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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spirituality, Divorce and Transformation...can it really happen?

So Does Spirituality Make a Difference During Divorce? 
(Part Two)

  As I mentioned in part one, the life crisis of divorce brings into our lives an opportunity for deepening our spiritual experiences and practice in life….an opportunity that is sometimes neglected or even rejected.  The first question of this opportunity I want to raise is that the divorce crisis, which alters so much of life’s directions, causes one to wonder what the value of one’s faith is.  That is, if someone believes that their faith experience is something that ought to shield them from life’s hardships, then a crisis like this forces them to examine whether they have misunderstood their faith and need to reflect more deeply.  Other individuals instead cling to the understanding that faith should have protected them from divorce, and so they give up, deciding that faith is a waste of time.  It is THIS choice that, ultimately, determines whether one’s spiritual life grows deeper in the midst of the divorce crisis or withers away.  I say this, even though I know some are taught that the divorce proves faith was useless, or that the divorce somehow disqualifies the person from fully participating in the faith tradition.  But even then, one must choose whether to allow someone else’s understanding and restrictions to determine one’s own spiritual life.  I believe the personal nature of one’s faith experience implies that, at least to a significant extent, its validity and meaning are NOT subject to the whims and determinations of others.

As I move to the next section, I want to share of a couple of conversations that struck me in a similar and peculiar way.  One was many years ago.  An individual, who was not particularly religious at all, made a comment to me about a conversation she had with a Christian friend of hers.  I don’t remember all the details, but what struck me was, when the individual told me that her friend was talking to her about God, she thought it odd her friend talked as if she had just talked with God in a conversation.  I thought, “well, the friend probably did….it’s called prayer!”

  Then, more recently, I was visiting with a person of another religion who was chuckling as he was telling me about some friends he had talked with who spoke as if they had just heard God talking to them.  He thought it was hilarious.  Since he and I were learning about one another’s religion, I felt free to respond and tell him that the idea of hearing God speak is NOT such an odd thing….at least for us Christians.  Our practice, experience and belief is that God does, indeed, speak to us.  He speaks through the Bible, He speaks through His people, He speaks through nature, He speaks through our consciences….and the list goes on.  It was that day I realized very pointedly that the Christian experience of faith as personal and living relationship with God is not the kind of experience offered in some other faiths.  I bring this up at this point because it is significant in the rest of the article…..the assumption behind the concepts offered is that the experiences are in the context of a God who seeks to have vital, daily relationship with individuals like you and me.  Just thought I should be clear before moving on.

  So when a divorce comes into one’s life, there are abundant opportunities to test one’s faith, beyond the choice to believe or not.  There is, in most religions, a practical and ethical aspect to the faith.  For the Christian, the first and strongest test is in the realm of forgiveness and relationship.  Forgiveness is the example Christ set, and the example He expects to be followed.  When a marriage brinks on divorce, Christians must face their own willingness and ability to forgive.  In some cases, that willingness to forgive means the divorce will not be pursued in the first place.  In others, it is a matter of choosing not to nurse grudges, offenses and bitterness.  If the ex was particularly vicious in the court proceedings or the settlements, will you forgive, or will you not?  It is a true test of one’s commitment to Christ.  Oh, sure, it may not mean you feel all at ease and lovey-dovey around your ex, and you may have to intentionally forgive over and over again…but it remains as the choice you must make in a divorce:  will you choose to be a person who follows the example of Christ and forgive or not?  In fact, it may require daily or hourly prayer time with God, learning from God HOW to forgive.  In some cases, this can pave the way for reconciliation…..the restoration of the marriage to a hopeful and healthy future.  It may mean forgiving someone who has no interest in whether you forgive them or not, and who will never appreciate that you even tried.  In some cases, it may mean you have to forgive people not even involved who judge you and speak unkindly about you because you are divorced. 

  Other areas of testing of one’s commitment and faith arise time and again.  Another good example is honesty.  In the divorce process, assets, expenses and income are all to be reported.  There can be a great temptation to hide funds, to misrepresent expenses or assets, especially if the person is worried about their financial future.  Honesty?  Refusing to lie?  Even if it costs you?  This is a test many divorcing folks fail to pass.  Their faith is strong, but not if it is going to cost them.  The enticement to fudge a bit here, distort a bit there and justify it as looking out for the kids, or payback for past abuses.  Even just being able to hang on to your faith during the whirlwind, not giving up but believing that somehow, at some point, God will get you through, and that there is a future.  Despair looms large, but God looms larger when we look to God.

