Monday Morning Musings for 02.13.17

  1. Money is often one of the biggest challenges in life. (1 Timothy 6:10) The cultural narrative we tend to believe says we form our identity based on consumption, and consumption is costly. We have been led to believe that our identity is defined by what we eat, where we live, what we drive, our hair style, our shoes, our laptop, our phone, our sunglasses and on it goes. With culture rapidly changing, we constantly have to consume to keep our identity trendy, cool, and therefore, worthy. Thus, money drives us or we lose our sense of self. The Biblical story is completely different. Our money, stuff, and things are gifts of God. We function as the stewards of His gifts to provide for ourselves while helping extend and grow His Kingdom, the primary instrument of which is His Church. Our identity is grounded in what God has done for us in Christ, so we are never in an existential crisis regardless of cultural trends or world events. We find this wonderful gift called security. Plus, we find freedom from having to always "keep up" or live up to the expectations of others. There's a reason Scripture talks about money more than any other subject: we NEED to hear it.
  2. Our FPCO community was enormously blessed last week by having Andy Crouch with us for a few days, including our elder retreat over the weekend. He spent time "unpacking" his new book Strong and Weak that is one of the most logical explanations for so much of what we see happening around us. On the surface, there is a simplicity to it, but its application is far reaching and complex. The main question: how do we live and serve as Christians such that we are leading all people towards human flourishing? We know that's part of God's call for all of us, but we tend to get caught in issues of authority and risk. Are we empowering others so they have the opportunity to take meaningful action in their own lives – and are we willing to take a meaningful risk to make it happen? Too often, we want to keep power, not share it – and too often, we are not willing to make ourselves vulnerable to risk. How we overcome those human tendencies will determine our ability to impact and renew culture in years to come.
  3. Our city of Orlando, with it's "Happiest Place on Earth" theme (thank you, Disney) and it's many family-oriented venues, is not normally a place you associate with human trafficking. However, lurking just beneath the surface is the dark reality of women being bought and sold, often while being forcibly addicted to drugs. We rank #3 in Florida behind Tampa and Miami. Groups like Florida Abolitionists and Samaritan's Village are doing huge things to rescue the victims, but this needs to be talked about more by those in leadership.
  4. LEAF BLOWING: I have finally reached the conclusion that when a lawn service blows your leaves, it is simply a redistribution of everyone else's leaves. I never see bags. I never see any leaves being hauled away. The leaves simply get blown down the street where they blow back into someone else's yard or flower beds – or into the alley – until they decay or get blown again – somewhere else.
  5. FHSAA BLEW IT: Not since the days of Eric Liddell at the 1924 Olympics had I seen something like this. An Ocoee basketball player, Wade Duffus, and his teammates won their way to the district finals, scheduled for last Friday at 7 p.m. He is a Seventh Day Adventist which holds that the sabbath is sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and personal activity is to be limited to worship or faith activities. FHSAA authorities were asked to move the game and they said no. They didn't even have to change the day; all they had to do was start it a few hours earlier. It makes no sense why we cannot honor a student who has the courage of his convictions.
  6. The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education has created a lot of passion on both sides. Regardless of which side was speaking, you heard "doing what's best for our children" mentioned as the cornerstone issue. Well, here's a thought: no matter who sits in that chair, what's best for the education of our children is an engaged community. What would happen if the people stopped the yelling and screaming and headed over to their local school for a few hours to volunteer? Now THAT would make a difference in a child's education. That's the reason FPCO asked OCPS, "How can we help?" Answer: Come over to the Northwest Community Center in the Mercy Drive area, run your middle and high school program from that location, and then add the Oasis program for the students at Molly Ray and Ivey Lane elementary schools. We can't change the realities in Washington, but we can change a lot in our backyard.
  7. WIFE OF THE YEAR: Leigh Bywaters Swanson moved way up the rankings in that category this weekend. We had decided to upgrade our phones as our Valentine's gifts to each other, so we went to the store, found what we wanted, and came home to do the "conversion." At the store, it sounded so easy. FALSE. We spent a whole day trying to get it done to no avail until finally, she got on the phone with Mr. Verizon while I was at work. She spent 140 minutes on the phone trying to make it work and finally got it done. I came home to a wonderful new – and functioning – phone.
  8. This is Us is the best new show in quite some time. We are hooked.
  9. VALENTINE's STRATEGY: Don't do anything on Valentine's Day – we're going out tonight!