Friday, October 26, 2012
Gift idea... Remind them you care
Didn't think about making this into a blog until after I had a couple of people mention to me their plans for copies of Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce they bought. What they told me was that they would going to give one to a friend (or family member….depending on the person) as a Christmas present. And my response has been that this is a tremendous idea….because the holiday season is upon us, and those special, family oriented holidays are among the hardest for folks going through a divorce. This is especially true the first year, and if the individual has young children, any year that they don’t get to see their children very much.
So to those of you thinking about purchasing the book for someone for Christmas, let me encourage you that you have a good idea…..it is impossible to describe how difficult the holidays can be. And if you haven’t seen much about Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce, then you may not be aware that it contains a section of devotionals specifically written for various holidays and anniversaries.
However, I would suggest that you give it as an EARLY Christmas present….like maybe even just before Thanksgiving, because for many folks, the family focus of Thanksgiving is especially poignant after a divorce. And, if you are a person thinking about doing that, you should realize that the fact that you even thought of that person in this way will be a big deal. Every card sent, every phone call received, ever invitation to dinner was, at least for me, a huge reminder that I wasn’t really alone, and that there were people who cared.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Tragedy in Wisconsin
So, like me, have you been hearing the news about all the shootings around the country of late? I heard a report that indicated the person accused of the shooting in the
area was the estranged husband of one of the victims, and that his wife (or
ex-wife) was killed in the shooting. I
have heard of this kind of thing far too many times, haven’t you? A divorce, battles over custody, and
estranged husband (usually) vents his anger and frustration with a gun or other
weapon, killing his ex and sometimes the children, too, before taking his own
life. People shake their heads in
disbelief, wondering how anybody could DO something like that. Milwaukee
Although, I suspect there are a great many of us individuals who have gone through the process of divorce, and we have an idea how it could happen. Not that we all were tempted to do something that awful, but we certainly understand how tempers can flare and how intense and confused the emotions can get during a divorce. The hurt, rejection, frustration with and ex or with the court…...it can simply become overwhelming.
So we need to pray for the families of the victims in these shootings. But we need to do more than that. We need to be sensitive to individuals experiencing divorce, and try to help encourage them through their emotional upheaval in healthy ways (which, by the way, is central to the purpose of my book). All too often, people are left to sort out their struggle by themselves, without the listening ear of friends or the guidance of wise counsel. And the intensity of the hurt, isolation and betrayal simply overwhelms them until they can’t handle it any more. Oh, it doesn't always play out in destructive behaviors with guns. Sometimes it manifests itself in drunkenness, or through illicit relationships, or other apparently “crazy” behavior. I believe it is important for people like you and I, people who have some idea of how difficult it can be, to be the kind of people that folks struggling with divorce can turn to in their times of hurt and loneliness. I hope that my little book helps prevent tragedies like those we hear about in the news. And maybe your involvement may do the same with somebody you know and care about.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Our Father, Who art WHAT?
So saw a good friend today…a retired pastor friend. As always, it was good to see him. And, as always, he had a joke for me. One he thought might be apropos. I’m not sure why. Maybe you can figure it out. It goes like this:
A preacher once wrote his first book, and was very excited about it. As he received his congratulations and his early sales, his head began to expand. And then, one day, as he led his congregation in prayer, he began with the Lord’s Prayer. Kind of. He stood before the congregation and spoke with his booming voice, “Our Father, Who also wrote a book…..”
Moving on. A friend told me she was visiting with someone a bit about the Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce Book, She told me that the person asked how I justify divorce. As I said to my friend, the first answer I thought of was, “Probably the same way that person justifies self-righteousness and judgmental ism.” However, the real answer is, “What makes you think I justify divorce in the book?” The book isn’t about debating the rightness and wrongness of divorce in this situation or that situation. Most of us who have been through a divorce aren't interested in justifying it anyway…..we don’t see it as some wonderful opportunity that came into our lives. But to get bogged down in the midst of that question is to miss the point of the book, and the point of the blog.
Here IS the point:
Divorce is, sadly enough, a reality in our society today, and in many of our churches today. There are great marriage helps and resources out there (I personally like a lot of the material Les and Leslie Parrott have out there, and the Marriage Encounter program). And I believe that those kinds of helps save many a marriage, and wish they could save them all. But real life is, even with those programs out there, there are still divorces. When we as Christians encounter those individuals (Christian or not) in the midst of that process or afterwards, we have a choice. We either come alongside to try to minister God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and strength. Or we can turn them out as failures, immoral and threatening to our churches and our marriages, judging them as not worthy of our time or energy. In my opinion, it is a sad thing that so many Christians choose the latter option.
