Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #3: Self-Control

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Today we’re going to look at the value of self-control, specifically what God says about controlling your anger. Self-control is not just for those who blow up in anger, it’s also for those who clam up in anger. Most people are either a skunk or a turtle when it comes to anger. When a skunk gets angry he lets it rip, and everybody knows when the skunk’s upset. On the other hand, the turtle pulls into its shell. They don’t blow up, rather they clam up. Both of these are inappropriate forms of anger.

In our society today anger is on the rise, profanity is on the rise and violence is on the rise. Half of all murders actually occur between family members. There are 342 children arrested for violent crimes every day. 14 children are murdered every day. People get angry about little things. It comes from the fact that we live in a fast paced society. We live in a hectic, urban world where people get stressed out. We’re always on the go and burning the candle at both ends.

Anger is not evil in itself. God gets angry. Jesus got angry. When God made you He wired you up in such a way that you could get angry. It’s how you express your anger that is the key. And, if you don’t learn how to express it wisely, it will destroy you.

“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28 NLT

Anger used in the correct way can actually become an asset. There are some things in life that the only proper response is to get angry. There are times when you see somebody taken advantage of, when you see injustice, or your children were hurt by someone. If we don’t get angry in such situations it means we don’t care, we’re apathetic and don’t really love anybody. God does not say to get rid of all anger. God says to learn to manage your anger.


7 Steps to Controlling Your Anger

1. RESOLVE TO CONTROL IT

Quit saying you can’t control your anger and start realizing you can. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So let’s stop making excuses and start accepting responsibility for our anger.

A fool gives full vent to his anger but a wise man keeps himself under control” Proverbs 29:11 LB 

Notice the word “keeps”. This is an act of the will, it is something you choose to do. We have more control over our anger than we want to admit. Have you ever been in a fight with a someone and it gets loud, your yelling and then the telephone rings? And you say, “Hello. May I help you?” How did that happen? You chose to control your anger.

We have more control over our anger than we think we do.

Resolve simply means to decide in advance. You start controlling your anger before you hit the boiling point. Start by developing some strategies and procedures in advance of the crisis. That’s what it means to resolve to control it. You decide in advance you’re going to control your anger with God’s help.

2. REALIZE THE COST

An angry person causes trouble; a person with a quick tempter sins a lot.Proverbs 29:22 NCV

Hot tempers cause arguments.” Proverbs 15:18 GN

“A hot temper shows great foolishness.” Proverbs 14:29 NLT

“People with hot tempers do foolish things.” Proverbs 14:17 GN

The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.”  Proverbs 11:29 LB

There are all kinds of costs involved with uncontrolled anger, you always lose when you lose your temper. You may lose your reputation, your job, the love of your husband or wife, or your children. There’s a price tag to uncontrolled anger and it’s not worth it.  As parents, we may be tempted to use anger to motivate our kids. Anger can get a kid to do what you what in the short term, but in the long term you’re going to lose them. The end result of anger is alienation. You alienate the very people that you love the most. Alienation leads to apathy. If you’re always angry people think you’re unpleasable so they don’t care what you think anymore.

Alienation and apathy are the high cost of anger.

3. RESTRAIN MY MOUTH

If you keep your mouth shut you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23 NLT

Anger control is mouth control. You cannot put your foot in your mouth when it’s closed. Sometimes, The more we talk the more we say the wrong thing. In the book of James we are given a formula for controlling anger.

“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV

 If you do the first two, open your ears and close your mouth, then you have a shot at controlling your anger. One of the myths about anger is that everybody has a reservoir (like a bucket) of anger and when that bucket gets filled up you need to pour it out. Then, once you pour it out you’ll feel better and you’ll be peaceful again. The problem with this way of thinking is you don’t have a bucket of anger in your heart, you have an anger factory. Study after study shows that releasing anger only creates more anger. Being aggressive, loud and angry only creates more anger back at you which leads a cycle of more anger.

