Content from this blog has moved to www.michellerayburn.com.

4.28.2011

Book Review -Delivered With Love

I just finished reading Delivered With Love by Sherry Kyle. I won the book in a drawing and the Kindle version was a freebie last week (now it's back to full price). I really wanted to love this book and give the author some free publicity. The author is so sweet and she had a fun little facebook chat last night about the book. But I had a lot of problems with the book that made it impossible for me to rank it as highly as I wanted to.

What I liked: The story is cute. I started out really liking the book and not wanting to put it down because the premise held some mystery. I connected with the heartache of the main character over losing her mother and having no where to go next. It's contemporary and addresses relevant issues for today.

What I didn't like: The story has too many coincidences to be believable. At the beginning, main character, Claire has just lost her mother and she's trying to figure out what to do with her life. She's spent the last year or two wrapped up in caregiving when others her age might have been in college. She discovers an old love letter in the glove box of her mom's Volkswagen and begins to obsess about it. For some reason, she just has to know who it came from.

Fast forward do the one-year anniversary of her mom's death and Claire loses her job because she's too dreamy, apparently because of the letter. Don't worry, I'm not giving away any spoilers. This is all in the first couple of chapters.

Claire's tired of living with her sister and her alcoholic brother-in-law, so she decides to leave L.A. and venture north to Capitola, California in search of the writer of this love letter from 35 years ago. On the way, she has one coincidental encounter after another. Now, she chalks it all up to God's providence, but few readers are going to find it believable. So many people from her past, just happen to have connections with people in the very same place she's headed.

Delivered With LoveI thought the dialogue was stiff in places and just too mundane to really engage me. I didn't feel like I connected with any of the characters, except maybe the grandmother, Geraldine. She was spunky for her age. And I really liked Claire at first, until she made a string of immature decisions. Seemed like she'd bring that letter out in some of the most awkward situations to try to get answers. The way the gospel is presented in the book isn't as compelling as it ought to be. Claire, abruptly realized her need to "ask Jesus into her heart", and it was a little cliche in how it happened.

I also had a difficult time with how trusting Claire was. Along the way, she encountered several very kind people, but she seemed to develop instant attachments with strangers. She accepted the offer to stay in an RV with a couple she accidentally rear-ended with her VW. And then she went home with a tow truck man when her car couldn't be fixed late at night. The fact that he had a wife, didn't lesson my concern over her trust. Claire bonded too quickly with a single male neighbor and there was just too much flirty innuendo for my taste.He was a nice Christian guy, but I didn't need some of Claire's comments that bordered on lust. And then, she referred to one young woman as a "good friend" when she'd only met her once for a few hours at a campground. 

Wow! It's so tough being so negative, but like I said, I really wanted to love this author's debut novel. It's so rare that I have this many objections to a book.

4.22.2011

You Can Love Food and Still Live Well

Can you love food and still lose weight and keep it off? In Love Food and Live Well, author Chantel Hobbs says you can, but she defines “love” in a different way than most overeaters would. She teaches that attitudes about food are crucial to getting past unhealthy cravings and binging.

The principles in this book aren’t new. Hobbs advocates eating less and exercising more. She also talks about the 80/20 principle, a concept that’s been around for a while in the Love Food and Live Well: Lose Weight, Get Fit, and Taste Life at Its Very Bestdieting world. You eat foods that give maximum fuel to the body 80 percent of the time and splurge 20 percent of the time on things that aren’t as healthy. Some other authors advocate a 90/10 principle which is similar.

The book includes a few recipes and a section of exercises with photos of each exercise in the back. These use a balance ball. She also talks about interval training and has a chart showing the amount of exertion one ought to feel at each level.

The unique thing about Hobbs’ book is that she brings a faith component into the process of losing weight. She talks about how God has played a role in her own success. She says those who want to make a change can’t manage it the old way.  “You need the guarantee of knowing that surrendering to the living God your life, your own strength, and your ability to change is a daily occurrence. You have to lay down your desires whenever they get in the way of what God wants to do in your life” (p. 57).

She talks a lot about “the deal” that God offers. And because of that deal “you can be free to love food and live well for a lifetime” (p. 57). I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as Hobbs says it is, but I’m willing to give it a shot and see how her plan works out for me. What made it click for her, isn’t necessarily what will make it click for everyone, but people who have tried weight loss without the faith element ought to read this book.

I love Hobbs’ writing style. She’s conversational and easy to read. Her own story is very inspirational. Anyone who has lost 200 pounds and kept if off knows what it’s really like. I’d pick up a book from someone like Chantel who has been there any day before someone who has never shared my battle.

