To My Fellow Christians This Election Year

Dear Fellow Christians,

In the midst of disagreements and differences, remember the truth. Remember who and Whose you are. I know it’s election year, I know tensions are high, I know it feels like it’s crucial to take things into our own hands, but that is contrary to the Gospel. When I see posts from professing believers that state things like you just “can’t take anyone seriously for considering _______ for President,” know that you weren’t called to. You were called to be YOU and to feel what you feel, but not be directed by it. God set to a path before you and called you to love the people that you meet along the way. You are in no way called to use the scripture to preach for the sake of politics; you are called to save souls.

I see pages and groups on Facebook that say “Christians for______,” full of vitriol and intolerance against anyone who don’t share their viewpoints, people who argue why you are “not of Christ” or “less of a Christian” if you even dare to consider one candidate over the other, who the “morally correct” choice is, why the fate of the nation is in the hands of the next President, and therefore, us. Fellow Christian, you forget your mission.

Is the fate of the country in the hands of our neighbor and who they vote for? Or is it in the hands of the God of Creation?

Is the Church in danger from who is elected as the next President? Or is there danger from us being disarmed and distracted by the enemy?

Does God call us to sew division, to cut off relationship with those who disagree? Or does He call us to turn the other cheek and love regardless?

Is now the time for contempt and unhearing ears? Or could we use this time to understand the hearts and hurts of our neighbors and move forward TOGETHER in LOVE?

There is NO ONE else in the universe that is exactly like you. No one that loves, laughs, cries or feels the same way as you do. There is no copy or any person, no matter how close of a spouse, sibling or friend, that are exactly the same. Nor do they agree on everything. Jesus’ 12 apostles had many differing opinions but their common ground was their mission. Their mission is our mission, too.

People who vote differently than us are not committing transgressions against us. Our goal here isn’t to change minds, it’s to lead them to the One who can completely transform their hearts, and ours along with it.

Remember the truth is that we are not in control. Remember that there will always be obstacles thrown at us and Election Year is just another one of them, but our mission doesn’t change. Remember the good news and share it with the world.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!”

Redeeming the Time

Many of our ministries, and some of our work, has come to a grinding halt. We are living in an age where we have been thrown into telework, are living on less work hours in a workweek, or have been laid off all-together. In addition, the children are home, the daily structures that have helped keep us sane have crumbled, and we are often at a loss concerning how to live in trying times. This may cause stress, depression and a lack of focus. For me, this has resulted in me watching the unfolding train wreck of the pandemic with an almost obsession. Maybe it is time for me to remember who I am and who God is.

Remember

We need to remember that our God is a redeemer. He is the redeemer of souls, the redeemer of relationships and the redeemer of time. I need that redemption. I will start my fourth week working from home tomorrow and I realized as I meditated this morning that I am going to need to create some structure in my life and adapt to the new normal. I am going to have to adapt from how I was living, start living in my new environment, and prepare for the future environment that will be the result of our current pandemic. I don’t think I am the only one.

A Resource for You

As I was looking over the podcasts that regularly listen to, I came across the Famous at Home podcast. They are currently in a series where they are directly helping others deal with emotional resilience, family rhythms, and marriage during this time. Over the past year they have moved from a marriage ministry to a family ministry, so I have listened to them a little less. But listening to them this morning I realized how much this was needed for my sanity and may be needed for yours. One of the quotes that jumped out at me from episode 153, Family Rhythms in Social Isolation, was “If every day looks the same, you will go crazy. If every day looks different, you will go crazy.” In the spirit of sharing I am providing the links for the first two episodes below.

So, this evening put the kids to bed and instead of binge watching Iron Fist on Netflix, listen to the first podcast and start working as a couple on how God is calling you, as a family, to redeem this time. I hope this is a blessing to you and your family.

https://www.joshuastraub.com/2020/03/25/152-emotional-resilience-in-social-isolation/

https://www.joshuastraub.com/2020/03/27/153-family-rhythms-in-social-isolation/

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 4E- Fighting the Good Fight

Over the last week we have been exploring how to fight better.  We have discussed the soft start-up, repair attemptscompromise,  influence and soothing.  This week we will wrap up this series by considering the overall goal of your fight.  When a fight kicks off there is a gap between the time something happens to anger you and your response.  In this gap you have a choice to make.  Will I fight for getting what I want or will I fight for the unity of my marriage?  When the wrong choice us made, especially over the long haul, it is disastrous to a marriage.

In marriage, we are called to sacrificially serve one another in a way that builds unity in a marriage.  We are called to submit to one another looking out for the best interests of the other.  We are called to humility; admitting wrongs and asking for forgiveness when needed.  We are called to pursue each other in ways that show how much the other person means to us.  We are called to “die” to self and seek the other person’s needs before we seek our own.  When we do this we turn towards one another instead of away from each other.  We understand that when we fight, we are fighting for our marriage,  not to get our own way.  We recognize that our spouse is not our enemy but is our ally.

If you get married you will have trouble (1 Cor 7:28).  God will often use your marriage to change you more and more into the image of His son, Jesus.  That growth is not an easy process and we often fight against it by fighting with our spouse.  Additionally, you have an enemy that hates your marriage.  Satan stands against your marriage as it is a reminder of God’s relationship with His people.  Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.”  Though selfishness, pride, hatred, disunity and Satan all stand against your marriage, they are no threat to the God of the universe that is holding your marriage together.  In unity, with each other and with God, we can stand against the powers of this world that seek to undermine our marriages.  In unity we can stand together, lifting the shield of faith against the arrows of the enemy, and overcome any attempt to undermine our marriage.  In unity, we can turn towards each other, rely on each other, and bear each others burdens instead of turning away from each other and accepting defeat.

