How I Can Respect Your Vote, Even If I Disagree With It

Is it just me or do opposing political viewpoints seem to aggravate us more this year than in any other election year in recent memory?

So much seems to be hanging in the balance, doesn’t it? Many of us have a sense of impending doom that if–God forbid–the other candidate is elected, our way of life, our country, even our world, could be headed for irrevocable disaster. Many feel that if we blow this chance and elect the wrong person, all is lost and our land of the free and home of the brave will be forever ruined. I believe the stakes are high; we are at a crossroads in our country with not only widely divergent philosophies of governance to be chosen, but two potential leaders who are equally abhorred by the other camp.

But rather than view one another as enemies, let me offer some perspective that might help.

First, as a believer in Jesus Christ who holds a high view of the Bible, I begin with the assumption that God is sovereign over rulers, kings, and countries. The Old Testament prophet, Daniel, writes that God “changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.” In addition, God uses ‘good’ and ‘bad’ kings, (and queens), to bring about His sovereign blessing–or judgment–to nations.

God’s sovereignty, however, doesn’t absolve us of responsibility as citizens, as 1 Timothy 2:2 says we are to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.” Understanding that God’s sovereignty works through our prayers and civic responsibility, we can rest assured that the final word as to who is the next President of the United States is in God’s hands–not ours, the electoral college, the GOP or the DNC. God removes kings and sets up kings. 

Secondly, we need to remember that most voters love their country and want the best for the United States and the world–we all just have different opinions as to how that will be achieved. Some may vote for Trump, some may vote for Clinton, and some–like me–will vote 3rd (or 4th or 5th) party. But rather than accuse people with opposing views (family members? friends?) that they are mentally deficient or are in danger of losing their salvation, we need to trust that they will vote according to their best judgment.

If we are Christians, we need to remember that God used Cyrus, a Gentile king, to bring blessing to His people. God’s even been known to use donkeys to speak truth if need be. And on November 9th, after all the dust has settled, we can be sure that whoever is headed to the Oval Office is someone God will use for His purposes.

David French said last week that “with rage spiraling out of proportion to the underlying offense, Americans are willing to sacrifice vital cultural values for the most fleeting, short-term gains.”

We need to look back at our founding principles, and look forward to the long-term of the good of the country.

As a special nation made up of different ethnicities, languages, and religions, our country was founded upon the truth that all people are created equal in the sight of God and have unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We need to take a breath and remember these things. And this works itself out on Facebook. And Twitter. And around the office cooler.

Practically speaking, this means that when we hear of or read opposing viewpoints, we may respectfully disagree, but allow that our fellow citizens still have the right to think and vote according to their consciences–without mean-spirited attacks, or not-so-subtle questions about their patriotism, IQ, or salvation. And if we’re not the perpetrators of vitriol, we certainly can choose to either inflame or deescalate a contentious discussion. Let us attempt to bring peace to the discussion. Tone matters.

Politics runs downstream from culture. In other words, the fact that we even have the candidates we have–for better or worse–says more about us than about them. They are a reflection of our culture and who we are. So rather than worry about how fit or unfit the candidates are for office, maybe we should look in the mirror and ask how fit we are as neighbors, citizens, and leaders in our own communities. Then we need to pray for our country–and vote.

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God’s Heart of Hospitality–What It Is and How to Get One

Hospitality—in the biblical sense—is ready to serve anyone—without an expectation of receiving anything in return.

Unselfish. Generous. Expending itself, even at great inconvenience, even risk.

This is God’s heart of hospitality. In fact, He invented hospitality, and models it for us.

He was the world’s first host, creating food, a comfortable climate, and fun things for his first guest to do, like naming animals and tending to the garden. He even gave Adam a companion so he wouldn’t be lonely.

When Moses led Israel from Egypt into the desert, God hosted them there, providing food and water, and clothes that didn’t wear out.

God has particular concern for the helpless: the widow, the fatherless, the alien, the sick and the poor, not the hip, cool, rich, or influential. (Although He loves and cares for them too.)

This might expand our personal definition of hospitality, because we’re to be hospitable to those we don’t know, people who have nothing to add to our social status, and people who may pose a risk to us either socially, physically, or financially.

Risk. Inconvenience. Expense.

Divine hospitality’s focus is not on self as in I hope everyone is mega-impressed with what I’m doing here, and just to be sure I’ll Tweet, post to FB, Instagram and Pin.

No, in God’s economy, hospitality’s focus is serving the needs of your guest—whether that guest is the homeless guy on the corner who needs an Egg McMuffin and a blanket, the surprise bundle of joy announcing its presence on that pregnancy stick, or the Queen who dropped in this afternoon for a spot of tea. Devoid of self—focused on others.

Devoid of self—focused on others.

Let’s be honest. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the attitude, the ability, even the desire to be this hospitable to others. Really, why should I? Why should you? Why put ourselves out there?

Because Jesus did the same for us.

What risk was it for Him to spend nine months in a peasant girl’s womb? What inconvenience was it for Him to walk this earth for three years, patiently teaching, healing, and living with people who would abandon Him in the hour of His greatest need? What expense was it for Him to die on a Roman cross? It cost Him everything.

