Coronavirus and worry — fight back with faith and the 23rd Psalm

On Zoom yesterday a friend asked me how I was doing in the midst of the pandemic. “Without dismissing the death and economic pain,” I answered, “honestly, I find the whole thing epic. I feel invigorated and called to serve.”

Here’s a link to the editorial at Fox News.

Opinion: The Michael Flynn case was a setup from the start. How many other lives have the FBI destroyed?

If you were paying any attention to the news Thursday afternoon — and we suspect you were — you know there is a passionate debate underway right now among political partisans over the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case against General Michael Flynn. They are screaming.

Here’s a link to the editorial at Fox News.

Op-Ed: Who will be this week’s socialist rising star

For the past few decades, people have chastised dozens of Republican presidential candidates for shooting themselves in both feet in front of national TV audiences during notoriously bad primary debates. By the end of the last conflict, those left standing have made such fools out of themselves, their own party is embarrassed.

Here’s a link to the editorial at Illinois News Network.

Court ruling against sanctuary cities and states should be followed by tough legislation

The ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court allowing the federal government to withhold grant money to so-called “sanctuary” states and localities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities is an important victory that will help protect the American people from dangerous illegal immigrant criminals.

Here’s a link to the editorial at Fox News.

Pastor Rick Warren: Daily Hope

Focusing on God’s Purpose Leaves Little Time for Envy
By Rick Warren

“Let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.”
(Hebrews 12:1 TLB)

When you start to get concerned about something God is doing in another person’s life and envy starts to build, focus on the plan God has for you. Don’t get distracted — center in on God’s will for your life.

There’s a simple phrase in the story of the vineyard workers that the owner says to those who were grumbling about not getting what they deserved: “Take your money and go!” (Matthew 20:14 GW). He’s basically saying to those who can’t get past their envy, “It’s time to move on now. Quit having a pity party. Just get over it!”
Sometimes we get stuck in the past. Maybe you still envy the person who got to be prom king or queen. But why should you let what someone else got keep you from God’s plan for your life right now?

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us” (TLB). The “particular” race means your unique race — the race that is only for you. God has a plan that he wants you to pursue that is unlike anyone else’s. He planned it for you before you were even born, and it includes better things than you could ever dream for yourself.

Once you begin to discover and pursue the unique purpose that God has for your life, you won’t envy anyone anymore. You’re released from the tyranny of having to be best all the time. You just have to be the best you can be, the person God made you to be.
When you get focused like this on God’s particular race for you, you’ll be so caught up in what he wants you to do that you won’t have time for envy. You’ll be living your life for an audience of one.

Why is there freedom in living life for an audience of one?
How do you know what God’s purpose is for your life?
What experience from your past may be keeping you from pursuing God’s will for you right now?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.

Pastor Rick Warren: Being Content is a Learning Process

By Rick Warren

“Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need.”
(1 Corinthians 4:7-8 The Message)

Instead of focusing so much on what we don’t have and what didn’t happen, we can be grateful for what we do have. This doesn’t come naturally to me, probably not for you either, and not even for the apostle Paul, who said, “I have learned to be content.” Being content is a learning process.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 4:7-8, “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need” (The Message).
Envy is based on the myth that you need more to be happy. Envy always looks at others and asks, “Why them? Why did they deserve it? I deserve what they have.” But gratitude says, “Why me? Why did God give me this? I’m blessed because I don’t deserve what I have.” It totally flips our perspective.
Although we all struggle with envy, it’s hard to admit it because it’s such an ugly emotion. When you’re envious of others, you really want them to fail, because it makes you feel better that they don’t have more than you. That’s pretty crazy, isn’t it? If we could only learn to be grateful for what we have, we could begin to get rid of these feelings of envy.
It’s important to understand that envy is not having a desire or a dream or a goal. It’s good to have those. Envy is not looking forward to something or hoping that something can happen in your life or even wondering if you should have some thing. Envy is instead resenting somebody who already has what you desire or has reached a goal you have yet to obtain. Envy says you can’t be happy until you get that desire or goal. Envy is not being grateful for what you already have.
Yet the Bible tells us that we already have more than we need and far more than we deserve. Every good thing in our lives is a gift from God, and it is up to him to decide when and how he blesses us. It’s up to us to choose to be grateful and make the most of what we’ve been given.
As Ecclesiastes 6:9 says, “It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else” (GNT).

Thoughts on salty social media comments, the F-Bomb and the definition of profanity

When it comes to profanity, I’m not a prude, in fact far from it. I also want to add that my ears will not wilt and my eyes won’t melt if I hear or read a curse word.

I worked 20 years in the coal industry and spent time daily around men who, as my late mother Geraldine would say, ‘could cuss a blue streak.’ Admittedly, I’ve also uttered my fair share of curse words.

