Monday Morning Musings for 05.15.17

  1. The world – and especially our country – are in a time of upheaval and social change that create numerous challenges for Christians. The primary question is: how do we live as faithful disciples in regard to engaging this chaotic, often painful culture? Some will say the culture is beyond redemption and thus we should reject it altogether. Others say that we should accommodate and assimilate, to essentially give in. Neither of those is the Biblical, faithful answer. Paul shows us the way in 2 Cor 5:17-20 when he reveals our call as "ambassadors", those literally sent to a foreign land bringing a message "from the sovereign" or King. Like it or not, this world is not our true home. We should feel oddly dislocated while living here as "aliens and strangers." (1 Peter 2). However, living as exiles in a foreign land is nothing unusual in Scripture or Christian history. Living in God's story between Easter and the fulfillment of Easter's ultimate promise is our current situation, so we live in this "foreign land" as ambassadors who bring the message of reconciliation, hope, and forgiveness from the Father. How cool is that? Instead of living like aliens, frustrated by the things we miss about home, we live as ambassadors. We live in the foreign land ON PURPOSE. And while there, we enjoy the "embassy" – Christ's Church – where we experience the blessings of home - we share in the common language of Scripture, we enjoy our favorite meal with bread and cup, and we remember the history and traditions of our people as we gather in worship. Plus, unlike earthly embassies, the King is always in residence. So let's stop living like aliens and strangers and embrace our call from the King to live as ambassadors in this chaotic, mixed up world.
  2. Reflecting on Mother's Day, I know it's often a painful day as much as one of celebration. I am thankful that my mother is still living and that my wife has been such a tremendous mother to my children, but that is not always the case – not even the norm. Many live with the pain of not being able to have children, understanding what one book described as "when empty arms become a heavy burden." Other Moms feel the grief of children who have been lost far too young. Still, others know the pain of estrangement or broken relationship with their mother. For that reason, I am grateful for the maternal aspects of God's nature such as those found in Isaiah 49. He is tender, gentle, loving and nurturing - and for many yesterdays, those qualities are deeply needed.
  3. THINGS MY MOM ALWAYS SAID: (After hearing me swear) "If you can't come up with any word in the English language to describe your feelings besides THAT one, then you're not as smart as I think you are!" (When dealing with life's challenges) "You get up each morning. You pull yourself together. And you go on." (When frustrated with my behavior): "Must you? At the end of a long day, must you?" "You can do anything you put your mind to in this life." "I'm so proud of you." And always, "I love you." Finally, for the past 29 years, "When are you moving back to Dallas?"
  4. The name Michael has fallen out of favor. For 43 out of 44 years, Michael was the most common name in America, but no more. Fewer than 14,000 baby boys got that name last year, dropping to a 76-year low. It now sits at number eight for boys names. Number one? Noah. I find that so ironic given the cultural move away from the Bible. Number one for girls? Emma.
  5. In the midst of "graduation season" and having taken part in Kaylee's a little over a week ago, I found the whole process to be an interesting social exercise. You have a large group of graduates seated together. Most graduates have at least a few close friends and family who attend to help them celebrate the accomplishment. Then, one by one, they walk across the stage. As they do, you can hear a little "whoop" or a cheer – their family making themselves known. Occasionally you get the super obnoxious people who yell and scream far too loud and far too long, but those are outliers. What struck me was that each person is a life – a holy, sacred creation of the Father – and yet how small we are as we stand side by side with all the other lives in our class – and in our city – and in our world. It was an odd combination of feeling both "great" (proud of my daughter's achievement) and small (just one part of the larger human family.)
  6. Sneezing in a room full of Christians is an enormously affirming experience.
  7. If you are a parent, you need to be aware of the cable series 13 Reasons Why which details the suicide of a young girl. Mental health organizations and school systems have issues warnings, as has our Student Ministry, but please be aware and talk to your students about it.
  8. I am going off the social media grid today for my annual two-week study leave. I would be so grateful for your prayers. I spend the first-week mapping out the next 15 months of sermons, including Biblical texts, themes, and working titles for each message. In week two, I read and research on what those 15 months will cover. It is an enormously important time in the rhythm of my year, so pray that the Holy Spirit leads and that I listen well to our Good Shepherd!
  9. WISDOM: While attending the Gordon-Conwell Seminary board meeting last week, one of our professors from Malaysia began his morning devotional with "the story of the bamboo." It's message: the greater they grow, the lower they bend.