Here’s the bottom line. The heart of hospitality is to show God’s love to the world. The supernatural, unselfish, generous, sacrificial love and care to people who desperately need to know that there is Someone who cares, Someone who can help, Someone who loves, Someone to save them. That’s hospitality.

We all need it. And after we’ve received it, we need to lavish it on others.

I’ll share some practical ways to show hospitality in my next post. But until then, what are some ways you’ve received hospitality? What happened? How did it make you feel?

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Living a Life Of Purpose–On Purpose

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January–a good month to assess our lives, what we’re doing, how we’re doing, and what God wants us to be doing.

I like to make New Year’s resolutions. Plans, goals, ideas–I find them inspiring. The old adage that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail rings true to me–I’ve seen it played out in my life, haven’t you? If I make goals, write them down, think them through, I’m more likely to actually do them.

But maybe you’re one of the resolution haters. People usually fall off on one side or another. Well, hear me out and see if some of what I’m about to say makes sense.

The Bible speaks often about the brevity of life and the need to assess our own life frequently:

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12.

“Teach us to number our days.” Our life here on earth is brief. I was reminded again just how brief it is last week, when I heard the heartbreaking report of a young man in his 30’s who died in a car accident in a town nearby. Newly married, well-liked in his job, healthy–and suddenly not here, leaving a widow, friends and family members to grieve.

Then my brother shared with me that a work associate of his passed away unexpectedly. Again, too young–in the prime of his life as they say. Gone.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget is that we, too, have an expiration date.  And because we don’t know when that is, we need to make each day count.

The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty…they are soon gone, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10

If our time is limited, what should we be doing? How do we know if what we’re doing are the ‘right’ things? Well, the Bible describes the essentials. Here are a few:

  • We’re to study God’s Word
    • “Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing each other…” Colossians 3:16
  • We’re to pray
    • “Pray without ceasing.”  1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • If we’re a mom/wife, we’re to manage our homes
    • Managing the house is primarily our responsibility. 1 Timothy 5:14p
  • We’re to love our husbands and children
    • …As is loving our husbands and children. Titus 2:4
  • We’re to be in close community with our church
    • Hebrews 10:24 says we’re to stir one another to love and good works, and not neglect meeting together with the church.
  • We’re to care for our body
    • We were bought with a price, so glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

To summarize, my relationship with God, my responsibilities to my family and our church are the biggies. Exercise is the thing I need to do more of–always. But all other things need to come after I focus on these non-negotiables, giving my best attention, effort and time to them. God is eternal. People are eternal. Everything else is fluff.

Getting back to assessing…

One way to assess our life is to analyze what takes up our time right now. Maybe even write it all down. From sun up to sun down, think about your life in hour-long increments. What takes up your time?

When you write it all down, you might find you don’t have a lot of time for extras. Looking at it on paper is powerful because it shows us that we might need to learn to say no more often. So in addition to assessing the priorities we deem important, we might want to eliminate time or money wasters.

I’ll share one with you that I’m committing to eliminating this year.

It may seem like a little thing. But if I’m telling you in front of God and the world, then maybe I’ll be more likely to follow through. Here goes.

I’m going to stop coloring my hair.

Yep. I’m going gray. Or white, as it were. Might not rate in importance to global warming, but for me, saving time and money by giving up the bottle of my hairdresser’s hair dye will be kind of a big deal.

What is God calling you to do this year?

What is that one thing that keeps getting pushed aside? That little–or big–thing God is calling you to do?

Remember we are responsible for how we spend our time–not anyone else. We need to dictate what’s important—and how we spend the time God has given us. Because if we don’t, someone else will.

Here’s a little tool called “Your Ideal Week,” by Michael Hyatt. You can find it here. It’s a spreadsheet to map out your priorities. A visual. A plan. And maybe the secret sauce to help you actually do the important things, not just the urgent things.

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Our time on earth is short.

As mothers, our time with our children goes by quickly.

Let me share a story about Annie that illustrates this. Many of you know that with her, our seventh child, I finally worked purposefully to teach her Bible verses, beginning at a younger age than I did with my other kids. By the time Annie was three and a half, she knew about thirteen bible verses.

Then she had a severe brain injury that took her intellect back to that of an infant, and then four years later, she passed away. The window of time to teach her was so much shorter than I ever dreamed it would be. Yet I believe those bible verses she learned, and would recite to me, were tucked away in her heart. I’m so grateful God motivated me to teach her.

Lord, help us to live each day with purpose, on purpose. Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

 

What thing is God calling you to do this year? Are there things He’s asking you to quit doing?

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New Year, New Life

View More: http://aliciamaephoto.pass.us/oliviasullivan

It’s been awhile. I’ve been busy. Becoming a grandmother (for the 6th time!) takes up a lot of my free time, what with all the squeezing and kissing and rocking that needs to happen. Little Ophelia is a sweet gift from the Lord, and we are smitten with this tiny bundle of burps, coos, and exquisite baby smells. Mmmm.