4. REFLECT BEFORE REACTING

“A rebel shouts in anger; a wise man holds his temper in and cools it.” Proverbs 29:11

Delay is a tremendous remedy for anger. This doesn’t mean delaying indefinitely. If you’ve got an issue with someone you need to deal with it. Anger delayed indefinitely becomes bitterness and that’s worse than anger. Bitterness is always a sin, anger isn’t. If you respond impulsively, you’re going to respond in anger. But if you hold on to your anger too long it turns to bitterness. The key is to not respond to soon or hold it in too long, rather use wisdom to determine when the right time to respond is.

While in the stage of delay, you can ask yourself these three questions:

  • Why am I angry?
  • What do I really want?
  • How do I get it?

Anger is always the symptom of the real problem. It is a warning light or an alarm bell letting you know something is wrong. Anger is a secondary emotion caused by something else. There are three basic reasons for anger: hurt, frustration or fear.

When we are hurt or wounded, physically or emotionally, we get angry. When you stub your toe, that reaction is anger and the emotion comes out. Hurt turns into anger. This is very important to know if you’re married. A lot of times when your spouse is angry it’s because they’re hurt. If someone comes up to you and says, “I’m really angry with you!” Your reaction is to put up a wall and become defensive. But if they say, “It hurt me when you said that and here’s how it hurt me.” You’re more likely to be sympathetic toward that.

Frustration also causes anger. When we have to wait, when something is out of our control, when something seems unreasonable or impossible, or when things don’t go as planned we get angry. If you understand the source of the frustration and can communicate it, it makes it easier to eliminate the anger.

We also can get angry when we are afraid. The more insecure a person is, the harder time they have with their temper. People who are self-secure in Christ and have confidence in where they stand with God are not as likely to be angry at things. But when we’re insecure and feel threatened we become angry.  It is an emotion that God gave you that’s appropriate at certain times, but it’s how you deal with it that makes the difference.

5. RELEASE MY ANGER APPROPRIATELY

If you become angry, don’t let your anger lead you into sin.” Ephesians 4:26 GN

There is a way to be angry and not sin. Let’s look at three ways not to deal with anger:

  • Don’t suppress your anger – Don’t store it up inside. When you swallow your anger, your stomach keeps score (or your back, or your headaches, or your joints). If you don’t talk it out, you’ll take it out on your body.

 

  • Don’t repress your anger – Don’t deny it. Denial and repressing your anger leads to depression. Sometimes those who are depressed are actually dealing with repressed anger, but because they are a Christian they think they cannot express anger. This leads to them freezing it instead, and frozen anger causes depression. When you deny you’re angry and claim you’re fine that’s being dishonest. There are honest examples of anger are all through the Psalms. David just tells it like it is.”God, life stinks! Life is unfair. My enemies are all against me. And God so are You!” God is not shocked by this. He can handle your anger. And after he gets it all out, David says, “God, I know You’re going to help me with this. Where else can I turn but to You? Nobody else has the answers.”

 

  • Don’t express it in inappropriate ways – Don’t express your anger as pouting, sarcasm or manipulation. If you pout everyone has to baby you and walk on eggshells because you are upset. Sarcasm may feel good and witty at the time, but it will come back to haunt you. You hurt people with your words and destroy relationships. Manipulating the situation isn’t a healthy option either. Trying to get even to express anger leads to dumb decisions and regret.

“Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT

Anger is contagious. When people get angry and shout in your face, it’s easy to catch it. When somebody else gets loud, you get louder. This verse explains that how you express your anger is a learned behavior. Whether this was from kids on the playground, your parents, your brothers and sisters, or whoever else – the inappropriate ways of anger that you’ve used all these years, you learned every one of them. The good news is, it can all be unlearned. You don’t have to go through the rest of your life expressing anger in unhealthy ways.

You can learn to express anger appropriately and God says He will give you the power to do it.

