May 31, 2012

5 Ways to Manage Stress

Stress can be a killer. Literally! Much of what we deal with is beyond our control, but quite a bit is often self inflicted. Our plates become fuller and fuller. Healthy boundaries will protect you from becoming another victim of stress.

Here are 5 ways to maintain boundaries when it comes to stress:

1. The art of NO

You cannot do it all. The worse case scenario is that something goes undone. Trust me when I say, the world
will keep spinning.

2. Punch Out

No, I don't mean hit someone, although that is probably a stress reliever on some level. Do not take your
work home with you. I for one struggle in this area and sometimes it is unavoidable.

Try to make a habit of checking your email at the end of the work day and early in the morning. Turn off
the email alert features on your phone in the evening.

3. Unplug Completely

If you are anything like me you continue to work even in your mind. The stress of deadlines, failures, and
Current work load can leave you exhausted. Much of our deadlines and work are of our one making. If you are
your own boss or make your own schedule remember not to take advantage of yourself.

Allow the hamster to get off the wheel for a little R&R. Spend sometime with your family. You only have one
go at life don't waste it. You can read a book, do a project, or watch a movie. Anything that engages your
mind on something else prior to sleep.

4. Take a Mental Health Day

Occasionally if you have enough sick days you can ask for a mental health day. Use this day for mental
rest. Do something relaxing, but not depressing. Don't sit around and mope about how stressed you are. Take
a hike, sit by a lake, or walk through a park. Enjoy God's creation and breath in the fresh air.

5. Watch your health

Stress can lower your immune system terribly. I have recently gone through quite a bit of stress and
actually got shingles at the age of 32. Ouch!

Choose healthier options while you are dealing with stress. The normal thing when
experiencing stress is to go for the comfort food. This only makes it worse in the long run. Instead it a
light healthy snack and go for a jog. You would be surprised how much energy will be channeled from
frustration to exercise.

While you are at it do not forget your spiritual health. It is easy to forget about prayer and neglect
the Bible and church when you need God the most.

What ways do you use to help you manage stress?

May 29, 2012

Bring Back My Pie!

I walked into McDonald's the other day to get another one of their baked strawberry cream pies. To my surprise they had stopped carrying it. Yet, somehow they still wanted me to order something. Order what?

Bring back my pie!!!

Let me tell you the power this pie had over me. First of all my family and I hadn't been to McDonald's in quite some time before I heard the pie had come out again. When we arrived I found out they had added cream cheese. Finally, I ordered and ate five of them before I my palette was completely satisfied.

Fro several weeks I found excuses to swing through the drive thru. "If everyone behaves in Walmart we will go get a pie!" I even found us eating food at one place only to end up at McDonald's for dessert. Now it is gone and McDonald's no longer has anything on their menu that would entice me to frequent their establishment.

We can be like this with faith. After going to a camp, conference, or experiencing revival we get into the word and feel close to God. Then a new season hits and we stop reading His word, and finally lose the desire we once had.

The difference is that God's word and the relationship he wants with us to have not been taken off the menu. We are the ones who stop frequenting the establishment. We live as if He has closed up shop and indulge in less fulfilling things while He still offers closeness and unity.

The flavor never changes, but sometimes our taste buds adjust to the lesser tastes the world has to offer.

May 21, 2012

20/20 Hindsight: Just a Phone Call Away

This is 20/20 Hindsight. I am posting a new one each Monday. The purpose of this series is to show God's hand of providence in the lives of people throughout history. Sometimes God works His good through a person and sometimes He does it in spite of that person.

Hindsight Obituary Entry 2:

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell lived from 1847 to 1922. He was the inventor of the first practical working telephone. The telecommunications industry was born through his passion and hard work.

His design continually changed throughout his life from a phone that had to be shouted into even for short distances to one that would span a continent. The New York Times had this to say after a ceremonial debut of a new design in 1915:

On October 9, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson talked by telephone to each other over a two-mile wire stretched between Cambridge and Boston. It was the first wire conversation ever held. Yesterday afternoon [on January 25, 1915] the same two men talked by telephone to each other over a 3,400-mile wire between New York and San Francisco. Dr. Bell, the veteran inventor of the telephone, was in New York, and Mr. Watson, his former associate, was on the other side of the continent. They heard each other much more distinctly than they did in their first talk thirty-eight years ago.

