In an educational outreach, NASA released a video from the International Space Station to teach schoolchildren the importance of physics and the science of trajectories. Astronaut Don Pettit held up a stuffed version of an angry bird. He blew up a green balloon representing a pig. He stretched a bungee cord across the hatchway and launched the bird, demonstrating the trajectory of its flight.
“Astronauts have to worry about these things,” Pettit explained, “because if you’re in a rocket and, say, you’re trying to get from one orbit and rendezvous with Space Station, you end up going on a curved trajectory and you need to know how to fire your rocket engines.”
I applaud NASA in its innovative efforts to teach science to schoolchildren, but I know an even better lesson. The God of wisdom has given us a book filled with truth about angry attitudes and words. His advice can keep us on a heaven-bound trajectory and help us avoid crash landings.
Surveying Crash Sites
One angry moment can do much damage, and history is littered with crash sites to prove it. For example, when Hannibal was crossing the Alps, he marched his entire army (including animals) into northern Italy in an attempt to defeat the emerging forces of Rome. They made it up the Alps with little problem, but coming down was another matter. The snow, ice, and mud created deadly conditions on the descent. The horses and elephants couldn’t find a foothold, and the soldiers ended up crawling down the mountain. It was bitter cold, and Hannibal was beside himself. In anger, he marched to the front of the procession and slammed his staff down into a snowdrift.
When Hannibal slammed his cane into the ground, he triggered a devastating landslide. It took four days for the survivors to dig their way out of the snow and ice, and by then they were too demoralized to wage war.
Hannibal wasn’t able to dominate Rome, and the Roman Empire was free to emerge onto the stage of history. It can be said that because of Hannibal’s one moment of anger, the entire shape of European civilization was changed.
Biblical Crash Sites
The Bible is packed with examples of biblical crash sites. When we open God’s Word, the first angry person we encounter is Cain, who was enraged when God rejected his sacrifice while accepting his brother’s. He fired himself out of the slingshot of wrath, murdered his brother, and spent his life in exile.
King Herod was so angry at the Magi for deceiving him that he slew the baby boys of Bethlehem, leaving him a legacy of a mass murderer.
One of the saddest biblical cases of anger involved King Asa in 2 Chronicles 16. Asa was better than most of the kings and had a promising start. But he made a strategic error when he failed to trust the Lord in a matter involving Syria. The prophet Hanani paid him a visit, saying, “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand” (2 Chronicles 16:7). King Asa reacted in wrath, imprisoning the prophet and brutally oppressing some of the people, and his career ended in illness and death (verses 12-13).
Cleaning Up Crash Sites
Have you damaged yourself or others by losing your temper? The initial acting out of anger is bad enough, but the consequences of our anger can be even more devastating. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
How about taking an inventory of the crash sites in your life and determining to clean them up?
First, ask God for a patient spirit, and make up your mind to strive to be slow-tempered. With God’s help, you can exercise self-control.
Second, memorize Bible verses on this subject.
Third, confess your sin immediately when you have a crash landing. Confess it and ask for forgiveness.
Fourth, learn to make a strategic exit when you feel your anger rising. Take time to process angry feelings in private, taking them to the Lord, working through them with the corresponding lessons from God’s Word.
Finally, as you’re able, go back and repair any damage caused by your outbursts. A humble spirit has a way of erasing years of damage when the Lord extends His mercy. By His grace, you can often rebuild what you’ve destroyed and clean up your crash sites.
One of the saddest moments in sports happened during the closing minutes of the 1978 Gator Bowl between Clemson and Ohio State. Woody Hayes, the storied Ohio coach, went into the game with a remarkable 238-71-10 record.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes were down by two points but driving toward the goal. Hayes called a pass, and Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman intercepted and was shoved out of bounds at OSU’s sideline. To the astonishment of the millions of people watching on television, Hayes grabbed Bauman as he got to his feet and viciously struck him. The next day Hayes was fired. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the story is that Hayes never apologized. A moment of temper. A crash landing. No attempt to clean it up. A legacy tarnished.
Try not to crash; but if you do, move quickly to clean up the crash site.
A hot temper is, well, for the birds.
 See “New Angry Birds Announcement from the International Space Station,” Time Magazine (Time Techland) http://techland.time.com/2012/03/08/new-angry-birds-announcement-from-the-international-space-station, accessed March 8, 2012.
The world intensely watches Christians, especially those who are being proactive about their faith. It wants to see whether Christians are genuine or not. Like the lyrics to Sting’s song: “Every smile you fake. . . I’ll be watching you.”
One way some people avoid the glare of the world’s spotlight is to be inactive instead of proactive in their faith.
Get Into a Good Book
Over the years, books have gotten nicer and been printed faster over the years, but the basic format has stayed the same. That is, until 1971.
In 1971, Project Gutenberg was created to make electronic copies of important books. Fast forward to 2017 when you can read books on any number of handheld, wireless reading devices.
The day of e-books is here and it is changing our world. Books are easy to access and store. You can take hundreds of books with you, stored in your pocket reader, and read them anytime, anywhere. For publishers, e-books are a dream come true: Once the original digital version of a book is available, an infinite number of digital copies can be sold and downloaded at barely any additional cost to the publisher.Our Urgency
As I read stories about sudden catastrophes and the damage they cause, I can’t help but think of what Jesus said in Matthew 24:37-39: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking… until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away.”
It’s possible to be in imminent danger without any knowledge of it or sense of urgency, but delay can be deadly. The word “urgent” comes from an old Latin word meaning “to urge.” It means that an event is occurring that is so compelling it requires immediate attention. To hesitate is to be lost.
When you see a need, do you immediately volunteer to help? Or do you wait to be asked? Dr. David Jeremiah says the church needs both kinds of helpers, as long as they have the genuine heart of a servant.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah