Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Making the best from working from home?

While most of us are in quarantine and maintaining social distancing, many who still have jobs are working from home. Working from home has both positive and negative issues. It is a great opportunity to grow professionally and relationally, if you do it right.

Twenty-seven years ago, I began working from home and continue to this day.  As a home office veteran, I would like to share some of the things I have learned. It is great to have the freedom to set your own hours, take a break when you want, and not having the boss breathing down your neck. And you can be home with your family to share parenting duties with the “stay at home parent.”

Family dynamics:

After the first few months of working out of my home, I was curtly informed that my wife married me for better or worse, but not for lunch.

With children or without, the family dynamics change when you are home all of the time. Children and spouses have established daily rhythms and your presence in the house will disrupt that rhythm. This is a fact that you will have to understand and accept. There will be conflict over this issue. Be ready for it.


It is very easy to get distracted by family members going about their daily activities, cleaning, taking care of kids, and talking on the phone. You may be interested in what is going on and want to be a part of what they are doing and be distracted. It will take great discipline to avoid these distractions and focus on your work.


Our homes have been places of refuge, places where we can forget work, and a place to kick back and relax in our own comfort space. Now that comfortable place has purposely been converted to the workplace.

Develop a Business Mindset

The first step is to reprogram your mind to believe that you are no longer in your home’s comfort space, but that you are actually at work. When I first began working from home, my home office was in a shed behind the house which made it easier to feel like a business office. But still, it was too close to the house.

In an effort to reorient myself into the business mode, I began to commute to the office. I would get up at the same time I would when I went to a real office, get dressed, eat breakfast, get in my car, drive to the post office to pick up the mail, drive back home and go directly into my office. This set my mind into the business mindset. After years of practice, when I walk into my home office I am in “business mode.”

Establish a place

It is important to set aside a specific place for you to work. If you do not have a room you can set aside for your workspace, you can use a corner of a room.
Make sure that that space is to be used exclusively for business purposes. That is not only important for your mindset, but also for the IRS when you claim a home office deduction.

Keep it clear of personal stuff that may cause a distraction.
Keep your workplace neat.

Set working hours

Set for yourself specific hours to work. While at home, you may have the luxury
of setting your own schedule but make sure that it is consistent day-to-day. You will have the freedom to make adjustments when there are important things that you will want to do. But do not let them permanently interfere with your set schedule. It is easy to let extraneous things, destroy your schedule.

Explain to family

You must explain to your family that just because you are in the house, you are not available for interruptions unless there is an emergency.

Enjoy the benefits of working at home.

Make sure that you treat this time of working from home as a benefit. Enjoy the freedom it gives to you. Enjoy the fact that you are close to your family. Be grateful that you can set your own schedule.

Most of all thank God and your organization, that you still have a job while others are being laid off or furloughed.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Peace in the Midst of COVID-19

Why is there no toilet paper in the stores. Placed a pickup order with Walmart that included a modest two packages of TP and they were out. In the Super Wally World, there is no TP. Smart me, I went to Amazon, figured with Prime I could have some in two days. They were “out of stock.” I went to place a delivery order with Whole Foods, for two bundles of TP – they took the order, then texted me to ask if I would take a substitute. I figured they were out of my brand so told them to substitute. They delivered the order – no TP, they had substituted two roles of paper towels.

Where is the world’s supply of TP? Because of the Corona Virus panic some have become hoarders. They are acting like this is worse than Y2K, Swine Flu, E-Bola, Smallpox, Infantile paralysis, and other major epidemics.

And it appears that diarrhea is not even a symptom of the Corona Virus.

Wall Street is in a panic with the stock market falling at unprecedented rates.

If I had the money, I would be buying stocks now rather than selling. Somewhere I heard that to get rich you must buy low and sell high.

I guess I don’t understand the situation!

Or maybe I do. Yes, I realize that there is a pandemic – worse than an epidemic – but it is not the end of the world. The governments are imposing restrictions in an effort to control the spread of the virus, which will run its course in time, medical science will develop a cure, and there will be a vaccine.

Meanwhile, it seems that the effects of the virus are less intense than many previous health scares with the elderly and infirmed being the most at risk.

By the way, I am centered in that category. So why am I not in a panic?

The first half of my life was spent chasing objectives. Success was achieving the goal. Everything else, relationships, people, and personal health became secondary to the end.

Then, when it would seem that there was nothing more to strive for, I was faced with the realization that I was not in control of my life. Through a series of incidents - temporary loss of my eyesight, a bomb on the plane on which I was a passenger, and dreams of being in an airline crash – I realized how fragile our existence in this life can be.

As a result of this and other circumstances, I came to the realization that there was something more important than me. There is a God, who I am trying to serve, there is my family that I must care for, and there is the church to which I am committed.

This is not to say that I believe that I am immune from the virus or that God will protect me from catching it. I intend to do everything in my power to avoid catching the virus. We are hunkering down in our house, washing our hands,  careful to avoid crowds and being prudent. Our grandson dropped off enough TP to last until Walmart is restocked - which should not take too many days.

