Busyness and the Walking Dead

Busyness and the Walking Dead

“Busy” doesn’t mean “productive.” In our desire to get more, be more, and do more, are we becoming the walking dead? Are we seeing life as meaningless and irrelevant?

Each day becomes a blur as we wake up worn out and trying to pack something more into our already over-loaded schedules. It reminds me of Bob Fosse’s classic scenes that repeat over and over in the movie, All That Jazz. The frazzled, overworked, and depressed choreographer looks in the mirror each morning, pumping himself up and saying, “It’s showtime!” Sadly, many feel the same today as they’re running on empty, looking for a way out and reaching for their pocket “crack” –their cell phone– to find answers and hope.

Are you one of the “walking dead,” trying to balance it all?

When Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, it not only took convincing the Pharoah, but the Jewish people themselves. We read in the Bible about the plagues God sent, but have you ever pondered the amount of convincing Moses needed to do to get the Jews to pack up and leave? How fed up did they really feel with where they lived and what they endured? Similarly, what’s our reaction when life’s muck hits us between the eyes? Are we ready to get off the treadmill and trust the ever-present and living God and let Him move us to a better place?

Are the present-day disasters, wars, terrorism, immigration issues, and political turmoil getting our attention?

Once the Jews were freed from Egypt’s control, it then took 40 years of wandering to root out their past habits and build up their trust in God again. He had to continually prove Himself to them. Did God consider those years necessary? In His grace and mercy, He willingly waited for them to mature. Unfortunately, we often don’t jump out of life’s disruptions instantly, either. Most of the time, we get sucked into our daily grind and can’t break out. We get used to the misery and instead of turning to God, we just whine. Perhaps we ignore the pain because, well… we’re busy, and making changes is just too time consuming. But God promises in His Word that when we’re ready, He’s ready with “a peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7.) But we have to choose. Are you courageous enough to do the often painful, but necessary work to get there? How badly do you want to get out?

Here are some suggestions of where to begin:

Use your smartphone and get smart. Schedule your personal time with Jesus at least four or more times a week and make it a priority. One to three times a week won’t cut it. Research has proven that four or more times will positively change your life. It’s why I wrote my devotional, Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, based on a four-day format.

Get serious about how you spend your free time. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending on black hole apps, games, and social media platforms that are sucking the air out of your life. Statistics reveal that the average global user is on TikTok 3.5 hours a day and 4.5 hours a day on Facebook. Get radical. Delete apps on your primary screen that are not essential. Smartphones also have a feature that monitors how much time you’re spending on them. Use it and stop falling into the vortex.

Focus on caring for others and not just collecting friends. Freeing your eyes from being face-planted on your digital device allows you more time to see those around you. Build real relationships and not just ones on social media platforms. Try volunteering for something you feel passionate about. You’d be surprised how it will reward personal growth and friendships that really matter.

Finally, reach out and share your story and the life-giving message of Jesus. Many are hurting today, are caught up in the tornadic whirlwind, and need help to get out. They’re looking for answers and solutions searching for happiness not realizing that it’s the joy of knowing Jesus that their soul is craving. He alone can resurrect the walking dead. He alone restores life.

It is “showtime.” It’s time to show the world that God is with them amid the chaos. He restores that which has been taken, even what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:23).

 Singleness or Marriage – Embracing Contentment

 Singleness or Marriage – Embracing Contentment

God’s plans for us are perfect. But somehow even though we know we can never fully accomplish perfection, knowing that we can’t attain it never stops us from trying. Most who are single want to be married. Yet most married couples, if they are truthful, often wish they could return to their days of singleness when life was less complicated and without the responsibility of a significant mate and added children.

Paul, the apostle, openly shares his thoughts on the cultural issues of his time, and what was best for him and his calling. In 1 Corinthians 7:25-38, Paul explains that he chose singleness as the most favorable choice for him because he believed marriage would divide his thoughts and responsibility. He made the argument that a single person only has to think about their engagement with God, but married couples must engage with God and also leave time for their spouse, thus requiring a division of focus.

We often hear that the opposite sex “completes” us. That isn’t true. God completes us. Our mates, if we have chosen well, complement us. The reality is that marital status is a label depicting a relationship. Couples in long and successful marriages must be secure in their relationship with God first and who they are in Him. They have learned that a spouse will never be able to fulfill perfect love and that only God can bring contentment and fulfill the desires of their hearts.

However, whether single or married, Paul reveals in Philippians 4:12 that we are to be contented in all circumstances. God’s purpose is for us to be in His will. He has a reason for you to be where you are at any given moment. His purpose and plans are perfect for you and will always be far superior. The world says we must follow a certain cultural agenda to be content. The truth is that lots of married people will become single again through various life issues. We are born as an individual into the world, and we will leave single.

