9 – Fear Is Marketing

Fear is always selling something. It might be selling despair as a paralytic toxin to render all who fear as helpless. It could be selling a false hope, some super-duper cure-all.

Many parents in Asia spend enormous amounts of money on education for fear that their children will not graduate as first in the nation—never doing the math that only one graduate can hold that position. After all, fear inhibits reason. Insanity is another thing fear often sells. But, if you don’t graduate at the top of your class from the best school in the solar system, then your life is over, right?

Sometimes fear takes the form of grandiose goals—goals that are physically or computationally impossible and would serve no useful purpose even if they weren’t. It’s great to be able to calculate complex geometry in your head, but it is grandiose to think your life depends on it—or anyone else’s. Once your head gets too big, your ego pops like a balloon and you are left in fear of seductive ambitions that never existed.

It is difficult to overcome a fear of something that doesn’t exist. Thus is the nature of fear. All fear is unwarranted. It won’t do you a lick of good.

If it is inevitable that you will die, there’s no use in dying fearfully. Of course, Death gets us all. So, that’s one angel we need not fear.

If your bills are late or the odds look dark, if you need breakthrough by a certain time or if you’re running out of options, sobriety and calmness will be your best friend. Whatever person, business, or demon wants to sell you fear has some sort of purpose that is less than noble.

God commanded Israel not to fear. It wasn’t a suggestion. It wasn’t an “encouragement”—it was a command: Do not fear!

Anyone who knows God knows that only God is worthy of fear. Whatever you fear you also revere. If you fear anything other than God, get a Biblical life!

Understanding anything begins with fearing the Lord God only. Next time you see something scary—an advertisement promoting fear—concentrate on fear’s competition: Fear God.

Deuteronomy 6:13; 31:6, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 23:4; 111:10, Proverbs 9:10, Isaiah 40:10, Luke 12:4-6, John 14:27

11 – Think on the Good

There are enough problems in the world to go around. There is no shortage of bad news.

It is rather sad that many people think that all news is bad by definition. They don’t claim this outright and they would never admit it to themselves unless confronted in an environment where they could sit down lest they faint upon realizing their own folly. Whenever they report a story, it has a bad twist and they rarely find anything good to say. All of us are like this by birth. So, don’t expect it to be easy to be otherwise and don’t hold it against anyone else—being negative about negativity would be a hypocrisy.

The only way to be a “positive person” is to be intentional. People do not become happy in all moments by accident. Even then, we have our bad days and must at least enjoy the rain from our self-made rain clouds. Even without our sin nature weighing us down, there is always more to learn about God and goodness and glory and wisdom and all mysteries wonderful. Light requires energy consumed.

Sadness doesn’t help. Blaming, attacking, berating, belittling, smearing, insulting, demeaning, whipping, beating, threatening—these things do not cause people to rise up and become stronger than they knew they could be. Sometimes we need to have the sin scared out of us, but that is not negativity—rather an encounter with Eternity. Life and death is about Eternity, after all. But, the reality that death faces us all and constructive criticism are two far cries from dumping toxic emotional waste on to people thinking it will make them strong.

Light is the commodity needed by all life. Even mold that grows in darkness depends on organisms that flourish in the light. Light is what we needs. Light is what we often struggle to find. Light will make you valuable. Light will guide yourself, others, and make you a precious gem in the lives of others.

To have your own light, you need oil. Do what is right, especially when you don’t feel like it. Say an encouraging word today, even if you failed yesterday. Entertain yourself with anything fueling light.

Colossians 3:1-4, Philippians 4:4-9

22 – Take Space, Give Space

We all need space, even the simple space to exist. But, we have other necessary space—space to work, rest, play, and learn. We need space to be alone—to enjoy peace, reflection, and rest.

Give others space, especially space to ponder their flaws or improve themselves.

When we need space the most we are most resistant to it. Just the same, when others need space and “alone time” it can seem like they need us to continue jabbering at them.

Solo time doesn’t always work on a schedule. It often just shows up without warning. Usually, that intense desire to be with other people is the indication that it is time not to be with other people. Whether your rest time or someone else’s rest time has come, quickly recognize it and grant it the necessary space.

Be alone at times. Enjoy the silence. It always takes time to get acclimated to solitude just as it takes time to get acclimated to long-term prayer. Solo time is a great time to pray—not reciting well-prepared messages to God, but simply to be alone with Him or to focus your heart on one specific need or idea.

