Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas friends! May you be blessed with the love of Christ this season!
Special thanks to our friend, Pamela Rodriguez Claytor, for capturing our sweet family moments. You can check out her page here: https://www.facebook.com/pamelaclaytorphotography



Christmas Ornaments 2020!



We love our annual family tradition of ornament making for our church family. We still have a few of the 2020 star at the Central Church office for anyone who didn't get one on Sunday. The star was made from our PowerPoint sheet music of "Angels We Have Heard on High," the topic of our Sunday sermon. When folded correctly, five parts of the star come together with a short message "Merry Christmas Wiles Family 2020." Stop in to get your 2020 ornament.
Be a light for Christ!




Tuesday, December 15, 2020

All Pro Dad: 6 Ways to Prep for Your Daughter’s Suitors

For those that don't know, I've been invited to write submissions for All Pro Dad, a great honor!  The material that I write for All Pro Dad's website, blog, and emails is owned by APD.  I post it here simple as a way to store my writings.  If you have any questions about this great organization, feel free to ask me or go check them out on their website here: https://www.allprodad.com/

Submission for March 2021 the article

 6 Ways to Prep for Your Daughter’s Suitors

By: Topher Wiles

Think back to your last Hulk moment. It was that time when some external life event triggered your internal gamma radiation to mutate you into a massive rage-fueled protector of innocence.  When a young boy ran up to my daughter and kissed her on the cheek, other adults may have laughed at the cuteness, but my internal transformation was anything but funny.  The beast I felt unleashed inside me in that moment would do anything to protect my daughter from any young man with nefarious intent.  Damage and destruction is not my goal as my daughter grows but I do desire to positively guide her relationships with boys.

That is why I’m enacting my DPP (Daughter Protection Plan) now to prevent the raging Hulk inside me from doing more harm than good for my little girl in the future.  Here are six tips we can use to prepare for our daughters’ suitors.

Pray for her and her potential mate - I began praying for my daughter’s future the night the doctor said, “It’s a girl!”  I believe God knows the plans He has for my daughter; plans to prosper her and not to harm her; plans to give her hope and a future.  The odds are that she will be married at least once in her lifetime, so I pray regularly that God’s plans come to light for my girl and her potential spouse. Specifically, I pray that God prepares a young man’s heart to be the perfect complement to hers.

Establish Her Identity – Sadly, too many young ladies fall for the first guy that flatters them with kind words and gifts.  Set the bar high for your girl as you routinely take her on nice dates, buy her thoughtful presents, and compliment her as the beautiful young woman she is.  Remind her throughout her developing years that she is valued as your daughter, that you are proud of her, and that she is beautiful to you.

Model a healthy relationship -  The hard cold truth is, if we want our daughters to seek healthy relationships with young beau’s, we must show them years of what a great marriage looks like.  When our wives feel physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and relationally stable with us, our daughters will witness that peace and likely seek out a similar relationship for themselves.  

Present Expectations Early – Does her date need to meet with you before they ever go out?  Does he need to come knock on the door rather than sit in the car and honk the horn to call her out?  Does church need to be their first “date” together? Whatever your expectations are, discuss them with your wife and clearly present them to your daughter before the fellas show up.

Be Present in Her Life –You can’t encourage your beloved toward the good guys and away from the heart-breakers if you aren’t present in her life.  Take time off work for her tennis matches so you can be present when those young guys start noticing more than her ground strokes. Volunteer to chaperone that band trip so she can have the time of her life in safety with her female and male friends.  Be ready at the school football game to firmly shake hands and look him respectfully in the eye when she says, “Dad, I want to introduce you to my friend John.”

Prepare Surrounding Suitors – Invest in the lives of the young men around you.  Throw football with the boys living in the neighborhood.  Write an encouraging note to parents and sons when you see those boys serving others in church. Look for ways to grow faithful men in the fields around you in hopes that they will one day bless some young lady, if not yours.

Dads, we are preparing our valuable girls to successfully leave the nest one day to begin families of their own.  Be prayerfully proactive rather than hulking gamma-reactive when the searching suitors come and enjoy the gift of raising a daughter.