I give the book 3.5 stars. I'd rate it higher if it said something that was brand new. But those looking for new ideas will be disappointed.

I received this book from WaterBrook Press as part of the "I Blog for Books" program in exchange for my honest review. See my page about blogging for books.

Good Friday- It Isn't An Item on a Checklist

I've been going crazy for the past week with trying to get things done for this weekend. We'll travel a little, gather a few different times for celebrations, and attend 3 different church services. But when Monday arrives, I hope when I look back, I won't discover that I have treated Easter as just another item on my checklist. 

I've been so busy prepping music for the services and making food for the celebrations that I haven't stopped to see those church services as anything but another item. So right now, I've taken a few minutes to remind myself of the meaning of this weekend. How do you feel about it in your heart right now?
Driving home after the rain- Easter weekend 2010

I recall an Easter some years ago when I wasn't excited about attending the Good Friday service. I was in a mood, and I didn't particularly care to hear the guest preacher who would be doing the service. My husband took the boys and went without me. But I knew I couldn't let the day pass without dealing with my heart issues.

After the family left, I got out a CD collection of songs about the passion of Christ and opened my Bible. I listened to the songs and read the account of the crucifixion in all 4 gospels. 

It turned out to the the most meaningful Good Friday ever for me. That time alone was just what I needed to get my heart and my mind in the right place.

If you're struggling with your attitude about this weekend, you might consider having some personal worship time where you let the story of Jesus' sacrifice sink in. Music is a great tool too, and there are tons of songs available for listening on the internet, if you don't have CD's. Reading the story straight from scripture, you might just discover something you hadn't noticed. This morning, I read something I had forgotten about. When Jesus died and curtain tore in two, many tombs were opened and people came back to life. Cool!

Sometimes, the traditional church service isn't what we need...it might just be some time alone with God. This year, I'll attend church with the family, but I don't want to see it as one more think to cross off my list.

4.19.2011

Update to Rescue Time Post

Right after I posted about how much I like Rescue Time, I discovered that I can get referral credit for new sign-ups. Go figure. I've updated the links in the original post to go to my referrals.

Reclaiming Your Computer Time


For today's practical, everyday idea, I'd like to tell you about some free software I've been trying out for the past few weeks. If you have trouble managing your online time, you might be interested in this software. It's also great for helping kids manage their productivity while using the internet.

Rescue Time is free time management software that shows you how you spend your time & provides tools to help you be more productive. I found it when I decided to search for something that would alert me, like a boss, when I spend too much time on something non-productive.

Since I work from home, I don't have a boss. And I need one!

So far, I love it and it's customizable for your activity. This isn't a compensated review in any way. I'm just sure there is someone else out there who shares my struggle with managing internet time and might find this helpful. Here are some things I really like about it:
  • I get to choose which activities and which websites I consider productive when I set it up. 
  • It helps me choose activities such as social networking, shopping and uncategorized time and mark them as time wasters.
  • I can set the program to alert me if I've reached my limit on time wasters (I specify the amount of time I want the limit to be).
  • I can pause the program for lunch or pause it for the rest of the day if I want to.
  • I can see at a glance how much time I've spent on work and which programs and websites I spent the most of my time on.
  • I can set goals. 
  • I can see how I compare in productivity to the average person.
  • I get an efficiency score for the day and for the week and I can see how I can improve.
  • I can export the weekly report to a spreadsheet.
  •  Whenever I stop typing for a while, the program asks me what I've been doing and I can log phone calls, reading, research, etc. that is done off computer.
  • Once it's set up, it uses very little of my time.
This could be a great tool for home school families or for parents wanting to monitor how much time their kids spend on social networks or gaming. By setting an alert to 60 minutes, the program would pop up an alert if that time limit is reached.

It could also be configured to be used as a means of staying on task with a project. If the student walks away, the program will ask what you've been doing with your time.

So far, I've been very happy with the free version, although there are paid upgrades available and other plans. Those upgrades include many fabulous features, but that's something I'll save for a future possibility.

Get your free Rescue Time download. It's a secure connection and although it monitors my internet activity, it does not collect password info or keystroke info.

