"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…" John 14:27
- "Can't we all just get along?" That was the question posed by Rodney King following the LA Riots in 1992 and it seems to still be the yearning in all of us. It is, at its core, a quest for peace. In spite of humanity's best efforts – peace summits and peace rallies and peace prizes - we are decidedly NOT at peace. As our church launches The Year of the Book in 2018, I find the Bible delivers in that quest. It is the story of God's plan to redeem and save the world through Christ, His plan to usher in lasting, eternal peace. It goes back to Noah in Genesis 9 when, following the great flood, God put a rainbow in the sky and said, "From here on out, I'll always see the rainbow as a sign of my promise to RE-MEMBER you - a promise that the storms of life will never prevail again.." Thus, the rainbow is a sign of God's PEACE. It is a bow pointed AWAY from us, not at us. The just consequences of sin are now provided by the One who demands them. God took our punishment on Himself, and thus opened the path of peace to us eternally, reconciling us to God through Christ (Colossians 1:19-20). The key is found in the word remember, meaning "to make something a member again." Our desire to go our own way removed us from the heart of God, but now that Christ has taken our due, God has made us members of His heart – His presence – again, never to be cut off. The storms of sin and death – the storms of life – will not prevail, but remember: without the storm – the tears – there's no rainbow. The light of Christ shines through them, refracting through our storms and tears, to produce the rainbow – the very beauty and glory of God. So, the next time you see a rainbow – in the sky or maybe on a Skittles commercial – see it for what it is: a sign of God's path to peace for us and this world through the shed blood of Christ.
- On this day in which we remember the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, his work was based on his faith in Christ and Christ as the basis of true peace. He wrote, "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Until we recognize the broken nature within us, we will never know the humility necessary to love and serve those who are different than we are. MLK was first a preacher of the gospel and was truly a instrument of God's peace.
- While I try to stay away from politics, President Trump's recent comments about Haitians and Africans demand response. They cannot be excused. They are racist tripe that serve no polItical end. While MLK Jr. knew the humility of human brokenness that allowed him to love and serve all, he also respected that every individual bears the image of God and thus is worthy of our respect and dignity. FPCO serves in Haiti and in Africa. Yes, Haiti and many African nations struggle politically and economically, but that should produce our service, not our condemnation. That said, our President's comments do not give us license to speak in terms just as vulgar as those he used. Demand more of yourself. Expect more of yourself.
- LEVITY: An Orlando man high on Molly stole a swan boat at Lake Eola and rode it out to our city's iconic fountain. He sat there until police arrived to arrest him. When asked why he took the swan boat, he replied, "Swans don't judge."
- I had the great blessing last week of taking part in the EPC Large Church Pastor's Conference. It was as rich and fulfilling as any conference experience I have ever had, and I believe it was because we were all transparent and honest with each other about our struggles. No one was trying to impress anyone. We listened to each other and prayed for each other – from health crises to struggles with our children to hardships in our ministries and marriages, it was real and authentic and as a result, profoundly transformational. It's not just pastors who need such experiences. We all do.
- ROLL TIDE: Huge congratulations to Alabama on winning the National Championship in one of the great games in recent memory. Saban's willingness to pull his starter in favor of a true freshman was only part of the story. It was the way Hurts and Tua handled that decision – with maturity and class – that made the game so inspiring and exciting. Even in the past few days, Tua has repeatedly declared that Hurst was largely responsible for Alabama's championship season. Can't wait to see them both next year – and all this from an Auburn fan!
- I'm disgusted by anyone who would wear a t-shirt that says "Rope. Tree. Journalist."
- A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT: For me, it is a book (and a movie) that never fails. As Jessie struggles to help her brother, she pleads with Norman, "Why is it that the people who need the most help won't take it?"