Few are the circumstances or events that have the potential to unify peoples across national, ethnic and social lines. Although no attempt is perfect because there always seems to be naysayers, I still believe that the Olympics are one of our best efforts in bringing the world together.
What other opportunity is there that brings over 11,200 people together, from 206 different nations or territories to compete in 339 athletic events, 33 sports that represent 50 disciplines?
Seriously! In my opinion, when the Olympic Games are at their best, they are a force to be reckoned with in promoting global unity.
So, after a postponment from the summer of 2020, the 32nd Olympiad will be held this month, from July 23 – Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a huge Olympic fan, who had the honor of attending the 1984 Games in LA, as a dream come true! So what can we expect in these games?
There are five new sports this time, they are: skateboarding, karate, surfing, sports climbing, and baseball/softball. New names to watch in these sports are: the 16 year old CA girl, skateboarder, Brighton Zeaner, who won the X games at 13, and the 17 year old, CO rock climber, Colin Duffy.
Other young athletes to watch are the youngest Olympian in competition, the 12 year old, Syrian table tennis competetor, Hend Zaza. Japan is also sending young ones, a 12 and 13 year old who are both in the hunt for a medal in skateboarding.
The US’s oldest competetor is 57 year old, 7 time, equestrain, Philip Dutton. While our youngest representative is 15 year old, Katie Grimes, a top contender in the pool on the swim team.
Our women’s gymnastics team will be headed by our brilliant Simone Biles but also on that team is the oldest woman’s gymnist, Makayla Skinner, who is just a tad bit older than Simone.
Other US athletes leading the way in age, are 44 year old Abdi Abdirahman, a runner, with 4 previous Olympics to his credit and the oldest basketball player, Sue Bird, who at age 40, will play in her 5th Olympics.
Team Canada will be sending the largest contingent of 371 athletes and coaches. But in my opinion, isnt’ it more inspiring to see those countries with a handful of competitors marcing in?
The ancient Olympic Games were first held in 776 BC, when an Olympic Truce was enacted so that athletes could travel from their city-states to Olympia safely. The big draw was a single race, called “the stade”, which was a short sprint. The runners were only men and they ran nude. No girls were allowed to attend for that reason. So many gathered from surrounding city-states to see the “stade”, the venue was named the stadium. Yes, our word stadium is derrived from the stade of the ancient Olympic games. Cool, right?
I am well aware that there have been controveries and protests through the years, banned nations and suspended athletes, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, shall we?
Let’s celebrate the unity of nations for 2 weeks, shall we? Not for the sake of NBC’s 7.7 billion dollar contract but for the joy of sport.
Let’s celetrate those medal recepients, because they have worked hard and made great sacrifices to achieve their goal. We can also celebrate those medals because Japan had a campaign from 2017-2019 to collect old devices to melt down the metals to make “everyone’s medal”. A total of 6,210,000 phones were donated to make those Olympic medals.
Our support and celebration is so very important. It is so sad to me that Tokyo has declared a state of emergency, due to Covid again, and therefore NO SPECTATORS are being allowed at the venues. Even the outside venues, like marathon, spectators are being asked NOT to cheer!
What in the world is going on here??? Imagine YOU are the competitor, acheiving the goal of a lifetime, with no one to audibly cheer you on. Yes, TV cameras will catch it, but cameras are silent.
Not me. I will be cheering. I will be excited about those who are striving toward bringing the world together.
Won’t you join us?
Cheers to you,
Sunday Sermon 7.10.21
It is always so exciting when a wonderful event happens in the family. Be it a new birth, graduation, new job, or wedding, we are thrilled for the joy and challenge that it brings.
Can you recall a promotion you received? Remember it’s excitement, awe, and the uncertainty too that accompanied it?
Do you remember when you made your commitment to Jesus? What feelings, emotions and thoughts did you deal with?
Events are set in time but emotions and feelings change, don’t they?
We have this story of Elisha receiving a huge job promotion.
Here he was a farmer, and a wealthy one at that, out plowing the field with a yoke of oxen, accompanied by 11 other yoke also plowing. Out of the blue, a man walks up to him, who happened to be the reigning number 1 prophet in the land, and this man approches Elisha, takes off his outer coat (of goat hair, representing his prophetic status), and places it on Elisha’s shoulders. He then turns and walks off. No words were spoken. Just a coat drop and off he went.
