Blended Families Part 6: Angry Children + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 6: Angry Children - We’ve all seen them, or experienced them, blended families with angry, resentful children or teens. And parents who are just trying to “live through it” until the kids are old enough to leave home. In some cases, the children aren’t only angry, but are in full blown rebellion. I don't have to tell you this falls far short of God's best for families. How does this happen when couples start out with such high hopes for their marriages and families?

 

Blended Families Part 6: Angry Children

 

We’ve been talking about the challenges blended families face and some of the ways their struggles are common to us all.

In previous posts we’ve talked about favoritism, the goal of the blended family, how to love biblically, and the importance of right priorities, among other subjects.

Today we’re going to talk about angry children.

 

We’ve all seen them, or experienced them, blended families with angry, resentful children or teens. And parents who are just trying to “live through it” until the kids are old enough to leave home. In some cases, the children aren’t only angry, but are in full blown rebellion. I don’t have to tell you this falls far short of God’s best for families.

How does this happen when couples start out with such high hopes for their marriages and families?

 

It starts with a seed.

 

It starts with a seed and that seed is a hurt.

… who can bear a broken spirit? (Prov. 18.14b)

The hurt often comes as a result of sin on the part of one or more parents or step-parents, but not always.

It can be real or, sometimes, only imagined. Things like:

  • A step-father trying to take a father’s place.
  • Unfair treatment by a parent or step-parent.
  • Desertion or rejection by one or more parents.
  • Favoritism toward a sibling or step-sibling.
  • The loss of friends or extended family.

If it’s not dealt with in a biblical way, the seed will grow into a root of bitterness.

 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many (Heb. 12.15 NLT).

The child cultivates that seed by playing the offense over and over in his or her mind. He thinks about how unfair it is, how he wishes things were different, or how he wants his old life back. As he does he’s nurturing and watering it. The seed grows into a bitter root and that root, if not addressed biblically, will spring up into an ugly bush.

We’ve all tasted something bitter. It’s sharp to the tongue and leaves a bad taste.

A bitter person, child or adult, is sharp with others, even when the other people are trying to be kind or loving. Pretty soon other family members are avoiding unnecessary interaction, fueling more anger and bitterness.

Bitterness, if not dealt with grows into anger. This kind of anger is not the occasional outburst that comes from various provocations, life events, or frustrations, but an angry disposition that begins to characterize their lives.

Allowed to remain, it can quickly grow into stubbornness or what some might call insubordination. Imagine the proverbial donkey with her front hooves dug into the ground while her master tries to move her forward. A stubborn son or daughter is uncooperative, often refusing to take part in family events, interact with others, or obey her parents.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry (1 Sam. 15.23a).

Stubbornness is idolatrous because the stubborn person thinks she is god of her own life. What makes her happy is getting her own way.

But sadly, stubbornness is not the end of the road for someone on this downward spiral. Stubbornness can lead to the next step, full blown rebellion. A rebel is someone who has become a fool in God’s eyes. He or she refuses to be under authority, especially, the authority of his or her parents.

Look at some of the characteristics of a fool from the book of Proverbs:  Continue reading

“Picture of a Mature Christian Life” October 2

 

What does a mature Christian life look like? Is it the things we do or the things we don't do? What did Paul mean when he said, "live a life worthy of the calling ...?"

What should a mature Christian life look like? Is it the things we do, like going to church or reading our Bibles? Is it the “big sins” we don’t do, like getting drunk or stealing? What did Paul mean when he said, “walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph. 4.1)?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 55 & 56
Psalm 113.5-9
Proverbs 26.20-21
Ephesians 4.1-32

 

Picture of a Mature Christian Life

 

Ephesians 4.1-32:

What does a mature Christian life look like?

Verse 1 begins with “I, therefore, … beseech you …”

Therefore! Because of all the things Paul had just explained in chapters 1-3—because we are “in Him”—saved, redeemed, sanctified, justified, blessed, set free—we should “walk worthy of the calling with which [we have been] called” (Eph. 4.1)!

