Monday Morning Musings for 04.18.16

  1. Every time I step in the pulpit, I recognize the significance of what is about to happen. Every message matters, but for a variety of reasons some take on greater importance than others. I believe my message yesterday was one of the most important I have ever given: Racism and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What makes me sad is that I have been preaching as a Senior Pastor for 17 years and it's the first time I have ever addressed the issue. What brings me joy is that when I did pay attention to the plight of so many minorities, especially African-Americans, who do not experience our society the way I do, God brought wisdom and clarity - and a great response from our church. Our brothers and sisters are suffering, and regardless of what we think the reasons are, we have a responsibility as Christians to "restore the right order of things." That's what social justice is - the restoration of the right order of God's original creation. When it comes to race relations in this country, things are not rightly in order and it's time for Christ's Church to resist the social structures of inequality and injustice.
  2. Our middle and high school ministry on Mercy Drive, housed at the Northwest Community Center, is one part of of our practical solutions to #1. The ministry is called 412, and we serve the predominantly African-American community that lives there, mired in generational poverty with no vision for how to change that reality. So why does this matter? One of our 412 graduates, Gino Nicolas, was shot and killed Friday night while trying to protect younger students. Six others were wounded; he was killed. (His story is on the front page of today's Orlando Sentinel) This is why everything we do matters. This world matters, and as Christians, we are called to engage that world as we seek it's restoration. LIves are at stake.‪#‎brokenhearted‬ http://www.orlandosentinel.com/…/os-gino-nicolas-dead-shoot…
  3. THIS JUST IN: HOPE matters. I know you know this, but a study released last week showed that those who have HOPE sleep and exercise more, eat healthier foods, have fewer colds, have less hypertension and diabetes, are more likely to survive cancer, have fewer bouts of depression, and make higher grades. Hopeful couples are more satisfied in their marriage and far more likely to stay together. Hope is our belief that our future will be better than our past. And even in the face of current realities, hope can still be found. As MLK said, "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope." That "stone" is the gospel through which we understand that One who is the hope of the world. ‪#‎inwhatdoyouhope‬?
  4. PET PEEVE: I'm sorry. I know lots of you are cyclists, but I have to say it: Cyclists are constantly telling us that those of us in cars must "share the road" and be attentive to their needs. Agreed. We should. However, that means that cyclists MUST obey the rules of the road and not blow through every stop sign and red light. I have almost killed two people in the last week who came shooting out of nowhere to run through a light or stop sign.‪#‎canthaveitbothways‬
  5. THIS WEEKS'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: A new group called the Pastafarians was formed in the US a few years ago as a protest against religion encroaching in public schools. For some unknown reason, this has become an actual "thing" in New Zealand in a "church" called The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They even have clergy who do weddings in which couples exchange rings made of pasta. ‪#‎pastaisforalfredo‬
  6. Canada's approval this week of an assisted suicide law reflects a growing acceptance of such practice in which doctors determine what constitutes "end of life suffering". This means that people can create a scenario in which they may not even be sick, but believe they are suffering to an extent that they should be allowed to end their life. These laws exist in other western European countries, but now it draws near to our own. Our desires are flawed and sometimes, even when we suffer, we do not know what is best for us or how God may choose to use our suffering for His greater glory. ‪#‎Godistheauthoroflife‬
  7. Last Monday, our staff took part in our semi-annual day of solitude. Imagine for a minute what it would be like to take four hours of silence with nothing more than a Bible and a journal - for the sole purpose of listening to God. I read in one of my old journals a great reminder from 2 Chronicles 20:15 - "Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the battle is not yours, but God's. Take up your positions, stand firm, and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Go out and face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you." Whatever it is we face, the battle belongs to the Lord - and He IS faithful.‪#‎trust‬ ‪#‎thebattleiswon‬
  8. ANOTHER SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Last week, we had a car stolen out of our carpool line. At 3 pm. Middle of the day. Two kids - 13 years old - stole a car at the head of our carpool line when the Mom got out to talk to a Mom behind her. Security process has been changed - and that won't be happening again. ‪#‎brazen‬
  9. A final thank you - thanks to all of you who take the time to read this - to respond. I spend several hours every Sunday afternoon writing it, and I do it to try to lead us all to engaging the culture in ways that build God's Kingdom - for that is our calling. May God be glorified in what is shared......