Monday Morning Musings for 02.20.17

  1. Imagine you are living in the 16th century. For hundreds of years, people had believed that the earth was the center of the universe, but a guy named Copernicus shows up and mathematically proves that the earth was NOT the center, but the sun. Talk about a game changer. What's more, with the core premise now correct, other discoveries began to happen. For the first time, the math worked and new understandings of the world began to explode. Here's the deal: the same thing is true in our spiritual lives. If we don't get the center right – the core premise – then we'll never be able to answer the big questions in life. The math will never work. However, when we get that right, then true life opens to us. The Biblical story reveals that the center is Jesus Christ. From the Old Testament to the gospels to the rest of the New Testament, the story points to Jesus as its foundational main character. Everything revolves around him. Naturally, people today don't care much to hear that. We want to be the center. (Copernicus spent a lot of time in jail because people didn't like it then, either.) However, our call and that of the church is to continue to proclaim the apex of human history – its cornerstone – is Jesus. When we get that right, the rest falls into place.
  2. Perhaps the biggest outcome of getting #1 right is found in how we engage in relationships. When Jesus is at the center, you grasp that you are not only loved but delighted in by God. Your cup is filled. You are no longer in the position of having to manipulate others to get what you need. You have it. Further, you are freed to be yourself, because you do not depend on the approval of others. You know you have been found worthy in Christ, so relationships take on greater authenticity. We'll never be perfect in it, but deepening our relationship with Christ as the center brings wonderful blessing.
  3. Perhaps I don't know enough about certain laws and policies, but sometimes I think you need to use common sense. The attempts by the NRA to push repeal of a law banning people with certain mental illnesses from owning guns seems to lack that common sense. The law is there to protect those individuals as much as it is the public. 
  4. In tiny Hulbert, OK, a Christian enclave is growing around Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey, a Roman Catholic community. Detailed in Saturday's WSJ, people from California, Texas, and Kansas have moved there to take part in a community that allows them to "form our children's conscience without society taking that authority from us." The idea is called the "Benedict Option", named for St. Benedict who left the moral decay of Rome to live in the wilderness. Communities like it, in various traditions, are springing up all over. Maria Gerber, 61, said, "We've opted to come away from urban surroundings to follow more closely our Lord." There's no doubt that contemporary culture is exhibiting enormous pressure on Christian life and community, but I don't believe that permanent isolation is the answer. It's hard to be "salt and light" in the world if we live apart from it. If we are being called to create a culture that glorifies and honors God, then we must engage the culture. How can we lift people and communities towards greater flourishing if we never engage those people?
  5. Last week, I hosted a Valentine party in my office for the students in our Magnolia Preschool. Two groups of 20 came for twenty minutes each. It was a total blast and completely exhausting. We don't appreciate what teachers do all day! Further, it opened up an entirely new perspective on life. As columnist Alison Gopnik wrote, "Expand your mind by taking a walk with a 4-year-old." We had a riveting discussion on who was the greatest superhero. (Batman, hands down.). We also talked about the finer points of what their mother's put in their lunches that day. One boy asked, as if the fate of the free world depended on the answer, "Do you like Jello? I LOVE Jello!! And my mom put jello in my lunch today!"
  6. FASHION OPINIONS: I realize I am no longer hip, trendy or cool. I lean towards classic and traditional, but I am not totally without creativity. I've adjusted to the occasional crazy pair of socks. I can do that, but I am not a big fan of the new style of men wearing high-end leather tennis shoes with business suits. PART TWO: Finally, shorter shorts are coming back in basketball!
  7. I was sad to see the passing last week of one of the great leaders in our country's history: Lt. General Harold Moore. His book We Were Soldiers Once…And Young became an award-winning movie starring Mel Gibson detailing the horrific battle that occurred in the I Drang Valley in 1965, widely held as the first battle of the Viet Nam War. I have read the book twice and watched the movie at least fifteen times because of the incredible leadership lessons they contain.
  8. WORST DRIVERS: Take a guess at which age group is the worst driver. Answer: Millenials! They cause the most accidents and receive the most citations for speeding. 88% admit to texting, emailing and surfing the internet while driving. Millenials, we love you! We want you in the church – alive!
  9. GOOD NEWS: In 2016, through the combined efforts of the Commission on Homelessness, the Homeless Services Network, and the Continuum of Care, our community housed more than 500 chronically homeless individuals, including support services for those who needed it.