Monday Morning Musings for 01.16.17

  1. Today, we remember the life and legacy of a man whose dream for our country's future inspired us and moved us, a mesmerizing dream that became etched on our collective soul. King's vision was not merely about black and white, but his dream was about the coming Kingdom of God, a day when all would be drawn together as one. King's vision compelled us to action because of his willingness to OWN his vision. His speech became more than words because he laid down his life to achieve their content. Any compelling vision with the power to transform people can be achieved only as those who champion its cause are willing to do the same. Such is the model of Christ. John 10:11–12 describes how Jesus has loved us as our shepherd, one who "owns" the sheep. The hired hand takes off because he's only in it for himself. The good shepherd, however, "lays down his life for the sheep." Jesus then calls us to love one another as He has loved us, which means we love one another sacrificially. We OWN His vision for the church, and for those of us at FPCO, that means we live into that vision not as hired hands, but loving and caring for each other and His Bride sacrificially and generously. That's the story we live in, the story of the Kingdom – not the story of "me."
  2. Sometimes, a person comes along who lives in such a way that my faith is both inspired and encouraged, often through bold faith or courageous living. Such is the case through a high school senior in our church, John Guglielmi John was dealt a tough blow last year when he was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that essentially causes all your hair to fall out. It has no cure. Imagine having that happen to you in high school. John had some low days, but then, girded by his faith, he started to live into it. It was not the story he had planned on, but it was the story God was writing through his life. Ever since, his infectious joy has touched many, clearly evident for all to see. For example, on Halloween, he dressed up and went out as Mr. Clean, earring and all. Priceless. Because of his courage and outgoing nature, his senior class even lovingly voted him "Best Hair" in the senior superlatives. I'm so enormously proud of him, and one thing's for sure: God has big plans in store for John's future.
  3. Our community mourned the loss of Lt. Debra Clayton last week, an OPD officer shot and killed in the line of duty. FPCO knew Lt. Clayton as one who served us while off-duty and also helped to coordinate the other officers who worked with us on Sundays. Hers is a tragic loss as she was one who modeled sacrificial love in every element of her police work. What saddens me is that her killer has still not been found. He has been harbored and protected by those "unwilling to talk" for fear of retribution. Pastor Kelvin Colbaris spoke eloquently of a need to change that notion in our urban communities, with many pastors speaking to their congregations yesterday morning. This is a small part of the ongoing racial divide that exists, often between communities and the police who work with and for them, another unrealized part of King's dream for our country.
  4. PET PEEVE: When you call an airline or insurance company and give the "computer voice" all your information, including account numbers, address, birthdate, social security, phone, etc. only to have the representative get on the line and ask you all those same questions again.
  5. If you live in Orlando, you have an amazing opportunity to experience the teaching of RTS Orlando's new President, Scott Swain on Thursdays during lunch beginning February 2. Scott is a phenomenal teacher, and you need not be some sort of theological genius to sign up. His class in systematic theology will help you connect the dots are the basic tenets of Reformed Christian faith. Go to www.fpco.org/register
  6. It was a tremendous gift to be with EPC Pastors from all over the country last week as we shared our joys and our wounds, our successes and our failures, our griefs and our blessings. As one of my colleagues said, "When you think about it, we have chosen a pretty weird life." Indeed, we have. From normal weekends to family life, it's just not the norm. Thus, these gatherings make a huge difference to me by being with others who understand. When I think about what is happening in Christ's Church, being with those pastors fills me with hope and courage to "keep on."
  7. We've known this, but now science and research are confirming it: LONELINESS is a health hazard. Whether young people struggling with addictions and isolated from friends or older adults isolated by physical health, the number of people suffering from acute loneliness has doubled from 20 to 40% of the population. That's a lot of lonely people. In spite of all our technological connections, we're not more together; we're more separated. Living in isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%, regardless of age. They sleep less, have more stress, and get sick more often. All this points directly to our need for community, a group to which we belong. Research showed we don't need to necessarily see someone every day, but we need to know that we ARE connected to a group in a meaningful way. Never has the ministry of the Church been more important or more necessary than it is right now.
  8. MARRIAGE MATTERS: Science has once again proven what we already knew to be true: marriage works. Researchers have shown that those people who remained invested in their marriage, doing active things to love and serve their husband or wife, had active regions in the dopamine-rich reward area of the brain. They showed much higher feelings of attachment, belonging, less stress and greater empathy. Further, they showed less activity in regions associated with negativity. In other words, happily, married couples overlook the negatives to focus on the positives of both their life and their spouse.
  9. 9. COWBOYS OBIT: When Romo went down in pre-season, there is no way any fan thought we would be 13-3 and the top seed. It was a fantastic year that far exceeded expectations. Yes, it ended too soon, but for the first time in many years, it was a fun season with many highs – and the future is bright!