Monday Morning Musings for 08.29.16

  1. We all experience seasons in the "spiritual desert" when God feels far, far away. We're spiritually flat, lifeless – empty. Even so, the desert does not have to be our enemy. The desert can be a place of beauty as David reveals in Psalm 63. In the desert is where we find a beautiful simplicity: there is only one thing that really matters – and it is our relationship with God. All else pales in comparison. HIs living water again fills the wells of our souls when we remember the deeply personal nature of that relationship, our call to "follow hard after" Him (in the desert, don't stop – keep moving!), to remember His faithfulness in our past, and to always keep thanksgiving and praise upon our lips. A desert is a temporary place. It does not last, so come again to His waters – and drink – for it is the Source of Life.
  2. If you fail to offer grace and forgiveness when a person confesses and repents, then you have failed to understand the gospel. Throughout Scripture, God connects the gracious forgiveness He offers us with our willingness to offer the same to others. The Lord's Prayer: "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Or consider the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:21. It is utterly incongruous for a Christian to receive God's grace, but then withhold it from others! To do so is a denial of the sinful nature of our own hearts – from which God has redeemed us. For example, when a convicted felon, having confessed, repented, and served his time, returns to worship at FPCO, he is graciously and lovingly welcomed back into the body. How could I, a sinner, do otherwise? Or perhaps a person says something hurtful – painful – but realizes the gravity of the mistake and repents – confesses – and receives discipline. According to the gospel, how then could that person be denied gracious forgiveness and love? Even as He has restored us, perhaps it's time to stop tearing others down for their human failures and instead start building them up in love.
  3. SAVE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: Good grief, people. The age of twitter and texting has made the English language barely recognizable. No punctuation. No correct spelling. No effort to capitalize or add apostrophes – it is atrocious. Please, help save our language. Write a letter. Read a book. Construct a paragraph made up of more than 140 characters. Do not let our language melt away in favor of emojis, emoticons and symbols!! Learn to use the beauty of words!
  4. BAD NEWS FOR THE BULLDOG: For bulldog owners and Georgia fans, the news is not good. According to the American Kennel Club, years of breeding purebred dogs leads to improving the best qualities, but it can also make the problems more pronounced. In the case of the bulldog, those wonderful pancaked faces, and wrinkled skin is adding up to breathing problems, multiple skin infections, joint problems and eye ailments. Bottom line, breeders say, many bulldogs suffer. "This is a result of human direction instead of natural selection," said Neils Pederson, UC Davis Vet Professor. The remedy is to soften breeding standards, but most are skeptical that will happen. 
  5. SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: People who shoot videos while driving! What is the obsession with this? Every day, yet another person is posting a video behind the wheel of a moving car while talking to the camera. Stop, please. Just stop. (Laura Blastic and Molly Blastic did one beautifully while NOT moving!) If you are so busy you only have time to shoot video while driving, then it's time to rearrange your life!
  6. My friend Rebekah Hood Coffman has been having an ongoing conversation as to whether it is appropriate to put one space or two between sentences. Our Director of Communications, Paige Ragan, has also chastised me for using two. Well, to both of you, I stand forever with my mother (who taught English for 30 years), Professor Ann Early (SMU Professor of English) and the HPHS '81 Manual of Style as a two space writer!! Why? While the current style may have changed, only one space simply mirrors the cluttered, rushed nature of our culture. We need margins. We need space. We need room for the eye to flow and the mind to connect to the beauty of words and prose. Rise up, two spacers – rise up – and claim your place – and space!
  7. GREAT BOOK: Losing Susan, Victor Lee Austin. An Episcopal priest, Austin writes of his 20-year journey in caring for his wife following treatment for a brain tumor and the pain of her eventual passing. Yes, it's sad, but it is a joyous testament to the marriage vow, to doing more than we thought ourselves capable of, and to the power of God offered in loving community.
  8. Tony Romo has broken a bone in his back. Cowboys hopes dashed before the season even starts. Ugh!
  9. ON LEADERSHIP: From David Brooks in NYT this week, quoting Juan Vasquez: "Experience, or what we call experience, is not the inventory of our pains, but rather the learned sympathy towards the pain of others." Seems some of our leaders could use some of that right about now…
  10. Excited to have our new website for The Well (media ministry) up and running – check it out at www.drinkfromthewell.com