CHAPTER 9  ANGER


                           THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN


                                      By

                                 Phil Scovell

                           Copyright (C) 2003/2007

                             All rights Reserved



                              CHAPTER 9  ANGER


          He tied his  running shoes tightly and  walked to the door.   The
     sun was  just  coming up  as  he exited  the  back  of the  house  and
     providing just enough  light to see clearly.  He jogged down the alley
     until he came to the gravel road leading away from town.  It was three
     miles to the  salidin's farm and over  the years, the gravel  had been
     packed down well enough, that it made for a perfect running track.

          Glancing at his watch, the pastor began to run his daily six mile
     run.

          He hadn't run  a hundred yards before his  mundane thoughts began
     to drift away and his mind focused on his running.  Soon, he knew, his
     mind would no longer  be focused on his running.  It  was a daily time
     that  allowed him to let his mind  run free.  Many problems and issues
     seemed  to be settled  on his  daily runs.   It was probably  the most
     therapeutic thing  he did every day.  He  had learned that he actually
     was praying  during these runs  and besides the physical  exertion and
     the generating of  the endorphins, he felt  closer to God than  at any
     other time.

          A mile  passed and he  began thinking about  the board of  elders
     meeting  scheduled for  that night.   Such  a thought wasn't  all that
     uncommon and usually the running allowed  him to work out any problems
     that  were associated.  The  church had six men  on the board and they
     were all  fine men, he  knew, but  there was one  who always gave  him
     trouble.  This  elder had pastored a  church before and this  made him
     feel somehow  uncomfortable.  At least  he thought such  was the case.
     This was his first church but he'd been here twelve years now  and the
     150 people they had coming made life fairly easy for him.  His wife no
     longer had to work and on the days she came in, the church paid her to
     be his part time secretary.

          His mind immediately,  for some reason, fixed again  upon the man
     who always caused him trouble.  He tried analyzing the unease  he felt
     about the man.   His Christian testimony was impeccable.   He couldn't
     fault him for not living  the Word.  Over the years, he  had asked him
     to preach several times,  too, and his  preaching and teaching was  as
     good as anybody's; including his own.   That bothered him a little bit
     but not as  much as he first  thought it might.  Of  course, he hadn't
     asked  him to preach for over  a year now and  he wasn't ever going to
     ask  him to  preach again;  not  in his  church anyway.   The  man was
     faithful, too, he realized.  He  never missed any services and he  was
     faithful in his  giving.  In fact,  his giving was better  than anyone
     else in the  church and that included  himself.  So what  bothered him
     about the man?  He  had never been able to figure it out.  The man did
     seem  to disagree  with him often  but it  never seemed  to be  on any
     theological or doctrinal issue.   As he ran, he tried  to isolate just
     one area  in which  they disagreed  but nothing  came to  mind.   This
     caused  him to be frustrated and he ran  faster.  The man had a fervor
     for  the Lord that he could not put  his finger on.  Yet, when it came
     to board decisions,  he always had something different  he would point
     out.   The man never  quite seemed to  go along with  the rest of  the
     group.

          As the second  mile passed, he felt his muscles responding and he
     increased his pace a little more.  As he thought about it, the man was
     sincere, he knew, and he had  even watched him lead people to  Christ.
     The pastor had never even done that  himself, come to think of it, and
     he felt  the anger  rise within him  without understanding.   The  man
     loved  the Lord,  loved  the lost,  and  loved the  church.   He  knew
     instinctively, too, that the man loved him and that they had once been
     friends; close friends.   So what was wrong?   Still he could not  put
     his finger on it.

          Reaching the  end of the  third mile marked  by the lane  leading
     down to old  Tom's farm house, he  turned and reversed  his direction.
     It irritated him that this man would fill his thoughts on  his morning
     run.   He had to admit, for some reason,  he did not like the man.  He
     couldn't actually  say he wished  he wasn't  in his  church but  there
     always seemed to  be some sort of  friction between them.   They'd had
     plenty of disagreements  but nothing major except for  that one sermon
     he had  preached a year ago.  He focused on that as he ran; the gravel
     crunching with  each  planting of  his foot.   That  was the  sorriest
     sermon he  had ever  heard preached.   He  remembered it  well.   He'd
     gotten so mad at  one point, he knew his face had turned red; at least
     his wife said  it did.  The  man had preached  on the topic of  boring
     Christianity   and  how  we  were  burning  spiritual  energy  without
     accomplishing anything.   He did everything but call  the pastor's own
     name.  As he recalled, however, the man had put  himself at the center
     of  all  he  said.   He  blamed himself  for  having that  kind  of an
     attitude.   No, he decided, he  was preaching against  me; the pastor.
     He really  didn't like  me, he decided.   He  didn't think I  was good
     enough.  Just  like my parents when  they gave me  away at the age  of
     twelve.  They didn't want me either.  This man had pastored before and
     he wanted my church.  That's what is really going on.

