"And in This Corner.."

Are you looking for a fight this Thanksgiving?  Trust me, someone in your family has been waiting all year for this moment, when they can unload all of their knowledge from MSNBC and Fox. You all know that cousin, uncle or other family member I’m talking about.  Why is it at this time of year I see more articles on how to defuse a family fight or a list of subjects to avoid around the dinner table?  No one can deny the general tension in the air, but with families?  Is it really that bad?  Therapists and counselors say, “yes!” They report seeing an uptick in sessions and specific questions from patients concerning family gatherings.  After reading serval of their articles, I think I see why this subject keeps coming up and why the need keeps expanding.
Most advice I have read begins by telling us to avoid talking about religion and politics. Avoiding these subjects has been true for so long that pastors begin their Thanksgiving message with this advice in the way of a joke.  I have always found it humorous that a pastor would advise avoiding religious conversation, but maybe that explains why our culture is so stressed and church attenders are so unfamiliar with Biblical subjects.  To the secular advice, you might respond, “my family never talks about these subjects, so why is it so tense?”  The answer is found in the subjects these “family experts” suggest.  Multiple advice columns I read suggested introducing safer subjects to conversation.  Subjects such as sports, upcoming or recent vacations, or what’s going on with your children.  To that I respond, “do these ‘experts’ not have families of their own?”  Have you watched the NFL recently? Fans are literally killing each other in disagreement.  Hockey? Last month a player killed an opponent with his skate.  Vacations? Have you been to social media? So, you are suggestion I open the door to my family member bragging about their next global adventure or recent endeavor that I can’t afford or never get to experience?  Oh yes, but what about the children? Sure, I’d love to hear about cousin so-and-so again and how advanced he is for his age group.  Or how junior excels above his peers, while my kid entertains the group by pulling spaghetti noodles through his nose.  
The other advice the experts give is just as amusing, reflects the progressive generation. They suggest sharing a “code word” with the host. The idea is, before you arrive, drop code word with the host and follow with the phrase, “I’m uncomfortable, I need a break, but I will return.” HA! Yeah right, let’s just clear it with mom (host) when granddad starts going off about his disapproval of the latest trend or how it was in his day, I’ll just drop the code word and casually exit, only to return to whispers and stares, while I imagine what was said about me while I was on my “break.” Yes, let’s just see how that turns out.  I love “experts” in a field that share advice as if they have no actual personal experience in the field.  It’s like me pretending I am an actual pilot because I have over 1000 hours on MS Flight Simulator.  
So where is all this tension coming from?  I’m no expert (ask my wife), but I do know the Bible. James 4:1-3 warns us:
What causes conflicts and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from the passions at war within you? You crave what you do not have; you kill and covet, but are unable to obtain it. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask. And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures.
This is one of those verses that I just don’t like.  I’d much rather talk about the verse that says something about heaping burning coals on their head.  But, after reflecting on that verse (Proverbs 25:22), it is as if these Scriptures are written directly to me.  I think I know what is wrong with everyone else, and I might be right, but the only one I can do anything about is me! Oh, but it is so much more fun when I find the speck in others but fail to remove the plank from my own eye.  True, but at least for this week, maybe we use the planks in our life to build a bridge instead of focusing on the specks in others. Even if you have a few floating at the top of your water glass, because someone didn’t clean the ice trays again.
Serving the Savior,
Bro. Jonathan
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