Now in these last three chapters of Ephesians, Paul begins to tell us how those truths should be lived out. Chapter 4 says:

We should work to have unity and peace in all our relationships—in our family, in our church, in the workplace—wherever God places us (v. 3).

We should no longer be spiritual babies, tossed to and fro by every appealing sounding doctrine or new spiritual experience that comes along (v. 14). Babies need constant attention, are easily upset and will believe in every “Santa Claus” that comes along! We need to be rooted and grounded in the truth instead of wanting someone to make us feel good or think we need to be entertained all the time. We need to “grow up” (v. 15)!

arguing silent treatmentWe are to speak the truth in love (v. 15). That means three things should happen. We should speak—not clam up or give someone the silent treatment—ever! Nothing justifies that behavior in the life of a believer. Second we must “speak truth”—not half truths, not omissions of the truth, but truth! And third it must be spoken “in love”—not because we want to give them a “piece of our minds” or unload on someone!

We should not act like pagans who don’t know God (v. 17). That means we can’t justify our behavior because, “Everyone else is doing it,” or because, “This is not the first century!”

That, obviously, means we don’t commit fornication or adultery. But it also means we don’t flirt if we’re married and we don’t flirt with married men or women if we’re single.

Ladies, it means we don’t dress like the covers of most magazines or some actress (and husbands, don’t ask your wife to dress that way, unless it’s in the privacy of your home). It means our beauty is to be primarily inner and spiritual. It does not mean we have to dress like a grandmother or be drab or unattractive.

It also means we don’t live with someone if we are not married to him or her … period! Having him stay at your house 2 or 3 times a week, or even occasionally, while you’re not technically “living together” is no better. You’re only deceiving yourself.

We’re not to be lewd, unclean or greedy (v. 19). No dirty jokes or sexual innuendos. No lies because “how else are you going to get ahead in business.”

We are to put off those habits and lifestyles of the old sinful nature (v. 22).

We are to work at renewing our minds (v. 23)—spending time in His Word, reading good theologically sound books, memorizing Scripture and meditating on it—thinking about how it is to be lived out in our lives personally.

We are to put on new righteous habits and lifestyles (eph 4.24).

We are to stop lying, deceiving, omitting, hiding and coloring the truth; and become open and honest in all our relationships (v. 25).

We are not to sin in our anger, but deal with it quickly (v. 26). There are some things that should make us angry, but we cannot use that as an excuse to sin. We must deal with those sinful thoughts, feelings, and actions quickly (don’t let the sun go down on them). If we don’t, we’re giving the devil an open window to crawl—or charge—through (v. 27).  Continue reading

“Uprooting Anger” + LINKUP

 

Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem - Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help for a Common Problem by Robert D. Jones.

 

Anger, who hasn’t experienced it. We call it by different names like: frustration, upset, hurt. Doing so makes us feel better about it or minimize it in some way.

Jesus had a different view. He didn’t minimize it. In fact, He showed us it’s a serious heart issue.

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matt. 5.21-22).

Murder and anger come from the same sinful heart condition. I may not pull out a gun, but I can murder with my words, attitudes and actions.

Because it’s a heart condition, it’s not enough to simply decide to quit exploding or giving someone else the silent treatment. While we may be able to grit our teeth and stuff those feelings for a while, sooner or later they erupt some place else.

So how can we attack anger at it’s root, in the heart? Robert Jones has given us a guide. He begins:

There will be no thorough and lasting godly change without root removal. Moralistic efforts to be patient with your co-workers won’t cut it. Regret-riddled resolutions to stop yelling at your kids won’t last. You must rip out those angry roots.

He goes on:

This book is written for the average reader who recognizes that anger is a too-frequent issue in his life and a too-prevalent problem in his family, work, and church relationships.