How to Connect Digitally with Family

  1. Communicate (thru text, email, or phone) with your fa  mily to decide on a family gathering time (i.e. Dec 24th at 5pm Central time). Make sure to include the time zone for family & friends that live father away.
  2. Create a free Zoom account. (zoom.us) Only the gathering host needs a zoom account.  Participants can join the event without creating an account or downloading the software. Note that free accounts limit g
    atherings to 40-minutes.
  3. Click the “Schedule a Meeting” tab after logging into the Zoom website and fill in the appropriate information. Make sure to set a passcode that is easy to remember.  Click the “Save” button at the bottom when finished.
  4. Copy the Invitation Invite Link provided on the page and send it to your family and friends in the group text or email. It will look something like this:
 
  1. Send reminders the day before or morning of the event to all family members and friends. Emails are easy to forget!
  2. Login and start the meeting on your decided day! For us, downloading the Zoom App or Software for hosting a meeting has proved easiest, so we recommend testing that out before the actual gathering.  To easily find your meeting, click this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting#/upcoming .

 

Topher’s Tips for getting the most out of your Zoom gathering.

  • Choose one person to be the “Moderator” for the Zoom meeting.  It’s tough to understand others when people are talking at the same time.  Ensure everyone gets time to share by choosing a moderator who is always “unmuted” and has microphone control.
  • Plan in advance for someone to give a musical performance or a Christmas reading. It warms our hearts
  •  to see a grandkid strum the guitar or one family to sing a Christmas carol.  Remember, singing is laborious on Zoom due to the half second delay.
  • Play an easy Zoom game to enjoy with family. Some of the easiest are 20 Questions, Bingo, Trivia, Pictionary, and Charades.
  • Always include a prayer, thanking God for family past and present. Make sure to thank Him for the ability to meet on Zoom!

 The Covid-19 vaccines will arrive a little too late to give greater freedom for family gatherings, meaning that many of us will miss a valuable tradition this year.  Here in 2020, many people are finding a first as they are forgoing the annual office parties, family meals, and New Year’s Eve blowouts.  Our hearts break for families in this season but we take solace in the tools God has granted to still stay connected even though staying socially distant. Here is how you can host your own Zoom family gathering.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Family Forte: What is Your Marriage GPS?

By: Topher Wiles

Don't try to drive from
Lost Creek Falls to Virgin Falls
on your own!
Don’t you just love GPS?  I know I do.  When I moved to White County a little over three years ago Google Maps was like a voice out of heaven giving me directions to all the best things in life.  My GPS guided me to some of the most wonderful destinations like Bino’s Restaurant and the Trolley Stop in Rock Island where the hamburgers and milkshakes are made to perfection.  Without my GPS heavenly natural sites like Welch’s Point and Lost Creek Falls & Cave would still only exist as a legend instead of the beauty that I’ve witnessed as I’ve visited them many times over.  It was my GPS that let me know that I could not easily drive from Lost Creek Falls directly to Virgin Falls even though they are only 1.5 miles apart as the crow flies. 

The best function of GPS is the gentle way it corrects me when I have made a mistake.  Yes men, sometimes our internal cardinal direction compass proves wayward and it is that blessed GPS that lovingly turns us around.  One time, when speeding on the way to a funeral up the mountain in Spencer, I hurried right past the turn for Layne Funeral Home.  Grateful was my emotion when my GPS said, “Rerouting… In a half mile make a left turn..."

As grateful as I am for my driving GPS, I love more the Marriage GPS that I have which guides me to my goals and reroutes me when I make marriage mistakes.  It is my Marriage GPS that has guided my wife and I on our way to financial freedom.  My Marriage GPS has blessed me with 16 great years of marriage that just keeps getting better each and every year.  It is my Marriage GPS keeps me going on weekly date nights with my beautiful bride, keeping the spark alive.  It is that Marriage GPS that continues to guide us toward the goal of one day being old and beautifully wrinkled swinging on the porch holding hands while our grandchildren frolic all around us.  My Marriage GPS even said, “Rerouting…. Make a U-Turn” when I mistakenly entertained the idea to uproot my family again and move to a distant job that recently offered me a huge salary increase.  Yes, I’m grateful for my Marriage GPS. 

What is my Marriage GPS that gives me directions and reroutes me when I make a mistake?  Mine consists of three parts; my Bible, my church elders, and older successfully married men.