Solo times can be remarkably empowering if you do not squander them on entertainment and ice cream.

In fact, the desire to watch movies and eat ice cream can often be a kind of “spiritual attack”, to lull us into complacency and just give up when we should be working, even working alone. Know the indications when solo time knocks on your door, whether it is time for solo work or solo prayer and Bible.

Never succumb to the urge to sit, do nothing, eat ice cream, and watch movies. That usually indicates a “second-in-line” friendship that is too strong in your life, even though it may not seem related on the surface. Such friends suck the energy from us causing the hunger to snack on junk food and “escape”.

Seek out healthy solo time. Guard it. Schedule it if you need. Steal away for brief moments if it surprises you midday. Once you have finished your internal maintenance during solo time, healthy friends will miraculously show up.

26 – Don’t Cry ‘Victim’

Never give into the urge to “demand justice for what they took from you!” That is the war cry of every burglar, every predator, every oppressor, and every murderer. People who hurt others believe it is justice, but that twisted conscience comes from the inner demand that “someone owes me something!”—but it’s not true.

You don’t see Jesus whining and he gave up the most of any of us, willingly.

God has given each of us more than we need to make it through the day and the rest of our lives. Whatever was taken from you, in a Biblical worldview there are many ways that your story can have a happy ending—whether in spite of or because of your injury.

And, of course, everyone has an injury from something. Anyone who thinks otherwise lacks self-honesty. If God were to give us otherwise He would do us injustice.

The incredible, energetic, generative, creative, electrifying power of the Creator of the Universe and the Spiritverse can take any size of destruction and wipe it away like a flame licking up a spec of dust. There is so much joy, redemption, rejuvenation, resurrection, and restoration available to all of us that it would be a crime not to demonstrate it.

So, rather than beating your fists bloody as you beat bloody whoever took whatever petty thing from you, give your complaint to Heaven and let the energy of a supercharged afterlife invade your present life. Buy—purchase—immeasurable joy through the payment of giving over your right to complain. One glimpse of Heaven and you really won’t care anymore.

So, get your mind right. Focus on whatever is good and encouraging. Ask God for a glimpse of the Hope He promised in Jesus. With Heaven clearly in your mind, deeply seeded in your heart, you will somehow find the strength to envision what you must, to allow Heaven to outshine your loss.

But, never welcome that desire to “claim your right [to revenge and recompense]”. It misguides kings to lose themselves and their trusted people. Get your repayment from Heaven with Heaven’s interest rates. All it takes is a little surrender and thirst for Light.

31 – Don’t Sell-Out

Your values, ethics, personal standards—the moral code by which you live your life—must never be for sale.

If you decide that you should improve your morals and standards, that may or may not be necessary, and that is a different discussion altogether. But, when the cost of keeping your moral code becomes high, you will discover whether you have a price tag on your forehead announcing for how much you can be purchased.

Keeping one’s moral code includes personal dignity, but not only. To sell-out ones morals is more than about dignity, it’s about the foundation of good judgment, wisdom, and the conscientious compass by which decisions are oriented.

There is something magical about holding to one’s ethical code. It solidifies behavior, reliability, methodology, and character. In some way, people will be able to predict your actions, which isn’t always preferable. But, in other, more important ways, keeping your moral code will make it impossible for corrupt people to ever understand you, let alone predict you.

If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. But, if you stand for something, someone else will come riding along in white night to bring you aid that wouldn’t have been possible had you not stayed and made your stand.

There was a tale of Christians escaping persecution from China’s secular government. Two Chinese policemen stopped them and asked if they were Christian. “Yes,” they said honestly. “Good,” the two policemen replied, “We’re coming with you and we will help you because we want to get out of here ourselves.”

When you know that you are not alone—that there are other people in the ecosystem of humanity—that you depend on others and that others depend on you—that what you do can have serious effect on others, for better or worse—you will more easily make your stand and keep your watch.

The big picture is vital, but with a moral code we only need to know that morals belong to the big picture. If you maintain a moral code from above and you keep that code, you don’t need to know the specific plans of others, yet you will help others without knowing.

36 – Mundane Diligence

Every skill has its non-glorifying, earthy, unspiritual routines that are essential to excellence. Don’t belittle them. Don’t think less of them. God considers them as your way of praising Him because God likes nice things.

There is much in the world that, if forgotten, the world would fall into decay. Regular, boring, daily rounds—even laundry—keep the world turning. That’s part of what God wants for us on Earth.

In the sense that practice makes perfect—or better said by better coaches practice makes permanent—the mundane errands of life train us in what it means that God is not only the Author and Creator, He is also the Sustainer. In computer coding terms, we might call God the Maintainer.

Doing laundry, washing your feed for thousands of hours over your life, commuting to work—these things teach us valuable wisdom that we might never fully know about until the afterlife. In a sense “restrooms” were appropriately named. Martin Luther had his “evangelical breakthrough” in the sixteenth century while sitting on the toilet. That reformed Europe.

Praise Jesus for poop!

It’s fascinating that I was already scheduled to write this now, which turned out to be “laundry day”. There is laundry on my floor, cooling as I type. Going to rotate the laundry—a philosophy topic all to itself—though frustrating, gave me reflection time to improve what I write here. It always does. Laundry is a “necessary disruption”, such as the “necessary disrupters” who keep a company profitable—the ones whom “team-oriented” leaders like to downsize.

In a business sense, there is money to be made in the mundane. This is one reason so many people remain poor. One of the best moneymaking ventures is in money itself: banking. Consider coffee, toilet paper, soap, groceries, stationary, first aid—some of the most profitable business sectors don’t require much innovation at all, just a knack for monotony well done.

If you hope to have progress, you can’t let monotonous chores overpower your day. Always read something that will improve your character, one reason daily Bible is vital. Schedule more difficult tasks first, but don’t curse maintenance. Maintenance on Earth is characteristic of the divine.

Genesis 8:20-22, Job 38:33-37, Psalm 36:6, Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3, 2 Peter 3:7

39 – Look Before You Leap

There is a time for quick action, but good judgment in short order requires experience and thoughtful reflection.

In driving, we look left before turning right, yet we must always hone our ability to judge time and distance. Safety and speed go together.

Do your homework and consider your options.

Don’t blindly enter politics without having become familiar with the usual boilerplate “fools wisdom” other politicians will give you, globally known as “capitol district fever”. Don’t enter the fashion industry without first walking the floor of a clothing factory and sample office; don’t get your clothing through international trade unless everyone on the floor of that factory spoke a language you couldn’t. And, never travel to another country without at least researching general travel advisories well in advance; if you can get duplicate copies of your vital documents, get triples as well.

I have met numerous Westerners traveling in Asia who were stuck at an airport all night or couldn’t stay as long as they had hoped, all because they did what the airline told them rather then checking travel document requirements for themselves, then double checking twice more. I have yet to meet one person in the world who regrets having known more than was needed ahead of time, no matter what the task.

Many people will belittle you for doing diligence before the deadline. Take a good look at their lives; they don’t have the results you want and they have many problems that you don’t want. The only reason “average” addicts will give you a hard time for running the risk of learning too much is that they “don’t do things that way”. To them, it doesn’t matter if they have the results they want, they only want to maintain their habits, no matter how disappointing.

When someone tells you that you don’t need to look carefully before clearing every intersection, just say, “I’ll send you flowers if I can’t visit you in the hospital myself.”

Firstborns in particular like to wait and research indefinitely before making a decision. But, you can’t anticipate every problem. At some point you must leap and pray for Heaven’s favor, just pack your parachute properly first.

Proverbs 16:1-3

41 – Beware Passive Aggression

Calmness and kindness are nothing alike; equating them serves to mask hatred. The ability to sense concealed rage requires thick skin, a virtue of chivalry.

Among the greater harbors of hatred, beware the angry pacifist who never learns.

He confronts every challenge by quietly “punishing” others—even if only in his own mind—until they stop trying to “change” him. All the while, he pretends to accept everything through his quiet, calm, amiable silence.

If he mumbles, he expects instant agreement from everyone he imagines heard his mumble, whether his mumble was audible or not. When others don’t change, he placates and internalizes his rage. It never occurs to him to evaluate whether he is right or whether he has something to learn. When his rage boils over, he “blames himself” for not “taking responsibility”, which really means spinning his wheels and despising others even more than before. He decides to triple his efforts, but not reconsider his methods. When adding elbow grease to his failing methods fails again, he blames others.

He confronts through writing, gossip, and administration, never face to face, so he can think he “won”.

He needs chivalry, fierce friendship skills, and speaking candidly enough to learn when in error.