Mr. Jones defines anger and explains the differences between sinful anger and righteous anger. The heart of the book helps us understand that the roots of sinful anger don’t come from our circumstances, but from our inner beliefs and motives.  Continue reading

Relationships: “We can’t communicate about anything!”

 

We can't communicate about anything!Welcome to Soul Survival where I blog through the Bible and on other subjects related to living the Christian life. My “day job” is biblical counseling. I’m an ACBC certified counselor. I meet with couples, families and individuals to help them find God’s answers for the issues and struggles they face.

Besides meeting with people formally, I am frequently asked questions at church or by email. I’ll be answering some of those questions here on the blog. If you have a question you’d like to see answered (using only a first name or initial) you can submit it here.

 

TODAY’S QUESTION:

From John:

My wife and I have huge communication issues. We don’t seem to be able to communicate about anything! It seems like everything is an issue with her and I don’t usually react the way I should. We fight about the kids, my friends, her family, my family … you name it! I think she’s too critical and she says I’m too selfish. We both know we shouldn’t be talking to each other like that, but we don’t know where to start to fix it.
Continue reading

“Anger & Stress Management God’s Way” + LINKUP

 

Anger & Stress Management God's WayWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Anger & Stress Management God’s Way by Wayne Mack.

 

Anger and Stress: Who hasn’t struggled with one or both of them at some time? And if we don’t learn to get them under control, they can cause a lifetime of damage.

Most of us know people who’ve been told they need “anger management,” but anger is ultimately a heart issue and if we don’t learn to manage it God’s way it will just show up somewhere else.

Stress is usually quieter, but can rob us of the peace and joy that can and should be ours.

I have used Dr. Mack’s book many times in counseling, but it can be used very effectively by individuals and couples, as well. It’s very readable, practical, and can be life changing for those looking for God’s truth in this area.

From the introduction:

Anger! Stress! These are two words that are used frequently in the course of our daily lives. They’re so commonly used because they describe a very common phenomenon. Who of us has not been on the giving and receiving end of anger? Unfortunately, the same is true of stress. We all know people or perhaps we’re the people who have been “stressed out.” Well, whether it’s anger or stress, we are all too familiar with the experience. Who of us has never observed or even been a participant in the devastating consequences of either of these two destroyers?

Yes, I call them destroyers because that’s what they are and do. Nothing good has ever come out of mishandled stress or sinful anger. Scripture says, “Wrath is fierce and anger a flood” (Proverbs 27: 4). How picturesque and how true is this description of sinful anger. An unbiblical kind of anger is like a flood that destroys people and property. Truly, “the wrath of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1: 20). In fact, it does the opposite. It never does anything good, but it surely does a lot of damage. So we must learn how to control it, or it will destroy us and other people either literally or figuratively.

Likewise, it can be said that stress is much like anger in its effects on the individual and his relationships with people. Eustress (good stress – a certain amount of concern) is good, but eustress can quickly and easily become distress, which by definition is that which causes sorrow, misery, pain or suffering.

The eight chapters that follow are full of practical information about the differences between sinful anger and righteous anger, the roots of stress, the consequences of mishandling anger and stress, and “the way of escape” from sinful ways of responding to the stressors and trigger points of life. Each truth is backed up with Scripture references.

One of the most helpful chapters contains six diagnostic questions to help us get to the Continue reading

“Angry Children & the Heart” + LINKUP

 

Angry Children & the HeartWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Chldren by Lou Priolo.

 

We’ve all seen them at school, in the grocery store, and dozens of other places. Maybe you have one in your own home. Angry children seem to be everywhere.

The world’s answers to the problem vary. They are labeled, medicated, coddled, and counseled endlessly. Too often angry children grow to be angry adults.

In biblical terms, anger is sin, not a syndrome or a disease. It’s a heart issue.

Chapter 1 of Lou’s book opens with Jim and Linda’s story of their struggles with an angry 10-year-old son. When they came to Lou for counseling, they had lost hope. Lou says: Continue reading