The Bible as Married GPS.  The Bible is filled with great marriage advice and examples of commitment even if it doesn’t mention marriage specifically.  Read your Bible every single day asking the question, “What direction does this passage give me for my marriage?”  You’ll be surprised at the inspiring guidance that it gives you toward your goals.  Often I’ve come to a fork in the road of life and marriage, unsure of which way to turn to reach my desired destination.  Low and behold, the answer routinely jumps off the pages of the living Word of God in my morning devotional reading. Some of those beautiful instructions include:

Good marriages don't just
happen. They need guidance.
  • "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." – 1 Peter 4:8
  • "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." – Ephesians 4:32
  • “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” – Hebrews 13:4

The Elders as Married GPS.  At Central Church of Christ, we choose to practice church leadership like we read it in the churches that Paul, Timothy, and Titus guide in the Bible.  In this church leadership structure, we choose multiple leaders, called elders, bishops, shepherds, or overseers instead of one singular pastor.  Each one of these must possess the qualities listed in Titus & 1 Timothy: having a good reputation, married to one woman, exhibiting self-control, sober, respectable, hospitable, willing to teach faith, peaceful, gentle, not argumentative, not greedy, and having managed his own household well. 

As a minister, I serve these elders in the church.  It is also these men who do regular checkups on my marriage, my finances, my health, my children, and more.  These men are respected in my life and guide me along the challenging trials of marriage as my GPS.  It is also these respectful men that can lovingly re-route me when my course goes astray.  Just this Monday, when I let work take precedent over my wife, one of my elders messaged saying, “Stop texting me and enjoy your date night!”  I encourage each of you to involve yourself in a church that has respectably married leadership that you can look to as your Married GPS.
(Read more about our elders here: www.christiscentral.org)

Older successfully married men as Married GPS. Each month on a Tuesday I choose to go have a biscuit with this one old codger who is hilariously funny and thought provokingly pensive.  We spend an hour, mostly with me listening, about what it is like to grow old, to love a woman who is aging, and to still be useful in a rapidly changing world.  After each breakfast he thanks me for bringing a biscuit and listening to his ramblings to which I reply, “Brother, you don’t realize how much this benefits me.”  I’m taking notes now on the directions I need to be a loving husband for 10, 20, and even 60 years down the road. Each and every married man should have an old married fella to sit at the feet of and learn from.   All it costs me is one biscuit a month. 

I know some men navigate their marriage the way they navigate roads in White County.  They just wander around doing what feels right until they get there, give up, or run out of gas.  Get the right directions, guidance, and re-routing instructions by using Marriage GPS.  Grow old together, hold hands, and enjoy the blessings marriage has to offer.  You’ll be glad you did. 

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Family Forte: The Telling of Three Tree Ornaments

by: Topher Wiles

    I admit, I’m a Thanksgiving/Christmas purist.  Don’t even talk to me about Christmas until I’ve Friday morning after I’ve enjoyed a good turkey dinner the day before.   But when Friday comes, The Wiles family goes full force into Christmas mode with trees, lights, ornaments, the Christmas activity jar, Advent calendars, and more!    

    Putting up the tree every year as a family together is a great bonding and remembering time for the Wiles.  Grandma Nell was so sweet when she gave us her dilapidated metal & plastic tree about 17 years ago.  That Christmas tree has seen a lot of years and we were happy to keep putting it up year after year when she no longer could.  As our first Christmas tree in the Wiles family, our ornaments took on the personality of the tree.  We began decorating with mostly hand-me-down ornaments donated by Grandma, my mom, sweet friends, and dirty-Santa game winnings.  Every year we add new ornaments that people give us and hand-made ornaments by the kids. Now that old tree is completely filled with memories of sweet times and sweet people long past.  I’d like to tell you about three of our ornaments that will bless some families this year who may find some struggling moments during the Christmas holiday season.

     One of my favorite ornaments to put on the tree makes me laugh out loud as it comes with a story.  As we pull this delicate ornament out of the box my kids wait expectantly on the edge of their seat for the coming hilarity of the story.  During our first Christmas together as husband and wife, my Ashley decided to cheaply make ornaments for our tree.  Her chosen materials for the ornament were cinnamon and apple sauce.  Did you know you can bake them together to make a cute star shape, bell, or heart through which ribbon can be threaded?  Yes, we have cinnamon based ornaments that have been on our tree for 16 years.  And they taste horrible.  I would know, because 16 years ago I took a bite out of one of those ornaments.  They may smell sweet, but they taste like dirt.  My kids laugh every year as I tell the story of my ornament tasting time.  Some ornamental memories make us laugh.

