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COVID Life Sucks, but God Still Offers Peace!

(Not a political blog post, but one of personal struggle and faith)

I live in Washington State. Yesterday, our governor announced a state-wide mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status.

Now, I have made the personal choice to receive the vaccine. But I was against it for a very long time. It simply bothers me that government institutions are pressing heavily on people to get a vaccine injected into their body that to this day still has not been approved as safe and effective by the FDA. I chose to get it on my own timing and for my own reasons. And I completely support those who have chosen not to get it.

This entire discussion will change once the FDA fully approves it.

For now, however, we are stuck with a gigantic question. How do we approach daily life at work and at home with positivity and hope when virtually everything we see in the news and that is being forced upon us by our elected officials points to despair and frustration?

I have come to realize something this week. Allowing ourselves to float aimlessly down the river of societal unrest not only does not help us, but it actually causes us to get more unhealthy. Our clarity of thought, mental health, and overall outlook on our world gets flushed down a truck stop toilet when you and I allow mainstream news outlets, social media, Hollywood, and self-serving politicians to shape how we decide to live our day and treat others.

Do you agree?

I spent the entire evening last night feeling sick to my stomach. My anxiety was higher than it’s been in months. “Take slow, deep breaths. Stop looking at the news” I would try to tell myself.

I slept 9 hours last night and I still awoke feeling like I had been drug on the ground behind a running horse through the desert. After taking my wife to work I came home, took a shower, and sat down at the table with God, His word, and my journal. It was time to have a discussion.

Next, I was reminded of the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5 tells us these traits are ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ These are character traits that God hopes His followers will develop for every season of life.

One of my favorite quotes over the last 30 years comes from pastor and author, Charles Swindoll. He says, “My attitude is made up of 10% my circumstances, and 90% how I react to them.”

Ouch!!! My 90% reaction last night contained none of the above-mentioned 9 Spiritual traits.

This is what led me to write this post today. I am a pastor and follower of Jesus. If that’s you as well, we are called by God to be set apart from the norms of the world. God asks us to stand out in how we love and how we posture ourselves when facing fear, frustration, and uncertain times.

May I encourage you today? Especially if you have been feeling similar to me recently, take time first thing in the morning and again right before bed to meditate on God, His goodness, His promises, and His power. I’m going to do my best to do this too.

I’ll leave you with this. Yes, I have very strong opinions on how our leaders are facilitating the COVID situation, what’s occurring in Afghanistan, racial injustices, the current labor shortage in America. But when it boils down to it, our character and public posture must be shaped by God’s word and strength, NOT by the social issues that dominate today’s news headlines.

Do you agree? What do you struggle with most today? Have you figured out how to keep yourself centered and positive in the midst of the current chaos we live in, or do you struggle like I do?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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Contentment Is Learned

I don’t make enough money. I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Workplace negativity annoys me. Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others.

Can you relate, or am I alone on this?

While all of these statements are true for me in my head, I also recognize that the magnitude of their truth only grows when I give it permission.

I don’t make enough money. Actually, I do. ‘Enough’ is relative. I have enough because God always provides for my needs. I may not have excess, but excess is not essential.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. True…but I could have went to bed earlier. I wasn’t proactive.

Workplace negativity annoys me. Ok, so why don’t I choose to allow it to energize me to be an element for change toward more positivity?

Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others. It is what it is. I’m not going to singlehandedly change societal behaviors, most of which are personal pet peeves anyway. I even talked with my therapist about this. (Yes I’m in therapy. Healthy people seek help while unhealthy people remain unhealthy in their solitude) She challenged me, “Why are you allowing others (strangers) to occupy so much of your limited emotional capacity?” Yeah, good question.

You see, all of these examples of mine are choices. Choices for action or mindset. Choosing to take the better path is usually more difficult and requires conscious effort. But we CAN do it!

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬

The apostle Paul wrote this in one of his letters while imprisoned. He had learned to be content because of his past experiences, both of pain and joy. He shares that in every circumstance he has learned the ability to ‘do all things’ in order to live in contentment because of the strength made available to him through Jesus.

Now, you and I don’t always have the ability to change the circumstances around us. But we do have choices regarding how we model walking through them.

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My ‘One Word’ for 2021 (updated)

Toward the end of 2020 I wrote about my One Word for 2021.

BE

That’s it…Just BE!

I was shocked and thrilled to learn that my wife, Cailey, also discovered the same word for her in the next year! So for Christmas I got her these wall letters to place in our living room as a daily reminder for both of us.

In the midst of multiple life changes, a surgery, and COVID-related hardships, however, this ‘Just BE’ only became a reality on our wall during the last week of June, 2021. And it’s timing is perfect. I love it. I do my quiet reflections in the morning at our kitchen table and I can see this directly across from me while I think about the day ahead of me.

Here are a few things I’m being challenged in half way through this crazy year.

  • Just BE in the moment.
  • Just BE calm and breathe.
  • Just BE still.
  • Just BE positive.
  • Just BE grateful.
  • Just BE intentional.

