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Christian Men at Work Podcast

Mar 30, 2020

S=Something on my Heart
Dichotomy now of slowing down and sense of urgency at same time.  Some of this is being forced upon us, some is our choice which is what I want to focus on, what we choose to reduce and increase during this unique time and maybe even make some paradigm shifts that will continue beyond this crisis. First, let's talk about changes that have been forced upon us. What has slowed down. The economy or more specific to this, some of you may have an increase in work especially if you're in medical profession. Most of us have seen a slowdown, or worst case maybe even a loss of a job, and I realize some of you may have been forced to slow because you have actually contracted the coronavirus. Travel.  I'm working from home and as a result I'm spending 2 hours a day at home that I would normally spend in my car, which is a cramped little Fiat, or as I jokingly call my "sports car". When you factor in errands I run between work and home that commute time can add up to 3 or even 4 hours a day. General pace of life, for most of us, has slowed down.  What has increased during this time? Time at home. In some ways, fear and anxiety have increased, though I would argue that as Christians we should be experiencing the opposite emotions, we should be experiencing peace, reassurance, and purpose during this time in contrast to the world around us. It seems to me like there is more time available which is interesting.  The reality is that time is constant. We have the same 24 hours given to us as a gift each day.  The reality is that we are experiencing an increase in certain activities  or you could say an increase in the percentage of time we spend in certain activities.  Let's shift now from what is out of our control to what is in our control. Praise God that gave us free will and the freedom and ability to choose.  So what are some ways we can choose to increase or decrease certain things or maybe a better way of saying it how can we make good choices to best utilize the time that we are given as well as the situation that God has placed us in right now, to make a shift in our behavior and priorities both now and moving forward in our entire lives, both in work and out of work, as well as in the lives of others we impact and interact with in our lives.  I'll start with some broad, philosophical concepts and then bring it back to the practical.  To make it really simple which is generally I've found the best way to be, we need to focus more on God and less on us, or you could say less on the world.  Here are a number of scriptures that speak to this in different ways. Deut 30:19-20a "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey his voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days;".  Colossians 3:2 "Set your mind on things above, no on things on the earth".  Romans 8:5-6 "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace".  John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease". 1 Cor 3:11-15 "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire". Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."  Now, some application.  Let's get into the word and in prayer.  Here are several suggestions for you to get started or to increase your immersion in the word of God. First, WHAT to read. Rayburn Hall - 2 OT, 5 Ps, 1 Prov, 2 NT, Mike Mayo - History, Poetry, Prophets, Gospel, Epistles (what I'm doing using 5 different Bible audio apps. Bobby Hall from Men's Night Out, Fall, 2019 - 8 chapters every day for 30 days (2-1/2 to 3 yrs to read NT), a way to go deep. Chronological.  Where are you in life?-Psalms at night, Proverbs to make a decision, John great place to start to really learn who Jesus is as both God and man and why he came to earth.  HOW - Pray for God to speak to you and not stress over quantity, if you feel led to stay in one verse or one chapter do it.  Value the discipline of having a plan to follow each day but don't turn your plan into a god and fall into legalism. The point is to hear from God not to check off a task on your list. 5 Fingers from Navigators Video about ways to consume the Bible,.  Pick A time (what can you stick to consistently, maybe lunch or break at work, morning, night.  Ask these questions 1. Who wrote this 2. Who were they writing to 3. What is the message 4. What does this reveal about the character of God 5. How is this connected to God “-Adam Union.  There's certainly more we can say about being the spirit including prayer, but let's shift now to what are things of the flesh, things we should be decreasing during this time and moving forward. 2 things to avoid, one is satisfying the lusts of our flesh. With a bit more time on our hands, we will be tempted to indulge in overeating, escaping through alcohol or drugs, or watching a lot of TV, particularly things that don't honor God like pornagraphy. Another thing to avoid is to too inwardly focused.  Spending time alone in prayer and the word is good, relaxing with some TV or a good book or taking a nap is good in moderation, but don't forget to look around to see who God would have us blessing and connecting with. Play a game with your kids, have a cup of coffee and alone time with your wife, text or call your neighbors close by as well as friends, family members and acquaintences far away to see how they are doing and whether they need anything including prayer.  Treat your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, eat healthy and exercise, take walks or a jog.  Set healthy limits for yourself for eating and drinking.  If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.  I heard on the Albert Mohler The Briefing podcast that marijuana sales have shot up during this time.  1 Cor 6:12 "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." Just because Marijuana has become legal in many states doesn't mean we should consume it. Just because the Bible does not say you should not have any alcohol, doesn't mean it's OK to drink beyond moderation in fact it speaks strictly against that. When it comes to our work, just because we may have less oversight working from home, doesn't mean we should be any less productive.  To the extent that we are able, if we are blessed to still be employed, as Colossians 3:23 says "whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men".  Put in a full day's work as you normally would.  Don't be like the servant that buried the talent but rather put your time to good use so that your employer will have a return on their investment in you. Another thought on how to use this time.  Forgive everyone in your life and continue to forgive them.  Here are 3 groups to focus on. First forgive yourself.  During times of reflection, it's easy to think about your past and mistakes you have made. Remember that God has forgiven you and what's good enough for Him should be good enough for you.  Psalm 103:12 says "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us". You're partnering with the devil and listening to his voice above the Lord's when you continue to condemn yourself and believe his accusations for past wrongs. Second, forgive individuals how have harmed you and if appropriate ask them to forgive you. This includes people who have harmed you in the past as well those harming you now.  Third, forgive groups of people or organizations that have either harmed you directly or done harm or evil in general.  I'm thinking personally about family members as well as about political parties and political leaders. Matthew 6:14-15, immediately after Jesus gave us what we called the Lord's Prayer, he said "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive their trespasses, either will your father forgive your trespasses". Now back from the practical to the philosophical. Here in NC, Spring has sprung and every day reveals more life as the trees are budding, the birds are chirping and the grass is growing and turning more green.  Life is bursting forth and it makes me think that the paradigm shift that I want to adopt and carry forward beyond this season of the Coronavirus is to live life more abundantly, life in the spirit and not in the flesh, through my work and through my relationship with God, myself, and my family and others in my life.  And when life gets back to "normal", I don't want to fall into old habits that are not God-pleasing and life giving.  I want to look back at this time in my life, whether I'm looking back from this or the other side of heaven, as a time when I made a tangible and meaningful shift to be more a part of God's story and less a part of mine. 
E=Example of Faith at work