  Then there is the area of speech.  Spreading rumors, talking down an ex, even the language one uses to describe the ex…..the words from our mouths reveal a lot about what is in our hearts.  Or the way we handle anger and revenge can be entirely inappropriate.  The stories of clothes and belongings torn and thrown into the street, the vengeful way time with children is denied or court charges are filed over the most idiotic things…..anger out of control and the desire for revenge can be very strong.  But our scriptures are clear that vengeance belongs only to God, and that our anger is not to be harbored and nurtured, but resolved and released.   Those things may sound silly to someone not divorced, but have you not heard the stories of the ex spouses who come and kill their ex and children, then commit suicide?  Any person who has been through a difficult divorce understands exactly where the anger comes from, anger that, untamed, turns into such tragic and senseless action.  Nevertheless, the intensity of the emotional upheavals in a divorce is often so profoundly strong, that to deal with it effectively means turning for strength to God and scripture time and time again….sometimes within a matter of minutes or hours!

  Well, those are a few of the places our faith will be proved and tested during the divorce proceedings.  There are many, many more.  But the upside is, even though the best of us will probably make mistakes and poor choices at times, we can also discover that we really DO want to follow Christ, or that God really can help us in our despair.  We can also discover what, for me was my favorite insight: we can come to a deeper understanding of just how incredible and costly forgiveness really is, especially the forgiveness God offers to us.  If you are in the midst of divorce, and having to make choices about how you will respond to the challenges that come your way, I encourage you to let your faith guide you that your behavior and your commitment will glorify God and make you more like Christ.  It is a tragic, but unparalleled opportunity to grow in your faith.  Don’t waste it.

TL:dr  Specific examples of the ways divorce tests one’s faith and commitment.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Busy and Exciting...

Radio Interviews and Book Signings!!

This week will be a busy one and you will hear no complaints from this end!   I thought I would let you know what is going on...and maybe if something is happening in your area you can catch up with us.  

For those of you in the Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado listening area...  Richard will be interviewed on "The Good News with Angie Austin" show and discussing "Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce. Thursday, January 31, 1:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.  This is on KLTT 670 am.  You can stream the interview through two locations:

KLTT Radio 670 am

and Angie Austin's website:

The Good News with Angie Austin

In Southern Missouri, Richard went over to Neosho, Missouri and recorded an interview on Author's Corner with Clark Matthews.  KNEO 91.7   This interview will be broadcast in two parts -Part 1 broadcasts live on Wednesday - January 30th's 1:00-1:15 p.m. CST and Part 2 on Thursday January 31 from 1:00 -1:15 p.m., CST.  You can stream this live on 

KNEO Radio - The Word

Here are some pictures from the interview last week...pretty exciting..even if we do say so ourselves!

Richard will have two book signings this weekend:

The first is in Neosho at Joyful Journeys Bookstore - 
Friday, February 1, 11:30-1:00 

The second is at 
For All Bible Bookstore in Northpark Mall, Joplin, Missouri
Saturday, February 2, 1:00-3:00 

The bookstore has a website if you need directions, hours, and available material.

If you are anywhere near the Southern Missouri area...please come out and meet us, we'd love to visit and share a cup of coffee!  We look forward to seeing you!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Divorce: An Opportunity for Transformation

So Does Spirituality Make a Difference During Divorce?

  At the core, what are the issues that make up the essence of the world’s great religions?  Is it not the sorting out of the primary questions of life:  Who am I?  Why am I here?  What is the purpose of life?  What is the purpose of MY life?  Is there something bigger than me?  Is there a way to be connected to that something greater than myself?  What happens after we die?  How should we live here?  What is real love all about?  Is there right and wrong, and if so, how do I know them?  Why is there evil and suffering in the world?  Why do I feel inadequate within, and what do I do with the guilt I feel over hurtful choices I have made?  Perhaps you can think of others.

  I would suggest, today, that this kind of searching and questioning creates an intersection between one’s spirituality and the similar searching and questioning that is part of the experience of divorce.  That is to say, religious/spiritual meaning and values come to the forefront in a divorce, as often one is forced to evaluate one’s life, choices, priorities and future as one segment of life falls apart to give way to the next.  This is the first of a two part series discussing that intersection, as well as the value and power of spirituality in the midst of divorce.

  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe divorce is one of life’s great tragedies, even when circumstances are such that might provide good grounds for divorce (for example, to protect the safety of children in a violent home).  Divorce is a tragedy, because it always represents love betrayed, reneging on commitments, upheaval for family and usually a great deal of emotional trauma…..all of which nobody seeks when they promise “for better or for worse.” 

  Having said that, I would suggest that someone going through the experience of divorce automatically has an opportunity for significant spiritual growth and personal development.  However, that same opportunity can be used to the opposite effect…it can be used to abandon faith, choosing to believe that God failed them or their faith was useless.   The individual also can decide that, having tried to do things right and ending up divorced means there is no use in trying to live a decent life, so instead that person chooses to abandon everything once valued as important.  I have seen both occur, haven’t you?