Do you have a One Word for 2021? What is it? Do you need to take time this week to revisit it and reflect on how it needs to shape the second half of the year for you?

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

3 Keys To Thriving In These Current Times

Happy Friday!

Just a quick thought. I firmly believe that faith, hope, and love are the single most important keys to thriving in life and for sustaining society.

As a Christian, FAITH is believing in a Heavenly Father who breathed everything into creation…who sent Jesus in human form to pay for the sins of his people…and who demonstrates pure love. Faith is knowing God is there, here with us 100% even though we cannot physically see Him.

Faith leads to HOPE. Through Jesus, we have the hope of eternity in Heaven one day. The hope for a better tomorrow here on Earth while we await His return. Honestly, with all the trials the world has been suffering just in the past 14 months, I cannot fathom how anyone has been on this journey without an unshakable HOPE. My hope in Jesus gets me out of bed each day, allows me to enjoy my family, and have a positive outlook despite all that I see going on in our world.

And finally, LOVE! There’s so much good here.

The love…

…God has for all of His creation.

…God has specifically and individually for YOU and I.

…Jesus modeled for us to have toward each other while he was here as a human.

…God longs for us to have toward Him in return, AS WELL AS loving OURSELVES well (Mt. 22:39).

“…the greatest of these is love.”

Why is love the greatest? Because it’s eternal. It will outlast all other gifts, blessings, and things of this physical Earth. Love is our shared connection to each other, to Jesus, and to Heaven in the here and now.

I’m going about my day today trying to constantly reflect on my personal faith, hope, and love. I hope this post blesses you somehow today.

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What If Pike’s Peak Disappeared?

God’s love for you and I is more consistent, guaranteed, and tangible than it is for mountains and hills to be in their same place each morning.

Our family lived in Colorado Springs for a couple years. The front range was majestic. And Pike’s Peak could be seen virtually from any location in town. Residents could count on it being there.

And yet, scripture tells us that it’s more likely for Pike’s Peak to disappear than it is for God’s love for us to cease.

Rest in that truth today. And if you are finding it hard to believe, take that to God. Be honest with Him. He only has warm, open arms for you.

Be blessed.

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Have Recent Months Been Hard?

Perspective is everything!. Here’s what my wife and I have been experiencing in the recent six months.

  • Moved into a new home.
  • Three positive COVID tests in the family.
  • Two quarantines.
  • Finally bought a second car.
  • Missed Thanksgiving due to quarantine.
  • Gave up a great job.
  • Our first grandchild was born.
  • Missing out on a big leadership retreat in Lake Tahoe.

And the list goes on. Challenges and blessings, all of it. That’s where perspective comes in. It would be easy for me to say that the past six months have been really difficult. While that may be true, I’m challenging myself to change my perspective and language. Another way to frame this is to state that it’s been really BIG. See the difference? It’s still true, but ‘big’ identifies both the negatives and the blessings.

Know what else? God…God is BIG! His promises, power, and love for us is absolutely enormous. We don’t even have the ability to comprehend all that he is.

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:5

God has proven to be bigger than my worst trials, and active in BIG ways with every single blessing I’ve had. Is this true for you too?

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The Podcast Has Come To A Close

The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us quite poetically that there is a time for everything. A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to start a podcast and a time to end it so you can focus more on writing.

Ok, so all you Bible scholars caught me. That last part isn’t in the Bible. But the general lesson still remains. Seasons come and go. There really is an appropriate time for everything.

Today, I made the difficult decision to shut down the Faith & Entertainment Podcast. I had a blast with this show and it did serve a purpose for a season. I was blessed to be able to meet and interview guests like Jamie O’Neal, Michelle Warnky, Shawn Johnson-East & Andrew East, Jenny Catron, Holly Tucker, April Kry, and so many more! We talked openly about living a life of faith in Jesus while pursuing careers in professional sports, acting, and music. And the biggest compliment I received about the show wasn’t comments or shares from listeners. It came from the guests expressing how they really appreciated the chance to talk about their faith in an authentic and safe place. I’ve even been able to stay in touch with many of them since their interviews. You can still listen to each episode now through 03/04/2021 if you like.

Part of my decision to drop the show and focus on my blog is that I’ve learned I’m a much better writer than presenter. Plus I’ve had my blog for over 14 years. The podcast actually began as a blog interview with well-known entertainers and evolved into a podcast after recording my interview with Olympic gold medalist & gymnast, Shawn Johnson-East and her husband. With that, I would say that it’s highly likely this blog may showcase additional interviews in the future.

Seasons come and go. They change with time. The podcast isn’t the only thing changing for me. (If you have listened to the podcast, thank you!) My wife and I had to quarantine not long ago for 12 days. She tested positive for COVID-19. I’m pretty sure I had it somewhere along the line too, even though I tested negative three times. I’ve been struggling with COVID ‘brain fog’ for a number of weeks now. It hasn’t greatly effected daily life for me, but it has caused me to step down from a remote job with our faith network that I took on back in August, 2020. But I am grateful that I am still able to function well in my other two careers.

