Sermons

Summary: Apostles, Pt. 11

MAKING A MOLEHILL OUT OF A MOUNTAIN (LUKE 9:51-56)

The widely respected Indianapolis Colts coach and Superbowl winner Tony Dungy is the epitome of cool, calm and composure. Peyton Manning credited Dungy’s calm demeanor as critical to the team’s rally from an 18-point deficit against the New England Patriots to win the AFC Championship Game. Unknown to most people, the coach was once a hothead out of control. He was even ejected for fighting in a basketball game in the ninth grade. Dungy was incensed that he was hacked repeatedly, but no fouls were called. His best friend recalled: “Tony kept telling the referee, ’Look, you need to call something here.’ So the next timeout, we were in the huddle and the coach wasn’t there and Tony said, ’If he hits me again, I’m going to knock him to half-court. (After another non-call,) Tony laid one on him. It looked like a cartoon. The kid hit the floor and started sliding back. It was one of those youthful things. That was the one and only time. Tony was normally the person we looked up to.”

Dungy confessed, “I was the technical foul champion…arguing with officials … I was also a quarterback who yelled at my teammates a lot.” Dungy was an all-state quarterback who also starred in basketball, baseball and track before enrolling at the University of Minnesota in 1973 on a football scholarship and his intensity was evident in sports.

Dungy recalled and responded, “I appreciate that people think of me that way, but I know it’s been a long process, a learned process. And it’s not natural. I thank God for it.” He remembers the teaching moment from his father after that “fight” in ninth-grade basketball that transformed him: “What did you accomplish? Do you think you helped your team in the locker room?’ (“Dungy’s upbringing was super solid,” USA TODAY 1/30/07)

The apostle John is an enigmatic character in the New Testament. He is one of the most loving, if not the most loving, apostle in the Bible, and one of Jesus’ three most trusted disciples. The most affectionate of the bunch and the most articulate apostle on love, he is often referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 20:2), who is not timid or shy to recline next to Jesus or show affection for Him (John 13:23). However, John had a temperamental, impulsive and volatile side that was his Achilles heel. His love was evident to be very conditional and he had to learn love the hard way. He had to show love and compassion on those not worth loving or caring before Jesus could effectively use him.

How should a believer respond to hardened unbelievers? Why is anger a hindrance to God’s work? Does a believer’s testimony matter to his witness the gospel?

Anger Unleashed is a Situation Worsened

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51-53)

A most interesting article in USA Today says that older adults with explosive tempers are more likely than mellow people the same age to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries, a key sign of high risk for heart attack.

Researchers from Washington State University asked 185 participants to fill out questionnaires on how they dealt with anger. Researchers used electron beam computerized tomography (EBCT) to measure the calcium deposits in arteries. Nine years later, their arteries were scanned again. They reported their findings at the American Psychosomatic Society and said the more likely someone over 50 expresses anger by lashing out, the more calcification shows up in his coronary arteries.

In the 40 adults who were 50 or older at the start, people with short fuses had higher calcium levels when the study began and nine years later, says psychiatrist Bruce Wright, an author of the study. The temper-calcium link held up even after accounting for risk factors in heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. Such calcium scans accurately indicate blocked arteries and heart disease, he adds. Wright claims that erupting in fury can trigger surges in stress hormones and injure blood vessel linings, but repressing anger also raises blood pressure and heart rate when people are under stress, he adds.

The most heart-friendly way to handle anger is to stay calm, put matters in perspective and solve infuriating problems, says Duke University physician Redford Williams, an expert in anger control. A study on a “coping skills training” program that teaches healthy ways of dealing with anger, published in The American Heart Journal in 2005, showed that learning these methods reduced the anger levels and blood pressure of patients after heart bypass surgery, he says. (“Stay calm, or you may calcify your arteries,” USA TODAY 3/8/07)

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