          He thought  about the  meeting of the  board of elders  again and
     realized this man would be there  again tonight.  He wouldn't disagree
     exactly but he  wasn't in agreement  either.  Mile  four passed as  he
     ran.  Maybe  tonight he  bring this issue  up before  the board.   The
     other five members  were solidly behind him.   They'd vote the  way he
     thought best.   Maybe it was time to bring this proud man down a notch
     or two.  Maybe a good dose of humility would teach him a thing or two.
     That was it, he finally decided.  The man was  proud.  What else would
     explain his attitude.   Even as he thought  this, he knew the  man was
     everything  but proud.   Regardless, that  had to  be the root  of the
     man's  problem.    He  was the  pastor;  not  this man.    He  did the
     preaching, he was led by the Holy Spirit, and he ran the church.  This
     man was in his way and in the way of the ministry.

          Mile five went  by and he  pushed himself that  last mile to  the
     limit; trying to force the thoughts of this man from his mind.  He had
     decided.  He  would ask the board  to remove the man  from leadership.
     He would take his Sunday school class away from him.  He wouldn't kick
     him out  or ask him to leave but he  bet, once he took these positions
     away  from him, the  man would leave.   He'd leave and  be mad when he
     left, too.  That would prove he was right about him.  Besides, the man
     deserved to be humbled and he was just the man to do it.  If he didn't
     like  it, he could leave and maybe  the church would be better for it,
     too.   He'd keep his wife on the  worship team but the man wouldn't be
     seated on the platform with him any longer and he wondered, as he ran,
     how the man would like that.

          As he  approached the  final bend  in the road,  he felt  himself
     growing faint and wished he brought along his water bottle.  He pushed
     on but he felt winded and that was unusual for him.  He pushed harder,
     rounded the bend, and headed for the back of his home.

          He dropped in his backyard as the pain in his chest overtook him.
     A UPS truck slid to a stop and the driver jumped out.  Turning the man
     over, he began doing CPR.  When  he looked up and saw a woman standing
     in the  doorway  of the  house,  he yelled  for her  to  call for  the
     paramedics and she instantly disappeared.

          The pastor felt  as if  he were  floating.  He  knew someone  was
     there but he  couldn't really feel anything.  He  heard himself asking
     the very man, with whom he had disagreement, to please pray for him.

          In  his workshop,  the man froze.   He  dropped his tools  on the
     bench and sank to his knees.  He  felt the strong urge to pray for his
     pastor.  He began  speaking words of life into the  spiritual realm in
     his behalf.

     COMMENTS ON ANGER

          Anger is so prevalent in  today's local New Testament church, you
     would think we would recognize it for what  it is.  Instead, we use it
     to  our  advantage,  both  in  our  personal  life  to  cover  up  our
     woundedness, and in church to block, and otherwise disguise, the truth
     from coming out where others might see whom we really are.

          The man in this chapter is someone I personally know.  He isn't a
     runner, I made that up,  but he is a great man and loves the Lord.  He
     knows how to preach  and he preaches well.   He knows the Word  of God
     like few  men I have personally met.   I believe he loves people, too.
     Yet, every  person who comes to  his church, eventually  leaves.  Why?
     Because he is  afraid someone is going  to discover who he  really is.
     No, he isn't hiding  any secret sins that I am aware of  and he is one
     of the  most  solid Christians  I personally  know.   Then what's  the
     problem?  It begins with pride but he isn't a proud man.  His pride is
     a protective shield use to keep people from getting too close  to him.
     His strongest  shield, however,  is his anger.   Both these  work well
     together to mask  the pain he has carried within himself all his life.
     No, he  was never sexually abused  or beaten to  a pulp.  In  fact, to
     hear  him tell  about his  life, it  sounds as  if  he lived  a normal
     Midwestern boy's life in a  small town.  The truth comes  out when you
     make  the mistake  of probing  a little  deeper  and not  everybody is
     allowed to do that.

          When he was about 12 years of age, his parents said they were too
     poor to take care  of him so they gave him to  his relatives to raise.
     At least this is the story he tells about himself.  He has let it slip
     how  he was  a loner  as a  child  and that  he never  really had  any
     friends.   Even  though  he  joined the  military  as  he grew  older,
     friendships were never really established.

          I have learned  there is a  real good way  to wreck a  friendship
     with some  people and  that is  by becoming their  friend and  getting
     close to them.  The minute they realize you have moved in a little too
     close for their  comfort, a trap door opens and they  are gone.  Often
     it is anger that responds the quickest because they have learned, over
     the years, anger will chase away people quicker than anything.  If you
     are  a pastor,  there are  likewise  no stupid  followup questions  to
     answer because you are the pastor.

          This man, by  the way,  in 13  years of  pastoral ministry,  lost
     every single church  member he had.   The church he took  over started
     with about 100 people but so many came and went over the 13 years, the
     church probably  had closer  to 300 people  there collectively  at one
     time or another.  He is no longer pastoring and that is sad to me.

