Monday Morning Musings for 1.22.18

"My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

  1. Everyone reaches a point in life when they realize they are powerless. Perhaps its the struggle of watching a loved one with a terminal illness or a friend struggle with the power of addiction or an adult child in need yet far from home. Those moments throw us because we are not accustomed to being unable to provide what is needed. The only thing we can do is cry out to God, but even then, we wonder if 2 Cor 12:9 is actually true. Will God provide what is needed? The answer is found in the beauty of Genesis 22 as Abraham is called to sacrifice Issac. It is a command that makes no sense, yet Abraham is obedient to the end that God gloriously provides a substitutionary sacrifice for Issac. It is the foreshadowing of what God would do for us in Christ. Like Abraham, even in times of mystery or in the face of commands we think to make no sense, obedience is always the best path. Instead, we seem to think that if a command doesn't make sense to us, that God can't be any wiser than we are. Really? In so doing, we bail out on God. We blame him or get angry far too fast and thus deprive him of showing us the great provision He had waiting for us at the end. Don't do it! Persevere all the way to provision. Why? God will always provide for us because he provides in Christ the very thing He demands. Just as Issac willingly allowed himself to be bound and laid on the wood after carrying it, Christ carried his cross and laid on it willingly, trusting in the provision of the Father. Jesus then becomes the greater Issac for God did NOT spare his own son. Thus, we know we are loved – and we know we will always have what we need. When you have Jesus, everything else we need in life is thrown in. (Matthew 6:33).
  2. ELDER RETREAT: This past weekend, our elder and staff spent a very meaningful time with Fuller VP and author Tod Bolsinger. Tod helped us look at the rapidly changing culture and its implications for ministry in the church. A few stunning statistics: every year 4,000 churches get planted in the US and 3,600 of them fail. Church planting is enormously valuable, but it isn't keeping the church from continued decline. When human beings hit a crisis, they do not rise to the occasion; they default to their training. Thus, HOW we teach in the church – HOW we train – is critical for the crisis of the coming years. Finally, a clear mission is the essential key to moving people from consumerism to service. Can't wait to see this unfold at FPCO in the next year!
  3. In the month of December, Moscow had six minutes of sunlight. Six!
  4. The sentencing trial of Larry Nassar, the abusive doctor at USA Gymnastics, included the stunning revelation that over ten years, 125 police reports were filed against him. That means individuals reported the abuse – talked to the police about it – and yet 125 times, nothing happened. How is that possible? The more this case is discussed, the more it appears he is far from the only one guilty.
  5. In a 2017 report, 9 million people in the UK often or always feel lonely. This condition is worse on a person's individual health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In response, Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a new cabinet-level position: Minister for Loneliness. Loneliness is also associated with higher rates of heart disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety. This is just the latest indication of the deep needs which exist in the lives of so many even when technology supposedly keeps us connected.
  6. Help me out on this one: there is a bill before the Florida House that would restore voting rights to 1.6 million non-violent felons. They argue that because their felony was non-violent, they should be allowed to vote. Since any felon has a path to voter restoration, I don't favor this bill. What am I missing?
  7. I NEVER KNEW that people in Oregon don't pump their own gas. Only rural counties have self-service pumps. A new bill before their state's House would make them pump their gas, but loud protests are rising. "I don't want to touch those handles," said one. Another decried the change saying, "How am I supposed to know how to operate that?" Come on, Oregon. You're better than that.
  8. Betty Jane Willis, a 1960s soul singer with three number-1 hits, was killed by a homeless man – as she herself was homeless.
  9. Looks like a Super Bowl I won't be watching which will thrill Leigh Swanson - loathe the Pats and Eagles. However, both teams played well, and sadly, the JAGS did not play championship football down the stretch. You can't take a delay of game call on a crucial third down – and you can't give up 3rd-and-18 in the 4th quarter.