      I have another ornament that I alone get to hang on the tree near the top.  It is a little blue plastic star framing a white nativity scene.  It’s not an ornament that originally cost much money but it means the world to me. My family growing up didn’t profess or practice a lot of religious faith, so this nativity ornament from my late Grandma Marge’s tree makes me smile as it signifies her own belief in Christ.  She hung it every year at the top of her tree, and that ornament is one of the few things I have left from my grandma who passed away 25 years ago.  When I hang the ornament I remember the sweet times of eating chicken pot pie at the bar in her kitchen or visiting the humane society taking care of stray cats and dogs with Grandma.  I smile at the faith and memories it brings back.  Some ornamental memories make us smile.

     There is another ornament that completely caught me off guard as it drew an emotional response from me.  My mom was always crafty and handmade so many things for us kids through our years.  Annually, my mom would handmake a few new ornaments on our tree, most of them were odd, like crocheted lollipops or paper stars, but I kept them every year anyway and dutifully hung them on the tree.  When mom passed away in May a few years ago, I didn’t think a thing about those Christmas ornaments until I started hanging them on the tree.  I pulled out the pink crocheted lollipop and was surprised as tears started welling up in my eyes.  I didn’t cry much when mom passed, perhaps because I was so busy doing all the funeral responsibilities.   Yet here I was six months later breaking down in tears remembering mom and all her handmade ornaments.  Some ornamental memories make us cry.

     Laughing, smiling, and crying together are healthy events in the life of a family because it helps all of us to remember.  For the health and strength of your family, I encourage you to actively find an annual tradition to help your family remember.  Maybe it’s watching your wedding video every anniversary. Perhaps it’s pulling out the photo albums every Easter.  You may even be able to create a large family tree to hang in a prominent place in your home.  Whatever the method or the emotion it produces, your family will be blessed as you remember.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that the Lord has done; I ponder the work of His hands.” – Psalm 143:5 

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Family Forte: Thanks Is More Than A ReTweet

 by: Topher Wiles


    Has it really been 5 years since David Letterman retired from Late Show entertainment? 
Recently, Dave was on the Ellen Degeneres show chatting about the era that ended in 2015 when he finished his 33 years in nighttime TV with a simple, "That's pretty much all I got ... thank you and goodnight." When we look back through social media at the moment, some fans responded with tears, others offered jokes, and a few responded with thanks.  I am particularly struck by Conan O’Brien’s tweet (did you know he still has a show on teamcoco.com?) stating the shift in gratitude in today's culture.

"It's absolutely absurd to thank David Letterman for all he's done in a tweet.  But that's the world we live in now. #ThanksDave" – Conan O’Brien

     That tweet was retweeted 2,900 times.  Yes, “retweeted”.  That means some people were too lazy to write their own 20 second grateful tweet and just clicked the retweet button.  Conan, true to form, was making commentary and his followers illustrated well “the world we live in now.”  It’s a world of fast tweets and short-lived gratitude, trending today and retreating tomorrow. 
     Yet there are some who choose to be different than “the world we live in now.”  Last week I received a special treat in the mail, a handwritten “Thank You” card from my friend John.  Sure, I catch the occasional text, tweet, snap or email in my inbox after serving someone but none of them feel the same as reading that handwritten note from John.   I don’t save screenshots of text message gratitude, but I have a box full of handwritten thank you cards from the last 20 years of serving others, and I’m grateful for them. 
     Who have you thanked lately?  I am convinced that the mayor, secretaries, firemen, law enforcement, coffee baristas, county commissioners, newspaper editors, ministers, librarians, social workers, church elders, teachers, janitors, physical trainers, principals and more deserve greater thanks than a text message.  Those who serve us on a regular basis deserve our long-lasting gratitude.
     I believe this strongly enough that I’ve changed my own habits to strengthen myself and my own feelings of gratitude.  If you are like me, fully immersed in the digital age, then you are familiar with project and time management apps like Google Calendar, Reminders, and Tasks.  At the top of my daily digital to-do list every Monday through Thursday (my traditional office days) is the task, “Write a Thank You Note.”  Conveniently located next to my desk is a stack of my own custom designed thank you cards (thanks to designer Chelsea Hilton & Brady Printing).  Next to that stack is a roll of stamps.  It takes me merely 5 minutes a day to snag a notecard, write a personal thank you to a friend, and drop it in the mail. 
     How does this translate into Family Forte (family strength)?  First, by training yourself to be more grateful your gratitude will rub off on others, including your own family.  Moreover, you can also intentionally train your family to be more grateful with just a few small efforts such as:
  • Putting a pack of “Thank You” cards in your kids’ Christmas stockings each year;
  • Counting your blessings together before bed every night;
  • Making a “Turkey Ticket” for Thanksgiving, a receipt roll that is one centimeter long for each year of their life, that they must fill up with things they are grateful for as an entry ticket to your Thanksgiving meal;
  • Creating a “Thankful ABC’s” chart to fill out every Sunday night before bed as a family, naming 25 things you’re thankful for from the previous week (we’ll give you a pass on the letter “x”);
  • Giving your family a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt during warm weather in which your family members walk the neighborhood (individually or in teams) and take photos with specific listed items or neighbors to be grateful for.
I’m convinced that developing gratitude in myself and my family is some of the best invested time of my day, only to be topped by the time I invest in prayer in which I always thank God first (prayer is also good to put in your daily task list!).
Our Holy Scripture handed down from the Father through His Spirit gives us a view of gratitude that is much more than a retweet or social media post.  Read the following “Text Messages” from Scripture about gratitude.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” -  Colossians 3:17

