Monday Morning Musings for 03.20.17

  1. The old story about the frog and the kettle (while oddly creepy) is a good analogy for how the enemy tends to move in both our world and our lives. No big announcements. No quick movements. Just a slow, crafty, gradual descent. As Lewis wrote, "the surest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot…" It was that strategy by which the religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus. Mark 14:1 says, "They were looking for a sly way…" And why? Power. Authority. The religious leaders could not keep their power without getting rid of Jesus, and neither can we. We live in an age of individualism and personal freedom, a culture that cannot abide by any authority larger than its own. We have been told we must be free to form our own truth which means there is no higher authority than my own. It is the road descending with a gentle slope, and we are witnessing the grim fruit being born as a result. It's hard to admit, but like the religious leaders, I am also trying to take the life of Jesus in my own heart. I still want to do what I want to do. I plot. I plan. I rationalize. Though God has prescribed a certain order to life, we sometimes disagree with it, and because we think our own way perfectly acceptable, we do what we want. We essentially believe God cannot be any wiser than we are. How foolish and arrogant. We are children who cannot fathom why it is not acceptable to eat candy for dinner. We simply don't know what our Father knows. The path of life is found in yielding our power to the only One worthy to hold it. So, where have the cunning, sly ways of the enemy encroached into your life? As you still struggle to have YOUR way, where might you be plotting to overthrow the life of Jesus in you?
  2. One of the ways our culture has sought to thwart religious freedom uses that same "frog in the kettle" strategy. It's been slow and crafty. The latest move away from religious freedom (and I mean for any religion – Christianity, Judaism, Islam – all of it) is found in a shift in language. Listen to how those in authority speak and see if you hear it. "Religious freedom" is mentioned less and less while "freedom of worship" is mentioned more and more. Don't buy it. Religious freedom means I have the right to practice my religion – to live by it – in every dimension and avenue of life. "Freedom of worship" is a dangerous reduction meaning that my freedom is constrained to a service, a building, a facility, a community, but it does not guarantee my right to a public religious voice. Most would say, "Oh no, it's the same thing. It's just a small change in words." Exactly. The frog in the kettle. Crafty - and lethal.
  3. It was disturbing to read that large sections of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the great oceanic wonders of the world, are dying. According to the NYT report, along one 500-mile stretch, 40 to 80% of the reef had died. In another stretch farther north, 67% had died. It is a phenomenon happening around the world as a result of increasing water temperature, and scientists have little hope of stopping it. Coral thrives in warm water, but the slightest increase in temperature, as little as one degree, creates stress (bleaching) and if not corrected, leads to death. 30% of reefs around the world have died in the past 50 years, and scientists expect 90% of what remains will die by 2050.
  4. The startling admission by Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala that she would not seek the death penalty in the Markeith Loyd case, or any other case, was a disturbing revelation to area voters. I have no problem with her stance on the death penalty. That is her right, but at no time during the election cycle did she reveal her position. It seems that views on such an important subject should be shared prior to election day, not when the first capital murder case arrives.
  5. ESPN SC6: I have tried to adjust, but I can't take it anymore. ESPN's redo of it's 6 pm sports show is awful. It's unwatchable. I don't watch ESPN to hear views on movies, music or other cultural trends. I watch it to hear what is happening in SPORTS. I want highlights of SPORTS. In their effort to be relevant and cool, they killed the product.
  6. I have spent many hours in trying to help end homelessness, in all its forms, in our area. Thus, it was sad to learn that Orlando ranks 3rd in the nation for lack of affordable housing. The reason is that our wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of housing which adds to the precarious nature of where many families live. One lost job, one health crisis, and they are next in line to be a family with no home. Thankfully, the city is taking steps to improve the problem through organizations like Ability Housing, but it can't come fast enough for many.
  7. Last week, I had the privilege of leading an event called ConnectDOP, a monthly leadership course put on by the Downtown Orlando Partnership to help educate leaders on the many elements that make up downtown. I co-led the session on Quality of Life, including how we are addressing homelessness. It was heartening to see nearly 30 people engaging in how to improve our urban core, including how to care about those in need. Thanks, Bridget Keefe Dop Lori Pampilo Harris, Shelley Wilson Lauten – job well done!
  8. THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: The United Arab Emirates has added a new position to the nation's 29-member cabinet: Minister of Happiness. Her job is to promote happiness in government and public life. Not sure having a position is going to change reality unless other things change first.
  9. The first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament is one of my favorite weekends of the year. In spite of SMU's needless loss, many games had great theater and my brackets are holding strong.