Pew research reports that 30 percent of U.S. adults admitted that they are not married, aren’t living with a partner, or aren’t engaged in a committed relationship. It went on to reveal that 63% of men in their twenties are single compared to only 34% of women. Men in their twenties, in fact, aren’t pursuing women as they once did because of the massive consumption of media that is now available to them, which diverts their attention. They are consumed by social media, porn, playing video games, or engaging in online sports gaming.

We often get ourselves “into a dither,” as my granny used to say. When we seek what the world says, we must follow it to be happy. Remember that the world can only bring shallow happiness, but Kingdom choices bring joy. Joy is rooted in our souls and in eternal promises with lasting security and peace in our lives. We will stay depressed, fearful, and emotionally distraught when we unwillingly wallow in our selfish choices. Both singleness and marriage are gifts – but different gifts, each packaged with different challenges and benefits. They both allow us to accomplish the purposes God has for us, and that fact, not whether we are single or married, is what will bring our ultimate joy.

Passion: Seeing Beyond the Blind Spots

Passion: Seeing Beyond the Blind Spots

Our culture is volatile. Just observe what often happens when a car accident occurs. In our present era of social media, it happens so easily for unintended or accidental incidents to “go viral.” Out come the cell phones. With social media, what might have been a simple local incident fifty years ago, can now incite a passionate global response. We were created by a passionate God to be passionate people. Jesus definitely was. We often refer to His life, death, and resurrection as “the Passion of Christ.”

What happens when our passions are not understood and they incite a wrong response?

I am reminded how often I have almost hit the car in front of me because it suddenly stopped, only for me to eventually realize there was something was in the road I couldn’t originally see. Perhaps it was an animal running across the road or debris that was in the way. The only thing I could see was my coffee cup or purse go flying in my car as I came to an abrupt stop. And I confess… my verbal responses haven’t always been pleasant ones! Similarly, social and political issues most often happen when we aren’t present. And our screens usually only show one perspective and not the whole picture. Yet, because of our human passion, we respond with an instant reaction that can ignite others’ views like a wildfire causing unrest and destruction.

Passionate responses cause disruptions.

In Luke 12:49, Jesus revealed His human nature and the burden of living in our broken world. He was both fully God and fully human and He was passionate to save us.  He knew He would be “baptized” in suffering and wished He could just get on with it – be “kindled.” Yet God’s passion for us wouldn’t let Him until all that needed to be fulfilled in prophecy was done. It required Jesus to wait and walk the walk and talk the talk and trust in God’s perfect timing. And, I might add, it wasn’t easy. It required that He bring truth, and the truth is volatile. His passion would bring division. The truth of Jesus brought would pit one against the other – families would be divided because of their inability to see clearly who He was and God’s plan.

Our humanness limits our sight.

Jesus continually spoke clearly but He had to also use stories and ask questions that brought clarity and understanding because the hard truth stopped people. His mission was to enlighten us on God’s plan for our redemption. God saw what had to be done from the inciting incident of sin in the Garden. He knew how to solve the problem because He’s God. Yet, from our blind perspective, we only saw the punishment and not God’s redemptive plan for us. Our “car” (freedom) has been forced to stop and our personal stuff is flying. For those who have allowed themselves to believe in the truth of Jesus and whose eyes have been opened, we see differently.

We don’t have to know “the why” because God sees the why.

Instead of confusion and fear when challenges happen, we’re able to relax in the uncertainty and it’s unnatural. We weren’t at the inciting incident of sin in the Garden of Eden, but we don’t have to be. The Word of God is enough to trust that He’s got us. He sees us when we find ourselves suddenly stopped in our career or in life.

But we must choose.

We can become confused and frustrated when life’s disruptions happen, or choose the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The difference? Confident rest. There’s a clarity and assurance that permeates our being, knowing that in the unknown and “the wait,” God’s perfect will is ideal, and His vision for us is best when we let Him control our gas petals.

In Luke 12:57-59, Jesus challenged those who were listening to pay attention to the time they were living in. It was the most significant time that had ever happened on Earth. He had come to save us. Today, we even document time as before Christ (BC) and after Christ’s death (AD) because His life, death, and resurrection stopped the clock and then restarted it.

The times we’re living in seem to change at light speed with unintended incidents – stops that we never could have anticipated, but still manage to disrupt our lives. Yet, God never changes. His plans will be accomplished even if they unfortunately divide families and cause disruptive “fires.” Jesus knew He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus was confident in what He had been called to do on Earth by His Father. He willingly and passionately completed His mission, even if it incited division and disruption.