One very positive season that has arrived for us is Winter! I’m not talking about the cold, snowy one. I mean our new grand-daughter, Winter Rose. Cailey and I have officially become grandparents….and we’re loving it!

That’s enough about me. So, what about you? What changing seasons, decisions, blessings, or challenges have you faced in recent months. Drop a comment below.

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Do You Have One Word For 2021 Yet?

I’ve finally discovered my #OneWord365 for 2021, and for the first time it’s the same as my wife’s!

‘BE’

Through the next 12 months I’ll strive to BE…

…Optimistic

…Kind

…Connected

…Calm

…Rested

I also had fun using a free mind-mapping app to give me further clarification and focus. My plan is to regularly review each of these and journal my progress along the way.

Join the OneWord365 Community on Facebook!

What is YOUR one word? Do you practice something similar? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

Pandemic Language, No More!

Today, I’m beginning a personal challenge. A challenge to focus my positive thoughts and hopefully reduce much of the negative thoughts. I believe you would agree with me that words are powerful. The words we speak, think, and read ultimately effect us and others.

Recently, I have noticed that I have been talking about COVID-19 pretty much every day. Understandably, this reality has taken ownership of our daily lives. BUT….I’ve also become very aware that I’m not talking nearly as much about the things in my life that mean the most to me. My relationship with Jesus, my family, hobbies, dreams, etc. With that, here is my personal challenge. Maybe you’d like to attempt it with me. The concept is simple, but pulling it off will be a daily struggle and will require a ton of intentionality. I will be making every effort to completely ELIMINATE these words from my vocabulary. I’m not going to post them, speak them, or read them in the news (Lord willing).

COVID

Pandemic

Quarantine

Social Distancing

Vaccine

I can hear the laughter already. Here’s where I’m coming from, though. The pandemic has become a daily reality for all of us. It’s everywhere. So, I don’t feel the need to continue talking about it as if it’s a new headline in the news or that it’s going to end anytime soon. I’m moving on in a positive direction today and into 2021. I’m not saying I’m going to act like COVID doesn’t exist, but I don’t need to continue feeding it verbally either. Friends, family, co-workers, feel free to hold me accountable. Better yet, JOIN ME!

The hashtag I’m using is #2020NoMoreChallenge

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If YOU are a Christian entertainer and would like to be a guest on the Faith & Entertainment Podcast, simply email me at brentdumler@icloud.com. I’d love to talk with you!

Permissions > Restrictions

Here in WA State we are undergoing more restrictions as COVID numbers are on the rise. Though these are arguably necessary, they are negatively affecting small businesses, grocery shopping, church gatherings, medical treatment, and much more.

My wife and I co-lead our missional faith community and we also work at a very busy grocery store in town. The latest restrictions are causing many in our community to go back into the ‘panic shopping’ that we witnessed last Spring. So, we are feeling all the craziness first-hand.

Thankfully, I was able to spend some significant time reflecting on life and scripture this morning (admittedly for the first time in over a week). And as is always the case with God, he kindly gave me a powerful reminder.

Whatever I speak, write, and post becomes my reality. Those actions (choices) define what is truth in my life. Like it or not, I can’t argue with that.

Let me share with you part of a reflection I wrote in my journal today.

Focus: Acknowledge the circumstances around you without adding to the negativity. Speak optimism & hope whenever possible.

This was big for me. It’s so easy to fall in line with the copious amount of pessimism and chaos in our world today. Allowing myself to simply blend in with the norm of that noise around us doesn’t lead to anything helpful. I don’t know if it’s possible to add white noise to white noise, but this is not what I want to be about.

Hence the title of this post, ‘Permissions > Restrictions.’ We don’t really have many choices in our daily lives when new COVID restrictions are placed on us. But we do have unlimited PERMISSIONS available to us. What do I mean?

You and I have an incredible opportunity to stand out, to be a loud sounding ‘gong’ in all this negative white noise. And it’s so rare right now that people will absolutely notice when we choose to react to negative circumstances differently than the vast majority of our surrounding society.

This does not mean that we ignore facts or act like COVID, politics, social unrest, and financial stress don’t exist. These things are very real and affect real lives. But another very real truth is that we have a loving God in Heaven who offers us wisdom, power, direction, and comfort for the times we live in. And God has given us each other. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have my faith, family, and community.

So….I’m making a declaration on my own personal attitude, my own behavior. For the remainder of November and all through December I will be making a conscious (imperfect) attempt at inserting optimism into conversations with others. The same goes for the thoughts that go on in my mind.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please drop me a comment below.  

Subscribe to the blog Here and never miss a post.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

If YOU are a Christian entertainer/athlete and would like to be a guest on the Faith & Entertainment podcast, simply email me at brentdumler@icloud.com. I’d love to talk with you!