  It is my contention that it is in the midst of life’s crisis moments that individuals can most honestly and most deeply reflect on their past without the blinders of a “charmed life” to color their perspective.  As one sorts out the events that have come to them, there is a searching for purpose and meaning….the call to the primary questions of life.  In fact, it is BECAUSE the “charmed life” has fallen apart that one is challenged to examine past life choices, character weaknesses, values and priorities with a recognition of one’s own contributions to the dissolution of a marriage.  OR, one can refuse to face these issues, live in denial and blame, and experience no growth or change, except a hardening into bitterness and delusion.

  For those who use this opportunity to grow, the recollection of poor choices can lead one to contrition.  The recognition of character weaknesses can cause one to seek strength outside oneself, transformation through spiritual connections.  The loneliness and rejection can move one to connect with a faith community in a meaningful way.  And the brokenness cries out for healing and restoration.  Most of all, it truly tests the reality of one’s spiritual commitment and perseverance….as well as whether one’s faith is truly in something that makes a difference or merely a collection of platitudes and rituals or habits.

  Each of the changes above is tied to a backward glance or current struggles.  But perhaps the most important part of working through this time of crisis is the process of making choices as one determines the future of one’s life.  Of course one always carries their past experiences and shaping with them, but in many ways, the desolation of divorce leaves a barren plain upon which to stake a new claim and build a new kind of life.  The questions of what to build, and what kind of life it will be can be powerful spiritual, transformational opportunity.  If one chooses to let it be that kind of opportunity.  Other life crises can create similar opportunities, but divorce has such an overwhelming impact, the need to evaluate, rebuild and grow are huge.  How do you use the crises in YOUR life?

(In part two, I’ll move to some specific hints and examples, in hopes that they may give some ideas or paths to follow.)

TL:dr  The tragic crisis of divorce raises significant spiritual and life changing questions.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What challenge is your gift from God?


Hey friends, have had some really special opportunities of late, most of which I have shared with you on the blog.  But I decided I want to make some clarifying statements to you all, so that your rejoicing can be in tune with mine. 

You remember the other day when we told you about the radio interview opportunities on both coasts, and shared the title, “Richard Coast to Coast”?  Well, I just thought I’d like to add some thoughts to that whole experience.  Sunday, at the little congregation I assist with, I shared a couple of thoughts, that have actually come back in an interesting way.  I was discussing with the folks how important it is not to limit the possibilities God might bring into our lives.  The illustration I used is that some 15 years ago during my divorce proceedings, I never would have imagined that God would use the divorce to create a book that would be helpful to people.  I never would have imagined that I would be on radio programs from "coast to coast."  All that has happened has been somewhat unbelievable to me. 

You see, the rejoicing isn't that I am getting these opportunities, it is that I believe God is doing some amazing things, and including me in them.  You see, I also shared with the folks Sunday from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (I’ll let YOU look it up), that God brings things in our lives, teaches us and helps us not merely so that we have some good experience or healing.  Rather, God expects us to take what He does and pass it along, to become an agent He can use to help others with the things He has used to help us.  And that, of course, is really all the book is, after all.  I simply share there some of the things that were helpful for me, or that I have learned by experience can be useful for others.  I really believe putting together the book was something God challenged me to do, and in following that challenge, I have seen His hand at work in these marvelous ways.  So it isn’t ME I want you to be impressed with…it is that God does wonderful things in and through us when we make ourselves available for use. 

So the funny thing?  I was visiting with a bookstore manager the other day about scheduling a book signing event at the store, and among the other coincidental bits of conversation, he raised this same verse from Corinthians, and the same perspective of simply passing along the things God has done.  I was struck by the “coincidence.” 

Well, the challenge for you today is to consider what there is in YOUR life that could be passed along to others for God to use.  There may even be ways God will work something good from the despair of your divorce.  I believe each of us has something, if we will but take the time to notice.  And I also believe  there are those around you and me who need what it is God has placed in our lives…..again, if we take the time to notice.  Keep your eyes peeled.

TL:dr  God has given us each something to share, and when He uses it, that is a cause for rejoicing.

What is the best time for Finding God?

With a little help from my friends...

By the way…..in a recent radio interview, the question was raised as to when is the best time in the divorce process to give someone this book.  I would say, as soon as it is filed, if not before.  They may or may not read it immediately….some people panic and start looking for help immediately, others seek guidance further into the process, but with the book in hand, the help is ready whenever they want it.  AND, it may help keep your friend from losing faith or dropping out of church.  So, the answer is, the sooner the better.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Divorce, Remarriage and the Church....

Divorced? What do you do NOW?
Remarriage?  No Remarriage?  Divorce?  No Divorce? 

So what does the Bible teach about these things?  