Because, as I study the Gospels, I don’t find Jesus behaving that way. Oh, sure, he could still say that adultery was wrong. He could still speak of the sanctity of marriage. And he did the same in other areas of right and wrong….most notably in the way he responded to those members of the Pharisees who were so harsh in their treatment of people whose lives were filled with bad habits, poor choices and sin. But to those trapped in those things, Jesus came with mercy, forgiveness, a challenge to change, and assurance of his love. Those “sinners” LOVED to be around Jesus. The judgmental Pharisees DIDN'T like to be around him.
So……. if what I say there is true, shouldn't people out there in sin LOVE to be around people trying to be like Jesus who call themselves Christians? Shouldn't people whose lives are falling apart, maybe because of bad habits, maybe because of poor choices….and, I would suggest, in the midst of divorce whether justifiable or not……. shouldn't those kind of people experience God’s LOVE through Christians claiming to follow Christ? I would think so.
You and I both know that is not the experience many Christians create in the lives of struggling people around us. In fact, my friend went on to tell me that a relative of hers said that she believes her church runs off divorced people, almost intentionally, because it treats them like second class citizens. Hmmm... That doesn't sound like Jesus in the Gospels. It sounds more like somebody else. But you decide. I know, though, which way I’m going, and that is to offer a book that will help represent Christ walking with those folks struggling with the devastation of divorce.
TL:dr I know, it’s too long. But, please read it anyway, okay?
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Did you see the headline I ran across the other day? A recent survey by the Pew Group (http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx) reported that for the first time, Protestants are less than 50% of the US population. They also mentioned a stat that I ran across elsewhere, that the fastest growing religious category in the US is “no religion.” Why is that?
Well, people refer to lots of theories. For instance, secular humanism gets blamed a lot…..how it has done away with people feeling a need for God. Other people think the decline began with the Enlightenment, that the Age of Reason took God out of the middle of the universe and put the human mind at the center instead. Some think the problem began with
’s theory of evolution, replacing the Creator with the process of natural selection. More recently, some blame things like moral relativism, by which people no longer feel guilt and therefore no need for forgiveness, or the rise of New Age eastern philosophy. Some would blame the rise of busy-ness here in the USA, such as Sunday sports activities for kids and schools that schedule programs during times that used to be considered reserved for religious education. And, of course, there is also the good old, “Satan has been working hard.” Probably, the list could go on for hours, to include things like deconstructionism, or the demythologization of scripture, or higher criticism, or competitive movements like Moonies or Scientology. Darwin
I think there is another core cause. I was visiting with a senior citizen recently, who told me about attending his Bible study group on Sunday, and how few were in attendance. He then mentioned a picture (maybe on the wall?) of the class some years earlier that had over 30 or more people in it as opposed to the handful that day. The question he raised with me was, do you realize what that means? I know the answer he expected was something like, “It means so many of your friends have passed away.” But that wasn’t what he got. Instead, I said, “Well, what it means to me is that it would appear your friends have not been very good at inviting and including new people into their group.”
We like to say the reason so many churches are struggling and the faith decline exists in this country is due to one or more of the things listed above (or not listed above). But really, the core problem is not outside the church, but within the church. The core problem is that we don’t effectively reach others for Christ, maybe because we don’t take seriously the urgency of that need, acting as if it can all happen later, or God won’t really punish anybody except the really bad ones we don’t like. Or maybe we implicitly accept the notion that there are many ways to God, and we don’t really need to share the Gospel. Everyone of these reasons flies in the face of clear biblical teachings. The fault is not theirs, it is ours. We don’t pray enough. We don’t invite enough. We don’t love enough. We don’t care enough. We don’t try enough. We don’t value human souls enough. We don’t take the Great Commission seriously enough. We don’t risk enough. We don’t trust God enough.
It may be hard to hear, but does it really bother you that no religion is the fastest growing group in the
? Does it bother you enough to make you change your behavior? Is God important enough to you that you will share what you have found in Him, and take more seriously the call to be His witness? When you look back over your life, how many people have you shared Christ with, inviting them to give their lives to Him? (Note, not how many believed, that is up to God….how many opportunities have you given for God to touch those hearts?) Well, that statistic is just a statistic, and things change, but it is worth giving us cause us to think. ALTHOUGH, for clarity’s sake, I also have heard that part of the decline in Protestant numbers is because many recent churches don’t fit in the technical definition of “Protestant” and are therefore counted in some other way. Just thought I’d raise the issue. U.S.