 

4.15.2011

Husband Appreciation Day -100 Ways to Show You Love Him

Saturday is hubby appreciation day. Do you have something planned to show your husband how much you appreciate him? I thought I would share part of an article that I saw on the internet from Marriage Missions International that gives 100 ways to show your husband you love him. Here's a few of the ideas...
  1. Respectfully communicate with him.
  2. Let him know he’s important to you.
  3. Purposefully try to understand his feelings—even when you disagree with him.
  4. Show interest in his friends giving him some time with them if they’re trust-worthy.
  5. Let go of the small stuff. We all have annoying habits and preferences that are different from our spouse’s. (Dave Ramsey)
  6. Tell him you both love him AND like him.
  7. Either show interest in his hobbies or allow him space to participate freely. (Dave Ramsey)
  8. Protect his dignity on a daily basis.
  9. Be tender with him realizing he has feelings also.
  10. Foster an atmosphere of laughter in your home. Look for ways to laugh together.
  11. Try not to make sudden major changes without discussion and giving him time to adjust.
  12. When you go out on a date together don’t bring up problems—have fun instead.
  13. Focus on what he’s doing right, instead of focusing so often on the negatives.
  14. Show interest in what he feels is important in life.
  15. Give him special time with you apart from the children.

New...I've added buttons where you can just click to share an article like this with your friends on facebook. Just look for the little buttons down below the "You Might Also Like" section of each post.

4.13.2011

3 Ways I Make Time for Creativity

Yesterday, I was at the hobby store and I bought several clearance paint brushes and a zipper. Not too exciting, but both represent a creative activity that I love. I enjoy painting and sewing, but I often don't get time to do it. 

If you long to do something creative, but you think you don't have time, maybe you need to rethink that. Here's how I make time, despite my crazy schedule.

1. Attend a retreat. I attend 3 retreats each year where I scrapbook or sew for the entire weekend. When I know that retreat is coming, I can hardly wait. It means I'm guaranteed some creative time.

2. Schedule specific time for your favorite creative hobby. Once a year, my husband and sons go away on a fishing trip. I've made it my tradition to do my creative hobbies while they are away and I use the whole week for it! I spread out the supplies on the dining table, pop a chick flick or mini-series in the DVD player, and I break only for meals.

3. Ask a friend to come create with you. I find that if I plan to scrapbook on a Saturday, I'll often get caught up in something else, even if that something else is sitting around watching TV half the day. But if I invite a friend to come over and work on her projects, I'll stick with my plan to enjoy a day of creativity.

No matter how busy your schedule, you can make time for creativity. Often, we can find pockets of time that we'd normally waste and turn those into times of creative rejuvenation.

How about you? Do you write, sew, draw, paint, or make 3-D art? When was the last time you schedule a day for it?I think it's time for me to schedule a sewing day.

4.12.2011

A Conversation With God- Review

A Conversation with God for Women: If You Could Ask God Anything What Would It Be?Have you ever wished you could sit down and have a cup of coffee with God? Maybe ask Him some of your burning questions? “A Conversation with God For Women”  seeks to offer women the chance to have a heart-to-heart with God.

The author answers questions about God himself, Jesus, the Bible, life, prayer, relationships, and good and evil. Each of these topics forms a category wherein the author poses a question and follows it with a response from God’s perspective, from Jesus, and from other biblical characters. Author Marcia Ford is careful to use scripture in the response and she has extensive notes in the back with all of the scripture references listed.

The book is done well in ease of finding information and it how it’s formatted. It’s organized and thorough. There’s something about the way the author writes from God’s point of view that is both ingenious and disturbing all at once. It’s ingenious in that the conversational style takes the message straight to the heart where a reader might otherwise overlook the personal application of scripture. Each answer is also a well-researched compilation of information that might take a reader a long time to find.

However, the style is also just a little disturbing in that there was something that didn’t quite feel right about hearing “God’s words” written in first person outside of Scripture. There could be a danger of someone interpreting this information, which has been filtered through the author’s perception, as actual scripture.

It’s important for readers to keep in mind that all information should be verified with the Bible. If kept in the right perspective, this is a wonderful tool for helping people see what God’s word says about many of life’s greatest questions.

I received this book for review purposes from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Sneeze program.

Book Description

A front row seat to a fascinating conversation with God, Jesus, and other biblical characters answering important questions women have regarding life and faith.

A Conversation with God for Women allows readers a one-on-one dialogue with God, Jesus, and other important biblical characters as they respond to questions and concerns relevant to the Christian faith. The often challenging questions address issues and tensions specifically felt by women. Each answer, designed for both believers and seekers, is based on Scripture and written with the warmth and intimacy of a Heavenly Father relating to His child.