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” – Ephesians 1:16

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
 – Psalm 50:23

Gratitude can be practiced in many long lasting ways.  It can displayed by doing something in someone’s name (Col 3:17).  It is done by praying for a person (Eph 1:16).   It is shown by sacrificing for someone (Ps 50:23).  If you’re thankful for someone today, how about doing something to honor them, praying for them, or sacrificing five minutes for them by writing a note.  A retweet is a start, but real gratitude is more – it is the calling of the community of Christ. 

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
” – Ephesians 4:1b


    The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

All Pro Dad: Three Tips for Taming the Yeller in You

 For those that don't know, I've been invited to write submissions for All Pro Dad, a great honor!  The material that I write for All Pro Dad's website, blog, and emails is owned by APD.  I post it here simple as a way to store my writings.  If you have any questions about this great organization, feel free to ask me or go check them out on their website here: https://www.allprodad.com/


Submission for February 2021 the article

Three Tips for Taming the Yeller in You

by: Topher Wiles

“Loud.”  The best word to describe my childhood family was “loud.”  I’m talking the kind of loud that could stress others out just by the sheer volume we brought to ballgames, restaurants, and movie theaters.  Don’t even try to imagine the decibels achieved by arguments in our family.  Many of you can empathize with my roots, so it comes as no surprise that one of our most frequent parenting tools pulled from the dad toolbox for discipline is increased volume and verbal energy.  In short, we’re guilty of unnecessarily yelling at our kids; a part of my dad life that I’m not proud of.    

Sure, my wife has gently reminded me to calm down when I amped up the discipline energy level too high. Yes, my personal growth readings from self-help books, devotional articles, and the Bible regularly remind me to be focused on gentle correction rather than screaming direction and punishment at the top of my lungs, yet sometimes I still struggle with yelling at my kids.  I read an ancient author recently, Saul of Tarsus, who knew exactly what I was going through when he penned, “Brothers, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, correct such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won't be tempted.”   

When my 11 year old son recently got into an argumentative shouting match with my 6 year old boy in the back yard, I pushed the gas pedal to the floor, launching into a loud lecture that the whole neighborhood could hear.  It was the hurt look on my elder son’s downcast face that let me know I had taken the verbal lashing too far.  His misty eyes made the lightbulb switch on in my brain, humbling me as I realized my boys were only modeling my corrective methods with each other. 

There is hope for those of us who find ourselves unnecessarily loud with our kids, desiring a quieter and gentler way of parenting.  After prayer, a quick google search can produce a lot of great ideas from many parenting sites, including here at All Pro Dad.  Here are three quick tips that I’ve ingrained to help me become a more disciplined dad.   

1)      Sit Down!  When I spot an offense, I’m often out of my seat in a flash, booming my corrective decrees and edicts.  Yet, when I choose to sit down or even kneel at eye level with my kids while correcting, I find that my volume and tone lowers with my posture.  Train yourself to immediately sit when correcting. Even better, give your spouse permission to remind you to sit with a simple hand gesture next time you start yelling at your kids.

