The GameStop stock mania has shown a lot of people what is behind the curtain of finance.

Short selling is a fairly simple concept—an investor borrows a stock, sells the stock, and then buys the stock back to return it to the lender.

Small traders, college kids, and many others took advantage of this, primarily on the trading app Robinhood. They purchased and drove up the price of GameStop that many big hedge funds and banks were counting on going bankrupt and making money with a short.

As the big boys lost money they tried to shut down the ability of these young entrepreneurs to communicate and even trade. And the Wizard stepped from behind the curtain.

These Wizards are all around us, in government, in social media, in banks, in mega-churches, in professional organizations, on college campuses.

Knowledge is power and you know as well or better than most "experts" what you need for your life and happiness. Stand up, be heard, be bold, it is time to expose the curtain and fight for your family, faith, and local community.

A January 27, 2021 report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research said that 45% of California youth between the ages of 12 and 17 report having recently struggled with mental health issues, with nearly a third of them experiencing serious psychological distress that could interfere with their academic and social functioning.

They went on to say: “With almost half of California’s adolescents experiencing moderate to serious psychological distress, there is an urgent need to protect their psychological and emotional well-being by addressing the structural and social factors related to inequities in mental health,” said D. Imelda Padilla- Frausto, the study’s co-lead author and a research scientist at UCLA CHPR."

"Using data from the center’s 2019 California Health Interview Survey, the study authors looked at social determinants of health — non-medical factors such as family income, insurance, race and ethnicity, and citizenship status — to determine which adolescents were most affected by mental health distress."

"They also examined the impact of adolescents’ physical health and behavior in areas such as eating habits, physical activity, social media use and substance use, including drinking and smoking."

But what about stable families, time spent on all technology, time in church, etc. We discuss on today's Pilgrim's Odyssey.

January 27, 2021

My Worst Day, Was My Best

A friend asked me about my toughest day this morning, and what I learned. It was a failed trip that left my family in a home without water. It's a pretty amazing story if you take a few minutes to listen today.

We learned a lot. There is only a few things in life worth focusing:

Faith

Family

Relationships

If you see a good cause, a good work being done, support it. Few are willing to pay the price and we need them. I wouldn’t be here without the people that supported me.

It’s been an icy day here in Indiana - on the roads, the sidewalks, the trees. Days like this always remind me of my time in Iceland when I was in High School. The land of fire and ice.

One lesson I learned from that trip was how to be alone with yourself. I mean really alone.

Sitting alone, miles away from anyone. You hear voices, the earth speaks to you, and birds are more than birds. Heck I was attacked by some I thought were friends!

One day it was like life's mystery unfolded in front of me while sitting on an enormous boulder. There will be great wonder, but great suffering. I didn't really understand real suffering at the time, but I’ve found it to be true. To live is to suffer, and anytime you overcome that is a triumph.

What was your day like? What has your year been like? Whatever the case, it will change.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;”

Are you ready for spring? Are you ready to plant? Do the seasons change you or do you change with the seasons?

Isaiah 55:10-1

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”

We’ve been through so much, nationally, locally, and personally. Don’t let what has happened define you. Prepare for the coming spring and find hope in taking control in what you can, and not letting what you can’t define you. Offer it all all up to God.

January 22, 2021

Love In A Time Of Pandemic

Over 22 years of marriage and nine kids has taught me the following, today I discuss:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”

January 21, 2021

On Freedom And Fear

“The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.” - Aung San Suu Kyi

True freedom demands the following attitude, eloquently expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

"Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right."

A government, a family, a church, a person who can’t live this way ultimately is one to be feared. And fear is a prison. The greater our power, the more likely we are to succumb to the “wrong” position and endanger other people’s freedoms as well as ours.

From Romans 8:38-39:

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The best way to escape fear is to focus in the moment on those things we can’t be separated from unless we allow something else to convince us to do it to ourselves:

Focus on God

Focus on Family

Focus on Helping others

Focus on what you can do today

Lose sight of those, you fear, and you lose freedom. Even worse, you might give your freedom away.

For no particular reason I read from Psalm 41 while riffing out whatever thoughts come to my mind. May it bring you a little wonder, a little smile, and a spark of joy.

You’ll enjoy it.

January 19, 2021

What Really Matters?

Today in the leadership class I was teaching, I pointed out to the LEOs and firefighters in attendance that each day their men and women are heroes just going to work. Remembering to remind those you lead of the importance and purpose of their jobs can go a long way towards keeping them motivated and satisfied.

After class I thought, that seems to happen a lot. Sometimes, we forget to recognize what is really important, what really matters.

It is not movie stars and athletes. It is not eccentric dot-com billionaires. It is not politicians.

It is mom and dads who put their family first. It is supper at home. It is spending time with your kids, and it is volunteering time with kids who don’t have a family. It is people that work hard everyday to meet their commitments, take care of themselves, and take care of those they love.

Do not let your world become upside down and consumed by the things that don’t really matter. Simplify and focus, give credit to that person who stays after Church to clean, who picks up trash in the street, who does the right thing when no one is looking.

Part of focusing on what matters is denying the worst part of ourselves: our pride, our envy, our greed. It is not easy, but it is necessary.

As Christ said to the young ruler in Mark 10:21 in answer to what he was spiritually lacking:

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The things that matter are clear, but staying focused on them is hard. Just as following Christ gives one life, following the right things gives one peace and freedom from the anxiety of the world.

January 18, 2021

Facing The Coming Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension, worry, distress, or fear.

Psychological researchers would say that they are not completely sure of the cause of anxiety, that it’s likely a combination of factors including genetic, environmental, as well as brain chemistry.

Websters has a great definition: “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it”

No wonder we are all on edge, society has become an open wound of anxiety, we all see threats, we all have doubts about our ability to cope with it.

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

What is the reality and nature of our threat? Things we can’t control, debts we don’t know how we’ll pay, a life wasted on the wrong things and now we are alone, the stress of procrastination, unhealthy relationships, and many more.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

Do you consistently do this? I know I don’t, I forget, and I often don’t believe. In some ways, this is the essence of faith. Do we give our cares, the good and bad, to God? All the time.

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