BOREVID-19: Are You Bored Yet?

It has been over a month since we have been told to stay-at-home or do our part to “flatten the curve”. Now it seems that everyone is eager to re-open the country regardless of what doctors and science are telling us to do.

People are bored. They can’t stand it anymore. They want OUT!

For me, I have enjoyed this time. No rushing around and being able to enjoy time at home with my wife. I haven’t been bored.

People are funny though. They build their houses, buy entertainment devices and linked into social media yet they are still bored.

It wasn’t like when I was growing up when my parents would tell me to play in the yard.

No today my friend. People are totally bored with staying at home (for those of us who have) and need to get out.

What’s the rush?

Why do we get bored so easily when we have so much?

Consider these facts and figures:

  • Americans spend an average of $200,000 on their homes
  • We spend $2,913 annually for home entertainment equipment
  • Americans spend a total of over $36 Billion a year for video games
  • Game systems made over $7 Billion
  • We spend an average of $60 per month on Internet service
  • We average spending $1,093 per year for furniture
  • The average American subscribes to 3-4 movie streaming services for an average of $29 per month.

We spend all of this money for these things in our homes yet we are still bored. Boredom is a modern condition which has oddly increased the more that technology has. Boredom was literally nonexistent until the late 18th century leading into the Industrial Revolution. Early in human history, when our ancestors had to spend most of their days securing food and shelter, boredom wasn’t an option.

Having the latest in home entertainment doesn’t cure our boredom, we are motivated out of boredom when we do something. Here are a few things that you can do to become productive during this time:

  1. Update your resume
  2. Read your emails
  3. Clean the garage (or other space in your house you’ve been putting off)
  4. Read a book
  5. Write a letter (yes, actually WRITE a letter.)
  6. Watch an online tutorial
  7. Learn how to cook
  8. Write your autobiography

Need more help in managing your boredom? Try some of these:

Advertisements

The Church of Social Distancing

Over the past month, our routines have been been changed drastically due to COVID19/Coronavirus pandemic. The term “social distancing” has become the current overused catch phrase.

Churches have also been affected by social distancing as they have stopped meeting in their church buildings and moving to having services online. I have monitored various responses and there are some who are not too happy about the pressure of churches not gathering together in person. Some have even challenged the government’s infringement upon their rights but it is really a matter of keeping people safe and healthy. The same has been true for other public events such as concerts, festivals and professional sports.

I spent a significant part of my previous life involved with a church as I was in the routine of attending Sundays and midweek services. The routine actually drove me into depression and frustration as I would leave feeling worse than I did when I arrived. I had to make a change.

As painful as this might be for some to believe, you don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with God. This crisis could really be a good thing for believers as they now have to change how they respond. It really isn’t that difficult. Here are ten tips I have experienced that could help you if you are having anxiety about not being able to go to church:

Tip #1 – It takes discipline

One thing that is the most important part in surviving without going to church is having strong self-discipline. You have to develop your own way of having church on your own. It isn’t easy but you can survive.

Tip #2 – Find Your Way of Reading/Studying the Bible

I know this sounds boring but reading and studying the Bible is important. It doesn’t have to be a dull discipline. There are many ways of doing this. Listening to the Bible is a good way and even the dramatic versions give you an exciting new way to experience the Bible. There are also many apps that can help you with studying the Bible. A good app I would recommend is one named “Got Questions” which answers hundreds of questions about God and the Bible. They feature a random question/answer every day.

Tip #3 – Build your music library

Download your favorite music and always look for new songs that will encourage you. I often like to sample new music in the iTunes Store. Always look for new songs to refresh you and renew your outlook.

Tip #4 – Maintain a consistent prayer life.

Personally, this is the most difficult thing to maintain. It isn’t that I don’t want to pray but it is always difficult to talk to someone who doesn’t talk back. It can be quite a challenge. I also don’t want it to always be a constant list of petitions. One way to maintain consistency with prayer is to change it up. Make each day a different prayer such as “Thankful Thursdays” or develop prayer themes each day that will keep your prayers fresh. The most important thing is to keep your focus in your prayer life.