6. RETURN GOOD FOR EVIL

Booker T. Washington once said, “I will never let another man control my life by making me hate him.” When you say, “You make me mad” then you’re admitting “they control me.” You have given them that power to control your emotions. The Bible says the way you show that you’re in control of a situation is by returning good for evil. It’s easy to retaliate but when you try to get even you’re just on the same level as them. But when you respond with good it puts you in a higher position.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone… Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God… Overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21 NLT

You’re going to be hurt and disappointed at times in life. People are going to do bad things to you. You can either spend your time and energy retaliating or you can let God settle the score. God is going to settle the score for the injustices in life, not just here but in eternity. When someone has hurt you who can do a better job of settling the score, you or God?

Now, all these steps we’ve talked about are helpful but unless you get a power beyond yourself you can’t do them. In and of yourself you don’t have enough will power to tame the tongue. The tongue is uncontrollable from a human standpoint. That’s why the seventh key this is the one that ties it all together.

7. REQUEST GOD’S HELP

“Lord, help me control my tongue. Help me to be careful about what I say.” Psalm 141:3 NCV

“Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Matthew 12:34 NLT

God helps us manage our mouth and control our anger by going right to the source – our heart. When the world puts pressure on you, it’s what inside you that gets squeezed out. If you’re filled with irritation, then irritation is what comes out. You can’t clean up the well by simply painting the pump. If the water’s contaminated you’ve got to get to the source. And the source is not my mouth, it’s my mind and heart.

My words demonstrate my heart’s condition:

A harsh tongue demonstrates an angry heart.

A boastful mouth demonstrates an insecure heart.

A talkative mouth demonstrates an unsettled heart.

A judgmental mouth demonstrates guilty heart.

A critical spirit demonstrates a bitter heart.

On the other hand, encouraging words demonstrate a happy heart. Gentle words demonstrate a loving heart. Kind words and comforting words demonstrate a heart at peace. When God changes us, He doesn’t just paint the pump. He gives us a new, clean heart.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Psalm 51:10 NLT

All the self-help books in the world can’t do that. All the therapy in the world can’t give you a new heart. Only God can do that. When Jesus deals with your anger, He deals with the root. He recognizes we are angry because we are hurt and He offers to bind up our wounds and heal us. He sees when we are angry due to frustration and He guides us through peaceful valleys. And when we are afraid He pulls us near to help calm our fears. When we trust in Christ, we don’t have to be angry anymore


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions about the message on trust? Have you had any opportunities to move against what’s holding you back from trusting God?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Many people think they want to build their lives on values that last, but they have a hard time talking about and working on their self-control. But anything that’s uncontrolled eventually will destroy you. It could be eating, drinking, TV, Chocolate, overspending—even good things that God created can destroy you if you let them go uncontrolled.

For instance, God has a lot to say about one area of self-control that we all face in one way or another: controlling anger. Anger is not evil in itself. It is not a sin. Even God gets angry. The issue is how you express your anger. So learning how to control anger is an area in which we all can learn and grow.

“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)

Application

  1. Before we go any further, we have to remember that dealing with anger is not just for those who lash out. Anger can be dealt with in many unhealthy ways. We’ll say it this way… Self-control is not just for those who blow up; it’s also for those who clam up. What is your tendency?
  2. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person causes trouble; a person with a quick temper sins a lot.” Proverbs 15:18 says, “Hot tempers cause arguments.” Proverbs 14:29 says, “A hot temper shows great foolishness.” There’s always a cost to anger. What has moments of anger cost you?
  3. If you are to let anger grow out of control, what people would be affected by it? Let’s ask it this way… Have you ever been impacted by someone else’s anger? What about your parents? How has their anger impacted you and how was that anger flowing from hurt, frustration or fear?
  4. Read through Psalm chapters 13, 43, 51 and 140. Then, choose one of these chapters as a guide to write your own prayer about self-control before you meet again next week.

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this message with? You could send them a link to the message at rockbrook.org or share the podcast with them, or you could share with them a truth from this message yourself. You might consider giving them a Building Your Life On Values That Last study guide.

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Helping Friends Through Tough Times : When a Friend is Dying

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There are two experiences that absolutely everybody goes through – birth and death. Only a fool would go through life unprepared for what you know is inevitable.  Most of us have had people in our lives die suddenly and unexpectedly. Those deaths may have caught us by surprise. But surprise or not, death is coming for us all.

