"It's OK to get angry in certain situations," says Nicole, age 9. "For example, when your baby sister sits on your new cowboy shirt."

Being from Texas, I understand. A new cowboy shirt is a precious thing -- new boots are even better.

"You have to get angry when somebody hits you so you can hit him back harder," says Daniel, 5.

Ouch!

We smile at Daniel's honesty, but we all have this monster called revenge living inside. Most of us don't hit with fists. We're too sophisticated for that. Gossip and slander are often the weapons of choice.

If you have to punch something, Daniel, take a tip from Chaz, 10: "When I lose my temper, I beat up my pillow and then pray."

Punch and pray. This sounds like a winning combination -- as long as you're punching a pillow and not someone's nose.

Anger can make you do crazy things such as "losing your temper when someone is trying to be boss of your football," says Cade, 5. Of course, some who get really angry about being boss of the football sign contracts worth millions and play for the NFL.

Anger can also make you "rip up a failing paper before you get home and tell your mom you didn't get that test," says Chelsea, 9.

As every teacher knows, dogs have ravenous appetites for school papers, especially on the day they are due.

Lying about a failing paper or making up a dog story because you didn't do your homework could make your mom and your teacher justifiably angry.

Anger is fine, says Brittani, 5: "Because when two friends get together, it is hard to play good every minute." Colton, 5, disagrees, "Even though this makes Jesus sad, some people just love to fight."

Sometimes, it's small things that anger us, says another Colton, 5: "My mom and dad get angry when they can't decide what they want for dinner." Sounds like a recipe for indigestion.

Landon, 11, and others provide us with digestive aids by giving us tips on when it is and isn't wrong to be angry. "It is not wrong to get angry as long as it is righteous anger."

Righteous anger? "Jesus got angry when people used the temple as a trading post," says Courtney, 10. "He knocked over tables, threw everything on the floor. I mean he got real mad," adds Bryant, 10.

For some imaginative color commentary on this incident, let's go to Sarah, 9: "There were people crying, yelling and screaming to get their money. Birds were flying everywhere. Clothes fell off racks."

I've never seen a painting of Jesus driving the merchants out of the temple. The Apostle John writes that he made a "whip of chords" and drove them out. Somehow, this image seems out of place with the typical, placid pictures in most storybook Bibles.

Don't try to justify selfish anger by rationalizing it into righteous anger. John records that when the disciples saw Jesus clearing the temple, they remembered Psalm 69:9: "Zeal for your house has eaten me up."

Jesus was consumed with the reputation of his Father and therefore his Father's house. Instead of a house of prayer, the merchants had turned the temple into a house of thieves, Jesus said. When we become angry, we're usually consumed with our rights and reputation, not God's.

Brent, 11, also approaches anger management in a biblical way when he quotes James 1:19-20: "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

Point to ponder: Jesus could have been angry over the injustice he suffered, but he forgave. Scripture to remember: "Do not let the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26).

Question to consider: Have you ever been angry because someone blasphemed God's name or character?

Inspire your children by reading this column with them and visiting the  Kids Talk About God website. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

And -- You'll smile, laugh and wonder when you see the new KTAG TV commercials and hear the radio spots at
 www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org.

© 2004 CAREY KINSOLVING