That is why we have invited James Penner, the author the of the Hemorrhaging Faith report to come to Summerland on Oct 4th to share firsthand how we can respond.
The research also shows that there is tremendous hope too. We now know why young adult fence sitters, wanderers and rejectors leave our churches as well as why engagers choose to remain. Four questions have arisen from the research that can help lead the way to recovery.
• How do we encourage young adults to have a passionate and personal experience with God?
• How can parents have a vibrant faith that gets passed on to their children?
• How do we create the kind of organic community that young adults crave?
• How do we shift our teaching to empower young people in their faith journey?
Don’t miss the first time that James and his team will be presenting in the Okanagan. Come join us on Oct 4th for a one day conference. Throughout the day, you will be able to interact and with one of our nations experts on these issues. Find out what is really going on. And what you and your church can do about it.
For years, we have believed that young adults will return after they are married and have kids. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We need to respond.
I invite you as a leader and parent to invest some time and learn how to best respond to this generation and invest in the faith of this next generation.
Join us for “What Now?” For more information and to register, click here.
Thanks to James Penner for valuable contribution to this article.