“No one can live forever. All will die. No one can escape the power of the grave.” Psalm 89:48

In one sense, we can be glad that we die because we don’t want to spend eternity on a broken planet. If we’re going to live forever, we don’t want to live in a place where there’s sin, sorrow, suffering, rape, murder, corruption, dishonesty, jealousy, gossip, and pain that make our lives tough. God wants you to one day move on from this fallen place and live with Him forever in heaven. God wants you living in a place where there is a joy and happiness.

First, we need to recognize that people react differently to death. But, there are five stages of grief that are common to everybody. Those stages include: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. We need to understand how people go through these stages. These stages were first identified by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross fifty years ago in 1969. However, thousands of years before Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, King David talked about the same five stages of grief in the Psalms.


The Five Stages of Grief: How People React to Death

1. DENIAL“This isn’t happening to me!”

Denial is actually a form of fear. Anything that you are afraid of you tend to deny. When people are afraid of death they deny that they’re dying. David was afraid of dying. As a result you live in denial because you don’t want to admit that you’re afraid.

I am frightened inside. The terror of death has attacked me.” Psalm 55:4 NCV

2. ANGER – “Why is this happening to me?”

When people realize they’re going to die they get angry. They get angry at God, doctors, their family, and themselves. David says it like this in Psalm 39,

“I was overcome with anger. The more I thought, the more troubled I became; I could not keep from asking: ‘Lord, how long will I live?” Psalm 39:3-4 TEV

This is a typical question of someone who has just found out they’re going to die. The anger stage is the questioning stage of dealing with death. The questions are really unanswerable. Why me? Why now? Why this? What for? They’re not going to get the answers to those questions.

3. BARGAINING – “I promise to … if you’ll let me live.”

In this stage you fill in the blank of what you will do if only God would let you live a little longer. You start trying to make deals with God in order to keep on living. But it doesn’t work because you can’t bargain with God.

“You can never pay God enough to stay alive forever and be safe from death.” Psalm 49:8-9 CEV

4. DEPRESSION – “I just don’t care anymore.”

When people come to this stage in dealing with death, they say “I just don’t care any more! What’s the point? I’m going to die. Why bother? Why make the effort? I give up.” They go through a period of depression.

“I’m at the end of my rope, my life is in ruins. I’m fading away to nothing, passing away.” Psalm 109:22-23 MSG

5. ACCEPTANCE – “I’m ready for whatever happens.”

“I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands.”  Psalm 31:14-15 NLT

Not everybody goes through the stages in this order. Nor do you go through them once and then you’re done. Instead, you sort of swirl around in all five of these. But the goal is to keep moving and making progress working through them.

The most common problem in dealing with grief is getting stuck in one of these stages. You’ve got to keep moving through the process until you come to complete acceptance. It’s important to understand these stages because you need to help them your family and friends deal fully with each of these stages and then help them move on to the next stage. If you don’t understand these stages you might pull away and detach yourself from people when they are angry, bargaining or depressed. David complained about the distance that people give to those who are dying.

“My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease. Even my own family stands at a distance.” Psalm 38:11 NLT

Fear and anxiety cause distance in relationships. Most people feel awkward around people who are dying. It reminds us of our own mortality. We don’t know what to say so we just stay away. Thankfully, there are seven things that we can learn to do to give our loved ones COMFORT when they need it most.


How to Comfort Someone Who is Dying

C – CONFRONT MY OWN FEARS

Before you can help anybody else you’ve got to deal with your own fears. Exposure to death exposes the hidden fears in us. You’re afraid you’re going to say the wrong thing or make matters worse. As a result you don’t do anything. To put some of those fears to rest, it is almost impossible to mess it up. This is far bigger than you.

