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Monday, October 25, 2021

It’s Viral

I had to make two health related decisions earlier this month. One involved the flu shot. The other, a third Covid vaccination.

May I say up front I have never cared for being sick with the flu. And I have no interest in being invaded by those ugly appearing spikey Covid thingies. They put the fear of God into millions already.

You can’t really run from it though. Or hide. The “flu bug” and coronavirus know how to seek. When the big Covid-19 scare of 2020 began, we were scrubbing down everything and putting our Target shopping bags in the garage for two weeks to make sure they were safe. But no more.

We also now seem to believe that social distancing only applies to doctors' offices, hospitals, and a few other rare types of business. Obviously it doesn’t apply to football stadiums on Saturdays and Sundays. Or concerts. Or Trump rallies. (Apparently they still have those.)

I think we do wash our hands more. And sanitizer dispensers can be found most anywhere. Even the smell of sanitizer scares off viruses.

But do the immunizations really work? Joe “I want everyone to have the jab” Biden believes so. Mr. Hold-my-finger-up-to-the-wind” Anthony Fauci is on board. But half of America isn’t sure.

I went ahead and received the flu shot. My wife thinks it’s a waste of time. But for now I said no to the third Covid vaccine. I know I’m an at-risk person.

Risk. You want risk? Get on the Dan Ryan or Stevenson expressways on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend. It ain’t pretty.

You know what else is risky? Going to work!! I read an article a while back about workplace warriors who show up and share their germs. The New York Times reported that, “Charles P. Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist, placed a (harmless) tracer virus on the front-door handle of an 80-person office. Within four hours, he found the virus on more than half the workers’ hands and more than half the common surfaces.”

Gerba claims the presence of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in key public areas in the workplace reduced the number of infected surfaces by 80 percent. Now we’re talkin’!

Have you ever put your kids in school or daycare when they have any or all of those signs of sickness? Plenty of people do. Guilt does not stop them. Covid has made this a much greater concern. Kids are often the super-spreaders.

Here’s something people don’t think about. The workplace diseases not so easily treated. Selfishness. Greed. Lust for power. Corruption. These are sicknesses of the soul and require much deeper attention.

Jesus of Nazareth once said, “Healthy people don't need a doctor, sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17 (NLT)

Flu-like symptoms may only need bed rest and fluids. The sin virus needs the Master’s touch. For a healthy workplace, I recommend treatments for both.

I’m also on a daily aspirin regimen. This helps me “Bayer one another’s burdens.”

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit 

Monday, October 18, 2021


I have a birthday coming up. A BIG birthday. The big “7-0.”

IF all works out, I plan to be in Carlsbad, California, with family as this memo is released. The state has many memories for me. Married in Sacramento. All three of our children were born and spent several years growing up in northern California.

In particular, I love the coastline of California. Highway 1 is among the most scenic drives in the United States as it winds through Monterey and down to southern points of the state. Gorgeous views of the ocean from various heights highlight the drive.

Just before my heart surgery in 2005, I was on a business related trip to Los Angeles. I took time to find a scenic walk along the ocean. I reflected that as much as I loved the experience, it was perhaps the last time I might see it. God had other plans for me. I’ve returned several times.

As I hit this birthday mile marker, I’ve become increasingly aware of a truth found in Psalm 39 (among other places). It reads:

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing[a] they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!” Psalm 39: 4-6

That reminder of “fleeting” time caused me to reflect on my “yesterdays.”

  • Yesterday I was a small boy living in Seattle walking with my father to the nearby Carkeek Park on a Saturday morning.
  • Yesterday I was playing Little League Baseball in Richfield, Minnesota, and watching the Twins play in nearby Met Stadium.
  • Yesterday I learned that God has gifted me to speak and debate and it gave me a sense of purpose.
  • Yesterday (1968) I would awaken on a Saturday morning to learn my treasured father had died. “Well before his time…” said so many.
  • Yesterday I was forced to grow up when a screaming boot camp sergeant jarred me out of sleep and into military reality for four years.
  • Yesterday I entered the world of media and became the TV sports personality on American Forces Radio and Television in Iceland.
  • Yesterday I met the beautiful Rhonda Sawyer in Sacramento, California. We dated and eventually married. 
  • Yesterday I held the first of my three children—experiencing life anew. Marshall, Adam, and Ingrid are all reminders of how precious life is.
  • Yesterday I would meet two men while working in Grass Valley, California, who would greatly influence my life: Chuck Gratner and Glenn Murray.
  • Yesterday I would find sweet fellowship in Grass Valley and Roseville (California), Dallas, and Pittsburgh with groups of men we called “fellowship groups.” Many of these friendships continue to this day.
  • Yesterday (2005) I discovered I had diabetes. Quintuple bypass surgery would come along quickly and I joined the “zipper club” by God’s grace.
  • Yesterday, after twenty years on two Chicago radio stations, I was told my services were no longer needed. I hold no grudges. No win doing that.
  • Yesterday my church offered me a leadership position that enabled me to continue using that with which God has entrusted me.
Among my “yesterdays,” I discovered a Bible verse that King David knew to be true. I claim it for myself. Psalm 138:8…”The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not abandon (give up on) the work of your hands.”

In all my yesterdays, the steady hand of God has guided and protected me. Even in the toughest times.

Seven decades of life. And the call remains to follow Jesus. It was just yesterday that He gave me life.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Monday, October 11, 2021

Is “Them" Us?

I must first admit I do not understand the transgender mind. Or that of cross-dressers. Or the myriad of other variations of how people seek to rewire human sexuality.

To some, that would immediately discount what I am about to share. Their response might be something like, “You’re right. You DON’T understand.” And there is some truth in that.