2)      Leave the Lesson for Later.  Memorize this little alliteration pulling it out of your back pocket when you start to go loud and long.  Once you’ve stopped the bad behavior in its tracks, remember that the corrective lesson can be saved for a better time when you are calmer, cooler, and collected in your thoughts (i.e. before you start the bedtime routine).  You will save yourself a lot of time and energy from wasted lengthy loud lectures if you’ll remember, leave the lesson for later.

3)      Know Your Triggers.  Make a list and check it twice to know when you are likely to be naughty or nice.  For me, I know that the worst time I can handle correction is coming home from a stressful workday or after an important phone call.  Bad timing accounts for much of my temptation to yell at my kids, so I avoid those trigger moments by making sure I have time to destress with my wife for five minutes after calls and work. Knowing my triggers shifts me into discipline dad mode with a calmer mindset.

Dads, it takes time to change our loud lifestyle habits, but with grace we can do it.  Apologize to your kids for your failings and have a chat with your wife about your new strategies to tame the yeller in you.  Sit down, leave the lessons for later, and know your triggers as you achieve a more respectful relationship with your kids.  

Family Forte: Soothing Relief for Sinus and Sin

by: Topher Wiles

“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” – Psalm 18:35

 

Gentleness, it’s a topic we dads don’t often talk about when we chat about raising kids.  Oh yeah, we’ll talk about discipline, training, and toughening kids up as part of our manput (that’s manly + input for those of you who don’t follow familial lingo) into the life of our family.  Yet, gentleness is that often overlooked trait that is a must for healing the maladies that plague us today.  Let’s talk about gentleness and how much you appreciate it, from the perspective cold sufferer.

 

photo credit: abigailthompson.wordpress.com
When I have a cold, I get cranky; and nothing gets me riled up quicker than an empty Kleenex box with rough paper towel as the alternative. Paper towel is my nose’s nemesis.  You know that feeling.  Your cold is chugging forward on full steam.  You nose is running faster than Usain Bolt.  Your raw skin is redder than Santa's cheeks.  Then that dastardly event hits.  It can strike anywhere; while you're riding in a car, in a meeting at work, or in the hallway at school when you sneeze. You kindly ask for that precious commodity of facial tissue hoping for one of those name brands like Kleenex with aloe, when someone hands you the dreaded brown paper towel of death.  They may be trying to help, but you resent them as you have no choice but to rip your face off with this rough substitute for soothing nasal salvation.
 

You may laugh at my hyperbole, but I think it's similar to what is happening in our communities and families today.  The world around us is suffering; sometimes it’s our own families that suffer.  Some are being battered and beaten by falsehoods, fake news, and self-serving ideologies that plague our culture while others are simply indulging, unaware of the consequences, of these dastardly dilemmas. Many families today are red and raw from the daily grind of balancing work, family, study, health, and spirituality and they find themselves caught up in worldly escapes of handling these struggles.  Kids are misbehaving, spouses are fighting, and even world leaders are struggling with the wrong remedies for their problems.  Don’t believe me?  Well answer this question.  When was the last time you heard an insulted politician reply with, “That’s ok, Jesus told me to turn the other cheek.”?  Why can’t you remember the last time?  It’s probably because this world now touts roughness, rudeness, and rancor as its go-to reaction when someone else is struggling.  These remedies to problems are the equivalent of the brown paper towel for your nose; they’ll only make matters worse.

 

People all over are ill and need healing relief but some of us Bible believers have become Bible thumpers and have been caught by culture handing them rough paper towels of self-righteous judgment, condescension, and verbal combativeness instead of soothing relief for their "sin"us drip. The Good doctor has prescribed a better way.

 

Jesus came not with rough and rude speech to correct problems, but to offer healing from sin and the physical maladies He touched on earth, and he came to do with gentleness.  “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 9:35) .  Then again in Matthew 11:28-29 He says, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

While you and I certainly aren’t Jesus, He did give us a mission in His healing process that includes us drawing other people to the Healer while we share comfort, hope, and encouragement.  From your face-to-face interactions with family to your Facebook reactions with souls who are ill from this world’s sin-sickness, are you the Kleenex with aloe or that resented and rough brown paper towel? 