For those of you who haven’t been around somebody dying, death is really quite ordinary. There’s nothing spooky, weird or wicked about it. Contrary to television, there are very few Hallmark moments when people die. Their heart rate and breathing slows down and eventually stops. That’s about all there is to it. One moment they’re here and the next they’re not. The biggest mistake you can make with somebody who is dying is simply not to be there.

O – OFFER MY PHYSICAL PRESENCE

Your physical presence is the greatest gift you can give someone who is dying. When people are dying they struggle with the fear of abandonment and the fear of dying alone. You don’t have to say anything profound or necessarily even be talking to them. Just get in the same room with them. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just simply be in the room. You can hold their hand or put your hand on their shoulder assuring them of your presence. Also remind them that God is with them. God has said He will never leave them nor forsake them.

“Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.” Psalm 23:4 NLT

When God is near you lose your fear.

M – MINISTER WITH PRACTICAL ASSISTANCE

Do whatever they need done by running errands or help in practical ways. When someone is dying they usually don’t feel good. They’re often in pain. David says this in Psalm 38,

“I’m burning with fever and I’m near death. I’m worn out and utterly crushed. My heart is troubled and I groan with pain.”

What do you do when somebody’s in that situation? You do whatever you can do. You offer practical assistance to relieve their pain. It’s the little things that show love. The Bible says,

“Encourage those who are timid, take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14

This important because another one of the biggest fears that people have when dying is the fear of losing control. Control is being taken away from them more and more. One of the ways you can minister to people who are dying is to give them choices. Every time you give them a choice you give control back to them. So even when you say something as simple as, “Would you like your slippers on or off?” You’ve empowered them. Every time you give people a choice you give them a little bit of power back.

F – FORTIFY THEM WITH EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Carry each other’s burdens, in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The law of Christ is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. We should also pray for them and with them. Praying with them gives them emotional support. You can pray whatever they say, just mirror it back to God in a prayer. When the person who is dying says, “This really frustrates me….” You pray, “Lord, Susie’s really frustrated by this.” When you take whatever they say and turn it into a prayer to God you are lifting their burden. When somebody is sick, sometimes they’re too sick to pray. They don’t even have the energy to pray. When you turn their thoughts into a prayer, you are interceding for them.

O – OPEN THEM UP WITH QUESTIONS

When people are dying they’re carrying an enormous emotional load. You can help them open up so they can get off their chest all the heaviness they’re carrying about their impending death. Ask open ended questions, questions that can’t be answered by a simple yes or no. People ask questions all the time that we don’t know the answer to. For example: Why me? Why now? Why this? No one but God knows the answer to those questions. But the truth is, they don’t need the answer to those questions, they need comfort. An explanation doesn’t provide comfort.

What they really need is just to talk it out. When you get asked an unanswerable question by somebody who’s dying, rephrase it and ask it back to them. If they say, “Why am I going through this?”, you don’t know why, so instead of answering that question rephrase it back to them, “What does dying mean to you?” Then wait for them to answer. This way you have gotten them talking. Ultimately, the question is not the question. The question is a symptom of something deeper they need to get out.

R – REMEMBER THE FAMILY HAS NEEDS TOO.

This is where you can really be a friend to other people. If you’ve got a friend who is ill and they’re dying, you can really help the whole family, not just them. Sometimes as a friend you can say things that the family can’t say. Sometimes you can ask questions the family can’t ask. Sometimes you help move relationships toward healing. Remember the family is moving through these same five stages of grief.

T – TURN THEM TO JESUS

When someone is facing death we want to turn them to Christ so they’ll spend eternity in heaven. That is the hope of our faith. Jesus came to take away your fear of death by dying on the cross to pay for all your sins, then being resurrected to show that there is life after death. The Bible says this in Hebrews 2:

For only as a human being could Jesus die. And only by dying could He break the power of the Devil, who has the power of death. Only in this way could He deliver those who lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” 

God doesn’t want you to be afraid of dying, He wants you to look to the hope of heaven.

We need to help those who are dying to do the same. When someone’s dying we want to encourage them to do what David did.

