Monday Morning Musings for 04.24.17

  1. In the wake of Easter, it's empty tomb and it's King revealed, we are left to answer significant questions. If Jesus Christ is King and His Kingdom has come, then what is my response? How does my life change in light of that? The answer, in part, is found in Mark 1 when Jesus calls His first disciples. It is initially a call to repentance. Jesus says the "Kingdom is near", so repent – literally "turn away from" – what we are currently doing and turn towards the living God. Often, we think that means we must turn away from what we enjoy. We have to turn away from the fun. False. We are turning towards LIFE - towards the very thing we are seeking – towards a God of grace and hope and love. What could be better than that? However, in order to do that, what did the disciples have to do? They had to drop their nets. They had to let go of what was in their hands - be willing to give up job and family and comfort and all that it entailed – to follow a man who hadn't even revealed where he was leading them! Even so, they left "without delay" and went "all in." Therein lies the key. You can't learn to swim and get a little bit wet. It's only when we go all in to become fully devoted followers of Jesus that we lay hold of the life He has called us to know. So, what's in your hand? What's impeding you from fully committing yourself to follow Christ? Whatever it is, drop it. Trust the One who calls you, for He has been revealed at Easter as Lord and King of all.
  2. After an Easter Sunday in which our average attendance more than tripled, our attendance yesterday, as expected, went right back to average, perhaps even a little bit less. It has always perplexed me. Why do so many people, even more than Christmas Eve, decide to come to church on Easter but rarely attend at any other time? Trust me, I know all the standard responses, but I'm curious, in this culture, what do you think? If you only go once a year, why is that? Is it the perception of the church's irrelevance? Is it the church being "out of step" with new cultural values? If those things were true, then why even come on Easter? I think it has something to do with what's deep inside us – a hope that maybe it IS true - that there is One who loves us and cares for us enough to actually come be with us – and call us to be citizens of His grand Kingdom. I think people want to hope that maybe after all this chaos and crazy and pain, there is something truly good.
  3. I have corresponded several times with a young man in a Florida prison named Aaron. He is a Christian, is diligently seeking to keep his faith, and would like to have a "pen pal" on the outside – someone to correspond with on a regular basis. If you have an interest in that, email me at dswanson@fpco.org.
  4. The implications of live social media events are now beginning to be seen. It was a chilling sight last week to see a man walk right up to someone on the sidewalk and shoot him. It happened so fast you could hardly believe your eyes. However, the "live event" which disturbed me more took place in New Jersey where five men assaulted a 15-year-old girl over 15 or 20 minutes. Police determined there were 40 people watching live, and not a single one called 9-1-1. At the news conference, the Chief said, "It is a moral and ethical problem, but it is not against the law." Much like the Kitty Genovese murder in 1964 when the New York Times reported 38 people witnessed it over more than an hour, and no one came to her aid, this case speaks to the growing indifference of culture to the needs of others.
  5. I have tried UberEats three times in the hopes that maybe it would solve some of our dinner issues, but all three times, the order was wrong and the food was cold. And I paid a significantly higher price for the privilege.
  6. REVIEWS: The movie Lion was an unexpected gem. Leigh and I knew it had been nominated for some Oscars, but we didn't know anything about the story. It was touching, well acted, and affirming of adoptive families. The pictures of the "real people" at the end of the movie also helped complete the story. Orlando's new Mexican restaurant on Lake Ivanhoe, Mesa 21, was a bit disappointing. Space is small with very limited indoor seating. In the summer, it would be tough to go there. In addition, they are intent on being "authentic Mexican." We asked for chips and salsa and they brought us three fried tortillas with three small jars of "sauce." That lasted about 45 seconds with our group of 5 and it was $13. The guac was excellent, but the "queso" was basically melted cheese. They did warn us about that, but it was still served with a few chips – in a small pan – and cost $10. The main courses were good, but overpriced for what you got, so I doubt I'll go back again.
  7. THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: A 43-year-old man who owns a body shop near the Pittsburgh Penguins arena was watching the Pens playoff game on TV when he was attacked and robbed. He was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver, but when paramedics arrived, he refused to be transported to the hospital until the game had ended. He said he would drive himself later.
  8. Our country has gone off the rails in a variety of ways, but I continue to be amazed by how expensive our elections have become. Sen. Bill Nelson said that during his time in the Senate (16 years), the cost has gone from $3 million to what he anticipates will be $50 to 60 million to run his next race. This is on top of the $107 million that was raised for President Trump's inaugural festivities. I don't know that we need to adopt the UK process, but they've had three elections in less than two years and don't spend near that much. Obviously, our elections are important, but we need to seriously rethink that process.
  9. Leigh and I had the privilege of speaking to a combined meeting of the 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade girls Bible studies last night – a wonderful group asking honest, solid questions about the challenges of faith as a teenager today. And my thanks to Brandy Nicks, Hope Russo, Courtney Peacock, Lucy MacLeish, Heather McGill, Brooke Bourgeois, Lauren Wood Lawson, Sam Arcara, Emily Luker, Lisa Bywater and a host of leaders taking their time to lead these groups!