But here we are in a New Year, and with it comes new ambition for me. Like clockwork, every January. I am an avowed New Year’s resolution type of person–at least until February. My resolution word for this year is “purpose,” as in, living with purpose, on purpose.

I’ll share more about that in my next post, which will come forthwith. …Forthwith, a great word, meaning, immediately, without delay

Have a great day, and a Happy New Year!

Jean

“Teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Proverbs 90:12

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A Grandmother’s Response to the Planned Parenthood Videos

Baby at 5 mos. gestation, used with permission from Priestsforlife.org.

 I could discuss the revelations that Planned Parenthood is profiting from the sale of dead baby parts from a number of different angles.

As a moral person, I’m not against abortion because of my preference, like I prefer the color green to the color blue. No, I’m against abortion because it is taking the life of another human being. Abortion is wrong because murder is wrong. No amount of hiding behind a woman’s right to medical care can change the fact that the act of abortion kills another human being. A woman’s right to medical care does not equate to a woman’s right to kill her unborn child. As the Center for Medical Progress’ fifth video shows in shocking detail, aborted babies have arms and legs and eyes and intestines. An aborted child is not “medical tissue.”

As a US citizen, the reality that our nation funds genocide gnaws at my conscience and compelled me to write to my prochoice congressional leaders, Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell, both of whom voted to continue funding Planned Parenthood’s illegal and immoral killing and selling babies. I pray they have a change of heart, find the courage to defund (and ultimately shut down) Planned Parenthood and bring the lawbreakers who work there to justice.

As the daughter of a single mother, I’m thankful my mother never considered abortion to be the solution for the next baby growing in her belly. In fact, she often commented that her kids were the best thing to come out of her (failed) marriage. As the fifth of her six children, (who came 18 inconvenient months after the fourth!), I have all the more reason to breathe a sigh of relief that my mother lived by faith in a God who takes care of women in need.

As the mother of seven children, at least a few of whom were “unplanned,” I’m grateful that all of my pregnancies resulted in live births. I’m also incredibly thankful for my husband, Bill, who regarded each new baby as a wild adventure: awaited, prepared for, and welcomed with open arms.

I could discuss the Planned Parenthood videos from any of those angles. Because this issue of abortion–and the pain inflicted on the baby as well as the lives forever burdened by this destructive choice—is not theoretical to me. As a matter of fact, this subject is quite timely at our house.

As a grandmother of five–with one on the way, our family is making room in our home and hearts for the unplanned pregnancy of my daughter’s. (I share this story with her permission.)

In many ways, contrary to thinking that this new, little life is an inconvenience, I feel like we’ve dodged a huge bullet. Before Olivia shared her news with us, she felt enormous pressure from some of her college friends to terminate. Abortion was floated as a perfectly rational option—really, the only smart thing to do. That was until a casual acquaintance set aside her own schedule and stepped forward to speak life into the conversation.

While Olivia processed her new reality as she leaned over the toilet, “B.” swooped in day after day to give her sips of water, wipe her face, and bring her hope. As we found out later, B. was simply following her own mother’s example. Years before, B.’s mother helped a young student who found herself facing an unplanned pregnancy, and provided childcare for a year so the student could finish college. B. provided daily encouragement to Olivia, quieting her fears, and reassurance that her baby–no matter what the circumstances surrounding its arrival–was a gift from God.

After Olivia moved back home from school and shared with me what B. had done for her, she was anxious for me to meet her. A few weeks later B. visited our church, and Olivia introduced us after the service. As I turned to face B., I recognized her immediately from a conference I attended a few years ago. Back then, B. and I took a walk during one of the breaks and shared our lives and what we were learning. After the conference ended we went our separate ways, and as is often the case, her name and details were exported from my mental hard drive to be replaced with data I use every day.

But God knew how He was going to weave this story together. There in church that morning, as I shook B.’s hand and remembered our chat during the conference years ago–and put together what she had done for Olivia, I was overwhelmed with the fact that B. had laid down her life for the life of my grandchild. My response? To dissolve into a flood of tears.

“Children are a gift from the Lord,” the psalmist writes. There are no caveats to that statement. Children are a gift not only when they’ve been planned and prepared for before conception, but also when they come as a surprise. Olivia’s baby is a gift—a gift that we are grateful to welcome and adjust our lives around.

There is never a reason not to choose life. Never. There is always hope, there are always solutions to temporary problems. There’s an old saying that every baby comes with its own loaf of bread. I’ve found that to be true. Over and over.

As a Christian, I know abortion is a sin that can be forgiven. Jesus died for sinners like me. He died to pay the punishment for mothers who’ve had abortions, fathers who’ve paid for them, doctors who have performed them and nurses who’ve assisted in them. Jesus offers forgiveness for everyone guilty of participating in abortion. This is the Gospel, that we can be forgiven and live free from the guilt of our sin.

There are many ways to look at the videos that are coming out, exposing Planned Parenthood as the killing factory that it is. But I pray that the ultimate effect is that Planned Parenthood would be defunded and ultimately taken out of business, doctors and nurses would repent, and children would be protected and treasured by their parents, communities and country. Children are not a burden or an inconvenience, they are a gift from God.

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