Addressing the Political Divide with a Sound Mind and Redemptive Spirit

21 10 2019

Are you tempted to get swept up into all the rhetoric, backbiting, political name-calling and the deep level of immaturity shown us by the media and the politicians of today?  I know I am sometimes. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus lived under one of the most corrupt governments of all time and yet He was never distracted or drawn into their politics.  He kept His focus by continually listening to His Father and obeying His voice.  We could take a lesson or two from our Savior.

 

God’s word reveals, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority accept that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”  (Romans 13:1&2) Did this writer, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, use the word “rebelling?”

 

If God placed each, let’s say, president into office, could our anger, our angst and our temper tantrums over them actually be an act of rebellion against God? When we strongly confront others, call what they write propaganda and get into arguments over constantly changing “facts,” aren’t we essentially telling God that He doesn’t know what He is doing by who He is allowing into political office?  Personally, I just cringe over some of the things that I read on social media, but our politicians and our media speak words of defamation as well. I really do not desire to be part of it.

 

It’s pretty clear from Jesus that the most important commandment is to love God and to love our neighbor first and foremost, but do you realize in that same chapter, Matthew 22, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees with a political question asking is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?  Jesus would not be trapped by them or caught up in an unrighteous conversation about the political leader of His day as He replied, “Show me the coin used for paying the tax…whose image is this…and whose inscription?”  He then surprised them with these words, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

 

Jesus was clearly revealing there are two kingdoms of which we function in both, this world with its governments and its leaders and, secondly, God’s kingdom.  We give to both.  As believers, we need to keep in mind that the kingdoms of this world are temporary and, therefore, our priority is the kingdom of God.

 

In light of this, here’s a question for you.  If, when writing on social media, we use intimidation, disrespect of others and dishonoring them and their beliefs or thoughts, are we not engaged in a form of bullying? I have observed writers attempting to shut others down by their “facts,” but, honestly, most times it is simply because someone expresses a different opinion than they do.

 

A friend of mine was telling me that he was “convicted” to stop writing on social media this way, but still found time to “like” what others wrote which he agreed with. Once again God spoke to him and revealed that to “like” those words was the same as writing them. He ceased in obedience to the voice of God.

 

Jesus never placed political party or belief over relationship.  If your relationships are being affected by differing political belief, then you are falling prey to the evil one and his tactics to cause disunity and division.  Allow me to share some wisdom with you from Proverbs chapter 15.

 

  • A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life…
  • The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
  • A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.
  • A man finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word.

 

So what can we do if we find ourself at odds with someone over politics?  We could ask them why they feel the way they do in order to understand their point of view.  Then we could ask if they would allow us to share our views.  Perhaps we can arrive at the agreeing point of: America is broken and as Christians we are called to uphold the love of Jesus by seeking first His kingdom. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”

 

Are you willing to put your hostility, your divisive comments and your agenda aside so that you can place Jesus first?  Ask God for wisdom; He gives it liberally.  And remember these words of pure wisdom, “If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.  But do this in a gentle and respectful way.”  (I Peter 3:15)

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Until Death Do Us Part

14 10 2019

Have you ever deeply considered the fact that we make quite a number of promises publicly to one another during our marriage ceremony? And then, also publicly, we promise to keep those promises by speaking vows to one other.  Something inherent in the ceremony and those words is that whether any of us realized it or not, promises made would be tried, sometimes severely. Perhaps there is even a societal element of mistrust implied.  I mean, to whom or to what other areas of life do we speak vows of commitment?

 

Whatever the case, marriage is built on multiple promises of remaining committed, having eyes for only one, loving and caring for my bride or my groom…” Until death do us part.”  Vows (our spoken words) are important and here’s why.

 

Our commitment will be challenged through trials.  Whether or not those trials are made by us or an outside factor doesn’t really matter.  How we handle those trials and how we handle our relationship is what matters.  Paul the apostle said we would encounter “light and momentary troubles” in this life and we have to determine what we will achieve, actually what will be produced through those troubles.  Will they weaken us or will they strengthen us?

 

Maybe you and/or your spouse are facing a trial right now in your marriage or personal lives.  You have the option to pursue your own comfort first if you desire to.  Or, you have the option of facing that trial together, praying, practicing forgiveness and grace, attempting to grow in your relationship and deepening your commitment of love.

 

We have a friend whose husband was killed by Al-Qaida.  She told us she could face that trial because of a very difficult, earlier trial which helped to prepare her for the loss of her husband.  Trials can and will be used by God to strengthen us for the road ahead.  Choose to grow in grace through each one.

 

 

 

 

 

 





Some Thoughts to Consider When Contemplating Divorce

7 10 2019

Often the phrase, “Well, I’ll just divorce him or her,” is glibly spoken. If you are truly considering this option, then also consider some of these very real consequences.