Bell could not have foreseen the advent of the cell phone or the fact that just about everyone would have one. He also would not have understood why we would choose to go back to texting (essentially a telegraph). Skype and FaceTime were probably the furthest thing from his mind, but yet he made all of that possible.

The telephone has gone from mere wires to satellite and towers. It has made the world much much smaller. How has God used this invention to further His good news? Because communication is the heartbeat of relationship. We were created to be in relationship with God and others. The telephone and all of the technologies that followed (remember the Internet began using phone lines to log in) have brought us closer together and enabled us to share God's truth with others.

We no longer have to wait weeks to correspond with a foreign missionary. It can be done in an instant. The phone has given us amazing opportunity. What about you? Is it just another gadget, or a tool to share your faith? Let me leave you with this challenge. Think of someone you care about that has not decided to follow Jesus. Now, take out your phone and call them. You can use this blog as an excuse. Tell them that you read a blog that told you to think about someone you care about who has not decided to follow Christ and they were the first person that came to your mind.

Tell them how you became a Christ follower and ask if they would like to do the same. I led a friend to the Lord the very 1st time I tried it. Let me know what happens.

Read other 20/20 Hindsight entries

May 14, 2012

20/20 Hindsight: Evil Redirected

I am beginning a new blog series entitled 20/20 Hindsight. I will have a new one out every Monday. The purpose of this series is to show God's hand of providence in the lives of people throughout history. Sometimes God works His good through a person and sometimes He does it in spite of that person. Our first subject falls into the latter category.

Hindsight Obituary Entry 1:

Adolph Hitler

Adolph Hitler died on April 30, 1945. He and his wife of 2 days Eva Braun committed suicide to avoid capture. But it is before his death that Hitler made a name for himself. He was a decorated World War 1 veteran who turned to politics. Eventually he turned the German Workers Party into the Nazi Party.

As leader of the Nazi party Hitler changed Germany into a one party political system and rose from chancellor to dictator. During World War 2 he occupied most of Europe and North Africa. He also called for the systematic killing of over 11,000,000 people. The Jews were among the people targeted for extermination by the Nazis. Over 6,000,000 Jews were killed.

Today we still use his name when speaking about evil. It seems that there is no other person who universally embodies pure wrong like this man. Where was God in all of this? Why did he allow such things?

Hindsight is truly 20/20 as we can now see the two cosmic players in this event. The first is sin. Hitler gave into it, was consumed by it and served it. Sin was his master and a lot of people get hurt when sin is chosen. The second was God. The same God who gives us free will to sin if we choose to also will work good even thru bad situations (Romans 8:28).

Where was God? He was working through the allies to put a stop to this madman. God also fulfilled prophesy in using the United Nations to bring the Jewish people back to Israel. They even chose to call it Israel. It is simply amazing that God would work good in spite of such evil.

Hopefully the world will not see such evil again, but if we do there is a God who is in the recycling business and will bring good out of trash any day of the week.

Read other 20/20 Hindsight entries

The Avengers SMASH More Records

The Avengers continues to shatter box office records. This weekend it earned the second highest grossing week ever with 103.2 million. Only a week ago it grabbed the highest first weekend with 207.4 million. This weekend it also joined the exclusive billion club by pulling in my that a billion dollars worldwide.

I can honestly say this is the first film that I have come home contemplating whether or not it was the best movie I have ever seen. It is the first movie I have seen 3 times aat the movies since Revenge of the Sith (I can't remember whether I saw Toy Story 3 two or three times). In a word, AMAZING!

The Avengers is not great because of an intricately woven story or blindsiding plot twists. Several critics are baffled at its success because of these missing elements. No, the Avengers is great because of YEARS of planning. No other non sequal movies has ever had 5 films preceding it to tell backstories, develop characters, and get us attached to the characters. This is there true success. They started a movie with characters we already loved. It is a comic reader's fantasy and the fanboy in me was geeking out the entire 2 hours and 22 minutes.

