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Ep.1119: Does the Coronavirus Fit Into God’s Plan?

Understanding and faithfully managing the panic of COVID-19

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:27]
How do we handle the panic around this disease?


[00:32:10]
How does this pandemic compare to others?


[00:51:23]
How can we turn our fear into faith?


[01:10:31]
What is God's plan for the world?


Social distancing. Three months ago, if you had heard that term you may have thought it was describing someone who was a loner or someone who swore off social media. Now we not only all know what it means, we feel its meaning and it is frightening. I was in the grocery store today, and on the floor of the line for self-checkout there were tape lines six feet apart so shoppers could more easily avoid contact. The novel coronavirus – COVID-19 - has arrived. It is potent, fearsome and sneaky. Because of its presence the entire world has been altered socially and economically in a matter of a few months. As Christians, what are we supposed to do with this pandemic? What should we know, how should we act and most importantly, is this virus connected to God’s plan?

Continue Reading

How often do our thoughts turn to God in a negative way when the world is in a panic about a disaster?  Whether it is a tsunami or a hurricane, a series of wildfires or a pandemic, we seem to generally conclude that God must be punishing us. The current COVID-19 pandemic has already brought several Scriptures into focus on social media to support this reaction. So, is this God’s wrath?

Blessings? Curses?

To set a foundation for an answer, we need to ask a question. When things are generally good in the world – when hurricanes and floods are fewer and earthquakes are more sporadic - do we ever say that such times are God’s blessing on the world? We don’t! We basically ignore those things. Why, then, should this pandemic be God’s curse? If we don’t give Him credit for good things, then it is inconsistent to blame Him for the bad things. COVID-19 was not sent by God!

Make no mistake, this is a fiercely contagious virus. It has a very high mortality rate for a specific age range of people who have one or more other health conditions. Mortality notwithstanding, it is clear this virus does not discriminate as to who it infects and how much suffering it can cause. As likely as the coronavirus is to cause panic, misinformation and social media editorializing regarding the facts are even stronger panic drivers. What should Christians do we do with boatloads of 24-hour information we have access to?  What is our responsibility? How should we be thinking and acting?

Beacons of light

Check out March 30, 2020 podcast, “Does the Coronavirus Fit into God’s Plan?” for more.  Determining fact from fiction is critical to understanding what is really happening. We talk about this serious, worldwide issue through the lens of relevant medical facts. We then carefully verify the application of that information to build a truthful perspective. As Christians, we not only address a prophetic viewpoint to consider, we also delve into what our Christian responsibilities are. Join us as we seek to do what Jesus did - be beacons of light in a foggy world!

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Ep.1118: How Merciful Am I?

How mercy should work as told in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

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CHAPTERS

[00:11:03]
How do we understand the Parable of the Unjust Steward?


[00:23:39]
What happens when we don't extend mercy to others?


[00:38:24]
How can we be like God in matters of mercy?


[00:49:25]
How does mercy make forgiveness work?


Theme Scripture: Matthew 18:33

As Christians, we often talk about the necessity of forgiveness. We need to be forgiven and to forgive others. When it comes to talking about mercy, we always seem to focus on God’s mercy. Rightly so. God’s mercy is a resounding theme throughout the entire Bible. His eternal wisdom and plan could not even exist unless His mercy was, is and will be in place. So, if being merciful is such an important part of God’s plan, and Jesus came and mercifully gave his life for Adam’s sin and redeemed the world, what about me? How does mercy fit into my life? Am I a merciful Christian? What does mercy really mean, and how do I know how and when to use it?

Continue Reading

70 x 7

The Apostle Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother for continually sinning against him.  As a proposed answer to his own question, Peter offered a solution I am sure he thought was generous.  Should I forgive him up to seven times? Jesus' answer was a clear and eye-opening response. He said (and I am dramatizing this) seven times – are you kidding? You should forgive him seventy times seven! As Christians we look at this answer and are genuinely moved at how much love and compassion was expressed by it. We are in awe of the standard that Jesus set.

Even more than 70 x 7

Sadly, we are missing the main point. The seventy times seven answer was only the warm-up statement – merely an introduction. The parable he spoke after those words was the main point. Unfortunately, not many of us can call that parable and its lessons to mind. Why? Because the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant was a harsh story that can be a little hard to understand. On the surface, it does not seem to easily fit in with the magnanimous lesson of forgiving seventy times seven.