Tip #5 – Be Quiet

One of the disciplines that I learned from a week I spent at a monastery was the incredible practice of being quiet. Just sitting quiet before the Lord for a few minutes is something that will change you. Of course, in a world full of noise, it can be difficult to find a place to be quiet. I recommend the mornings if you can get up a few minutes early. If sitting quietly challenges you, try setting an alarm. Dedicate yourself to spend a certain amount of time being quiet. Believe me – it isn’t as easy as you think but it does an amazing job of calming you.

Tip #6 – Subscribe to Podcasts

If you have a preacher, Bible teacher or program you enjoy, subscribe to their podcast. I have a few that I listen to daily. If you don’t like them you can always unsubscribe. My favorites are In Touch with Charles Stanley, A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, Rick Godwin and Fighting for the Faith.

Tip #7 – Look for ways to help others

You don’t have to go to church to help others. Unfortunately people tend to do it in church with a return of getting some form of recognition or credit. When you are doing church alone, you can really experience the true blessing of helping others. Look for ways to help others. Be kind to people and be approachable.

Tip #8 – Find Innovative Ways to Do Church

The key to having your own church without others is to keep things fresh. Don’t get stuck into a routine. Change things up and look for new ways to keep spiritually fit. Watch new Christian movies, go to concerts or whatever you find that will encourage you. One thing that I found that was innovative was when I was given some Virtual Reality Goggles. I am able to watch videos and even attend church feeling that I am there in person. It’s a whole new experience.

Tip #9 – Keep a Journal

Writing is a good way to keep focused. Start keeping a journal. There are no rules for doing it. You can write prayers, poetry or scriptures. A good idea to keep sharp with your Bible study is to write a Bible verse then explain how it applies to you and your life.

Tip #10 – Do something every day

Since this isn’t church you can do for two hours on Sunday, you can do this everyday. Although you may not be able to do everyone of these tips every day, you can do something. If you are experiencing life without church for the first time, this is your chance to do something new.

Don’t panic about not being able to go to church. This really isn’t a bad thing to experience. This will teach you that you can make it on your own. Believers need to be self-sufficient and not put so much emphasis on attending a church. Honestly, a lot of times the problem with church is people. There are some difficult personalities to deal with which can distract us from our relationship with God. This is a good time to take a break from those peer pressures of church and focus on what truly is important.

Not to be a prophet of doom and gloom, but there may be a time when people can’t meet in church. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to function without church now? This is a good practice for any “end times” scenario that has been prophesied to come in the future.

The church is people – not a building. If you are a believer then you ARE the church. People focus way too much on the building and group than they do on the real purpose of a church. This time of social distancing is a good time to do that.

Making Teleworking Work For You

As most of the world is dealing with the current pandemic of COVID19, the way we work has drastically changed over the past few weeks. While it is unfortunate that some can’t work during this time, there are some who are experiencing teleworking for the first time.

I am one of those people. For the first time in my 38 years of working, I have been teleworking. Although I am sad about the reason we are having to do this, I love being able to work from home. I wish I had been able to do this sooner. With my job, I spend about 80% of my days on the computer working with data. Obviously I can’t do every aspect of my job but I can assure you that I have been very busy since I have been working remotely. The work hasn’t slowed down even if the bandwidth has slowed me down. As I was preparing to telework, I had hoped that my internet provider – Xfinity – would do something temporarily to bump up my internet speed but all they were interested in was trying to up sale me on a new plan. I am disappointed that they weren’t willing to make exceptions for this situation. Fortunately, my current speed is okay but it would have been nice if they would have worked with me on this.

It’s important that you prepare yourself for teleworking. Make sure you have a dedicated place to work and that your technology is setup for working from home.

The first thing I love about teleworking is – well – working from home and being with my wife. On most days we spend about 11 hours apart. It’s a good feeling to be close and know that she’s here. We get along well and love being together. Although I am working, I get to see her a lot more and have lunch with her every day.

The second thing is the commute. I normally have to get up at 5 a.m. and take a van pool with people who are totally opposite in their political views than me and ride 45 minutes to/from work. That can be a very long 45 minutes of my day. Over the last two weeks, my commute has been 15 steps to where I am working.

The third good thing about teleworking is that every day is casual day. I don’t have to figure out what I am going to wear. I just put on some comfy clothes and go to work. In fact, today is wear-your-Disney-shirt-to-work day here.

Here are some other things I have learned with my telework experience:

  • You must be disciplined. Working at home doesn’t mean you don’t work. I know that’s sounds crazy but it can be too tempting to goof off when you telework. The key to keeping the work in telework is to be disciplined. Our management requires us to keep a log of what we are working on every 30-minutes. I stick to this by setting my watch alarm for 30 minutes so that I can keep to the schedule and keep my log accurate.
  • Keep work routine. For me, I continue to get up, take a shower and get dressed for work. I also continue with the usual breaks and lunch times I have when I am working in the office.
  • Manage your interruptions and distractions. One of the benefits of teleworking is that I don’t have to deal with co-workers or supervisors interrupting me or what I call “drive-bys”. I can actually focus on my work; however, working from home presents new interruptions and distractions such as the humming noise of neighbors mowing their lawn that I hear right now. Depending on where you set up your home office, the television can be a distraction so you will have to decide what level of distraction you can work with at home.
  • Adjust to changes in workflow. I have had to adjust to the slower pace that I have to work now since I am not physically in the office connected to our network. There are many days where I am running projects on two or three computers. I am also adjusting to the change of working on one monitor than the two monitors in the office. Working from home forces you to prioritize your work even more than when you are in the office.
  • Adapting to communicating with co-workers/supervisors. Communication with others is different since you don’t have in-person interaction when teleworking. I have kept communication going with email or Skype. Personally, I like this form much better than the in-person or my office phone ringing to interrupt me.
  • Reward yourself. I think it is important to reward yourself for being disciplined when you are teleworking. Take five minutes to walk around, go outside or plan an activity when the workday is over. Sometimes I tell myself that at a certain time I will get a snack or do a short chore just to break up the routine. It’s good to take a few breaks as long as it isn’t longer than five minutes.

When this crisis is over and life gets back to normal I hope I will be able to continue to telework at least one day each week and as I approach being eligible to retire from my current job in the near future, I would love to find employment with someone who offers teleworking or work from home. I am definitely disciplined to do this and have the personality that is suited for it.

Sure, you still have to work when you telework but it is a welcome change from the daily grind. I’m just very fortunate that I can still work during this time of being locked in while we all try to navigate this pandemic.

Why Has God Allowed COVID-19?

If there is one question people ask during times of crisis or suffering, it is why does a loving God allow suffering?

This is a time that the world is dealing with a pandemic. People are sick and dying from the Coronavirus. So what’s the deal with God in all of this?

I can assure you that God was not surprised by this. It is also entirely possible that He caused this to happen. Many Christians would disagree with me but if you read the Bible you will see many times when God brought disease upon His people to either punish his people for their disobedience or to defend his people from their enemies.

Is it really true that a loving God would bring sickness and disease on people? It’s sometimes hard to imagine our loving and merciful God displaying such wrath and anger toward people. But God’s punishments always have the goal of repentance and restoration.

God said to Solomon: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Could this be what is happening right now? Personally, I don’t understand how this would help God’s public relations with people who don’t believe in Him already. God has His reasons and is not compelled to share them with us.

So am I saying that God intentionally brought this virus upon the world right now? Well, I obviously can’t speak for God – no one can – but I want to dispel the idea that God wouldn’t allow this.

The truth is that we live in a fallen world that is imperfect. Since the fall, God has allowed mankind to have the freedom to make their own decisions and choices. Sometimes we make wrong decisions and have to suffer the consequences as a result of our choices. This affects nature as well.

Is the Coronavirus a sign of the end times? Maybe. This isn’t the Tribulation period as prophesied in the Book of Revelation but it could be an indicator that we are getting closer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Bible predicts that we are like. a woman experiencing birth pains. The pains get closer together as she gets closer to birthing a child. Matthew 24:7-8 describes our current status:

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and pestilence and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

I’m not being a downer about God but I think we should be realistic about God. It’s totally okay to pray and trust God in these times but we should also take precautions to protect ourselves. This is when our faith is put to the test.

Faith vs. Coronavirus

I will warn you before you read this blog post that this isn’t your typical Christian response.