  1. You may be dissolving the marital relationship, but you are not dissolving the relationship. As long as this person is alive, they can potentially still be in your life, especially if you have children together.  You will deal with many of the same issues outside of marriage that you dealt with in the marriage. And you will deal with them for a long time.
  2. You will definitely NOT be better off financially. You think finances were tough being married; you have not seen anything yet.  It is not just minus one income; it is setting up a whole new household and everything that goes along with that new household.
  3. Single parenting is a tough gig and gets tougher. As children grow and find their voice, begin to deal with their anger over the breakup of their parents, you will be targeted.
  4. Experts say it takes 7-9 years for a marriage to settle. If you have not reached this stage, you will face many of the same issues in the next relationship or the next marriage.
  5. Speaking of next marriage: were you aware that second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages?
  6. If you are unable to reconcile your differences in your marriage now and think divorce is the answer, what will you do when the very same inability surfaces in your second marriage?
  7. Even if there is a breaking of the marriage vows in your present marriage, it is more profitable to the marriage in the long run if a couple can heal the present brokenness and grow in their relationship to a more stable and secure level of forgiveness and commitment.
  8. You will normally spend years attempting to untangle who you have become in your present marriage to who you will become in your second marriage.That untangling takes time and healing.
  9. The patterns you developed in your present marriage will be a part of your next relationship/marriage. Consequently, if you developed a trigger from your first marriage, it can become larger, even more magnified in your second marriage.
  10. How long do you think it will take you to “unmarry” someone? That healing is different for each and every person.

There you have it, well some of it.  I am sure I have missed many areas, but these are things in my short life that I have observed about the ending of one marriage and attempting to begin another. Can it be done successfully?  Yes, it can.  Is it as easy as you think it is?  No, it is not.  So please do not ask your friends who are not married or even those who are married for advice.  I suggest you ask those friends who have been through this very challenging life circumstance.  They will have a better handle on the truth and the reality rather than the feelings and the desired escape.





Seven Ways to Stop a Drifting Marriage

30 09 2019

Drifting is natural, it happens sometimes without giving it much thought.  Add to that our human propensity to get bored with the familiar rather quickly.  Once the romance wanes in our relationships, we can be tempted to drift.  We attempt to convince ourselves and our life mates that we’re not drifting, but we both know we are.

 

My daughter and I were out in a bay once when our boat lost its anchor. She went swimming after it.  We barely noticed how far and how quickly that boat drifted away from us with the outgoing tide.  It was just right there beside us a few minutes earlier.

 

What are the ingredients to a marriage that drifts?  All too often we experience unmet expectations. Our disagreements become more intense and we seem to have conflict more often. Perhaps even old, destructive life patterns reemerge.  Or, maybe we get behind financially and can’t seem to catch up.  We’re working more hours, away from home more hours and unhappy for more hours.  Now we’re feeling unfulfilled and it is so easy for marriage boredom to increase.

 

We didn’t mean for it to happen but life is full with our schedules, our children, yes, even our ministry.  We’re missing one another, we’re not communicating as we should and we left certain disciplines that help to maintain a healthy marriage.  Now we’re both feeling the sting of unmet needs and mumbling under our breath the negative things that bug us about our partner.

 

It can change; there is hope.  We can reverse the effects of drifting.  Here are seven steps we can take.

 

  1. Confess it to God and one other. Confession brings it into the light.  It puts the subject on the table so to speak.

 

  1. Get back to dedicated times of communication about the personal and the nonpersonal. Get back to sharing everything in conversation with feelings and real-life intimacy.

 

  1. Pray while you communicate.  Speak to God about your drifting from each other.  Share your heart with your heavenly Father and ask Him for solutions to the drifting issue.  Expect to hear those answers and then implement them.

 

  1. Get back to spending quality time together. There is no compromise; we need time together to relate, to have fun and to be friends again.

 

  1. Stop waiting on feelings. If you wait on feelings to return, you’ll never act.  Act first because right actions bring about right feelings.

 

  1. Write out your mission statement. If you have one, find it and read over it once again.  If you do not have a couple mission statement then you are missing out on writing down your reasons for marriage, your why.  Get busy and put into writing your marriage mission statement.

 

  1. Dream again about where you desire your marriage to go and to grow.  Vision is a focus for the future for the two of you. That focus runs adrift when we lose sight of us.

 

Rest assured, drifting can occur with each of us.  But it is not our game plan to stay there.  We must take steps to counteract the drifting that has taken place.





Taking Back Dinner Time With Your Family

23 09 2019

It’s time to reclaim dinner around our tables.  This practice is becoming lost in the midst of family busyness, jobs, school schedules, friends and activates.  We desperately need to recover this tradition within our families and here’s why.

