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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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.





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.”





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.





Can God’s Creation Create Healing?

12 08 2019

I recently read a Reader’s Digest article called, The Nature Cure and was totally intrigued.  I will share some of the information from that article below.  It seemed to verify what I have believed and incorporated into my life, certainly appreciating that this periodical would help to validate this belief.

 

The article actually called nature a “miracle medicine for our mental health.” It seems social scientists are discovering that our brains are not machines which do not tire, but rather become easily fatigued and with as little as three days of rest, creative problem-solving tasks can increase by 50 percent!

 

When architect Fredrick Olmsted looked over Yosemite Valley, he urged the California legislature to, “…protect it from development…. that the occasional contemplation of natural scenes is favorable to the health and vigor of men.”

 

Thousands of years ago gardens were constructed for this very reason — rest and mental relaxation.  It seems most kings mentioned in the Scriptures incorporated them.  The U.S. national park system was created because people like Ralph Waldo Emerson built a case for creating the park system stating that nature had healing powers.

 

Researchers today are discovering that people who live in or near “green spaces” suffer less depression, anxiety and migraines.  A study in Japan found those persons who walk in the forest decrease the stress hormone cortisol.  There is healing in God’s gift of nature and yet less than a quarter of Americans spend 30 minutes or more outside in nature daily.

 

Did you know pediatricians are now telling parents with young families to regularly visit parks so the whole family can de-stress and play? When is the last time you went camping, hiking in the mountains, visited gardens, introduced your child to the wonders of a stick, sat around a campfire, watched a sunset, played in a creek, observed butterflies or sat by a lake?

 Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made.  (Genesis 2:8

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake.  (Matthew 13:1)





Growing Respect in our Marriages

5 08 2019

Someone once shared with me these words, “I’ll respect him when he starts respecting me.” Still another said, “When she starts acting respectable, I’ll show her respect.”  Really? Since when is respect conditional upon another respecting you?

 

Do you show respect to your boss even when they are not in some way earning that respect?  Do you respect out of a desire to obey God, regardless of what you feel the other is or is not doing?  Were you aware of the fact that there are respect clauses in the Scripture?  Peter wrote that we were to “…treat them [wives] with respect,” and Paul wrote “…the wife must respect her husband.”  (I Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:33) There were no additional words that stated if the husband or wife also showed respect.  Then again, there are no words that state we can demand respect — that’s not how it works.

 

Judas did a lot of disrespectful things as a disciple of Christ and yet Jesus still washed his feet along with the others.  The woman caught in adultery was not the most respectable and neither was the woman at the well and our Savior showed much respect and forgiveness toward them.  Perhaps your wife or your husband has not always shown you respect, but that does not give you license to return the same.

 

I love how author Gary Thomas weighs in on this very subject, “As our partners and their weaknesses become more familiar to us, respect often becomes harder to give.  But this failure to show respect is more a sign of spiritual immaturity than it is an inevitable pathway of marriage.”  He also notes, “When there is mutual respect in marriage, selflessness becomes contagious…. If you want to obsess about them [weaknesses], they’ll grow, but you won’t!”

 

How is respect growing in your relationships, especially within your marriage?





How Long Have You Been Faking It?

29 07 2019

There are those who attend church on Sunday and live according to anything but those thoughts Monday through Saturday.  I can remember as a young teen listening to the minister read the scripture Sunday morning and then close by saying, “Here endeth the word of the Lord for today.”  I remember thinking, I’ve got news for you; here endeth the word for the week for me.  So, yes, I’ve felt like a fake and I’ve been a fake at times.

 

Someone once wrote, “If you were being accused of being a ‘fake Christian,’ what evidence would you present to prove otherwise?”  I thought that to be a fair and probing question to think about.

 

Then there was this story from a devotional by Dennis and Barbara Rainy that my wife and I read on the topic of being a fake.

 

“A young man who had just graduated from law school set up an office, proudly displaying his shingle out front.  On his first day at work, as he sat at his desk with his door open, he was wondering how he would get his first client when he heard footsteps approaching his office.

 

Not wanting this potential client to think that he would be the first, the young lawyer quickly picked up the telephone and began to talk loudly to a make-believe caller.  “Oh yes sir!” he exclaimed into the phone.  “I’m very experienced in corporate law…Courtroom experience?  Why yes, I’ve had several cases.”

 

On and on this green lawyer went in his fake conversation when suddenly at the door appeared a man in work attire.  The young lawyer hung up the phone and self-importantly asked how he could offer his services.  “Well,” said the man with a smirk, “I’m from the telephone company and I’m here to hook up your phone.”

 

When we’re preoccupied with ourselves, we’re not thinking about how we can honor God. When we’re busy trying to look good, we’re not honoring God.  And when we’re faking our “Christian deeds” or trying to use the right Christian clichés, we just might have our charades found out by the telephone repairman.  Or, worse yet, God!








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