We are doing all that we know to do to protect ourselves and others, but we are not in control of the spread of the virus, nor are we totally in control of whether or not we contract it. We have to put our faith in the One who is in control – our Creator and Lord.

By the way, the quote we started with has been wrongfully attributed to Rudyard Kipling. What Kipling really wrote was the poem “If” which I want to share now. It reflects how we should truly live. It is worth the read, all the way to the end.

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
   And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

   If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run—
   Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

[1] “If” a poem by Rudyard Kipling 1865 - 1936

Monday, February 24, 2020

Let's Get Wild!

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, with all your mind, 
and with all your strength.
[Mark 12:30 (NKJV)]

 What does it mean to "Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength?

Some have tried to define it as obeying. Obedience is surely part of loving God.[John 14:23-24; John 15:9-10] However, obedience is not loving God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength. You can obey someone - a superior officer, employer, or ruler - without loving them. Obeying God without a passion for Him is not love but discipline.  If discipline is all we have, it will fail in the end, while a man or woman in love will never give up. 

Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to Love God with passion, prayer, intelligence, and energy. A lukewarm, loveless version of Christianity may succeed in propagating a little religion here and there, but it will never capture the heart of a dying world.

A.W Tozer writes,
“God dwells in a state of perpetual enthusiasm. He is delighted with all that is good and lovingly concerned about all that is wrong. He pursues His labors always in a fullness of holy zeal. No wonder the Spirit came at Pentecost as a sound of a rushing wind and sat in tongues of fire on every forehead… Whatever else happened at Pentecost, one thing that cannot be missed by the most casual observer was the sudden upsurging of moral enthusiasm. Those first disciples burned with a steady, inward fire. They were enthusiastic to the point of complete abandon."

In a vision, Jesus told John to write a letter to the Church at Laodicea and tell them:
'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." [Rev. 3:15-16]

Why is it that most Christians have lost their passion and have become lukewarm? Maybe because it's not cool! So often we are too cool to be passionate. It may be the result of rationalism and modernism. Many of the early reformers worked hard to take emotionalism out of Christianity and make religion rational.

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, everyone had to have a nickname. Mine was “Wild Bill,” because I would try anything once. In the 4th Grade, Suzanne Schmitz’s mother would not let her play with me because I was too “Wild.” She was the first non-relative I ever kissed. 

Down the street from our house were three tall elm trees spaced about twenty feet apart. They were great climbing trees. We watched squirrels playing follow the leader as they went out on a branch of one tree and jumped across to a branch on an adjacent tree. The thought came to me, "That looks like fun, I’ll bet I can do that." 

There was a large branch that could hold my weight, the limb was strong enough for me to walk out and get within eight feet of a substantial limb on the next tree. So I shinnied up the first tree, stepped gingerly out on the limb. The limb was strong and supporting me. This was going to be easier than I originally thought. The branch in the opposite tree was there waiting - just a short leap away. I lept but had made a serious miscalculation and fell. As I grabbed for a large limb, all I caught were leaves and skinny branches. Holding on for dear life, I quickly fell twenty feet to the ground landing hard and breaking my tail bone. In my mind I will always want to make that leap and prove that I can do it, but the memory of the pain in my butt keeps me from making another attempt.

When we get hurt we tend to be more careful. Getting hurt makes us more cautious. If we get hurt often enough, we give up because we don't want to become vulnerable. That’s the way it is with love. When we love someone with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength we become vulnerable to the object of our love who then has the ability to hurt us. When a human being hurts us, we often transfer our distrust to God.

The Early Church was  wild, they lived in wild abandon trusting God for all their needs. They expected God to act on their behalf. They prayed and saw people healed. They raised people from the dead on a regular basis. Andrew the brother of Peter was strolling along the seashore and came upon as tragic shipwreck. The dead bodies of the sailors had washed up on the shore. Overcome with sadness and compassion, Andrew prayed and asked God to raise them from the dead. God obliged.

This wild abandonment for God lasted for a few hundred years. Then the church became more respectable as Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion. As Christianity became “Safe,” the wild ones moved out to the deserts of Egypt and Arabia. 

Much of the Church has become “Functional Atheists” A “Functional Atheist” is someone who says he believes in God, but lives his life as if God did not exist. A functional atheist is afraid to commit his life to God’s leadership. He attends church but does not expect God to show up. He believes God can heal but doesn’t expect Him to act. He may have God as his co-pilot, but never allows Him to take the controls. He relies on his own logic rather than the Holy Spirit. 

These are Christians in name only. They try to live the Christian life, but their life is dull and without fire or power;

“… if the Holy Spirit were completely removed from the world today, 90% of the work of the church would go on as if nothing at all had happened.”  - [R.T. Kendell]

Every generation has a group of wild ones in the church.

My fear is not that our great movement, known as the Methodists, will eventually cease to exist or one day die from the earth. My fear is that our people will become content to live without the fire, the power, the excitement, the supernatural element that makes us great. [John Wesley]

“The great sin of church is not that we’ve lost the power of God, but that we’ve become content to live without it.”   - [Charles Finney]

OUR nation was founded by “Wild Ones.” Now we are apologizing for believing in the one true God.