I mentioned on a recent blog that I had interacted with a pastor who believed that his interpretation regarding divorce and remarriage, was the only valid interpretation.   To listen to much modern Christian teaching, one could easily come away with the sense that there IS only one legitimate Christian position, and that the position is the most strict view against divorce and remarriage.  And yet, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Erasmus, John Knox, William Tyndale, and John Wesley to name a few, had a different interpretation!!!  How come nobody tells you that? 

I recently read an article that does a pretty good job of providing some of the historical  on the various views of divorce and remarriage, and have decided to use it as a source to help summarize the various Christian positions in the matter.  Most of the historical information comes from that article by David Snuth in the Trinity Journal, published by the Winnipeg Theological Seminary. The link below will take you to the entire article in Trinity Journal:

  I thought you might benefit from having a list of the points of view, as well as a bit of explanation with mention of historical Christian leaders who held various views.  So let me list for you here the four different views of what the scripture teaches, thus giving you an opportunity to consider what your position might be.  Primarily, though, I hope it can help us not to demonize Christians who hold other interpretations, knowing that they are not alone in their views.

The first position is that divorce is not an option God ever allowsit is always wrong.  Period.  Therefore, any time it is done, it is a sin before God.  In this position, the idea is that marriage is a sacrament and mystical union which human actions cannot break and should not flout.  Some of these people believe that even if there is a civil divorce, it can never break the spiritual union, the sacrament of marriage.  Obviously, this is a Roman Catholic position from Thomas Aquinas forward, hence the need to create the process called “annulment” so as to preserve the theology while accommodating those who end up divorced and remarried anyway.  This strong view was codified by the Roman Church at the Council of Trent in 1563, although in the early church there was some variation of opinion.  This is also a position that some of the very conservative theologians today believe, although they don’t use the word “sacrament,” they would affirm an indissolvable, mystical component to the marriage.

The second is divorce is allowed, but only in certain cases, with no option for remarriage except to the original spouse.  This position holds that the New Testament teachings of adultery and, maybe, abandonment (from 1 Corinthians 7), were intended to be an exhaustive list of the grounds for divorce.  Their reading of Jesus’ teachings (Matthew 19 and Matthew 5) follow the interpretation that while he permitted divorce, he did not permit remarriage in those passages.  This being the case, these individuals also believe that the only acceptable remarriage is with one’s ex-spouse as long as the ex-spouse is alive.  Historically, this view is held by a number of the earliest church leaders, during the rise of Christianity in the first few centuries after Christ.

The third option is divorce is allowed in certain “scriptural” cases, in which the innocent party is permitted to remarry another person.  Notably, these “scriptural” causes would be adultery and abandonment again.  But the distinction is the freedom to remarry someone else.  This interprets Jesus’ statement about adultery as a legitimate cause for divorce as also giving  freedom of remarriage.  Usually, the preference would still be to remarry one’s original spouse, if that is possible in a Christian way, but it is not a restriction.  This would be close to William Tyndale’s view, Presbyterian founder John Knox and founder of Methodism, John Wesley. 

The 4th option is divorce is allowed for a variety of reasons, and remarriage is also allowed.  A core part of this view is that the scriptural responses of Paul and Jesus were to situational questions, rather than trying to establish a exhaustive list of legitimate grounds of divorce (which is how it is often taken by many today).  One of the strongest arguments in favor of this view is that if Jesus’ mention was as the only legitimate grounds for divorce, why would Paul add to the list?  Sir Thomas Moore, Origen, Martin Luther, Desiderius Erasmus (New Testament Greek Scholar of the Reformation period), Philip Melancthon, John Calvin (who allowed divorce for impotence, religious incompatibility, abandonment and adultery) and reform theologian Martin Bucer were all in this category, allowing in practice both divorce for various causes, and remarriage.  In some cases, these individuals had a theology that was more like the third position, but their practice was in this 4th category.  Interestingly enough, Luther, Calvin and Bucer spoke of marriage as a civil institution, rather than a church matter, rejecting the Catholic notion of the sacramental nature of marriage.  Also interesting is the fact that Luther and Calvin both recognized the hindrance of a Christian spouse’s spiritual life as legitimate grounds for divorce, and Luther’s practice even addressed significant anger and discord in the home, much like today’s “irreconcilable differences.” 

  SOOOOOO, if you feel like people are treating you as an outsider because you happen not to believe the same view as some other individuals, realize your view MAY fit with historical Christianity, whether they say so or not.  And, recognize that just because a particular view happens to be the most vocal does NOT make it necessarily the most scriptural.  I’d like to take time to go over the various methods involved in handling the scriptures, but have gone too long as it is.  Reading the article can give you some good tips in this area.  Or, you can go to a quality commentary like Word Biblical Commentary, International Critical Commentary or the Anchor Bible Commentary.  I know not everyone will care for this blog, but I do think there are truths that Mr. Snuth has made available that need to be known in the church today.

TL:dr  Recap of four Christian views of divorce/remarriage, including some historical advocates.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Richard...going Coast to Coast this week!

He does travel well...

This has really been a great week for us.  Richard had the radio interview with KFAX radio in San Francisco on Tuesday...and then today was called by WTRU in North Carolina and asked if they could move up next week's interview to tomorrow.  

For those of you in the North Carolina area (this includes just about the entire state of North Carolina and some southern sections of Virginia) you can listen to the program on your local WTRU affiliate.  Richard will be featured at 11:00 eastern time on the show Robby's Hobbies.  You can also stream the program at the following link:

January 19th interview at 11:00 Eastern Time - to stream live

This is tremendously exciting - and we are thankful for every opportunity.  It is very fulfilling to hear the stories of folks who have been helped by reading the devotionals.  

If you want to hear the other two interviews that Richard was involved in, these are the links:

January 15th interview on KFAX

Robby Dilmore at WTRU

The link to the Robby's Hobbies webpage...where you can learn more about the host and the program is:

If you are aware of an opportunity for Richard to share, please let us know!  You can email Richard at seasonsofdivorce@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My night in San Francisco... on the radio that is

Your Church:  Welcoming or Rejecting?
So, last night my participation in the radio panel out in San Francisco expanded from the original half hour to will over an hour. What a privilege, to be able to try to reach people with the message about the church’s need for compassion and sensitivity toward those whose lives have suffered the devastation of divorce.  The panel consisted of a San Francisco Pastor, a Court Mediator, A Christian Therapist for the first half hour, and then I came in a half hour in and the Therapist had to sign off.  If you didn't get to hear it, it is available as a podcast linked here on the blog.  

Click on the link for the January 15th show.

However, I’d like to address a couple of things that came up.

  The first was raised by the pastor. His theology of divorce is that if married couples lived 100% committed to Christ, there would be a 0% divorce rate, and so the main thing couples need to do is to humbly get right with Christ.  Secondly, he believes the scriptures teach that divorce isn't really allowed, except as a last resort in cases of adultery or abandonment, and that after you are divorced, you are to remain unmarried the rest of your life unless you reconcile.  This raises all sorts of things, including why my book is needed. 

  This pastor seemed a relatively kind fellow, and to have good intentions and probably has a good church and ministry out there, I don’t know.  But he clearly doesn't understand how the very things he says creates barriers between himself and Christians caught in the garbage of divorce….even though he says there is forgiveness in Christ and that divorced people would be welcome at his church without judgment. The way he stated the part about fully committed to Christ solving marriage problems implies right off the bat that if you are divorced, then you are not as good a Christian as he and the other Christians are who are still married.  The logic is sadly faulty.  A few illustrations will show you why.  If Christians were 100% committed, there would be no gossip in the church, either.  Nor would there be church splits.  Nor would there be the kind of pride that permits one Christian to look down upon another who thinks differently.  If you read Proverbs 6:16-19, or Romans 1:29-30 you will discover that God hates these things, too….but many Christians with the pastor’s attitude choose to focus on God’s hatred of divorce and neglect these areas.  They draw distinctions, because as we have all seen, people who are prideful, people who gossip, people who have stirred up church troubles can still end up being leaders in their churches….but not the divorced.  Because whether it is directly said or not, divorced Christians are often treated as second class Christians, while any other shortcomings are forgiven and forgotten.  Fortunately for us, God doesn't operate that way, just some of His people.

  Secondly, the “biblical” perspective he gave is certainly one of the interpretations of the Bible’s teachings about divorce.  But it is not the ONLY one.  In fact, as a conservative commentary I was reading just yesterday pointed out, from the earliest days of the Reformation, a great many Protestants have understood the scriptures to allow remarriage….yet this individual does not.  It sounds like he represents the only biblical position, yet his view flies in the face of some pretty heavy weight biblical scholars, from Augustine to Erasmus, Luther and more. 

  I’ll put together a blog later that can show you the various biblical interpretations on the topic, there are four.  If you are divorced, you become very sensitized to which view people at your church believe, and whether or not they realize there is more than one way to understand those scriptures.  And if you aren't divorced, you need to know how you present your interpretation makes a difference, and that there ARE other CHRISTIAN points of view.  So, enjoy the podcast if you listen to it.  I was honored to be part of the broadcast, and grateful for the opportunity given to me by Craig Roberts and the Lifeline program. 

TL:dr  Review of the broadcast shows how little things can reflect lack of understanding for divorced, intentional or not, thus driving them away from Christ and the church.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Richard on the Radio!!

This marks a first for us!!  

On Tuesday, January 15th - Richard is participating in a panel discussion about "Divorce and the church"  If you live in the Northern California listening area, you can listen to the program on KFAX.  You can also stream the program at www.kfax.com.  Richard will be on the lifeline show with host craig roberts.


TODAY'S SHOW: Weekdays, 5pm - 7pm

Join us weekdays on KFAX from 5-7 P.M. every weekday!


For 22 years, Craig Roberts has hosted KFAX’s popular afternoon drive talk show, “Life!Line,” Northern California’s longest running and most widely listened to show of its kind. The program features a multitude of subjects and newsmakers, covering politics, current affairs, family issues and ministry opportunities around the San Francisco Bay Area, across the nation and around the world.
With a communications career spanning 34 years, Craig is a Bay Area native whose background includes broadcast journalism, station management, programming, and engineering. Craig has served as executive producer for a variety of news and big band music specials on both local and network (CBS/NPR/SRN) radio.
In addition to his on-air duties at KFAX, Craig served as a board member and technical advisor for “La Buona Novella” (“The Good News”) – the oldest and most widely distributed Italian-language evangelical radio program on the air today.
He is a member of the Radio & Television News Directors Association, the Society of Broadcast engineers, and the National Association of Radio & Telecommunications Engineers. With a lifelong interest in politics, Craig has moderated public forum political debates, and has reported on both Democratic and Republican conventions. As a journalist, Craig has traveled throughout the United States and overseas, including Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, South America, and Africa.
As a public speaker, Craig is frequently invited to share cultural, spiritual and geopolitical insights and is much in demand as keynote speaker for a variety of ministry and community service fund raising banquets.
When Craig is not in pursuit of a news story or traveling overseas, he enjoys cooking, gardening, collecting vintage recordings from radio’s “golden era,” and restoring antique Philco radios and his 1941 Chevrolet Special Deluxe vintage automobile.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Monopoly, technology and divorce?

Top Hat Anyone?

 So have you voted yet?  Maybe you haven’t heard.  Parker Brothers, makers of the game Monopoly are planning on changing out one of the tokens you move around the board….apparently for something more up to date (maybe a cell phone??).  Anyway, apparently they want our opinion.  I don’t know about you, but I always preferred the dog or the top hat….I mean, who wants to be a thimble?  Lots of folks I know have lots of memories associated with the board game Monopoly…..some of whom only remember a bunch of fights!  You gotta admit, foreclosing on your kid sister because they spent the night at your Boardwalk hotel doesn't go over really well when she’s only 8. 

But I remember lots of good times playing lots of games together as kids.  Inside we played Monopoly, Sorry, checkers, canasta and put together jigsaw puzzles, just to name a few.  Of course, we played with lots of other things, too….horses and soldiers and the like.  We had fun, fights, winners, losers and challenges for a rematch. 

Educator and Parenting specialist, Stephen Glenn, once pointed out some of the things that have shifted and been lost in our society by how we handle children these days.  He talked about the difference in organized sports for kids, where they are told by adults what all the rules are and how to play, and contrasted it to the days of backyard baseball or stickball where the kids have to negotiate out the rules amongst themselves.  His concern is that kids aren't learning the art of working out their own solutions through negotiation and compromise.  I remember doing that kind of thing.  In our “ball field,” the ditch was represented the first base foul line, the maple sapling out in the middle was second base, and we stepped off whatever we thought was fair for the pitcher’s mound.  Today, of course, everything is already laid out, creativity and compromise are not necessary.

So the other day, I was at a local restaurant that is a “wifi hotspot,” where I saw a college couple sitting close together, each with a small laptop or ipad, earplugs in their ears typing away.  I interrupted long enough to say to the young man, “Please tell me you aren't emailing each other.”  He laughed, put his earplugs back in and went back to whatever he was doing.  But it all has me wondering.  Are we becoming a society of people who have relationships with technology, and none with living people?  Or of relationships over the internet, but none that require personal and face to face involvement?  Have we become too used to the video games with their established rules, secret codes that can help you get around the rules, and interactions with either a machine or perhaps people we will never meet?  Even the social media is at a distance.  Have you ever noticed that a text or email without vocal intonations and facial expressions can lead to misinterpretations?  Or how the Facebook pages create and discard “friends” casually without any personal commitment or cost?

Why do I bother to bring this up?  Because I suspect one of these days somebody will do a doctoral dissertation, or get federal funding to research the ways our lack of personal interaction and negotiations as children has contributed to a rising divorce rate.  We are becoming skilled at all sorts of things, but not at the kind of daily human interaction that is necessary for a good marriage.  I think there was something of value in sitting with friends to decide whether or not your sister has to reroll the die that fell on the floor.  Or to have to work out together who actually stepped on home plate first and whether the player’s elbow should be called a foul in basketball or was purely accidental.  I like lots of things about the opportunities all the changes are creating, such as connecting across a greater geographic area so quickly.  But I also am saddened and concerned about some of the price we may be paying because of the relationship and life skills we are neglecting along the way.  Not saying what it is, but do believe it is worth thinking about.  Just my opinion.  Oh, and I think they should get rid of the race car….I never did very well when I had that piece anyway!