          I personally have learned this lesson the hard way with  at least
     four different people.  In each case, anger was used to pull up a wall
     of  protection.   Anger assists  in  burying the  woundedness that  is
     really not all that far below the surface.  Often, fear is beneath the
     anger  and  beneath  the fear  is  where  the  pain  hides.    We,  as
     Christians, consider  fear a spiritual  weakness.  Anger,  however, is
     almost admired  because it shows character.  I know there is a flaw in
     that reasoning but if you have  ever been involved in church work  and
     had to deal with  people within ministry framework,  you know this  is
     true.

          A man called me one day and was  very angry.  His wife was a drug
     addict and  although he knew  it to some degree,  he tried to  keep it
     under  control.   Besides, his  wife  was the  worship  leader of  the
     musical  group  in the  church.    Furthermore,  his wife  was  living
     immorally.  Although he  likely was aware of some of  her behavior, he
     did not want  to believe it was true.  It  Was eventually confirmed by
     computer logs, which she didn't know were being kept, as she  used the
     internet to chat with others.

          My  personal knowledge  was in  regard to  the illicit  drug use.
     When it was proved to me by another church member, I prayed and felt I
     had  no  other choice  but  to deliver  the  evidence  to the  pastor.
     Unfortunately, the pastor was  her husband's brother.  What  is it the
     British call that type of a situation?  A sticky wicket?   It was also
     discovered some of  the other members of the worship  team were living
     immoral with each other.  That's right; they were committing adultery.

          When the mud hit the fan, sort of speak, I found it impossible to
     remain  in this  church.   Sin was  one  thing but  theologically, the
     Scriptures were even  being violated  in other ways  that I could  not
     support as a fundamentalist.  We left the church.

          As I  said, this  man called me  one day and  you could  hear the
     anger in his voice the moment he spoke the first word.  I listened and
     answered him occasionally but the purpose of his call was to report on
     the lack of my Christian character.  In short, his call was to tell me
     how lousy of  a Christian  I was.   If you  are thinking  that he  was
     protecting  himself through the use of  his anger, you would be right.
     The Holy  Spirit spoke to me as he talked and said, "this man is angry
     and he is hurt.  I do not want you to compound his  pain.  Be gentle."
     When  the man finally  hesitated to take  a breath, I  said, using his
     name, "Why are you so angry?"  It was the correct thing to say because
     out came  the pain and the hurt and  his woundedness and that was what
     God wanted me to hear.  I was then able to assure the man that what he
     had  heard was not only untrue but it  was a lie.  As I explained, his
     anger softened  and soon he  realized I was  talking to him  because I
     loved him as  a brother in the  Lord; not because I hated  him nor his
     wife in spite of what I knew.

          It  is far  from  easy  trying to  talk  around someone  who  has
     released their anger.  If you  are careful and let the Holy  Spirit be
     your Guide, you  may discover that establishing a  friendship is worth
     the trouble.  At the same time  I say that, since the church has  lost
     its  focus in  many such areas  of this  nature, your  experience with
     anger is likely  going to be one  of opposite effect, that is,  one of
     extreme negativity.  You, however, can still gain insight to others by
     understanding why their anger is so  often displayed by loving them in
     friendship.

          I am sorry to  say that pastors are notorious for  using anger to
     hide behind their deep pain.  Few will ever allow anybody to get close
     enough to them in  order to minister to that pain.  My advice, in such
     cases, is the only thing we can do and that's pray for  them.  I still
     pray for my pastor even though he is no longer in the ministry.  It is
     easy to think, "If he only knew how much I loved him, he wouldn't feel
     that way."  Unfortunately,  they do know, in most cases,  how much you
     love them; that's  why the anger, the  pride, and the  arrogance comes
     out  so freely  when you  are  around.   Just remember  that  they are
     wounded  people,  too,  and  their  pride  keeps  them  from  allowing
     closeness.  You may discover, as my fictional story depicts, they will
     even consider ways  to distance themselves from you  personally if you
     get too close.

          I feel led to also mention something about music teams.   My wife
     sings, plays  the piano, and drums.   So she  has been on a  number of
     worship teams.   Christian musicians  are worse than pastors  in these
     regards.  Why?  Because the worship music taps into their emotions and
     every musician I have known is  a spiritually sensitive person.   This
     means  their  true emotional  feelings  come  out  from hiding  a  lot
     quicker, and  with a lot more force,  than most pastors.   At the same
     time, they,  too, do not  want to be seen  as unspiritual, spiritually
     weak, or a poor Christian so  they, too, react to protect their  pain.
     Worship teams  are used  by  the Holy  Spirit  in very  powerful  ways
     because God uses music  to bring out the  worst and the best in  us as
     His people.   If you are on a worship team, you know what I am talking
     about.  Get  healing for yourself and  then minister to others  on the
     music team.   They won't like your  ministry any more than  the pastor
     does but if you  are an intercessor, and many  Christians blessed with
     music  talents are,  your  ministry  as an  intercessor  is even  more
     important than your gift in music.  It is time to take  a stand.  "But
     what if I am  rejected?"  Then you  need healing in that area  of your
     life.  Don't let others suffer any longer just because you feel better
     remaining silent.


End Of Chapter 9


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