 

When we’re sitting around the table eating, it’s a time to connect as a family.  It’s a time to talk about our day.  It’s a time to encourage, speak life-filled words, laugh and listen.  Dads and moms  can help provoke this time of communication and connectedness.  Here’s how.

 

There is nothing worse than everyone sitting around complaining about the meal, their day, not talking or simply engaged in words like, “Pass the salt” or “Can you please close your mouth when you chew?”  This opportunity for connection can begin with Dad sharing about his work day, Mom sharing about an important meeting she was engaged in and then the children following up with something that occurred in school, a paper due or a prayer need.  If no one is talking, you can begin a wonderful conversation just by asking, “So, what’s the craziest thing that happened today?” or “Finish this sentence: Today was a challenge because…”

 

The food takes a backseat to the conversation.  Before closing your mealtime, the conversation can turn to praying together as a family or asking if someone needs help with a certain task assigned after dinner.  Mealtime is a time for togetherness and relationship building.  Always include your children’s friends in the conversation and you just might start a new tradition in their home as well.

 

Do not lose the value of such an important daily connection and opportunity.  Proverbs reminds us, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.”





Our First Apartment – Where It All Began

16 09 2019

I recently needed to make a ministry/training trip to southern Virginia. It was a lovely drive; one in which I have made many, many times before.  You see, our marriage began in that area 44 years previously.  That now seems like a long time ago.

 

I experienced a very pleasant surprise on this trip.  I exited early off of Interstate 64 onto J Clyde Morris Boulevard.  We lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment off of that street.  I wanted to see if 59 Traverse Road, apartment 3 still existed.

 

To my surprise, it did exist!  I pulled in as I had done many times in the 1970’s and found the very apartment we occupied, the very space we parked our car and memories began to flood my mind.  I could see us sitting on those front steps talking to neighbors, handing out Mary’s homemade donuts or whatever recent baked good she created and our neighbors loved.  I could see us cooking on our Hibachi grill out back and running into one another in that tiny kitchen.  The buildings looked good, well-kept and so familiar.  Even the door was painted the same color.

 

I saw something else as well.  I remembered that this is where we learned to cook together, where we found and grew in intimacy, where we first made a habit of praying together as a married couple. This was where we would depart from every Saturday to do outreach into the rougher areas of town looking for children who wanted to ride our huge, ex school bus to Sunday School, creating our first mission together as a couple.  This apartment was foundational to who we were and to where we lived because God placed us there.  How do I know that?

 

Acts 17 states this, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…from one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth and the exact places where they should live.”

 

That exact place was our place in this world and we loved it.  We loved our neighbors, our community, our jobs and our local church.  We fell in love with marriage itself and simply could not get enough of one another. It was all a dream come true.

 

I then snapped a quick a photo to share with my bride.  We don’t live there anymore, we’re older, we’re wiser, we have less energy, but we still love one another deeply along with our neighbors, our community, our jobs, our church and our mission together.  Looking back is necessary.  Realizing the long marriage commitment and trek we have been on is amazing to think about.  But you know what else is amazing?  Looking forward, growing more in love, still praying and maintaining the mission that our heavenly Father has given us.

 

Thank you 59 Traverse Road, apartment 3 for all the memories.  We have moved on from you and have a new place we call home.





If You Had One Last Call: 9/11

11 09 2019

September 11th, 2001, a day we will all remember here in America and around the world. I was sitting on a plane at the Baltimore/Washington airport waiting to fly to New England through New York air space when we were all asked to disembark the plane and to go home.  That day, 2,996 people would lose their lives.

 

I remember reading about the final calls being made to spouses and loved ones.  Over 1,000 phone calls were made within ten minutes of the first plane hitting the first tower and thousands more made thereafter.  These would be calls in which the two parties would never speak again on this side of heaven.  While we can’t predict our death, some of the persons in those two towers and planes had an opportunity to share some last words.

 

These were the final words from a stewardess, “Hi baby.  I’m, baby…you have to listen to me carefully.  I’m on a plane that’s been hijacked…I want to tell you that I love you…please tell the children…I’m sorry.”  Another, “The only thoughts I have are of Nicholas, Ian and you. I am terrified.  I needed to tell you that I truly love you.”  And then there was this one, “It’s not looking good.  I want you to know I absolutely love you. I want you to do good, have good times…I just totally love you…goodbye, babe.”

 

As I look at the anniversary of a very sad day, I can’t help but think about final words.  What would I say in a last phone call?  What would I tell my wife?  Perhaps that question is a good exercise for today while we’re alive and well.

 

If you had one last call, fearing a close end, what would you say to your spouse or your loved one?  Please say it now, don’t wait.








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