Are you willing to trust God’s plan and perspective for your life even if causes a fire?

A Lasting Picture: Overcoming Fear and Insecurity

A Lasting Picture: Overcoming Fear and Insecurity

Recently at a Museum of The Bible event in Washington, D.C., I was invited to participate in a painting class. When I first saw the class being offered on the schedule, I was a bit hesitant, if not intimidated. I hadn’t painted anything since the 3rd grade. I consider myself a fairly creative person, having worked as an actress in Hollywood and producing media projects for many years with Cooke Media Group; but the thought of being exposed as an inept artistic painter (perhaps equal to being a musically tone-deaf individual) was petrifying. Nevertheless, I forced myself to go knowing, without question, that I’d embarrass myself.

Insecurity and fear keep people from achieving greatness more than anything else.  

Fear robs us of God’s joy in allowing Himself to be exposed in new ways through our unique lives. When we step into the fear, we step away from areas that we’ve built around us as safety nets. By staying in those safe places, we rob ourselves of the freedom and purpose that God wants to bring into our lives. New environments and situations that we must depend on Him for to accomplish. (more…)

Defending Our Faith: What We Can Learn from Pontius Pilate

Defending Our Faith: What We Can Learn from Pontius Pilate

In this season of Lent (giving something up to remember the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus) and as Easter approaches (the celebration of our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus), I found myself reflecting on specific people who could help me remember the importance of defending my faith.

God chose and orchestrated people in specific places to teach us about Himself and how much He loves us. Pontius Pilate was an interesting character to study. He was a Roman political leader who desired power and aggressively pursued it. He was a man who wanted to be remembered and achieved it, but not in the way he intended. (more…)

Respect: 3 Things Leaders Can Do to Grow More of It

Respect: 3 Things Leaders Can Do to Grow More of It

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me…. I can hear Aretha Franklin belt it out. But how do you get it in the workplace and on production sets today?

Here are 3 thoughts and lessons I’ve learned.

Know and exert your boundaries.

One of the hardest things to learn is when to stop. I still fail at this sometimes. I’m one who likes to push the boundaries but I’ve learned over the years that sometimes you just need to throw in the towel and give it a rest. It often comes down to our self-worth and wanting to be “enough” but even more than that, wanting to be exceptional in the eyes of others. In our inward-focused social media world of comparing ourselves with others’ endeavors and achievements, this can bite back, overwhelming us with exhaustion.

Not being able to say no can also be an invasion by others of your time and energy that interrupts your ability to achieve all God has called you to do. Wanting to help and encourage others is admirable but can also be a disruption to what God’s called you to accomplish. In both of these cases, it diminishes respect because it robs us of success. Boundaries inspire others to respect your time and expertise and it can also show others how to manage their own time and purpose.

Stop trying to be perfect and impress everyone.

You’ll never reach perfection and you can’t please everyone. It won’t happen. This took me years to learn because of an older brother who died as a child. I always was trying to replace him in the eyes of my parents, who, because of their loss, unknowingly talked about him and idolized him to me. He was their perfect child who did no wrong when he walked the earth. I was an adult before I realized how their constant reminders of him had affected me. Don’t try to be perfect or impressive, be real. Be vulnerable and be willing to accept others’ imperfections. Admit when you have failed and then look for opportunities to turn failures into victories. Take the time to look people in the eye as well. Be confident in what you can do, knowing you will never be good at everything. You will gain respect for being real.

Dress better.

It’s amazing to me that I have to talk about this in today’s world, where we can afford to look better for much less. I know torn jeans and, sweats, and hoodies are the go-to choices today, especially after the pandemic, but looking put together, having a style (and I might add smelling clean) will always gain respect. It may seem superficial, but it makes a difference in what people remember about you.

Research says that we size a person up in less than 8 seconds, deciding instantly how much attention to pay that person. First impressions stick. There is also a reason a fresh haircut or manicure makes you feel good. It affects your attitude, energy, and choices. It reflects what you value and affects how others perceive and value you. Others won’t respect you until you respect yourself.

Respect comes down to knowing who you are and being courageous. Courage isn’t about being fearless. Courage comes with making the right choices, even if you feel afraid. If you want to be a “respected hero,” make the right choices. You’ll become the person who stands out and is looked up to by others. It’s worth more than gold, and it’s what God is cheering you on to become.  He wants us to be a reflective image of Himself – mind, spirit, and bodily. When you carry respect, it reflects the One exalted high and lifted up. It’s a reflection of God living in you.