Categories and sample questions include:
God, why don't You just reveal Yourself? *Jesus, why was a virgin birth necessary? *The Bible, what can it teach women? *Life, what about women in ministry? *Prayer, can it really make a difference? *Relationships, how can we trust after betrayal? *Good and evil, how can they coexist? 

4.08.2011

Raising Boys - 6 Tips for Moms

I never wished one of my boys had been a girl, even though I dreamed of having a little girl long before I became a parent. You know, one girl, one boy. Pigtails and shopping for me and my girl, and hunting and fishing for my boy and his daddy. But, once I became the mom of two boys, I never looked back.Now, I think I was just cut out for boys. Now that they are 16 and 18, I have a few things I've learned along the way that I can share with other moms.
  1. Get them acquainted with Mr. Washer and Ms. Dryer when they are young. My boys started at 12ish with doing their own laundry. They know how to spin circles around spin cycles. That is, when their closets are empty and they're down to the jogging pants and tiny T-shirt they outgrew in 7th grade.
  2. Get Dad involved. Often, I've been the "bad guy" barking rules and enforcing the family constitutional law. Okay, we don't have a constitution, but I have figured out that when Dad, who at our house can be a little of a pushover, gets involved with enforcing the rules, mom feels validated. Validation good, frustration bad.
  3. Teach them to open doors for women from the time they are big enough to open the door. Sometimes, I have to let a door slam on me before they notice, but what's a broken nose or two if it helps them learn how to treat a girl. It's so sweet when they open my car door for me...and then call shotgun and try to steal my seat.
  4. Open the Bible. Read it together. Teach them to read it on their own. Set aside time for family devotions. Encourage conversation about Biblical things when they are young and when they get older challenge them to explain why they believe what they believe.
  5. Get dirty. There is no way to raise boys without getting dirty, so just get over it. And get used to talking about weird and disgusting things at the dinner table. Just not when company is over.
  6. Don't abandon your girlfriends. When your boys get older, they won't want to hang out with you as much as they used to. You'll need someone to break up the loneliness when they're off doing manly stuff.
Next issue: Why boys should know how to clean their own bathroom and other policies that will ensure the eternal gratitude of your future daughters-in-law.

4.06.2011

The Inside Scoop With Author, Davis Bunn

I'm so excited that Davis Bunn's publicist included this Question and Answer interview in the materials released with his latest book, "The Damascus Way" with Janette Oke. Get the inside scoop on his thoughts about the project.

What inspired you to write Acts of Faith, a series of three books set in the earliest days of the church?
Janette Oke and I have wanted to do a Bible-based series for years. Then health issues forced her to retire, and it looked like we would never have that opportunity. Three years ago, she came out of retirement, specifically so that we might do this final trio of books together. It has been an answer to a prayer for us both. We have so enjoyed this project.

Do you have a favorite character from the series?
It is more a favorite scene. Two different elements came together during Saul’s and Jacob’s journey to Damascus that have deeply impacted me: the struggle that young Jacob goes through, and the means by which he comes to a stronger faith through this struggle.
And his witnessing the conversion of Saul of Tarsus plays a role in the amazing events that unfold upon their arrival in Damascus. For me, these two characters portray such an immense transformation, I carry the emotions and the impact of that scene with me still, months after I wrote it.

What is your favorite part of the story writing process?
There are moments in each story’s creation when I just go away. I do not know how to describe it any better than that. My thought processes grow as quiet as in the most intense moments of prayer, and my hands are merely extensions of something that is beyond me. The act of creation is complete. I am merely an open window, and the flow is from somewhere beyond my puny self, through my eyes and hands, and onto the page. Time ceases to matter. The work is all. My spirit sings until the energy is depleted and the voice upon the page is reduced to a mere whisper, a solemn intonation of thanks. I walk away exhausted, and very close to the divine.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That is redefined by each new project. Truly. Right now, I am living testimony that God is the creator of time. I have just completed a feature-film screenplay in five weeks and three days. No one thought it was possible. What is even more amazing, it was a smooth and joyful process. The only time I felt any pressure at all was in the final week, when I came down with pneumonia. But my writing partner took over what I could not myself complete, and the work was done on time. It is wrong to apply the word, pride, to this, because I genuinely feel that God was the leader, the guide, the Maker of this deed.

