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  • sonnyholmes

As the coronavirus restrictions are easing many of us are suddenly in the fast lanes again, the traffic of a world resuming the velocity of exponential times. The trouble with traffic is that you can get caught in it. And, today it's fast. So, going with the crowd isn't necessarily about character flaws, approval addiction, or seeking the applause of men. Sometimes we just get in the wrong lane and, in a flash, are swept away in the flow. But, that's the trouble with traffic. It's an easy place to get trapped.

Social media has a traffic pattern all it's own. And, it's faster than the freeway leading out of town. They don't call it the internet super highway for nothing. In a culture with few taboos the access ramps are many, the exits few. As a result more and more of us are going with the flow, caught in the traffic, in the cultural rush hour that thrusts us head-long to the wrong places. So, today, many well-meaning, noble people, including a good many believers, not to mention spiritual leaders, will merge into the high traffic lanes of social issues that are inconsistent with the narrow road our Master directed.

You see, Jesus talked about traffic. In the Sermon on the Mount he said,

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to

destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the

way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 7:13-14

Even in the slow paced world of first century Israel there was the danger of getting caught up in the traffic, of going with the flow. His counsel resonated with people following the crowds to hopeless tradition, political expediency, or financial security. Certainly it rings true today in those same temptations but also in our desire to ease our corporate guilt or step outside of the rigid profile culture has assigned to us. Sometimes our energy to engage this world blurs the lines that separate the lanes. Suddenly, in the traffic, we've mellowed regarding all of the news-worthy issues---gender, race, respect for authority, personal integrity, absolute truth, human nature, and so many others. And, you know what? It's the traffic. The wide path, the one that is popular. The people on that broad avenue are never going to like us because we have the vestiges of Christian faith around us to some degree. So, we're not in that lane because of esteem issues. We're in it because we're caught in the traffic.

How can this be avoided? What warning signs can keep us in the correct lane?

1. Beware of congested traffic.

The gospel will always place us at odds with secular culture. If we're going with the

flow, we're probable in the wrong lane.

2. Obey speed limits.

Scripture addresses speed in many places. Like being slow to speak, waiting on God,

exhibiting patience, learning endurance, and listening to him. Often, we get caught in

the traffic by being hasty with issues. Being first to speak isn't always an advantage.

3. Follow the road signs.

Our worst turns often happen when we're not paying attention to the directions

we've been given. Scripture is very clear about where we are to stand on social issues

and matters of cultural concern.

4. Do not enter.

There are places and positions and even engagement areas that are marked off to

believers. We should not go there, ever.

5. Check the cargo.

Most of us have been entrusted with valuable cargo, the precious people in our lives.

It might be good to check the cargo areas once in a while to insure they are safe

before we get caught up in the traffic.

These are treacherous times and the wide lanes are filling quickly. Already the agents of secularism are there, along with the media elite, people with decidedly left of center leanings, politicians from both sides of the aisle, and the fringes of young pop culture. Now, the access lanes are jammed with evangelical denominations and their spiritual leaders who have veered into the traffic and cannot get out. It's the slippery slope side-ways, the drift from once staunch biblical authority to a no-holds-barred approach to every cultural whim.

The trouble with traffic is that you can get caught in it.

The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his

life.

Proverbs 16:17

Amen to that!

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  • sonnyholmes

So, this anger thing is a self-control issue. You know, another lesson plan in the life management curriculum. We might wonder how we're doing in controlling our urges, impulses, emotions, and personal behaviors. Look around. Pay attention to some of our societal trouble areas---obesity, binge drinking, drug addiction, excessive spending, fast driving, sports mania, and the racks of impulse items strategically displayed near the check out counter. just to mention a few. Even the people in the psychology department rank self-control among our most difficult self management dilemmas. And, anger is about self-control, that is, keeping our emotions and compulsions in check. Angry outbursts happen when circumstances take command of us. They are in control.


What is the deal with management of self? Yes, it is a difficult assignment, learning the virtue, thought, and discipline of egonomics. And, another affirmative, it requires growth and development of the whole person, meaning physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Of course, the Christian world view through which I filter life experience affirms this total approach to life management. It moves in several directions---


The value of physical exercise.