 

Remember the direction Paul gives to young Titus as he preps him to deal with the world, "To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people."(Titus 3:2)  Consider this line in the epistle to the believers in Galatia, If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)

 

Families are struggling in America, but not just with coronavirus and a virus caused colds, but are struggling with sin-sickness.  Jesus wants you to be part of the soothing and healing process.  As you bring your family and others to the Good Doctor for healing, look at yourself and grade which type of facial wipe you represent to those struggling with sin-sickness.  

 

If you are more of the brown paper towel type, then maybe it’s time for you to have a healing visit to the Great Physician today.  May God bless you, your family, and the world through His gentleness.


The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Family Forte: Four Post Election Sights Your Family Needs

by: Topher Wiles

     It’s Tuesday morning on Election Day as I sit to write and there is a lot I don’t know.  I don’t know who the next President will be during the 2021-2024 term.  I don’t know what VP is going to support, direct, and be on the ready should their leadership be needed.  I don’t know which political party will control the House and Senate.  I don’t know who will be appointing Supreme Court justices for the next few years.  Odds are, you and your family will be glued to your TV tonight, staying up late to see vote tallies and the red/blue swings of the electoral college.  There will be many sights to see on TV from people cheering, people weeping, acceptance speeches, defeat consolation speeches, and maybe even some protest footage.  Some of the sights your family’s eyes feast on in the next few days may steal their joy and peace. 

     According to a report published that year by the American Psychological Association titled “Stress in America: The State of Our Nation,”about two-thirds of Americans in 2017 said concern about the future of the country was a significant source of their stress more than money and work. The survey found a majority of people from both political parties were stressed about what it described as the “current social divisiveness.”  I’m betting your family may be feeling that stress as well from variety of sights they’ve seen this year leading up to the election and from the election day itself.  To help alleviate that family stress, please allow me to share four post-election sights I think your family needs to see from you in the coming weeks.

They need to see you holding firmly and calmly to your values, your traditions, and your identity. When the Cubs lost year after year, it was hard for people to want to stay loyal fans of the team.  Then when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, people jumped ships from other teams to jump on the winning Cubs bandwagon.  In 2019, many fans have renounced that Cubs identity due to mediocre record barely above 50%. Your family doesn’t need to see you ship-jumping just because your candidate/party/platform lost.  You chose to vote that direction based on your values, your traditions, and your identity that you previously held before the election.  Remember those intrinsic values on election night and the days afterwards and keep them as part of your stable core identity.  Your family, especially kids, thrive in stable and predictable environments, especially in the home.  Don’t be a flip-flopper, a reed blown around by the wind of change.  Let your family see you hold firmly and calmly to your positive values and principles regardless of the outcome of the election. "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." - Ephesians 4:14

They need to see you treating the new president & vice president with respect even if you disagree with them, otherwise, it may come back to bite you.  When you belittle, degrade, and trash-talk a respected official in the land, especially the highest authority in our country, your kids will likely do the same to you and your authority later down the road.  You can disagree with a presidential platform without being a disagreeable person.  Don’t yell obscene names at the TV or mutter death threats as you stomp off.  Rather, take Paul’s approach to authority when he lived under the evil rule of Roman Emperor Nero. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3.  Pray for that president in high position and let your family see you do it.  Better yet, pray together with them for the leadership of our country. 

They need to see you having hope that the world is not lost if your candidate did not win.  I’ve lived long enough to know that Chicken Little was wrong.  The sky is not falling.  God is still in control.  Remind your family of that on election night regardless of who wins. You can even reassure them that He can use whoever is in office to bring about His good will.  Afterall, didn’t he use all the evil brothers and evil circumstances in Joseph’s life to bring about the saving of people during a famine?  Remember what Joseph said in Genesis, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” – Gen 50:20.

Your family needs to see you loving your neighbor regardless of how they voted or what sign they placed in their yard.  That’s right, God didn’t say, “love your neighbor as yourself only if they vote donkey,” or “treat other people as you want to be treated if they are in the elephant party.”  God said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:31. 

     Jesus lived in the midst of a country guided and divided by several different religious parties such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots.  The crowds who showed up to Jesus’ teachings were often a mixed bag of each, but Jesus’ teachings of loving God and respecting authorities were the same regardless of belief and affiliation.  Your family will see many sights over the next few days that may bring anxiety and stress to the household.  If you want to build your Family Forte, then ask God to help you give them the sights of you holding calmly to your identity, respecting the office of President, hoping in a future guided by God, and loving your neighbor as yourself.  

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, topherwiles@spartacoc.com, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.