As a writing instructor, what’s the most important thing you teach your students?
It remains a great pleasure to work with new would-be authors. Truly. I wrote in the lonely wilderness for nine years and finished seven books before my first was accepted for publication. Anything I can do to assist other authors to avoid some of the pitfalls I struggled through is a genuine pleasure.
The most important advice I can possibly offer a Christian author is this:  Attend one of the major five-day Christian writers’ conferences. Seven are listed here. I have selected these because they are large enough, and so well-established, that every major publisher and agent will attend at least one of these each year, and perhaps more. This is a crucial component of a successful conference. Do not be swayed by one that is quicker, closer, or cheaper. You need to have the connection to the commercial world, and see your work through the eyes of those people who have the power to offer you a contract.
There are a number of significant differences between one of these Christian conferences and the mainstream counterparts. Most of these began as church-based ministries, and ALL of them see their work as a service to our Lord. The same is true for the teachers. We come in order to serve God and further the Kingdom’s work.
The days are basically split in two. In the mornings are ‘major tracks’, ongoing classes designed to cover the basic nuts and bolts of your chosen direction—fiction, non-fiction, song and poetry, magazine articles and greeting cards, and screenwriting. The afternoons are focused upon the commercial side of the writing world—meetings with agents and publishers, classes on pitching and presentations and marketing, and so forth.
Two other advantages come from attending such a conference. The first is, you have the opportunity to discuss your work with other authors, and know what it means to translate a private dream into a commercial reality. The second is, you are granted a set of realistic expectations and tools for change. Both of these are vital components to growth and success.

What is the biggest personal lesson you have learned from writing the Acts of Faith series?
The greatest lesson I personally have gained from this series is how our world is reshaped through the vision of Jesus. This is a truth revealed time and again through the Book of Acts. We hope this same truth will shine within our pages. Our hope is that each of these stories will ignite in the reader a new hunger to enrich themselves through the treasures found in the Book of Acts.
Our first book, The Centurion’s Wife, dealt with the forty days between the resurrection of Jesus and the arrival of Pentecost.
The key component of our second book in the series, The Hidden Flame, was what I called the passing of the torch. Jesus left, and his disciples took over. They moved from the position of followers to leaders. What an enormous challenge that must have been, and yet how similar it is to the challenge any leader faces today.
In The Damascus Way, the third book of our trilogy, we create a story based upon outreach. We look at what it means to engage in evangelism, and seek a clearer understanding of the challenges and mysteries faced by those earliest believers. And we seek to enrich the glorious moment when Saul, the early church’s greatest enemy, was called to faith by our Lord.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website, blog, and interactive discussion group are at www.davisbunn.com
Twitter: @davisbunn - http://twitter.com/davisbunn


Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.

4.05.2011

The Damascus Way - Book Review

I just finished reading my free print review copy of "The Damascus Way" (book 3 in the Acts of Faith series) by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn. Let me tell you a little about this book and why I recommend it.

Book Synopsis:
Young Julia has everything money can buy—except for acceptance by either Gentiles or Judeans in Tiberias. When she discovers the secret her beloved Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Julia and her Hebrew mother are indeed less than second-class citizens. Her future is dark with clouds of uncertainty.

Jacob, Abigail's brother, is now a young man attempting to find his own place among the community of believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard?

Hired by Julia's father to protect a wealthy merchant's caravans on the secretive "Frankincense Trail," Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing letters and messages between communities of believers now dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia, hardly more than a girl, is also a courier. Can their initial mistrust be put aside to accomplish their mission?

The Damascus Way is the finale to the best-selling Acts of Faith trilogy co-authored by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke.
Book 1 is The Centurion's Wife
Book 2 is The Hidden Flame
My Review
 Meet the New Testament believers. In “The Damascus Way”, Davis Bunn and Janette Oke introduce the reader to the culture and times just following the resurrection of Jesus. As the believers began to experience persecution in Jerusalem, they were forced to scatter to other places, including Samaria.

Although I’m not usually a fan of biblical fiction, I liked this book. Readers who are familiar with the New Testament of the Bible will recognize character names right from the Bible, yet the authors have been careful not to fictionalize to the point of conflicting with scripture. For example, the book contains the story of Saul, the Pharisee who persecuted Christians until his conversion.

The thing I found most moving about “The Damascus Way” was feeling as though I was there, following the caravan across the desert. I saw the woman at the well in her own environment, and Philip when he encountered an Ethiopian reading a scroll. Martha is there, cooking and serving her friends too. This book made me think about what it may have been like to see the miracles of the apostles in person. What a wonder that must have been!