TL:DR  Technology has value but don't let it cause you to loose important human contact. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top Ten (Humorous) Reasons to Not Get Divorced

Countering the After Christmas Divorces

Well, there are reports here and there that the divorce rate tends to go up around Christmas, and in the weeks following, especially centering around the first work day following the start of the New Year.  Maybe because that’s when the attorneys return to work, but also because of things like the stress that comes over the holidays and extra time with your spouse if your marriage is troubled.  It is a sad trend. 

There are lots of reasons not to get divorced……lots…..and anybody reading this blog very much realizes some of them simply by observing the hassles that come with divorce.  But I thought I would come up with some other reasons NOT to get divorced…..some in a humorous vein.  Who know, maybe somebody will latch on to one and cancel their divorce!  That’s be fine with me.  So here they are….hope you get a chuckle in it somewhere. 

Top ten humorous reasons to NOT get divorced
          (please note, entirely tongue in cheek……sometimes you just have to
          find something to laugh at in all the divorce garbage!)

1)    If you do, you’d have to make your own birthday cake!  And learn how to sing, “Happy Birthday” WHILE blowing out your own candles!
2)   Odds are, your attorney’s kids can afford college without your help!
   3)  You might lose your favorite cat in the divorce.
   4)  If you don’t do the dishes, nobody else will do them no matter HOW
 LONG you wait.
    5) There may be lots of other available men/women out there, but time
 has passed, and you may not be the great catch you once were!
    6) When you’re sick, you’ll have to make your own chicken soup.
    7) When your check bounces, guess who has to take the blame for not
          balancing the checkbook!
    8) You think you and your spouse fight too much NOW…..!
    9) Too many of your sentences will go unfinished without your spouse
          around to complete them for you.
    10) You’ll have to snuggle with your dog to get warm at night.

Besides, do you REALLY want to have to start dating all over again at YOUR age?

Seriously, though, I’ll tell you what.  If there is any way you can save your marriage and avoid divorce, find a reason to make it work and then MAKE IT WORK!  Really work, that is, not continue in an artificial farce…..because divorce is NOT all it’s cracked up to be…..trust me on that!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Is he really logical?


  As a pastor, I have often been surprised when individuals walk out of church, talking about how much the sermon meant to them, but as they described what it meant they had a completely different point than I intended, and than what most people heard.   (Although, I have also realized that sometimes God is dealing with different things for different people in the same message.)  I have learned that people interpret words in funny ways, sometimes based on their background, sometimes seeing only what they want to see, and sometimes without bothering to find out what the real intention was.  Of course, this creates plenty of problems in marriage, and even more in the aftermath of divorce.  I have had several of these kinds of experiences recently, and, having taught some classes in logic, thought it might help in your communications if I made some suggestions from logic.

  Sometimes people will take a phrase, and then perform two logical argument actions that create the illusion of being a sound argument, when it is, in reality, baseless conclusions.  The first one is to take words that somebody has expressed, and then jump in on them to discuss all the things those words DON’T express that they think should be there.  I have had this happen plenty of times, including some recent discussions, haven’t you?  What is funny is the person may go on and on in a tirade against this terrible stuff that wasn't said and how irresponsible the words were because they didn't include this information, and therefore the writer is wrong.  But the truth is, if it isn't said, then the responder really doesn't know what the write or speaker thinks about the issue of the tirade…because the only information given was what WAS said, not what was NOT said.  To pursue this kind of an argument is the logical fallacy called “an argument from silence.”  Any argument based on information that is missing is automatically not valid….as they say in the courtroom, “it assumes facts not in evidence.” 

  The other thing that I have seen is for a person to take the words, kind of twist them around as if they say something that may or may not be the intention….sometimes by drawing conclusions far beyond the scope of the comments provided…..and then attack those conclusions.  This is called building an argument by setting up a straw man, and, then destroying the straw man.  The trouble is, the argument is against something that doesn't exist….it is an argument against an artificially created “straw man.”  When someone does this, it gives the impression that they have accomplished some great feat of sound argument, teaching or doctrine.  In fact, they have avoided the real issues and dealt with fables and foolishness.  I have found both of these kinds of reactions exist with people who speculate about what is contained in my book, or who aren't exactly sure what a certain blog may be explaining.  Wouldn't it be better to ask somebody what they mean, than to jump to conclusions and wrongly assume the worst?  I know, in my marriage and relationships, it works best to give people the benefit of the doubt.  But some people are just naturally suspicious, I suppose. 