On the other hand, I do have a rather long and experienced history of watching humanity drift into what THEY don’t understand and accept it as “normal.” In the process, souls are dragged into various stages of confusion and often depression. But not as a result of those speaking truth.

In May, singer Demi Lovato announced to the world that she is “non-binary.” In her own words, from a video posted on Instagram. "Over the past year and a half, I've been doing some healing and self-reflective work. And through this work, I've had this revelation that I identify as non-binary. With that said, I'll officially be changing my pronouns to they/them."

Some of us need a little more explanation. So Demi is saying that identifying as nonbinary "best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression" and also "allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and am still discovering.” Who knows where this discovering may end?

Becoming “they/them” is kind of an in thing. No doubt, Lovato’s announcement to her millions of fans will likely lead some to reconsider their sexual identity. They will help us all become more confused.
Regarding gender transformation, consider the words of wisdom from Wesley J. Smith, an author and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism: “It is astonishing how the transgender moral panic has swept actual science aside,” Smith wrote in National Review. “... Rather than permit people to have their records changed, as happens now in all but two states—and to accommodate the potential future subjective, emotional desires of the very few—the objective biological reality for the many (in all but an infinitesimal number of births) must be sacrificed.”

The murky waters get murkier when we who don’t drink this "Kool-Aid" are asked to play along. This sometimes involves threatening actions by organizations if you fail to refer to these souls by their chosen pronouns. An example is what we learned in September about a policy at a university in Pennsylvania.

Point Park University likely claims to believe in tolerance. But their student body all received an email from the school's Office of Equity and Inclusion highlighting its Misgendering, Pronoun Misuse, and Deadnaming Policy. Campus Reform was able to get a copy of the correspondence which states, “any individual who has been informed of another person’s gender identity, pronouns, or chosen name is expected to respect that individual." If a complaint was filed then “action could be taken.”

Like what? Student Government President Dennis McDermott said he wasn’t sure, but felt it could reasonably be assumed that any violation, which in this instance applied to misgendering, misuse of pronouns, or incorrectly using someone’s deadname when you are aware of their preferred name and pronouns, could result in "a similar action to any act of discrimination against students on campus.”

Perhaps the school should review the findings of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Over the summer, these justices upheld a lower court ruling ordering the reinstatement of a northern Virginia gym teacher who said he won't refer to transgender students by their pronouns. The VA Supremes defended the teacher on free speech grounds.

I’m not good with calling people “they/them.” Or any other pronoun malfeasance. I might try, “Hey you.” Or, “Person in the third row 2nd from the back.” Forgive my rebel attitude.

What would Jesus do? I can’t speak for Him. At one point, He reprimanded the Pharisees for establishing rules of their own game for others to follow. He said, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” (Made up rules) (Mark 7:9, NIV)

The pronoun game does not deserve our respect. Clear thinkers must take us back to that which is rational and right.

The battle seems to be on between “us” and “them.”

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, October 4, 2021

God’s Love Language

I chuckled a bit when I saw this headline in Christianity Today: "Gary Chapman Doesn’t Know He’s Famous." There are possibly a few well known Gary Chapmans. There was the one who was married to Amy Grant. A few who have been arrested or served prison time. But if you simply do a Google search on that name, the New York Times bestselling author of The Five Love Languages—THAT Gary Chapman— is about all you see.

In the world of authors, I’m pleased to say I’ve had the joy of knowing several bestselling writers. There’s Kevin Leman who has made quite a living off of finding common birth order traits. There’s Jerry Jenkins who, along with Tim LaHaye, developed and wrote the immensely popular Left Behind series.

When I say these authors are successful, I mean mega-successful. Gary Chapman’s books have sold in the millions. The same for Jerry Jenkins. Kevin Leman must be up pretty high as well.

I’m a published author myself. A book I wrote for men sold just over 5,000 copies. I was thrilled. At print time, I had no delusions of grandeur.

Most self-published authors, it’s reported, will sell around 250 books or fewer. A Huffington Post article a while back claimed that a book selling 25,000 copies is described as “sensational.” So, yeah, Jenkins and Chapman are in the sales stratosphere.

According to the CT article, The Five Love Languages sold 8,500 copies its first year. Twice that amount the next year. By year four, it sold 137,000 copies. Thirty years later, Gary’s writing on love languages has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide!

How remarkable is this? CT reports, “Only six other evangelical books have reached the 10 million mark, including Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life (30 million), Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, and Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez.” Wow.

And yet, Sir Chapman doesn’t know he’s famous. He’s been on network television. On Oprah. Written up in papers like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

I’ve been with Gary Chapman on several occasions. He’s as comfortable to speak with as your best friend. So what does it take to avoid the natural pride that accompanies great success? A true, honest sense of humility. And where does Gary Chapman find that? In the person of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul was on his journey to fame. But God radically changed his game plan. And in doing so, Paul learned to embrace humility. And here’s how he instructs true people of faith to live: 

“In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant.And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross. So God raised him to the highest place. God made his name greater than every other name…” Philippians 2:5-9 (NCV)

I believe this is what keeps Dr. Gary Chapman centered. He told the CT reporter, “When I wrote the book, I wrote it intentionally with non-Christians in mind.” He chose a writing style that avoids “psychology or theology terms.” Instead, his instruction is “based on a universal concept: the need to be loved.”

You owe it to yourself to read the CT article on Gary Chapman. (Link below.) It explains in detail his roots and his devotion to his faith. Despite millions in book sales, he continues to serve as a pastor. It’s all about priorities.

A well known Southern Baptist missionary, Lottie Moon, left a grave stone message for all to read about being ‘faithful unto death.” Dr. Gary Chapman cited it in agreement saying, “God, that is what I want. ‘To be faithful unto death.’”

Could it be humility is God’s love language?

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest: