Monday Morning Musings for 03.27.17

  1. From our earliest days, we learn who is good and who is bad. Batman is good. The Joker is bad. The Cowboys are good. The Giants are bad. The Israelites were good. The Philistines were bad. And right there at the top of the "bad" rankings is the undisputed #1 bad guy: Judas. He provides us nice cover as no matter how messed up we may be, we can always say, "Well, at least I'm not THAT bad." However, as I have studied Matthew 26 and the kiss of betrayal, I find that Judas is actually just like the rest of us. He was not the only disciple to betray Jesus. They all did, and so do we. It's hard to hear, but it's true. The words of Jars of Clay echo in my head: "Can I be the one to grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow?" I can. I do. Like Judas' kiss, I betray my relationship with Jesus and seize authority for myself, neglecting the very nature of the sacrifices He has made to ensure our relationship endures. The only question that remains is this: how will I respond? Judas could not imagine that God's grace could extend even to His betrayal, so he took his own life in the face of his personal darkness. Peter, however, betrayed Jesus just as fiercely, but trusted that God's grace could cover him. Thus, he is asked by Jesus three times, "Do you love me?" And Peter answered, "Yes, Lord" to all three. So Jesus restored him saying, "Feed my sheep." We must honestly confront the nature of our darkened hearts, but the hope of the gospel is that God's grace IS sufficient, and that He can use even broken vessels like us.
  2. For those who may read this but not be in the "theology school" loop, there has been a lot of buzz regarding Princeton Seminary's decision to rescind the Kupyer Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness from Tim Keller, Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC. After awarding him the prize, students and alumni objected strongly since Keller does not favor women's ordination or gay ordination. Princeton Seminary affirms both. President Craig Barnes then rescinded the award. The beauty of academic freedom is the free exchange of ideas in an environment of mutual respect, but it seems that hallmark is being lost on many campuses. Not only Princeton, but many other colleges and universities are no longer willing to listen to or affirm anyone who does not share their ideas or views. Fear has taken over. As has been said, "Oh, the intolerance of the tolerant." Based on Princeton's logic, Kuyper himself would no longer be eligible to win the prize, nor would Mother Theresa. I don't agree with all of Keller's positions, nor do the women on my staff, but we all are still able to learn from and appreciate his contributions to Christendom. (For further reading, I commend Case Thorp's column from Friday's WSJ)
  3. You know your lawn is in bad shape when the company you hire to work on it puts a sign in the yard that says, in red letters, LAWN RESCUE…IN PROGRESS.
  4. GREAT BOOK FOR HUSBANDS: For the past five years, I have been discipling men in their 20's and 30's in our church. Most have been married less than ten years and have small children. One constant question is: how can I do a better job of helping my wife and I grow in our faith together? Well, a new book has just come out that provides incredible insight and wisdom on that very thing. Robert Wolgemuth has just released Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace. Robert is my dear friend, and what I love about the book is its honesty. You feel like you are having a conversation with him about some of the tougher things in marriage, including the loss of his first wife, Bobbie, and the blessing of his new marriage to Nancy. It's practical, wise, Biblical, and as I read it, comforting. I was glad to find I am not the only one who has struggled with some of these things along the way, as Leigh can attest. At any stage, husbands, give it a look!
  5. TRAFFIC WOES: I am dreading two new traffic nightmares in this town. The first is when they close the eastbound 408 into downtown on Orange Ave. All that traffic will now be routed to Mills, a U-turn, and onto South Street back to downtown. Ack!! It's already a zoo in the mornings on South – looks like I am going to find a new route into work. The other is when they finish the new project at Virginia and N Orange, the level of traffic on Virginia - a two lane road - is going to be nuts. That road was not built for all those cars!
  6. UNITED STATES HAPPINESS: Coming as no surprise at all, while the US economy continues to grow, our overall sense of happiness and well-being continues to decline. We dropped again this year from 13 to 14th overall, dropping 5% in the past ten years. The primary reasons researchers uncovered: greater inequalitiy in society, more corruption in government, and a sense that people in this country are increasingly mean-spirited. NORWAY again took the top spot because of their overall feeling of deep community and a strong commitment to the common good.
  7. I was overwhelmingly relieved to learn that Tom Brady's Super Bowl jersey had been recovered. (That line should be read with the highest amount of sarcasm you can possibly muster.)
  8. Grateful for the Florida Senate's passage of SB 436, a bill protecting the religious liberties of students in public schools. As I said in my sermon last week, religious freedom means I am free to practice my faith in every avenue and dimension of life. This bill allows students of ANY faith to express their ideas and beliefs without fear of reprisal or discrimination. Prior to this, things had gotten so bad that a student could not wear so much as a cross necklace without being concerned about discipline.
  9. 9. NCAA Tournament is pure fun this time of year – some great games (great season, UF – the future for you is bright!) – two teams making it for the first time to Final Four – and the team I picked – UNC – leading the way! This is especially rewarding since I am in a contest with my sons Alex Swanson and JD Swanson.