Sometimes the straw man problem can happen by an individual beginning to imagine all the possible outcomes that MIGHT occur, selecting the worst of those and on that basis, making a decision to avoid a choice.  Sort of the “if we go on a cruise, the ship could sink, and we could get food poisoning, there could be a hurricane, or we might lose our passports, or end up in a Caribbean jail, and everybody knows how many people fall off those cruise ships and die every year, so we just better forget going.”  Nothing is mentioned of the other possibilities:  we might have fun, most people DON’T fall off the ship, and we have never lost our passports before…

Bottom line, it is important to make sure our arguments and doctrine are built on solid arguments, not logically flawed discussions filled with assumptions and suppositions.  It is also important that we do the same in our relationships….take the time to really find out what those loved ones INTEND by what they say and do, what their goals and desires actually are, rather than assuming you can read minds and interpret words without asking questions.  More misunderstandings occur because of these kinds of errors than most of us realize, because we are all too often convinced that everybody else thinks exactly like we do.   But anybody who has studied language or psychology or communication (as I have), understands that something can mean very different things to different people and in different situations.   Better to make sure you understand BEFORE you jump into the fray!

TL:dr  Words communicate ideas, but can easily be wrongly interpreted into ideas never intended if our reasoning is not sound.  Marriage and relationships require taking time to actually hear and understand first!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Fiscal Cliff and Divorce

Fiscal Cliff Follies!

So, if you were riding in the car I was driving, and I turned and started driving toward a  brick wall, going faster and faster, and then, when you were sure you were about to be in a awful wreck, but at the very last second, I  turned the corner, even though it meant I was headed toward another brick wall on another street, would you get all excited and be gratefully kissing my feet that I turned?  I know if you did it to me I wouldn't be.  I’d  be asking you what in the world is wrong with you and what you were thinking in the first place to drive into the wall, and why you decided to turn toward another one!

Well, that’s kind of what happened in D.C. isn't it?  The “fiscal cliff” and “budget crisis” exists primarily because of choices our leaders have been making for years, and by choosing not to seriously work out solutions, they created this “fiscal cliff” situation, so who are they kidding trying to convince us they have done something wonderful by working out this last deal?  They were the ones driving us into the brick wall, turning the corner to avoid something that shouldn’t have to be avoided in the first place?  And up to now (even now), all they do is blame the other party, regardless of which party they are in, it’s the other guys’ fault!  Really?  That’s what we elected them to do?  If only they would take as seriously doing their job effectively as they do creating political drama!

But that isn't what this blog is about.  You may be as frustrated over all this political garbage as I am, but I also think we can learn from it in other arenas.  They say that we are now in the time of year that includes a higher rate of divorce filings.  Could I suggest a parallel?  As these marriages are rushing headlong toward their various cliffs and brick walls, are they not in much the same position?  That is, the vast majority of divorces (if not all of them) come about because of crises created by the couple themselves!  Sure, there are divorces that come because of stress on the marriage due to natural disaster, or terrible losses such as the death of a child.  But even then, it isn't the stress that causes the divorce, but how the couple responds to the stress. 

In marriage, each partner makes choices, and there are choices that are made as a couple, too.  A few examples.  For instance, is one partner really going to choose to make a life and death crisis out of which way the toilet paper comes off the roll?  Are those dirty socks on the floor really worth discarding a marriage’s future?  Or, conversely, are the toilet paper coming off the front side, or saving a few steps to the clothes hamper really more important than how your spouse feels…to the point that you’d go to divorce court over them?  It kind of reminds me of the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13, where love is described as not keeping score of wrongs suffered, as enduring all things…lots of give and take, lots of grace and forgiveness all included in that definition of love.

Choices, choices, choices.  As this new year begins, if you are married, how about making some choices in regard to your marriage, or encouraging some of your married friends to make wise choices?  You know, things choosing to turn off the TV, cell phone and computer until AFTER you have spent some significant time communicating to your spouse that you love them.  Or how about deciding that this year you will choose to simply accept that one little habit of your spouse’s that you currently choose to be irritated about?  Or how about choosing to CHANGE one of those habits you know annoys your spouse?  Or maybe just adopt a whole different attitude of choosing to be so centered on the needs of your spouse that you have no time left to be self-centered.  In other words, CHOOSE IN YOUR MARRIAGE TO DO WHAT WE WANT OUT GOVERNMENT LEADERS TO DO:  QUIT HEADING TOWARD THE CLIFF IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Divorce is a pretty lousy way to celebrate a new year.  How about doing your part to help lower the number of divorces filed by doing YOUR best to make sure your own marriage is excluded, and encourage friends whose marriages are struggling to get some perspective to make different choices?  Maybe we can lower the incidence of divorce just a little bit for 2013.  Sadly, I’m more optimistic that we can do that than I am the our elected officials will start acting responsibly!!!