If this is you, your life is in peril; halt all your plans and reconnoiter your ways.

If you see this in your friend, minimize that friendship. Be cordial, pray, provide what you should if this is a family member, but that’s all.

I was once given advice by a self-made, successful Black lady in Chicago. She worked diligently, against privilege, to buy a full-sized house in the downtown district, but wouldn’t sell it when high rise projects offered her more than its value, in 2002 priced at six million. “You can’t help everyone,” she said. “Some people just want to stay the same and they’ll waste your time. The problem is that you always like ’em.”

The angry pacifist is the most difficult to move on from. If you can move on from him, you can move on from anyone.

Don’t buy the lie that “kind tone” is all it takes to be loving. When someone else does, move on.

Proverbs 17:17

43 – Gluttony

One of the most neglected sins of the West is overeating. The Church is no exception if not worst of all!

The Bible teaches the importance of “breaking bread together”, but this does not mean stuffing ourselves until we are at risk of a heart attack.

A weekly day of fasting achieves little if counteracted by idolatry of the stomach the other six days.

All the same, basics of cross-culture relations include to always eat what you are given when a guest. But, if I did that, I would never stop needing to buy larger and larger clothing sizes.

Being overweight and being a glutton are not one in the same.

My “spiritual dad” struggled with obesity his whole life. I never looked down on him, but I was glad with him when he set goals and lost most of his weight. Had he not, I would love him just the same.

We all have our own responsibilities in life. For my situation, starting out skinny and becoming overweight would indicate that I wasn’t leading my own life. But, that’s me. Everyone’s situation is different. And, I admit that I identify with the song “I Like Big Butts”; God does too.

People with excess fat could have unknown struggles. One girl made herself obese to deter her sexually-abusive father. Sometimes we have chemical pollutants in our bodies and our metabolisms decide to create excess fat to less harmfully store those poisonous chemicals. God designed some people to stay fat, but not from worshiping the feeling of a full stomach nor to “escape”. Worshiping a skinny body is equally sinful.

Don’t judge others, but seek God’s insight for your own conscience about what and when you should eat.

Don’t waste “coffee time” bantering about nothing when there is work to be done. Nonetheless, regularly take time to sup with friends. Halt other activity to focus on good company over a healthy platter. Fellowship over meal time should be uplifting and beneficial in some way, though not so “purpose-driven” that dinner feels like a staff meeting.

Do all for God’s glory and love yourself along with everyone else. Stay nourished in food and fellowship, then charge forward.

Proverbs 23:21, Acts 2:42-46, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Philippians 3:19

55 – Be Like A Grandparent

Grandparents have rapport with the entire family.

They don’t always receive absolute loyalty and pure love from everyone in the family, but they have a level of unanimous respect. When the grandparents talk, everyone listens.

Grandma and grandpa raised the kids and the grandkids. They love each and every child and grandchild—and great grandchild—in the entire family. Grandparents understand and know each child. Grandkids visit grandma and grandpa’s house on weekends, holidays, or while mom and dad are busy.

When the kids or the grandkids have a dispute, they will listen to the grandparents because everyone loves grandma and grandpa—and everyone knows grandma and grandpa love everyone. They don’t need to be particularly smart or wise, but, if nothing else, the family will work together because of their common love for grandma and grandpa. Grandparents can settle disputes, or at least help everyone smile and “make it okay”.

But, grandparents also have experience, insight, knowledge, and some level of wisdom. Whether the grandparents gained their wisdom by chasing after it or by the university of hard knocks, they still have wisdom to offer the family. Even if the grandparents were foolish for much of their lives, they have experience that can only be gained with time.

Grandparents are more patient with children. They are less easily aggravated, more understanding, and more inclined to “drip” little nuggets of wisdom to enlighten the children as they learn on their own—children both adult and young.

In Jewish culture, as in many Asian cultures, three generations will live under the same roof. While mom and dad tend to the family trade, the grandparents will help keep the house in order and raise the children.

Grandparents know how to raise children because they have seen the process all the way through. First-time parents, however, can be arrogant “know-it-alls”, even more than teenagers—which may be where teenagers can get the attitude from. By having watched the entire birth and life process, grandparents can provide better guidance for the children.

An “old soul” will seek wisdom; it is a choice. The more you can learn from the elderly, the more helpful you can be, like a grandparent.

Leviticus 19:32