Jesus spoke this parable to teach us about mercy. A basic definition for mercy is to give unmerited opportunity to another.  It is kindness that opens a door to one who is undeserving. We don’t talk much about mercy. As a result, it seems to be a lesser-noticed sibling of forgiveness and grace. We frequently bask in the relief of being forgiven for our sins. We rejoice in the glory of being given grace - God’s unmerited favor. But without mercy, neither forgiveness or grace could be attainable. Without mercy there is no gospel and there is no coming kingdom!  Mercy drives all of it!

Check out our March 23, 2020 podcast, “How Merciful Am I?” for more. We establish what God’s mercy is and how it is a template for the mercy we are supposed to live by. We explore why Jesus used this particular story as a teaching tool. One of the many gems of truth we uncover is this: forgiveness can never be complete without mercy as its basis. Has your ability to truly forgive others ever been challenged? You just might need a better understanding of mercy!

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Ep.1117: How Do I Avoid Burnout? (Part II)

Finding the biblical pathway that leads us away from burnout

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Play Part I

CHAPTERS

[00:22:13]
It's one thing to admit we are overwhelmed. How do we manage all we need to do?


[00:38:14]
How do we take steps to remove the fuel of burnout?


[00:52:31]
Why doesn't burn out just go away once we recognize it?


[01:04:39]
What does victory over burnout look like?


Theme Scripture: Job 10;1

Burnout is nasty.  As we found out in Part I of our two-part series, it can demoralize and diminish the efforts and quality of care from medical professionals and first responders.  But it doesn't stop there.  Even though the rest of us may not have other’s lives in our hands, burnout is more than capable of continuing to ruin lives...if we let it.  The good news about this ever-growing and worrisome phenomena is that it can be handled.  For regular people who get overly inundated with the unrelenting pressures of work, family and social issues, there are answers.  Or, if we find ourselves feeling like we are drowning under the weight of Christian responsibilities, there are answers.  The really good news is these answers have both biblical and medical foundations!

Continue Reading
ns!

Our focus on burnout in medical professionals and first responders in Part I gave us a foundation.  Part II continued building by focusing on you and me and the daily challenges we encounter through our jobs and life experience.  We saw the exact same debilitating process at work.

Oour burnout heroes: Moses and Elijah

There is no better way to understand this power of burnout than to see it displayed in the life of some of your heroes. If they can be debilitated by its affects, then we are certainly vulnerable as well.  Moses and Elijah were two Old Testament heroes of faith who stood head and shoulders above the people of their time.  Moses triumphantly delivered over two million people out of slavery.  He did it through faith, obedience and courage.  They literally walked away from their captivity.  Elijah faced off with an evil king, stood alone against 450 prophets of the false god Baal and walked away with a resounding victory for the one true God.

We love the heroism of these stories.  What we often don’t pay attention to is the stories after these victorious events. God would continue to require more of these leaders, and they both experienced burnout in the aftermath.  n fact, in the depths of their burnout experiences, both Moses and Elijah even despaired of life.  This really shows us how insidious burnout can be.  It can creep into and take over the lives of the most powerful, faithful and courageous heroes.

Lessons to fight back

The experiences of Moses and Elijah teach us profound lessons to help us fight back against burnout. Some of those lessons have to do with understanding our limitations and being open to receiving the right kinds of help.  These things may sound easy to do, but they are the exact opposite. Observing the stories of our two heroes makes this challenge plain. When in the throes of fighting burnout, we become blind and deaf to the solution-oriented things around us. All we are capable of seeing is what our own mind is open to and what our own eyes can observe.

Check out our March 16, 2020 podcast, “How Do I Avoid Burnout? (Part II)” for more.  There are concrete answers to this serious dilemma and we list them out.  Moses and Elijah show us even higher levels of heroism as they each overcame their burnout experience.  Don’t miss how this is done!

 

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Ep.1116: How Do I Avoid Burnout? (Part I)

Recognizing and resolving issues that contribute to burnout

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Play Part II

CHAPTERS

[00:16:01]
What does burnout look like?


[00:30:14]
Resiliency is an remedy for burnout. What does Job teach us about resiliency?


[00:45:13]
What can we do to avoid heading in the wrong direction when under extreme stress?


[01:03:31]
What practical ways can we stand firm against burnout?


Theme Scripture: Job 10:1

It is a common saying that the two things you can count on in life are death and taxes.  While that might be true, there is another thing lurking in the background of the lives of more and more people every day:  BURNOUT.  With all of the overstimulation a technology-based society produces, we are set up for burnout.  With what seem like ever-increasing job demands, we are set up for burnout.  Personal communications are instant, always available and on multiple platforms, and we feel we need to respond instantly as well.  This sets us up for – you guessed it – burnout.  This is just what applies to us - the average, "go to work and make a living" person.  Medical professionals, first responders, military men and women – all set up for this scary precedent!  This is serious.  What can we as Christians do to recognize, respond to and relieve this dangerous pattern in our lives and the lives of others?