Over the past couple of weeks, our lives have been changed by the spread of the Coronavirus. After initial denial, the Government is now scrambling to deal with the crisis. The public is panicking and stores are being emptied of essential items.

There is no sense of confidence right now. I don’t think any of us have seen something like this before.

Last Sunday was supposedly a National Day of Prayer. I don’t have anything against prayer but I wonder about how effective this is against a worldwide pandemic. I heard some people on the radio talking about how the sermon of a televangelist who preached a “beautiful” sermon about how we should choose faith over fear.

That sounds good doesn’t it? But how realistic is that? I don’t mean to be critical but having lived a Pentecostal upbringing, I am very familiar with religious hype and pie-in-the-sky claims about what God can do. I have heard numerous preachers make claims about faith and work up the emotions of crowds yet in reality they offer cute catch phrases that people latch onto.

Choosing faith over fear is one of those often used catch phrases.

Let me assure you that choosing faith over fear isn’t going to guarantee that you or your family won’t catch the Coronavirus. Some preachers will make you believe that if you “trust in Jesus” and if you “have enough faith” that you won’t get sick.

Don’t fall for those snake oil promises. Instead, choose faith but understand that you may still get sick or face hardship. Having faith in God doesn’t mean you will won’t be affected. Actually, it may open you up more. The Book of Job is a good example of that. Having faith doesn’t mean you won’t face some serious problems and trials. Having faith means you trust in God regardless of what happens to you. It isn’t a heavenly insurance policy against the Coronavirus.

Listen, I have heard all the cute religious cliches and pep rallies about faith. I’m just telling you as one who has experienced this. Troubles will affect you whether you have faith or not. Having faith doesn’t protect you but faith is the strength you have during adversity. Don’t let anyone skew the meaning of faith for you.

I have faith but I’m still washing my hands and taking all the precautions to protect against catching the virus. Faith doesn’t mean to ignore common sense.

Look, I believe in God and I’m not against prayer or faith. I have faith but I am also prepared to have faith even if I get sick. Yes, I am choosing faith over fear but I’m still going to wash my hands.

The World Has Gone Viral

This is a strange time we are living in. With the rampant spread of the COVID19 (Coronavirus), events and activities are shutting down at a rapid pace in order to stop the spread of this potentially deadly virus. As of this morning, there are 1,215 reported cases in the United States and 36 deaths. I put the emphasis on “reported” cases because the numbers are probably higher than that.

The National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS) and Major League Baseball (MLB) have suspended their seasons while the NCAA Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments have been cancelled due to this virus “March Madness”.

Most of us have not seen anything like this before. It is very bizarre.

No sports.

Some would say it is an overreaction but I think it is a good idea that sports have decided to take a break and take a cautious approach during this time.

So what’s going to happen with sports? I’m not sure anyone knows for sure. If it is a short break, like two weeks, the leagues will probably either pick up where they left off and make up the games later or end the season as it stands and start with the postseason.

Some companies are preparing to have their employees telework from their homes. I think that’s a good idea because many times colds and viruses are spread at the office. People will force themselves to go to work when they are sick. This is not a good time to even get the sniffles because people will automatically assume that you have the coronavirus. Of course, with the lack of testing how would we know for sure?

Even the Disney parks are closing. Now, you know it’s serious if they are closing.

It’s a crazy time right now.

I heard someone say today “It’s just a dang flu”. That’s the reaction from people who have not been affected. I’m sure if they or their family member had it they would have a different attitude. Hey, even the flu isn’t something to be taken lightly either. None of us really knows how this dangerous virus will affect us until we actually get it.

I am tired of people making this a political issue. It’s not a Republican or Democrat virus. Let’s just stop this nonsense please.

Are we overreacting? Wouldn’t it be better to overreact than wish we had done something?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have now been 125,048 confirmed cases with 4,613 deaths. In the past 24 hours, French Polynesia, Turkey and Honduras have reported their first cases of the virus.

Nobody takes it serious until they are affected by it.

We should take every precaution we can to protect ourselves. This isn’t funny and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. I know people are buying up all the hand sanitizers and toilet paper which seems a bit extreme but the important thing is to avoid large crowds and wash our hands properly.

Good luck and stay healthy.