In my opinion the X-Men series failed miserably because of lack of character development. They only gave us time to know Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto. The rest were extras. Avengers is a movie that has learned from the mistakes of all who have gone before it. The Eric Bana Hulk movie can finally be laid to rest in landfills everywhere.

The comedy in the Avengers is often unexpected and spot on. If not for the last 45 minutes of action I would think I was watching a superhero comedy done to perfection (take not Green Hornet writers. The Avengers also reminds us that a superhero movie can stay true to the comics and still be successful. Re-imagined realistic and often sadistic darker takes that I cannot bring my children to see (ahem Dark Knight) are not the only ways to bring heroes to the silver screen.

I will not spoil anything here, but I will tell you that this movie is worth the 20 dollar ticket. What's that you say? tickets are not $20? That is correct, but I'm telling you it would be worth it if they were.

May 9, 2012

Braveheart: A Lesson in Politics

I 'm aware that Braveheart is not exactly true to history, but it is a great movie. What if Braveheart was a commentary on the current political two party system in the United States? Who would the major players be? What political philosophy would they hold to?

King Edward I Longshanks would represent the Democratic Party, specifically President Obama. I am not saying that the Democrats are ruthless people, I am pointing out that they and Longshanks are both for BIG government.

The Republican Establishment would be the nobles. This is NOT because they are noble by any means. It is because they fight over the scraps from Longshank's table, pretend to be for the people and cater to themselves and the wealthy.

Ron Paul would be William Wallace. Hear me out on this. Wallace is Scottish like the nobles but he sees hypocrisy in their big government leanings. They will not fight for personal freedoms and so he must.

Wallace wants simply to be left alone, but cannot when an oppressive government overtakes his personal liberties. The "right" of the government to sleep with a new bride was the final straw. Wallace did not want to lead, but chose to anyway when the nobles wouldn't step up to the plate. He even told Robert the Bruce that he would follow him if he would simply lead them to freedom.

Paul is no different. He will fight for freedom until another will lead the charge. So far Mitt Romney and President Obama have not made liberty a priority.

The interesting characters in Braveheart however could represent you. Princess Isabella (a big government person her whole life) came over to Wallace's side because of her admiration for his integrity and consistency. Robert the Bruce eventually left the "establishment" and led the charge of freedom when he understood the passion that drove Wallace.

Who are you? Could you be a Princess Isabella or a Robert the Bruce?

Here are some memorable quotes:

William Wallace: There's a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it. 
Ron Paul: The original American patriots were those individuals brave enough to resist with force the oppressive power of King George...Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security.

Princess Isabelle: The king desires peace.
William Wallace: Longshanks desires peace?
Princess Isabelle: He declares it to me, I swear it. He proposes that you withdraw your attack. In return he grants you title, estates, and this chest of gold which I am to pay to you personally.
William Wallace: A lordship and titles. Gold. That I should become Judas?
Princess Isabelle: Peace is made in such ways.
William Wallace: Slaves are made in such ways. The last time Longshanks spoke of peace I was a boy. And many Scottish nobles, who would not be slaves, were lured by him under a flag of truce to a barn, where he had them hanged. I was very young, but I remember Longshanks' notion of peace. 


Ron Paul:  Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a false government security blanket beckons.

Robert the Bruce: Lands, titles, men, power, nothing.
Robert's Father: Nothing?
Robert the Bruce: I have nothing. Men fight for me because if they do not, I throw them off my land and I starve their wives and their children. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk, they fought for William Wallace, and he fights for something that I never had. And I took it from him, when I betrayed him. I saw it in his face on the battlefield and it's tearing me apart.
Robert's Father: All men betray. All lose heart.
Robert the Bruce: I don't wanna lose heart. I wanna believe as he does. 


RonPaul: The most basic principle to being a free American is the notion that we as individuals are responsible for our own lives and decisions. We do not have the right to rob our neighbors to make up for our mistakes, neither does our neighbor have any right to tell us how to live, so long as we aren’t infringing on their rights. Freedom to make bad decisions is inherent in the freedom to make good ones. If we are only free to make good decisions, we are not really free.