TL:dr Recent census numbers on the decline of believers should challenge us.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
The response is heartwarming
So……just returned from a fun weekend. Every year, the churches of my denomination get together for a special time of fellowship, teaching and the various business concerns tied in with keeping the various joint ministries and missions going. And that was where my wife and I were.
I had gotten in a special order of some books to be available at the event, and a good friend was selling them out of his mission shop (we will have it linked for you…really cool things, and the money goes directly to help local crafters in various countries be able to make a few dollars). Anyway, was sharing about the book with some old friends and some new ones, and I was pretty excited about the response.
One of the best comments I got was from a pastor friend who, after hearing about the purpose of the book, responded, “I have three people right now who need that.” Others had family members or friends with whom they were going to share information…..in at least one case, to at least direct them to this blog and my email as a source of support. Some are downloading the ebook, others preferred signed copies. One is even going to use it as a discussion guide for his local ministers’ group, simply to help them understand better what parishioners getting divorced are experiencing, and how to better minister to their needs. Another pastor asked if I was going to be available to speak at churches about the need and what I have put together. Of course, I made my contact information available for that very purpose.
If you are divorced and reading this, I want you to recognize something significant in the response I saw: there are people who care about you, and who want to help you. In the book, they found a possible tool for that very purpose. Realize also, that many of those same people are thinking about you and praying for you daily. You are not alone in your journey!
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
...and the winner is.... ..
We are excited to announce that the drawing for the free copy of Richard's book; "Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce" is Megan Renee of Ohio. Congratulations Megan, we will get your book to you this week!
In addition, the books are now available. There are a few options for getting one:
You can email us at email@example.com and we can ship one to you directly. The cost is $22.95. Our introductory special is that we are picking up the sales tax for you if you live in Kansas. If you live outside of Kansas, you wouldn't be required to pay sales tax, so we will give you a discount for that and the book will be $20.95. When you email us we will calculate the shipping costs and let you know exactly what the price is before we ship it out to you.
If you live in Parsons, The Mustard Seed, Christian Book Store has copies available.
We have friends in the Northeast Kansas Area who are keeping some books on hand for folks that want one and don't want to pay the shipping...and we have friends in the Paola area of Kansas who also have copies. Email us and we will let you know how to pick one up. Thank you to those wonderful friends!!
Richard is more than willing to personally sign any copies you order and inscribe them if you desire. That is most easily done by ordering one directly through us.
Other options for purchasing a book are...
Directly from our publisher, Westbow Press.
Amazon and Barnes and Noble also have the book and it can be purchased at their websites as well.
Also, I would remind you Christmas is coming, and I have already had several folks tell me they were getting books not for themselves, but to give to friends or family members who were in the process of divorce. Trust me, if you do that for someone you know, I can almost guarantee they will be more grateful than you can imagine.
Now, maybe I can get busy with the final editing of Volume 2---Spring and Summer.
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Sticks and Stones
When I was a kid, they used to chant that old saw, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Seems like I recall a Peanuts cartoon once in which somebody chanted that, and the next frame had a bunch of sticks and stones falling toward the hapless child. Now, they are trying to create a more gentle society, with laws against “hate speech,” (at least hate speech that isn’t PC), and school assemblies against bullying. So, do words really matter?
Somehow, they really do. You have seen it, I know. A person says something unkind, the person spoken to wells up with tearful eyes, and the names hurt more than the saying admits. Ephesians 4:29 (you can look it up) warns us that the only words that come out of our mouths are supposed to be words that edify. There was a time in my life when a common phrase on a certain friend’s lips was, “Ephesians 4:29, Rich.” So much so that I can’t look at that verse without remembering to add my name. Not that my language is bad, mind you, but because my ornery side teases and puns its way into people’s hearts and minds…..until sometimes it grates on them. Don’t mean it to, it just happens.
Yes, words probably do matter more than we want to admit. In part because Jesus says we are going to have to explain every careless word we have ever used. And, so much so that the scripture says that it was words God used to create things in the first place. In fact, John even uses “Word” to refer to Jesus, the creative and redemptive agent of God. Yup, words matter. And I can tell you, sometimes words are said without even thinking that can be very hurtful to people divorcing. Simple phrases like, “bring your spouse,” or “I would NEVER think of marrying a divorced person,” often said without realizing who is in the room and the impact the words are having.
Somehow, in life, I often end up relating to the Psalmist who asks God to set a guard upon his lips to make sure his speech is pleasing to God. How about you? What kind of “lip service” will you be producing today?
TL:dr God expects our words to reflect His Word.