Although the book is mostly the story of two young people who come of age, it’s much more than that. In fact, it’s difficult to choose who the real main characters are in the story because it’s the weaving of so many stories into one thread. I liked the book so much more than the first one in the series because it wasn’t preachy. Instead, it brings the New Testament to life in story, ultimately moving the reader to an emotional response toward the persecution of believers and the ultimate growth of the early church.


Stay tuned for a Q and A interview with Davis Bunn tomorrow.

4.01.2011

Blog Critique Winners PLUS You Could Still Win


I'm looking for 1 more winner!

I announced that for the March monthly giveaway, I'd draw for 3 free blog critiques. I'm teaching four sessions on blogging at the Quad Cities Christian Writer's Conference in Iowa next week, and I'll be doing a blog clinic where conferees can sit and analyze their own blog with me. I know. Live and nerve-wracking, huh?  I decided to extend that terrifying painless experience by offering a "clinic appointment" to three internet readers as well. 

Your comments on my March blog posts made you eligible for the drawing...drumroll...

...and the two drawing winners who are entitled to a free blog critique (if they want one) are these two Faith Creativity Life Readers:
  • Chris Kincaid
  • Jenny B.
Now, I need to draw one more name. So, if you have a blog and you'd love a few fresh ideas for how you can make it even more awesome, please post a comment below telling me how you'd like to be entered, and include a link to your blog.

Winners have the option of having your critique made public (featured on my blog) or kept private (e-mailed only to you). I'll be looking at things like ease of navigation, color and contrast, overall design, and user friendliness.

You have until April 5 to comment and then I'll announce the winner.

Handling Political Frustration With Grace


Wisconsin residents have experienced loads of controversy in the past weeks as our state government hashes out some radical budget changes. I’ve seen discussions on social networking sites get very heated. People are mad on both sides of the issues. Some of the signs carried by picketers are malicious and hateful because people don’t know what to do with their frustration. It’s impossible to escape the controversy because it affects us and so many of the people around us.

As I sorted through various messages about the budget issue in my e-mails and on my social networks, I noticed that some messages stood out from others. This wasn’t because they were especially nasty or outspoken, but because they were remarkably gracious. I noticed that some of the people most affected by the proposed changes were willing to speak kindly of their opponents and present their concerns in a gracious manner. They stood out like daisies in a patch of thistles.

It made me wonder, what should we do with our anger over social issues? How should we react as Christians if our rights are violated and our elected officials don’t handle things as we’d like? Or how should we respond if we’re on the opposite side of an issue from an angry neighbor or friend?

In the midst of a firestorm of angry posts on a social network, I posted a pledge that received more than twenty immediate positive responses as well as one or two negative ones. I said, “In the midst of our current crisis we will: 1) Not call names. 2) Not post derogatory or nasty remarks about either political party. 3) Treat those with opinions differing from our own with the grace that Jesus would give.”

It’s possible to stand up for our views without violating our Christian principles. We can disagree with political leaders and our opponents without calling names or making vicious remarks. Within the pews of my church every Sunday, we sit shoulder to shoulder as Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and members of the Tea Party. It’s obvious we’re going to have differences. But Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us not to sin by letting anger control us because it gives the devil a foothold.

The way we conduct ourselves when we are mad about social issues affects us spiritually more than it affects those who have angered us. When we allow anger to control our thoughts, it allows the devil to have a grip on our opinions and attitudes and opens the door for sinful actions. As believers in Christ, he commands us to get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander (Eph. 4:31). It’s so much easier said than done when an issue affects us deeply enough to flare anger.

However, it is possible to be angry without sinning. Jesus demonstrated it. Is it easy? No. Especially not when an issue affects our rights. We might try to convince ourselves that our anger is justified or righteous, but many of the issues that rile us most affect our wallets and bank accounts more than anything else. And our anger does nothing to further the kingdom of Christ.

When we examine what angered Jesus, it’s difficult to justify most of our own responses to social and political issues. In contrast, Ephesians 4:32 gives us instruction for how to conduct ourselves with others that contradicts our typical response to issues that raise our ire. “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (NLT).

God has shown us so much grace, yet it’s so tempting to disregard grace in the midst of a political debate. We’d rather be right than act righteously. It takes a lot of humility to set aside our desire to spew verbal venom and retaliatory insults. But remember how much God has forgiven us.

Wherever you stand on the current issues in Wisconsin, are you willing to pledge with me that you will make a habit of responding according to Jesus’ example of kindness and grace? We can make a humanitarian effort without becoming a bunch of hotheads.

Reprinted as it ran in Michelle's column in the March 2011 issue of Wisconsin Christian News.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails