"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates
- As always, the New Year leads people to moments of reflection and introspection as well it should. What I find, however, is that we spend far less time thinking about what's going on in us and far more time musing about what's wrong with others. Thus, we lack self-awareness. Jesus was quite frank about it in Luke 6 when he called his followers "hypocrites." Why? They were spending all their time working on the "speck" in the eye of their brother while ignoring the telephone pole in their own. Jesus was saying there is something pervasively wrong with you that impacts every dimension of your life, but all you want to do is talk about what's wrong with your brother. We're pulling the wool over our own eyes. People, there's a plank in our eye and we all have to deal with it. We can't be a good friend or love another well until we first deal with our own heart. The word in Greek means "the load bearing beam to a house." Until we deal with the beam, we will always be trying to cover the nagging sense that something is deeply wrong in us. And that beam is sin – our quest to be our own god. Freedom comes when we realize that God in Christ dealt with our beam…by dying on it. Only when we realize that we are eternally loved by God, warts and all, will we be able to humbly love and serve others regarding the specks which pain them.
- YEAR OF THE BOOK: I am tremendously excited about this coming year as our entire church will read the Bible together with help from The Bible Project. I will preach each Sunday from where we are in the reading plan, and then small groups will have weekly discussion questions related to those texts. Download the Read Scripture app which gives you all the necessary reading for the day, plus helpful tools and a summary video of each book. I'll start this Sunday in Genesis 6. Why not Genesis 1? I'll explain that :)
- MILKY MADNESS COMING IN MARCH: In memory of Davis "Milky" Harper, who was killed at 26 years old, in a car wreck this past year, a group has gotten together to start a 3 on 3 basketball tournament to support the ministries he loved. Go to MilkyMadness.com for all the details, dates, and registration!
- CHOCOLATE COULD DISAPPEAR IN 40 YEARS: This may not impact me much as I will likely not be around, but the cocoa plants that produce chocolate are being devasted by warmer and drier conditions. According to Business Insider, they will be extinct in 40 years. Scientists at Cal are working with Hersheys and others to figure this out, but I thought you should know If they can't fix this, then life may well not be worth living.
- UCF DECISIONS: Let me preface this by saying it's just college football. I hope you will read this in that spirit. I love our local university and cheered them on this year as they accomplished something unprecedented – winless to undefeated in two years. In spite of my Auburn allegiances, I was truly happy to see UCF win in the Peach Bowl. What bothers me is the claim to a national championship using flawed logic and an overzealous local media. They don't pass the eye-test. Does anyone truly believe UCF would have run the table in the SEC this year? Beating an unmotivated Auburn team once is not proof of anything other than you played a good game and won that day. Using UCF logic (we beat Auburn who beat UGA and UA who are now in the title game), then Troy has a claim, too. They beat LSU who beat Auburn who…you get the idea. The logic does not work. You have to play the games and you have to play by the rules of the game. Flaunting them only makes UCF look small. When you're big time, you act like you belong. You know the rules, you play by them, and when things don't turn your way, you don't start hanging banners. Let's celebrate the enormous accomplishments without cheapening them by thumbing our nose at the very system we agreed to take part in, imperfections and all.
- MOVIE REVIEWS: I got to see three movies over the break and all three were enjoyable. "The Darkest Hour" was a wonderful history lesson helping the audience feel the desperate nature of the situation Britain was in at the time. It's truly miraculous things turned out as they did. STAR WARS was a kick - just good, clean fun. I am not an aficionado by any means, but I found it very entertaining. However, far and away the best movie I have seen in a long time was "Wonder", the very thing I preached on through December. It's how movies used to be made. It was a simple, funny, truth-telling movie in which you will find pretty much every person you meet in life in at least one of the characters. It is hopeful and optimistic and will change how you see your world. Do yourself a favor and go see it.
- HILARY CLINTON was once again named the most admired woman in America by the Gallup organization. She has carried this title now for 16 years. 16 years! No offense to her, but I find it hard to believe that America has found no other woman to strongly admire in all that time.
- I love taking people off my prayer list which is part of the joy of keeping one. I have a huge whiteboard in my office that lets me keep track of what is happening, who I'm praying for, and updates in their circumstances. Some have been on there a long time, but this week, I got to take two off when the prayer was answered! I love seeing God at work, and it reminds me to be grateful in all things.
- Prediction: Georgia 38, Alabama 24