There's been a lot of talk during this Coronavirus about what's essential.  I happen to work for an industry to makes products that are considered essential or critical during this downtime.  This has reminded about how so much of our life is spent on non-essential things, though we've made a habit of calling them needs when they're truly wants.  As an example, in Dave Ramsey's FPU he talks about how we call things like a new car a need when it's truly a want when you have an older car that works fine.  He also talks about how when you're gazelle intense and trying to pay down your debt and get ahead financially, you do things like eat rice and beans, which is a reminder to me that although food is essential to living, the type of food we eat can easily slip into the "wants" category and not the "needs" category.  This also led me not to just think about the value of simplifying our lives and not living in excess, but also how each of us through our work in some way contributes toward God blessing all of humanity.  I've talked in the past about Tim Keller's reference to God's Common Grace in his book "Every Good Endeavor", and how all of our work is sacred to the extent that God sends rain on the just and the unjust, as it says in Matt 5:45, we are a part of the way that God blesses all humans,.  Here are some examples I recently noticed of this common grace.  We just bought a Cat litter system that has separate compartmets, making it easier and cleaner when our 11 year old daughter changes the litter box.  I watched a 3 part series from I believe the Discovery Channel called "Harley and the Davidsons" about how how 2 Davidson brothers and the engineering genius of Bill Harley made a motorcyle that was a step above others and one that has blessed many many people over the last half plus century.,  As a third example, I'm going to reflect on some of the things I've done big and small, that have contributed to God's common grace to other my work and rather than share that with you I invite you ponder on your own career, past present and future and how you are a tool of common grace and as such a great example of faith at work.

Will return to weekly release in June after finish with Colson Fellows
H=Handy tip to increase productivity and effectiveness 

From a quote heard recently from Scott Peltin, Founder, Tignum, is not a faith based organization, but I thought was valuable and pertinent for this time we're in right now "During these critical times it is important to recognize that these are uncharted times and they will require epic leadership. To do this, you will need to show up every day at your best. This means preparing diligently for your day and your critical meetings, recharging your own cognitive and emotional batteries throughout the day, and strategically multiplying your energy throughout your teams. People will need additional direction, extra calmness and self-belief, and a level of humility and vulnerability from you to admit that you don't have all the answers. Great leaders get a little better every day but this doesn't happen by chance.  It must be a choice."