Continue Reading

Looking at the medical field

To be able to overcome burnout, you first need to understand it.  Looking at the medical field, we find detailed explanations of how it works.  We also find lots of practical experience.  It turns out, the people who help us understand it are also the ones who suffer greatly from burnout themselves.  As part of our journey to crack the burnout code, we interviewed a Christian medical professional who has suffered from it.  Hannah’s story set a foundation of experience for us, upon which we could build practical knowledge.

Health care industry - everyday burnout - spiritual burnout

We chose to observe burnout as affecting three different categories of people.  First are the health care professionals, first responders and military personnel. These are the men and women on the front lines, who have the lives of others in their hands. Their burnout is associated with always needing to do the right thing in very imperfect circumstances, and often with less than adequate support.  Second, there are the rest of us who find burnout as a result of our jobs, our lives, disease, trauma and unforeseen circumstances.  The third category we labeled as spiritual burnout, meaning feeling isolated and far from God as you strive to serve Him.

Looking to Job for answers

The good news is that the same basic principles of burnout recovery apply to each of these three specific categories.  To illustrate this, we used the example of Job, the Bible character who tragically lost everything. He burned out but in the end remained faithful to God.  How did that happen?  Where did he go wrong and what did he do right?

Check out our March 9, 2020 podcast, “How Do I Avoid Burnout? (Part 1)” for more.  Between Hannah’s medical and Christian insights and Job’s tragic losses and unhelpful “comforters,” we find many points of reference to build upon.  The bottom line is:  walking the path towards burnout is a pressure-filled journey that pulls us away from our best selves.  Walking away from it is possible but challenging.  In Part 1 of our two-part series, we help you discover how to succeed.  Don’t miss this vital input to prepare you for Part II!

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March 02, 2020

Ep.1115: I Don’t Think I Love My Spouse Anymore. What Now?

Finding solutions to the hard issues in a troubled marriage

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:42]
How can you still love your spouse when you don't love them anymore?


[00:29:20]
What do you do when you discover a dark side to your spouse?


[00:45:06]
How do we keep our thoughts and actions righteous when things aren't going well?


[01:01:00]
How do we accept the challenges of marriage as a tool to being faithful to God?


Theme Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

…And they lived happily ever after!  While this fairy tale ending makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, it doesn’t help us to prepare for reality.  The fact is, marriage is hard.  Having a bad marriage is much easier.  Think about why. Two people make a promise to one another before God to be - for the rest of their lives - completely faithful to each other.  Theoretically, we think this is not unreasonable because when we marry, the bonds of love are powerful.  Then life happens.  Stress, jobs, children, changes, finances, likes, dislikes, opinions, moods - all of the human things that life is made of show themselves.  You wake up one day and that bond of love that once looked impervious has faded into the shadows of everyday experience.

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One of the basic questions we as Christians need to ask ourselves is, upon what are our marriages based? While the gut reaction answer would be things like love, compatibility and common goals, the real answer has a deeper basis.  Marriage is a promise...but not just any promise.  For a Christian, marriage is a covenant of God, which makes it a promise agreed to with God as witness.  This simply means we are committing ourselves to a life-long contract of fidelity in the most sacred environment possible.  Christian marriage is therefore based on commitment and not compatibility.

While this might sound limiting and even scary, it is actually really good news.  It provokes us to work hard when things become challenging, to not throw it the towel when we may feel like giving up.  A promise made in the presence of God is always worth fighting for!  Keeping a promise made in the presence of God always brings ultimate spiritual blessing, even when our personal lives are challenged.

Now let’s get practical.  How do you fight for something you don’t feel is worth it?  What would make you want to protect something that seems to not only be causing you pain, but suffering as well?  The answer, which may sound corny at first, is LOVE.  The fact is, it is possible to love your spouse even when you DON'T love them!  We need to get our heads around this unlikely approach. Once we do, we can begin to make a significant difference in the quality of our daily married lives.

Check out our March 2, 2020 podcast, “I Don’t Think I Love My Spouse Anymore. What Now?” for more.  We lay out answers, but not from the viewpoint of being idealistic.  That would be far too easy.  On the contrary, we walk through the true story of a Christian woman who is currently in a difficult marriage.  She honestly explains her daily challenges, the development of her thinking, and the conclusions and solutions she is finding.  This difficult story helps us be realistic while also seeking God’s higher ways to manage these hard circumstances.  There are answers when life gets difficult.  Join us to find them!

 

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