Scripture affirms the care of the human body. The Apostle Paul wrote, "...bodily training is of some value..." (1 Timothy 4: 8, ESV), and also referenced athletic well-being when he wrote "...Every athlete exercises self-control in all things (1 Corinthians 9: 25, ESV). There are many other verses about good health, keeping the body under control, and references about running the race, finishing the course, developing with endurance, physical stamina, hard work, and personal discipline. I'm really drawn to the verse about athletes exercising "self control" in all things. Surely egonomics involves physical well-being.


The value of emotional stability.

We are emotional beings. Who doesn't know happiness, fear, anxiety, sadness, our topical emphasis, anger, and all the others? They are our companions every day for the length of our lives. Hundreds of Bible verses affirm the spiritual preparation for bringing self-control into the emotional realities of life. My favorite is Galatians 5: 22-23, Paul's word about the fruit of the spirit---"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law". Here are the spiritual fruit that generate redemptive responses to the world around us. Yes, note again the promise of self-control.


The value of spiritual growth.

Yes, we are spiritual beings as well. More and more it is a forgotten aspect of healthy living. Our angry world is a real life illustration of this sad truth about our national morality. Jesus told the crowds attending the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5: 6, ESV). The ideal of being satisfied may be one of the root impulses in our angry world. It's incredible how many people are dissatisfied with multiple life issues. Many other Bible verses address the spiritual nature of life. Perhaps we should pay more attention to them. .


Egonomics is learning the management of self. Self-control is one of the basic life management principles. And, it is a fruit of this spiritual life. When self-control is one of our personal egonomic goals, our anger can be managed. And, it's time for us to practice a little self management as we face the anger that is igniting the worst in us right now.


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  • sonnyholmes

We all have fuses. You know, the metaphor that defines our response to provocation. My personal strength array and personality give me a relatively short fuse. Meaning it doesn't take much for my temperature to rise. Being low on deliberative and analytical strengths gives me a quick ignition point. And, that's troubling in just about every life venue. Like just about every other aspect of this human nature, being slow to anger requires continuing spiritual discipline for me. When my embers are smoldering and need only a spark to kindle them it means that my spiritual fruit isn't producing. You see, this slow to anger thing is really about what kind of fruit is growing on my tree.


Well, yes, I've learned to count to ten, take a few deep breaths, step back from harsh moments, slow down, think happy thoughts, avoid triggers, take a hike, and all the other one minute anger management techniques. They're the momentary solutions that may rescue us from a brawl. Being slow to anger, however, isn't really a circumstantial event, as escape from a hazardous moment. Being slow to anger is a life-style adjustment that is part and parcel of who we are all the time. In this Christian worldview, it involves the produce of this spiritual life, what Scripture refers to as the fruit of the Spirit. After explaining the works of our human nature, including fits of anger, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Galatia about this fruit---


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5: 22-23, ESV


These are the virtues and qualities that should grow naturally in the Christian life. A couple of them apply directly to the discipline of being slow to anger: peace, patience, and self-control to be more specific. Those spiritual character traits help to dampen that short fuse and keep those anger impulses from igniting at every curve in the road. Being slow to anger is one of their correctives and is a personal goal in every life circumstance. It's because Scripture speaks volumes about it---


The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Psalm 103:8, 145: 8, ESV


Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper

exalts folly.

Proverbs 14: 29, ESV


A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Proverbs 15: 18, ESV


Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he

who takes a city. Proverbs 16: 31, ESV


Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19: 11, ESV


Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to

anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1: 19-20, ESV


Right now our nation is is experiencing critical moments of anger. Living under the restrictions of Covid 19 has introduced levels of uncertainty and endurance most of us have never experienced. Our past has reminded us of societal evils and cultural disconnects that have distanced our population even more than usual. The blame game is one we're playing with abandon. Racial tensions, political differences, clashing opinions of every conceivable thought have surfaced in cities and communities around the nation. And, most of us are not slow to anger. We're poised to pounce.


Many believers are praying for a spiritual revival. Me too. Even more, I'm praying that those of us with this Christian worldview will grow some spiritual fruit so we will have the virtue of being slow to anger. Me up front.


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