“Death itself stared me in the face. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord.” Psalm 18:5-6 NLT

Have you ever done that? You can’t offer to other people what you haven’t received yourself. If you haven’t settled the issue of your destiny you are gambling with your eternity. If you were to die tonight are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven?

If you don’t know the answer to that question, it can be settled right now. There is a prayer written below that you can pray in your own heart. You can say it aloud or quietly in your mind and God will hear you.

Dear God, you are God and I’m not. You sent Jesus Christ to be my savior, so I must need to be saved. I need You to forgive the things I’ve done wrong in life. I need you to help me to know the purpose you created me for. I want to begin a relationship with you. So as much as I know how, I ask you to come into my life. I want to learn to trust you. I want to learn to love you. I want to learn to love other people the way you want me to. So I ask you today with humility and honesty to please save me as I put my trust in you. I pray this prayer in Jesus name. Amen


Talk It Over

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

In this lesson, we’ll offer some solid, proven ideas, based on the fact that, when they’re dying, everyone needs COMFORT.

CONFRONT MY OWN FEARS

Read Genesis 3:10. Why was Adam afraid of God? Dealing with a friend who is dying causes us to confront our own mortality, and that makes us uncomfortable. We don’t know what to say or we fear saying something stupid that could make the situation worse. How can we overcome that fear in order to minister to our dying friend?

Share a time when you felt good about words of comfort spoken to a dying person, or of regret for words of comfort left unspoken. By the way, what do you think Jesus would tell us to do with our regret?

OFFER PHYSICAL PRESENCE 

What is the source of David’s comfort in Psalm 23:4?

In this modern age of cell phones, text messages and emails, why is a physical hug more meaningful than comfort given from a safe, electronic distance?

Two of the greatest fears when people are dying are fear of abandonment and fear of dying alone. Even holding the person’s hand or touching their elbow can help. Discuss other ways you can comfort someone feeling these fears.

MINISTER WITH PRACTICAL ASSISTANCE

In Psalm 38:7, 8, how does David describe his affliction?

When people are dying they often fear losing control. That’s why offering a dying person a choice—even in a small thing—brings them comfort. What are some small tasks you can do for a dying person?

FORTIFY THEM WITH EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Read Galatians 6:2. What are we to do for one another?

One way to give emotional support is to pray for the person. Don’t know what to pray? Pray back what the person says. For example, if they say, “I’m worried,” then pray about their worry. How you would pray for a person who is in pain? What are other practical ways you can show emotional support?

OPEN THEM UP WITH QUESTIONS   

What does Proverbs 20:5 encourage us to do with another person?

People who are dying often need to unload their burdens, and a thoughtful question would help draw those burdens out. One way to do that is to mirror a question back to the person. Name a situation that you feel a dying person would be grappling with, such as unfinished business, and share how you would encourage them to talk about it.

REMEMBER THE FAMILY HAS NEEDS TOO

Acts 20:35 encourages us to support those who are feeling weak. Sometimes, as a friend, you can sensitively ask questions of a dying person that the family may not be able to ask, such as, “Do you have any preferences for a memorial service?”

Discuss some practical ways you can minister to the family of the ill person.

TURN THEM TO JESUS  

According to Hebrews 2:14-15, what power did Jesus come to break?

Hebrews 2:14-15 speaks of those without Jesus as being “slaves to the fear of dying.” In what way are we “slaves” to that fear? How does knowing Jesus set us free? What does a life without Jesus have to look forward to?

Name at least one practical thing we can do to help someone worried about dying or any other present trouble to have the hope of Jesus.

What did the psalmist David do when death stared him in the face? Read Psalm 18:5.

Based on your discussion in this lesson and your own knowledge of Christ, why can we rely on him in that moment?

PERSONAL APPLICATION AND COMMITMENT:

When the final moment comes for us or for someone we love, we may experience all five stages of grief—but if you are confident in the salvation that comes only from Christ, you can move quickly to acceptance. If you have not yet asked Jesus into your life, why put it off any longer? If you have not settled this issue yet, you are gambling with your destiny. You can’t pass on to others what you don’t possess yourself.

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