Food for Thought-5 Good Ideas for Today June 30th, 2015 (On Work-Life Balance)

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1. Is your work-life balance, balanced? Are you out of whack, doing more of one thing than another or neglecting other areas of your life?
2. Do you believe that certain career choices are incompatible with being a decent human being?
3. What type of life do you want to lead? Balanced, respected by others, or one that is in always in the hands of other people?
4. When does life balance begin? Today or tomorrow? At school or at home? Is it organic or planned?
5. Work-life balance is built upon a series of covenants, beginning with one made to yourself. How does your covenant read?

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Food for Thought-5 Good Ideas for June 29th, 2015

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1. Avoiding the mud, potholes, and puddles in life is unavoidable. At times, you need to walk boldly through the mire.

2. Sit down, lay back, and look up to see the world from a new perspective.

3. Find something to share. Your brain could use the dopamine and the companionship will be fun.

4. Pay cash for everything you buy today. It will clue you in to how much you’re actually spending.

5. Is your self-confidence built on the happiness of others?

Food for Thought-A Funeral Sermon

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Death forces us to ask difficult questions. Like the distorted reflection of an itinerant alchemist, death calls us to combine the most precious elements of life to make something we do not want to believe can or will ever exist; the finality of our mortal lives. Unlike the alchemist, vainly hoping to turn base metals into gold, year after year, we are never surprised or overjoyed at our eventual success. The inevitability of this moment, while so real in theory, is so foreign in practice. Death wasn’t supposed to come to us, today, or ever.  Most of us, rightly or wrong, live as if death is something that happens to other people.  Tonight, this delusion, rooted so firmly in visions of our own temporary immortality, is gone forever.

Why? Why did Jolene die? I cannot answer that question. No one can. Doctors can offer immediate causes. Despite our best intentions, our plans, our money, our efforts, or anything else we can’t know why now. Why now, at this place, and at this time, these are questions no one can possibly answer. However, I can say this: there is not a book, a plan, a decision making process where the creator of the universe simply decides “it’s time to call us home”. You and I don’t have countdown timers on our lives and when the time is up, God dials a number, and we get called to “a better place”. God doesn’t have a human resources department who calls him up multiple times a day, when people die in accidents in North Carolina or war in Syria and says, “Lord, we have need of new people (or angels) in heaven.” People don’t die because God “needs” people in heaven. You may think it makes people feel better to say things like that but it doesn’t. I don’t know much about death but I do know that.

In the world God created, a world of sunsets, home runs, apple pie, and snow flakes we also we received childhood cancers, tragedies, and senseless killings.  Life came with death.  Eventually, God was forced to come to terms with the reality of death in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. If you believe as Christians do, God allowed himself to die on a cross. The only way to conquer death was by facing death itself. This wasn’t the appearance of death, this was what you have come to know all too well. So begins the essence of the Christian message.

At the end of Mark’s gospel, two women go to the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. Mark, ever the storyteller, leaves the reader with the one of the great cliffhangers of western civilization. The reader is only told the body is gone. “He’s not here,” says a young man. There is no resurrected Jesus who appears to the disciples. There is only the absence of a body and an empty tomb. Mark’s gospel is the oldest of the four stories of Jesus’ life and work and probably the most accurate. It has always amazed me that in this gospel, the first sign of the resurrection is not a body, or a resurrected Jesus, but the absence of a body, the absence of life. Jesus’ absence is the first indication that resurrection is a reality. Absence is the beginning of resurrection. Absence is a sign that death, as we have defined it, isn’t as powerful as we once believed.

This evening, acknowledging Jolene’s absence, we stand in the presence of the resurrection and the life. There is something unfinished about the word absence. The lingering second syllable leaves open the possibility of fulfillment and return. Absence is underscored, however faintly, by the idea of hope. The dangling strands of absence, dancing about our days, are waiting to be brought together. What will you do with yours? Will you weave them together in the hope of life beyond life, living each day to its fullest, in strands of love and compassion which honor Jolene?

Food for Thought-How Often Would Jesus Have…

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1. Checked his email…he didn’t have email. If so, maybe once or twice a day.  I can’t see him chained to his desktop, laptop, or mobile device.  Can you?
2. Prioritized his day…Jesus didn’t know the meaning of triage; he removed obvious distractions and met with everyone.
3. Checked his Facebook page…again no Facebook in first century Galilee. Maybe of a couple of times of day at most. Jesus liked to rely on word of mouth information. His core audience wouldn’t be likely to be able to check their phones or computers for updates on a regular basis.
4. Spent time alone…at least once or twice a day. Jesus knew when he needed to step back, be alone, recharge, and regroup.
5. Eaten with other people…Jesus never ate alone. Community wasn’t a buzz word. It was a reality. Meals were events, people sharing, preparing, eating, and being together. There is spiritual value in the act of eating a meal together.
6. Have taken pictures…all the time. I can see Jesus with a small digital camera taking pictures of everyone he meets. Would these go on Facebook or Instagram, I don’t know?  I think they’re more likely on the divine hard drive we call creation.

Food for Thought-5 Ways Not to Suck Today (AKA Good Ideas)

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1. Don’t get drawn into Facebook arguments you can’t win
2. Fill your time with things that matter, not busy work
3. Find and refine some quiet rituals to step out of the chaos in your day
4. Substitute abstract worry for direct action
5. Redefine the concept of personal space…don’t crowd people

Food for Thought-5 Good Ideas for Today June 25th, 2015

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1. Watch someone be amazed at something you take for granted. What does this remind you about joy?
2. Are there myths you are accepting as reality? What happens if you examine the myth? How can your reality change for the better?
3. Does fear, boredom, or negative inertia drive you to act in ways that aren’t courteous, kind, or filled with empathy? How can you redirect the negative inertia in you life?
4. Create a “To Don’t” list to go with you “To Do” list. What are the habits, thought patterns, and emotions which might fill such a list?
5. Is hope an open-ended grasp at an unseen future, or is it a something you can help forge and create for yourself and others?

Life is a whirlwind of change and many emotions.  Please remember, that in the middle of everything you face, you are loved. ‪