POST ELECTION THOUGHTS

It’s a crazy and uncertain world that we live in and that truth stands out even more clearly to us each election cycle. I have sat back, as all of you have I’m sure, and watched the election process for the next president of the United States take place. I have, along with all of you, been riding the roller coaster of emotions up and down and have gone through many twists and turns, finding myself a bit nauseated as the ride comes to its end.

Whichever side your on; Republican or Democrat, the end result has far reaching consequences. As a Christian blogger I tend to think of things through the lens of a biblical worldview: from God’s perspective more so than my own. I am truly thankful that by His grace I am one of His redeemed, and through His Word and work in me by the Holy Spirit, I am able to see things from His perspective. That helps me cope with a lot of things that happen in this world that I just don’t understand.

Can I be honest with you? I am struggling with the very real potential (possibly a reality till I post this), that a worldview far different than my own may be leading our country forward. As a Christian I do not see that as a good thing. (Click here to see the issues at stake in the current election). https://7waysfromsunday.com/2020/10/26/our-current-dilemma/

What am I supposed to do with that? How are we as followers of Jesus Christ expected to handle this potential outcome and the years that follow? Should I, as lady Gaga (who rode a garbage truck in front of Trump tower protesting) do the same at Joe Biden’s home?  Should I pull up my roots and move to another country as some have pledged to do? Maybe I could fall down in the middle of the street in my hometown and have a major breakdown, screaming “Noooo,” as someone with no hope, like one person did at Trumps 2016 inauguration.

Realistically, I can’t respond that way and neither can you. We are a people who have hope and that hope is grounded in the person of Jesus Christ! Come what may, we know that our God is in control and we trust in His providence over all things (Ephesians 1:11; Psalm 103:19). So, where do we go from here if our Father in heaven decrees it so that someone else, some other party, controls the reigns of government this upcoming year? God, in His Word gives us the answers that we are searching for:

Remember, God removes and establishes leaders. Daniel 2:21 teaches us that our sovereign God is the one who not only has the authority to change times and seasons, He also has the wisdom and authority to raise up new leaders and remove the old.  Paul taught the Roman believers that: “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1-2). As a child of God I know that He is faithful and wise; I know that His thoughts are far wiser than my own. His ways and means of doing things will not always agree with what I think in any given situation (Isaiah 55:8-9), and that is ok, I trust Him, will you?

Respect and obey governing authorities. Romans 13:1-7 instructs us to be in “subjection” to the current authorities. Paul does not qualify that in any way. Whether we are in the same party or not we are to respect and obey its role over us. Remember, God allowed this change and He requires His children to conduct themselves as “faithful ambassadors “ while living under this temporary civil structure. To resist, Paul states, puts us in the place of “opposing the ordinance of God,” and that is never viewed as a good thing (13:2). Our obedience is not blind. When obedience to civil authority requires disobedience to God’s Word, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Ultimately, we are not to be a people who fear such authority, God ordained it to be, as Paul says: “a minister of God to you for good” (13:4). So, let us be diligent in promoting and helping our leaders in their role of restraining evil and protecting life and property, while trusting our Heavenly Father with the outcomes.

Reevaluate our prayer lives. We are to be a people that prays. A people that entreats and petitions God on behalf of all men and that includes “kings, and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Whether we like the leader or not. Whether we agree with them or not, we are to be praying for them! This may be hard for some of us at first, but you will find doing it a blessing to your soul. Pray that our leaders would repent of their sins and receive the gospel. Pray that their laws would be in accordance to God’s stated purposes that we find in His Word. Pray that God would use these leaders in such a way that we as Christians would be able to lead a “tranquil and quiet life” (vs. 2). In other words, that we would not have all kinds of external disturbances that would hinder us from being the church: Proclaiming the gospel, helping the poor and destitute, and building up the body of Christ.

Remain steadfast. Just as David petitioned the Lord to: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit with in me” (Psalm 51:10), after his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, her husband, we too may need to repent of our own sin. Obviously, I am not implying that we murdered anyone but listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5 at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-22). “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘you shall not commit murder’ and ‘whoever commits murder shall be guilty before the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court. . .” Our anger is just as bad in God’s eyes as murder, because anger is the emotion and inner intention that leads to murder.

Actually, anger is the emotion and inner intention that leads to other sins, like: hate, strife, and loss of self control (Psalm 37:8; James 1:20; Proverbs 22:24). These are things that our bible tell’s us should have no place in our lives (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8). In fact, it is an aspect of the flesh, not the Spirit, and we are called to walk in the Spirt so that His fruit may be manifest in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). 

How have you handled your temper with friends, family members, and news anchors during this election cycle? Maybe it’s time to search our hearts and confess that we need God to cleanse and renew a right spirit with in us.

Rekindle a desire for holiness. As we move forward from where we are, I encourage you to pursue holiness. We are called to this very pursuit (1 Peter 1:15-16). Make it your goal to be more and more like your savior (Philippians 2:5-11). Fight the good fight of faith and like a good soldier: put off the old man, the old way of living, and put on the new man, “which in God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

I know, none of these things I mentioned are new and trendy in our day, but they are the teachings of scripture, and we will be truly blessed if we obey them in our daily lives. What I hope you realized as you perused through my post, is that the manner in which we move forward from here, is the same manner in which we are to regulate our lives no matter what is going on in the world around us! You and I are awaiting our king, king Jesus to return, let’s move forward seeking to bring honor and glory to His name, no matter who is president of the United States!

If you are interested in more on this topic you can listen to a series John MacArthur has on “Christians and politics” here: http://www.gty.org/library/articles/A124

You can also click on the books below if you are interested in reading more on this topic. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This helps support the ministry. Thank you.

COVID, MASK MANDATES AND COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS

I know it is unnerving to most of us, but isn’t it kind of funny as well, that we as a society have taken on the roll of some form of a futuristic dystopian world amid Covid 19, and have now become a “masked” society. Everywhere we go and whatever we do, wearing masks is required for protecting each other from the novel virus. I can wager, if I was a gambling man, that mass retailers never imagined that the next big thing raising their profit margins would be masks. Hospital masks of all types and flavors. Plain ones, colorful ones, ones with pictures on them like: Santa Clause, a big pair of lips, or pictures of the stars. And then there are the ones with words written on them, such as: “add your text here,” or, “this mask is useless.” If I could write my own I think it would say, “sorry, I’m a lip reader.”

This is where it becomes aggravating for people like you and I. People who need to communicate with others on a daily basis. Whether it is serious conversations or just lighthearted babble between two friends or loved ones. We are not used to communicating with others without being able to read their facial expressions. Facial expressions are important and necessary in our being able to understand better what a person is seeking to communicate with us. Communication is hard enough as it is, most times we don’t hear correctly what someone is trying to tell us.

  I remember an example from a course I took in college on communication. The professor was showing how a simple conversation between two people can easily and rather quickly move far away from what the original point was. The visual showed a person talking and his words going through, what was called, “the noise box.” The other person then received these words, but with a totally different understanding. This second person interpreted what was said by what they perceived and responded. Their response, then going through the noise box back to the other person, was received with expressions of bewilderment!  

We often interpret things people say incorrectly because we do not listen well and the noise box often changes what a person actually said into what we “think” they said, and then we respond to that. This is already problematic, now add masks! We have this problem already without our faces being covered, how much more do masks hinder us from communicating well? I share this quote from one article I have read online:

“The expressions we see in the faces of others engage a number of different cognitive processes. Emotional expressions elicit rapid responses, which often imitate the emotion in the observed face. These effects can even occur for faces presented in such a way that the observer is not aware of them. We are also very good at explicitly recognizing and describing the emotion being expressed.” View article here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781887/

Some cultures have mask wearing instilled in their way of life and have found ways to communicate effectively regardless, but to us here in America and other parts of the world, this is brand new and radically different than anything we have ever experienced. Does the Bible have anything to add to our conversation? It sure does, let’s take a look.

In regards to our facial expressions and how they transmit intentions and emotions to others, we find many verses in scripture. Psalm 119:136; 31:19, express eyes shedding tears in sorrow or great grief. Proverbs 10:10 speaks of the winking eye causing trouble. Proverbs 23:29 of the redness of the eyes that one experiences from drunkenness, and Proverbs 6:25 of the prostitute leading a man astray with her “eyelids.”  

Our lips often tell a story as well, for instance Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:13, “was speaking with her heart, only her lips were moving.” Habakkuk 3:16 tells of “quivering lips.” Wearing a mask places a physical barrier between us and the person we are speaking to. There is no question that being able to see a persons facial expressions greatly enhances our ability to communicate quickly and effectively.

Observing mouth movement is more important than we might think, according to Sarah Gallant, Spoken-English Communications expert: “Speaker mouth movement is absolutely critical for helping the listener focus on an absorb the information. If the speaker mumbles or doesn’t enunciate clearly, the listener may either struggle to understand the speaker, or worse, begin to think about dinner. Is this efficient or effective communication?” Check out her article here: 

Try being a school bus driver and communicate effectively with kindergarten age children or any child for that matter. Take it from me, it can become burdensome quickly. Children, especially, need to be able to read our facial expressions to understand what we are saying and sometimes the mood we are expressing, i.e. joy or anger. Take this example of a normal conversation on any given day of the week by any school bus driver: “Bus driver.” “Yes.” “Bus driver.” “What’s up buddy?” “Bus driver, Joey. . . ” and everything gets muffled. “Bus driver.” “Yes, I hear you, can you speak louder and slower please?” “Bus driver. . . .” “What was that?”

Irregardless of our present circumstances, let me encourage you to pursue, with greater diligence, communication with others that reflects the character and purpose of our God. The Psalmist said it well: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Masks on or masks off, this should be our desire. So, let me share a few things that I have been reminded of from scripture, that I believe can help us orientate our thinking rightly so our speech is always gracious and edifying to those we are speaking to (Colossians 4:6).

Do not speak harshly. I admit that I struggle with this. After several attempts to get a person to clearly hear and understand what I am saying, I get agitated. I’m frustrated they “don’t get it.” I realize it’s not their fault, the problem is the mask. The uncomfortable, face concealing mask. Even so, we are “not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

Be patient and really listen. As I wrote earlier in regards to the noise box, we often filter what people are saying through the noise of preconceived ideas, expectations, or myriads of other things. Take the time to listen more intentionally and the conversation will go better. “He who answers before listening, that is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).

Wisdom in silence. If we can get the idea of the above settled in our thinking and active in our practice, using words with more restraint might be a blessing! “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:27-28).

So, I leave you now to go back out into a world where masks have become the manner in which we recognize someone else. “Hey, that’s Tom.” “What was that?”

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