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.

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Yesterday we talked about a fast from technology and the rat-race. Today I was reminded why in a conversation with a friend. We live in a world of alternate universes!

For a variety of factors – work, lifestyle, education, and where I grew up, I have a ton of friends who are liberals, a ton who are conservatives, and a ton in the middle. They are increasingly living in alternate universes with way get information and the lens through which they process it. Because most interaction today is electronic, that forces the conversations to be very black and white, and very confrontational when you encounter the other universe. It is is insanity, because we really have much more in common than we have in dispute, yet dispute and division drives politics and the media and in turn us.

But when you put away the noise, what are you left with? Well, they are the things that unite us.

Friends, family, sports, hobbies, nature, work, food, etc.

But even in a world of division, here is some great advice on creating harmony in your community:

Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”

It is "fast" crazy in my house. From my college daughter to my wife, fasting to cure and reset all sorts of things seems to be the rage. Although, I must say, the grilled veggies and avocado my wife made for herself last night looked pretty good!

It got me thinking about a fast from the madness that is all around us. My wife asked me this morning about a 72-hour, strict, water only fast to clean us out and reset.

Driving to work, I thought, why not a 72-hour technology and rat-race fast to cleanse our soul.

Some steps I thought necessary for that:

Tell everyone you’ll be on vacation.

Have your kitchen and supplies fully-stocked for 3-days.

Have a flip phone people can text for real emergencies.

Start on a Friday morning, end on a Monday morning.

No smart phones, internet, e-mail, TV, etc.

No visits to the store.

Only human interaction, prayer, and the outdoors.

 

I’m going to try this with my family, I’ll let you know how it goes! Maybe try it yourself and share the results with me!

True freedom can be found whatever your circumstances. Troubling things can bring us anxiety, but good things not founded in the spirit can lead to troubling times also. Your best defense is found down on your knees.

"The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory."

Today's Odyssey is an early morning flight to DFW and a big day in Dallas. Join me as we consider life's journey towards either darkness or light, and the embracing of possibilities regardless of our current predicament.

In times like these, hope has never been more important.

How do you find light when you can neither buy nor sell?

How do you prepare for when living isn't as easy as going on Amazon or whipping out your debit card at the grocery store?

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