This mindset requires the power of the Holy Spirit and a commitment to following his lead.  Considering this before you get into a fight helps frame the fight in a way that builds your marriage instead of undermining it.  Being thankful for the blessing you have been given in marriage on the good days helps you remember the blessings on the bad days.  Listening to the Holy Spirit at the beginning of a fight helps resolve the issue more effectively.

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 4C – Fighting the Good Fight

Over the last few days we have been exploring how to fight better.  We discussed the soft start-up, repair attempts and compromise. Today, let’s take a look at how we allow our spouse to influence us.

Recently I was sharing with some friends that when I was much younger I got a little depressed about my work situation and joined the Air Force without discussing it with Patty.  In essence, I made a life-changing decision that took a newly married young woman away from her family of origin without allowing her to influence my decision.  I didn’t even ask her opinion.   I returned home and advised that within 3-5 days I would be in a uniform being yelled at by a training instructor and within a few months we would be moving.  Destination – Unknown.  Looking back I am surprised I didn’t show up to basic training with hand prints on my throat.

In the end, it worked out.  Looking back I am surprised it did.

When couples fight one of the things that they are often trying to do is influence their spouse.  According to research, couples who resist influence are much more likely to divorce.  When a man is not willing to share power with their wife the couple is 81% more likely to end up in divorce court.  A marriage is a commitment to allow the other person input into those issues that effect them.  Couples who share power, who allow their partner to influence them during an argument, feel like they are part of a unified marriage.

Common sense should tell you that you need to allow your spouse to influence you.  Patty sees things from such a different perspective than I do.   Wisdom would dictate that I not only take her insight into consideration, but that I seek it out regularly.  She is more relational where I am task oriented.  In our ministry both are needed and her strength offsets my weakness.  She was made a helpmate for me, and I am blessed to have her and blessed when she “weighs in” on issues.

However, when emotions are running high and a fight ensues we often withdraw and refuse to listen.  We feel we have the right viewpoint and then work hard, sometimes too hard, to defend it.  When that happens people feel disrespected and unappreciated.  Then it is on like donkey-kong.

Before the crazy cycle starts, take a moment and ask yourself if you are resisting influence and if so, why.  Are you embarrassed over a decision you have made and now feel the need to defend yourself?  Do you really feel that your spouse has no valid viewpoint on the situation?  Are you really so filled with pride that you feel you don’t need input from your spouse?  Beware, you are crossing into dangerous territory.

Strong couples value the opinion of their spouse and seek influence often.  They may not always choose to take the advice when provided, but they seek the advice and consider it when making a decision.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.  (Proverbs 12:15)

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage 4B – Fighting the Good Fight Week

This week we started this series with an intro to Fighting the Good Fight and discussed a Soft Startup.  We followed up with Repair Attempts.  Now we want to focus on compromise.

Work to Compromise

Since 69% of arguments will never be completely resolved, compromise is often the best we can expect from some of our differences.  Compromise takes place when we attempt to understand our conflicting needs and then explore ways those needs can be better met. One of the best examples is frequency of sex.  Research indicates that over a lifetime a man will desire sex six times more often than women. Tommy Nelson, author of The Book of Romance, said that if God had given man and woman the same sex drive as the man, there would be children everywhere but we would all live in caves because we would never have time for planning or building houses.  If God had given both man and woman the same sex drive as a woman, we would have lived in a very highly advanced culture, for one generation. Then mankind would have disappeared from the face of the earth because we would seldom have sex.  This, of course, requires compromise. Ryan and Celina Fredericks,  authors of Fierce Marriage, often talk about how they resolved this issue themselves. He determined he needed intimacy/sex 3-4 times a week. She did not need it anywhere near that often and was often exhausted raising two children.  The compromise, their goal would be three times a week and he would settle for two times a week when she had a rough week with the children. They then entered the time for twice a week in their calendar as a reminder so she did not forget, which had been a problem historically. He agreed to be flexible based on her needs and challenges of the day.  This is a great example of how couples can talk through issues and then come to a compromise.

Have a Plan

When issues arise, take the following actions:

  1. Work to identify the real need – As we have discussed before, often our fights are not what our fights are about.  Try and work together to discover what the real issue is.
  2. Explore possibilities of how those needs can be better met.  Allow the other person to influence your thinking and agree to try different ways until something works.
  3. Choose an option and try it for a short period of time until you find something that works.

This course of action often requires patience, sacrifice, compromise, a dedication to peace, a gentle approach and not just a little self control.  Sound familiar?  Remember, a really joyous marriage is not possible without the indwelling spirit of Christ, and that always produces the fruits listed above.

A Final Note

If the topic is an emotional one, the three steps above may requires three separate conversation.  One to identify the problem, one to brainstorm solutions and a third to choose an option to try.  There is nothing wrong with breaking these into three different discussions as you work through your issue.  In fact, many therapist recommend that very thing.

7 Weeks to a Better Marriage Week 4A – Fighting the Good Fight

The funny thing is I knew I was in trouble as the words left my mouth. Mentally I was reaching out trying to capture the offending question and return it to the depths from which it came. No luck.