(As I write these words today, I do so deeply grieving the horrific church shooting yesterday in Sutherland Springs, TX, taking the lives of at least 25 people gathered in worship. It is yet another sign of the inherent evil which still exists in our world and why Christ's Church matters more than ever before. May we endeavor to lift her always before God as His Bride, one without wrinkle or stain or blemish. "Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice." Psalm 130:1)
"For all the saints who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confess, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest, Alleluia! Alleluia!" For All the Saints, William How
- Reflecting on the past week, it always strikes me a bit odd the amount of time we spend celebrating, playing with, even mocking the specter of death. I realize it has become our culture's way of dealing with its deep-seated fears regarding the issue. If we can laugh at it a bit, somehow it seems less ominous. I get it, but death is not a game. It is our greatest enemy (1 Cor 15:26), but by faith, it is a vanquished foe! For that reason, I love the lyrics to the hymn often sung on All Saints Day (Nov 1) when we remember those who have gone before us, confessing the name of Jesus. If you forgot to reflect on this during your Halloween festivities last week, I hope you'll take some time this week to remember those you have loved and lost, those who shaped and molded your faith, the faith by which YOU will endure. As I attended the wedding of my niece in Memphis on Saturday, I thought of my grandmother, decreased nearly 20 years ago, who still remains fresh in my heart and mind. I thought of my friends Todd Mack and Lane Newsom and John Ellisor taken far too soon. I thought of Davis Harper and Bob Hewitt and Dick Bywaters and Barrett Burchak and Danny Fulford and David Heine and Mallory Blake. For all the saints, indeed.
- 1 Chronicles 16:34 "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever." As we move into this season of giving thanks, I am reminded that this should be a regular part of life. Gratitude is the antidote to grief, to pain, to hardship – to so many things in life. So, for a few weeks, I'll give thanks in this space. This week, I'm thankful for family celebrations like weddings – moments are frozen in time where we stop and gather and remember those who God has bound us to in this life, those who walk the journey with us. I'm thankful for the feeling you have after you have given yourself completely to something larger than yourself. I'm thankful for the endorphin rush you get after working out. I'm thankful for cold fronts, fall color, classic World Series games, and playing golf without sweating. And I'm thankful for my wife, Leigh, who is courageous and strong in ways that make me marvel.
- THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: A local woman was arrested and charged with DUI – her blood alcohol twice the legal limit - for driving down the main road… on her horse.
- CONFESSION: I don't like a pumpkin of any kind. Not in my pie or my coffee or anything. I'm officially ready for all this pumpkin emphasis to stop already.
- We often hear that God is our Creator and the Creator of the Universe. We speak of this in past tense, but I was reminded recently that is not the case. While attending a BioLogos event, Dr. Frances Collins showed an amazing video of a cluster of stars being born, literally exploding out of the heavens. God did not just create, but He IS creative and creating all the time. In us and through us and for us, God is always about creating and giving life; thus, we who reflect His image are hardwired to do the same. Get up – get moving – create! Produce! Take from what God has given you and offer something that honors him and lifts others!
- OVERHEARD: I'm at Einstein's this week ordering my bagel, and as I wait, I hear a couple engaged in a conversation about reincarnation. The question they were debating was whether or not coming back as a dog was a step up or not.
- I certainly have plenty of issues with the President, but what I read this week was truly troubling: he recorded a score of 68 in a recent round of golf and posted it to his USGA handicap tracker. Was that for nine or eighteen?
- As we examine The Blessings of a Generous Life during my sermon series this month, it is important to recognize that we have to put ourselves in a position to BE generous. Sadly, the outstanding credit card debt that rolls from month to month hit an all-time high this month: $1 trillion. We have become trapped by the "I have to have it now" or "I have to keep up" model which slowly eats us alive while robbing us of one of our core purposes: generosity. If we worship a generous God who has lavished His gifts on us, then we who are made in His image are hardwired to GIVE. Until we live into that purpose, we'll never know that joy.
- REFERENCE FAIL: Following the Panther's win yesterday, Cam Newton said of his team, "The Titanic has to keep going."