"Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." - 1 Timothy 6:11
- Right about this time of year, the materialism of our culture becomes almost overwhelming. It is not a stretch to say we are a money-obsessed society, and unfortunately, that easily bleeds over into dependence. We give our earthly treasures the power to make us feel secure, worthy or safe. In Matthew 6:19, Jesus is pretty clear that our earthly treasures don't last, and if we depend on them to give us what we hope for in life, that will be a fruitless, unsatisfying strategy. We wind up "piercing" ourselves with our own idolatry. Spiritual maturity happens when we get our hearts and desires aligned with God's. We want what He wants, and that's what Jesus says. "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." When our hearts want what God wants, then our treasure follows and we are freed from the earthly obsessions that get us pierced. As we get blasted for the next six weeks with all the items we should want, let's invest our treasures in the things that last: God's people and His Kingdom.
I continue in my own weekly expressions of thanks, this week with special thanks to the men and women of our police and sheriff's departments, especially their leaders: Chief John Mina and Sheriff Jerry Demings. They are two faithful public servants who are serving our community well. This is all the more important in the wake of the church shooting in Texas. It's a fine line between keeping your church open and warm while also tightly secure. OPD has been a huge help in getting us to that point. I hate that things have come to this, but I'm grateful we have such amazing first responders in our community to protect and serve.
I'm also grateful for all of you who took our CHURCH SURVEY in October. Our pastoral team received the initial raw data last week from TAG Consulting along with every comment that was recorded in the process (72 pages of comments in 10 point type). It is incredibly encouraging to know that so many people (40% of our members) cared enough to share their ideas and thoughts about our future. It took me awhile, but I read every single comment, and I'm already praying about what this means for our future vision. All the data still needs to be processed and explained, so you'll hear more after Christmas, but for now, know that your contributions are greatly appreciated!
Carrie Underwood's rendition of Softly and Tenderly during the CMA awards was one of the most inspiringly beautiful things I have ever heard. It was a sincere, heartfelt, soulful sharing of the gospel in a setting where you would hardly expect to hear it.
It's always been interesting to me how different people say the word "naked." Some say "naked" while others offer a quicker "nekked". Which are you?
While I am not a big fan of Taylor Swift's recent music, I have to admit she is a genius at marketing both herself and her music. I know she has a vast number of people helping her with it, but the launch of Reputation last week, including the Instagram videos of private screenings for small groups of fans in secret locations, was masterful. Even for non-music fans, it was hard to miss the build-up to what was happening.
OUR BROTHER'S KEEPER: Suicide is not a subject that we like to discuss. The cultural stigma it carries adds significantly to the weight which families bear in the aftermath, yet very few of us have NOT been impacted by its pain. It has now leaped to the 10th leading cause of death in the US, a 24% rise in the last 15 years. Four times more men than women make this choice. What causes people to make such a decision is widely studied – and debated – but one thing is sure: it's not as simple as saying that suicidal people simply need to deepen their relationship with God. That is surely helpful, but those who take their lives (like Robin Williams) are often so deeply shrouded in the darkness of depression that rational thought is impossible. Each of us needs to take the time to care for our brother or sister - to see the warning signs – and risk the possible response – by expressing our fears or concerns and imploring them to seek the necessary help.
College football in the state of Florida has been turned upside down: Miami is 9-0, UCF is 9-0, USF is 8-1, FAU is 7-3, FIU is 6-3 – while FSU and UF bring up the rear at 3-6. Not exactly the traditional order which is what makes it so fun!
THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: The average traffic speed in Manhattan (NYC) is 4.7 MPH.