Monday Morning Musings for 10.31.16

  1. The Church. Maligned as an "institution", slammed for leadership failures, called irrelevant for being out of touch, she is none of those things. The Church, in God's perfect design, is His divinely created "reunion of the rescued;" those redeemed from the pit of sin by the grace of God who are then called into a community that becomes an "anamnesis" – the "lived memory" of God's redemptive purpose in the world. By our common rescue, we become a "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation," a bond of unity that transcends every other human construct that would threaten to divide – social, political, racial, economic. As such, we have not only been saved from something but FOR something. We have been called to be that "lived memory," those called out of darkness (1 Peter 2) to declare His excellencies to all the world. That's our purpose, and until we take part in His Church, in our local "reunions of the rescued," we will never know that transcendent purpose for which we were made. It is as Paul declares: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20)
  2. It has always been an interesting juxtaposition to me: Reformation Sunday and Halloween. I will not go into the history of those two things, but currently, they recall the historic "reforming" of the Christian Church alongside what has now become an odd conglomeration of fun and mischief in a veiled celebration of evil and the demonic. It was not always this way, and hear me: I took my children on many a "trick or treating" run on Halloween night. We had a blast. I'm not saying stop taking part. However, as so often happens, our self-indulgent world takes what is good and turns it into something darkened and flawed, much as the human heart. We should be careful of what we are tacitly supporting by various means. Most of what takes place today are harmless, but I would be remiss if I did not state that we ought to be careful in our dalliance with the evil and the demonic. They are real and they are not to be trifled with. Most act as if it is all fun and games when they have no idea the powers on which they call. Make no mistake: The Prince of Darkness still reigns on this earth and we should be careful of those with whom we dance lest we begin to mimic their steps.
  3. One of the most prevalent manifestations of the enemy's destructive nature in our community is found in human trafficking. We learned last week of the murder of a 14-year-old girl following days of being drugged and sold for sex. This was not in some far-flung, seedy city. This was in the heart of Orlando and in one of our nicer neighborhoods. Orange County is NUMBER THREE in the nation for calls to the national sex trafficking hotline. This is yet another place where the church must mobilize for justice and why I am so grateful for organizations like Florida Abolitionists (Tomas Lares) and Samaritan's Village, now being led by Dee Coleman.
  4. Not only does the Church stand against evil, but she shines as the agent of God's grace in helping redeem the lives of those who are lost. Christ's Church is all about second chances. Nowhere is that more needed than in the jails and prisons of this country. How would you like to be known all your life for the worst thing you ever did? The reality is crushing, yet it seems a lot of great ministries happened in prisons in the Bible. If you want to see one that is truly transforming lives, check out Catherine Hoke and Defy Ventures at www.defyventures.org. In cities across the country, they are helping give ex-offenders a new understanding of who they are while equipping them to work, create and produce in the world as God intended.
  5. If I hear one more college football commentator say, "He put his foot on the ground and…" I am going to puke. Come on people. Come up with another phrase. Be creative! 
  6. NOT SURPRISING: With all the talk in this election cycle about lying – and who is the biggest liar - neuroscientists at University College London have released the results of a study showing that our brains adapt to dishonesty. In other words, deceiving others gets easier for us over time. They empirically showed that the more you lie, the more bold those lies become. Once again, this is why #1 matters – why we need a community of truth and accountability. We NEED to be part of a "reunion of the rescued." At the same time, it shows the progressive nature of evil in the human heart when left unchecked.
  7. THE PERILS OF FIRST WORLD LIVING: We often talk about the wonders of living in this country with all of its opportunity, but we have also been made aware that having more will not necessarily make us happy. It is the common refrain of those who go to third world countries on mission trips. They come back joyfully describing the peace and contentment of the poor they served. This should not be surprising. The poor are absolutely aware of their dependence on God. They have no illusion of being in control. Further, as David Brooks pointed out last week, rich countries are more anxious than poor ones. Why? We have "more" to worry about. 18.2 percent of Americans reported having chronic anxiety. Nigerians? Only 3.3 percent. This is but one of the reasons why our country has grown apathetic towards #1 – the Church. We have come to believe in our own self-sufficiency so we skip the "reunions of the rescued" in favor of our own pursuits only to find in the end that we are more anxious and less peaceful.
  8. THIS JUST IN: The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement last week declaring that "less screen time can benefit your children." Really? Shocking. Never knew that.
  9. LEIGH'S (Halloween) MASK: So Saturday night, Leigh walks in and says, "I'm going to walk the dog." I look up and much to my surprise, she has that stuff all over her face - a "mud mask" or whatever women call it. I say, "Are you going out like that?" She says, "I'm multi-tasking by walking the dog while doing this face treatment. Plus, it's Halloween season – who will notice?" Um… everyone?