Elisha immediately realizing what had just happened, (he was being chosen to become Elijah’s replacement), left the oxen and took off running after Elijah. When he reached him, he said, “Please, let me first go and kiss my mother and father good-bye, then I’ll follow you.”
Elisha’s odd reply to him was,
” Go ahead, but, mind you, don’t forget what I have just done to you.”1 Kings 19:20
It seems that permission was granted for good-byes, but with a sharp challenge, DON’T FORGET this moment. In the midst of the hugs, kisses, tears, stories, celebration, sadness of loss, and excitement of new ventures, DON’T FORGET this moment and what I have done to you. DON’T FORGET to focus on the future, DON’T FORGET to focus on your call, DON’T FORGET to come back to this release and empowerment. DON’T FORGET the meaning of that hairy coat on your shoulders.
All too often, when we choose to go back, we do loose focus. We forget. We get entangled in the mire of what was and is rather than the hope and purpose of what will be. That is probably why Jesus told us,
” No man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom.”Luke 9:62
” Anyone who loves Father and Mother more than me is not worthy of me.”Matthew 10:37
And yet, Elijah told Elisha, “Go ahead”. “But don’t forget…”
Amazing contrasts here.
How did this new, heir apparent respond? Now THIS is remarkable!
“Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.”1 Kings 19:21
Talk about a serious, all in commitment!!
Elisha totally destroyed everything from his past way of life to which he could return. He left no plan B, if this “prophet in training” thing didn’t work out. He was fully committemt to the future and what God was calling him to. He would not look back, or love his family more. His farmer life was over, his past vocation now in the rear-view as he walked, NOT FORGETTING the hairy coat on his shoulders and what it represented. He allowed his past to become a blazing inferno.
He now was the right hand man to the number 1 prophet in the land and was being trained to step in to even greater works and miracles than Elijah had done.
He was not about to forget that experience in the field, that calling to a new vocation. He was not about to forget its weight, severity, hope, and inspiration. He would not forget, get sidetracked or loose focus.
He was called to something bigger and better.
My friend, so are you. You are called to something bigger and better. What is it? Don’t forget your calling. Don’t get distracted.
You have been given a promotion from God, don’t forget it. Let go of any plan B’s you may still be clinging to. Burn ’em up, slaughter ’em.
There are greater miracles for you, more power for you, many more adventures for you as you walk as His servant and right-hand person.
Go with God.
Thirty five years ago today, my husband and I took that step of love and faith, and committed to love each other “until death do us part.” Entering marriage in our “older” years (he was 39 and I was 31) and each of us for the fist time, we began our marriage marathon.
As part of our vows, we committed to be “forever by your side”, running this marathon, not sprint.
In spite of the reported increase in domestic violence, Covid stressed lockdowns, finanical strains, political discord and declining marriage and divorce rates we are still running our love race.
We have survived the bruises of that brutal first year together, when two lives are thrown together in marital bliss only to discover that two being made one is a painful and pertetual process. During those days I remember looking at Den and thinking, “Oh my goodness, how are we ever gonna make it a lifetime?” We were (are) both so strongwilled. We had lived on our own, doing thigs our own way for a long time. We were both “successful” in our careers and involved in leadership away from our careers.
The following years continued to rub off edges, smooth our dings, and sharpen us up, as “iron sharpens iron, and so a man his friend.”
At year five, we had our son, after some pregnancy challenges, and prenatal medical forcasts. He was perfect! Now our family was complete. We were elated and still running our marathon.
Somewhere around year 8, 9 or 10, (I can’t remember exactly) suffice it to say, we were dangerously close to dropping out of this marathon. I told a friend I was ready to, and without her love and commitment to pray us through, we may have become a statistic. Perhaps we were mistaken and this race was really a sprint!?! Den and I went to counseling, (after much opposition) and found our way back to each other and continued the marathon.
The next 10 years we lived life as a happy family, with focus on our son’s activities, and managing our own differences and issues as best we could.
As our son grew into manhood, becoming his own person, the focus in our marriage shifted now. Our careers became the focus and lots of time was spent in logging hours on work projects. Lots of introspection too, on who we were, who we wanted to become and where we wanted to go together. What was important to us had to be shifted through and priorities set or renewed.
As eventual empty nesters, there was nowhere else to focus the spotlight now. We had each other. Is that what we wanted, is that who we desired? Were we still committed to running this marathon together?
YES! A resounding, yes, pierced our hearts.
When Den retired, again things changed. He was now “on the sidelines” from what he had known and done for over 50 years. Who was he, what was he, where was he going? So many questions swirling for him. The best I could do for him was be there and support him, encourage him. Ya know, “Forever by your side.”
Years later, I retired and now we were full time together, with no other focuses. Would we kill each other? How would we manage those two strongwills in the same house all the time?
It has been an amazing welding together these past 3 years. We are closer than we have ever been, on every level. We share deeper, talk more, laugh more, cry more, and pray more – together. I can proudly say we are running together, in stride toward the same goal, supporting each other along the way.
Marriage will be like a freeway. There should be a destination in mind for your marriage and you both should travel towards it together. But, along the way there are off ramps. Some are rest stops and vital for completion of the journey or relieving of wasteful buildups. Others are off ramps that will change your direction and still others are off ramps that will take you out of the race altogether. Your marathon will come to an end if you take that off ramp.
The traditional 35th Anniversary is said to be coral.
Let me close with making a comparison.
Coral takes a long time to form with a lot of dying polyps along the way, just like a 35 year, bond of love has alot of dying to self. Both take a long time to form. But, healthy coral are able to withstand 97% of a waves energy as it buffets the shoreline, taking the rough current, waves and storms. Additionally, when corals are stressed by changes in conditions like temperatures, light, or nutrients, they expel an algae that lives in their tissues, thus causing them to turn completely white. This is called bleaching. The coral is not dead, when it is bleached, it can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and subject to mortality.
Whether it be through the pounding waves of life, the death of ideas, or the stress of conditions and bleaching out, Den and I have survived and are growing stronger. We’ve taken off ramps but always choose to re-enter the marathon.
We continue to be “forever by your side” through this marathon called marriage.
This word and concept keeps popping up all around us. 51% of Americans are now using some form of contactless payment. We use it at:
- The grocery store 85%
- The Pharmacy 39%
- Retail stores 38%
- Fast foods 36%
- On public transit 9%
Are you part of the 51%?
We are being told by economists that there is a consumer shift occurring leveraging contactless products.
How many of us used delivery of foods, and products during the lockdown that we normally would not have?
Pretty much this contactless shift happened due to the desire toward cleanliness. “Let’s do as much as possible without touching”, seemed to be the driving force.
Unfortunately, after 16 months of conditioning and shifting thinking, it is not only our payment methods that have become contactless.
“Social Distancing” has become a fear of close contact with other humans for way too many. It appears that we may be developing into a contactless society with nobody touching or talking closely in public.
Touch plays a very important role in human development. We are social beings and herd driven. Our brains are built to socialize. Lack of consistent human contact leads to:
- Conflict with others
- Risk of heart disease
- Risk of stroke
- Rise of blood pressure
- Depression, anxiety
- Leads to balance problems
We all want to be alone sometimes. But not all the time. We do not really want to be contactless.
Michael Bond tells us that, “When people are isolated from human contact, their mind can do truly bizarre things.”
Studies on sensory deprivation have been done as far back as the 1950’s, when word was the Chinese were using it to brainwash American POW’s in the Korean War.
In the landmark study done by Donald Herb, professor of Psychology at Montreal’s McGill University , he sought to see how sensory isolation affects human cognition. His theory, the brain would deteriorate if it didn’t have a continue stream of sensory input.
He had hoped to study his volunteers for months. Most candidates never made it a week. It was so brutal, as to the level of sensory clamps they were put through. Here though are some of their findings-
- Temporary mental impairment
- Poor performance on arithmetic, word association and pattern regcognition
- Restless, childish emotional responses
- Vivid hallucinations
He concludes, “depriving a man of sensory input will break him in days.”
His colleagues noted, “ the mind unravels when we are truly on our own. Isolation is physically bad for us.”
Here are my thoughts, dear reader- our brains have been trying to break free from the foolishness and restrictions of Covid, from the isolation, fear, worry and contactless- ness. Our brains are wired for contact, socialization, conversation and human interaction.
So let me encourage you to intentionally make plans with friends. Intentionally plan a coffee time, or lunch date, maybe a hike or long walk. Purpose to make contact with someone each week.
Let’s be gone with this contactless nonsense when it comes to our personal relationships and mental health.
We truly need each other, and maybe even a HUG.
Here’s to contact,
This Friday’s Podcast of The Joshua Files 5.7.21
Is it time to reevaluate, or maybe even establish for the first time?
Finding your purpose and living with it as the compass for your life is one of the most basic foundations of adulthood. In this podcast we address all of these issues and offer some serious thoughts to consider. Please check it out:
Feel free to share the word or leave me a message. I’d love your input and feedback.
Sunday Sermon, Palm Sunday, 3.27.21
Nearly 2,000 years ago, as hundreds of thousands of travelers gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, Jesus Christ entered the city, riding on a donkey, as the victorious King of the Jews. The crowds shouted, “Hail to the King”, “Hosanna”, and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” as they waved palm branches they had cut down and carpeted the road with their cloaks.
This is recorded in all four of the Gospels in the New Testament. Without exception the crowds are characterized by waving palm branches and spreading their garments on the donkey and on the road along the procession. With passionate shouts they hailed Jesus the victorious one who they hoped would save them from Roman oppression.
In their celebration some preceded the Christ with palms and cloaks and shouts of praise while others followed in the same manner, with palms and cloaks and shouts of praise.
Here were men and women, removing not only branches from the palm trees but also their garments. Yes, their outer garments, but they willingly removed their cloak, or robe – perhaps the only clothing they owned, to pay honor and respect to Jesus Christ.
These crowds as participants in the processional, recognized who Jesus was. They acknowledged who he was with their ruckus praise and extravagant expressions. They realized this coming king was coming to bring God’s kingdom influence. They waved their palm branches in approval symbolizing His goodness, victory, joy and triumph.
The removal of their cloak too, was an expression of highest regard for Jesus Christ. This left them exposed and uncovered their lowly state. This removed their layered defenses and protections and left them with little to hide behind.
They had shed what people see in order to honor Jesus Christ and they chose to wave a palm branch as a sign of surrender to the victorious One.
This Holy Week, as we again reflect on Palm Sunday, (Good Friday and Easter,) what can be gleaned from it? We should ask ourselves these things, we should recount the events, and reconsider the fresh impact on our life. These stories are for us, for today. They have value for our everyday living, and are not just ancient history and outdated, irrelevant events.
So I offer you this, an artichoke.
Consider this thistle that we cultivate for a yummy food; it’s edible portion is the fleshy section at the base of the leaves and heart or choke at the center. Dip the leaves in butter, place in your mouth, scrape down with your teeth to remove the flesh, discard the empty leaf and start again.
Over and over and over again leaves are removed, layers peeled away, flesh is torn, and sustenance gained until the heart is revealed.
That artichoke is like those people on Palm Sunday. Like us today.
By removing their cloaks, they were peeling away at those layers that people see, their outer leaves if you will, and revealing their heart. What covers us, our cloaks must be removed, our fleshly ways must be shed to expose our heart.
Those things that we cover ourselves with and hide behind must be shed before we can join Jesus’ victorious parade. As we shed those “leaves”, a layer at a time, our heart too is laid bare and exposed, and there He finds joy in the true expressions of our heart and brings victory, joy, goodness and triumph to us.
We are living in a season of exposing the heart. He is wanting to reveal the heart of the issue, the heart of the problem, the heart of man. He is peeling away layer after layer, leaf after leaf, removing flesh and exposing the heart. Revealing what is hidden behind layers of defenses, cover ups and artificial protections.
He is revealing the heart of praise, the heart of abandon to Him, the heart of devoted passion and extravagant worship. The heart that doesn’t care what man sees, because that heart is all about reverence to the victorious king.
The heart that openly and publicly honors Him above all, lavishing praise, glory and respect to the King.
So you see, that first Palm Sunday crowd, you and artichokes share a thing or two.
I’ve heard said that God peels away at us a layer at a time, like an onion.
I submit a better analogy may be He peels away a layer at a time like an artichoke, because He wants to reveal our heart.
So, Happy Palm Sunday, and don’t forget the palms, cloaks and artichokes…
Go with God.