But, lately I see a change in the way people talk that troubles me. While my detractors will say I’m just old, I believe it goes hand-in-hand with the world we live in where everything is right and nothing is wrong, everybody wins and nobody loses and some people feel compelled, liberated or they’re just plain old stupid enough to believe they can say or write anything, anywhere, anytime – and that includes the F-bomb.

In recent months I’ve witnessed, in restaurants, at convenience stores, at ballgames, people who seem to believe that it’s their right to fill the air with expletives even when children are within earshot. I grew up in an era when men were often warned to ‘watch their language’ in front of women and children. These days some of the women and children need to have a bar of Lifebuoy shoved in their mouth.

One of the most glaring areas involving profanity involves social media. I recently read a post on Facebook where a young teenage girl that I know made a post, obviously trying to make a point. And there for all the World Wide Web to see was the F-bomb used over and over again. Unlike the iron-heads dropping the F-word in mixed company inside businesses this example just made me sad.

My first reaction when I read the post was to go on a rant that I often see on Facebook’ and threaten to remove all those who post inappropriate comments. After thinking about that for about three seconds I realized that would be a self-righteous, holier-than-thou move on my part. And given my life-list of mistakes and personal failings I clearly and definitely have no reason to put myself on a judgmental pedestal. So, instead of ascending to my Ivory Tower and ridding myself of all social media potty-mouths, I decided instead to offer some advice.

First, I want to note that on social media I see more young people than older folks posting inappropriate things. But, regardless of age I want to point out that going on a profanity-laced tirade is not cool, impressive or a way to show your intelligence.
But, in all fairness to youth and the trials of growing up, let me offer a challenge. The English language is a wonderful, marvelous, fun and challenging thing to learn and expand. And there is no greater satisfaction that being able to get your point across than by displaying a vocabulary that does not include a single expletive.

On the other hand, trying to make a point with a string of curse words is juvenile, childish and weak. It’s also just downright boring. So, my advice for young folks on social media is expand your vocabulary, learn a new word and what it means every day. It also would be a good idea to install a speed-bump between your brain and your keyboard.
These instances of people dropping the F-bomb in public places reminded me of an incident I witnessed many years ago while working in the coal industry. There was a group of guys underground at the ‘dinner-hole’ and one miner was on a rant telling a story and every other word was an F-word or an MF-word with an assortment of other salty curse words sprinkled in for good measure.

When he finally finished an old miner who had quietly listened asked the ‘cusser’ a simple question: ‘Do you know the definition of profanity?’ With a dull look on his face the man who had filled the air with curse words said ‘#@$%# no.’
The old miner told him, ‘profanity … is ignorance made audible.’ And again with a dull look, the cusser said ‘I don’t get it. Showing the power of words, the old miner simply said, ‘of course you don’t.’

Obviously, since I still remember that definition 40 years later, those five simple words left a lasting impression on me. Oh, the power of words!

While I hold on to the belief that there is hope for young people to learn that social media is not the best place to air their dirty laundry in a curse-filled tantrum, there will always be those, for shock value or pure stupidity, who will continue to fill the air – regardless of where they are or who they are around – with foul language.

To that group, I simply say again that ‘profanity is ignorance made audible.’

Op-Ed: It’s time for Illinois lawmakers to focus on real problems

Op-Ed: It’s time for Illinois lawmakers to focus on real problems

Here’s a link to the editorial at The Center Square.

Column: Illinois politicians talk of ethics, fairness and decency. But what they’re really saying is ‘Shut up and take it’

We’re in the political season in the broken state of Illinois and the crooked county of Cook.

Here’s a link to the column at the Chicago Tribune.

Pastor Rick Warren: Believe in Others Like Jesus Believes in You

By Rick Warren

“If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him” (1 Corinthians 13:7 TLB).

Jesus believes in you. There is plenty of proof in the Bible!

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.’ Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 NIV).
“Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23 NIV).
“If you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more” (Matthew 21:21 TLB).
Jesus believes you can do all these things because when you place your trust in him, his Spirit lives inside you. He also wants you to help others believe this about themselves. The apostle Paul offered this encouragement: “I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you” (Romans 1:12 NCV).
Each day you encounter people with low self-esteem. Everybody has insecurities. And many people are repeatedly playing a tape in their mind of how someone said to them long ago that they wouldn’t amount to anything.
How can people reverse that curse? You can help them start believing what Jesus says about them instead of believing what other people say.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him” (TLB).
That’s what God wants you to do. He wants you to show faith in others so they can believe what God says about them.
One of the best ways we do this in the church is by being part of a small group. When you have a really tough week and you’re doubting and down and discouraged, you need a group of trusted people who will believe for you. And you can do the same for them. Followers of Jesus don’t just believe in Christ. We also believe in each other.
Your faith can help grow the faith of others as you believe in them like Jesus believes in you.
PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick
Talk It Over

What insecurities have kept you from believing in yourself like Jesus believes in you?
Why is it important for people to see themselves the way God sees them?
How has your small group helped you believe when you thought you didn’t have enough faith?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.

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