Monday Morning Musings for 2.5.18

"For He will be like a refiner's fire....and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have people who will offer themselves in righteousness." Malachi 3:2–3

  1. Fire is a fascinating thing. It attracts us by its beauty as it dances and moves, yet it is simultaneously dangerous. We cannot get too close. Interesting, then, that God often uses fire to describe… Himself. As Moses found in Exodus 3:3 at the burning bush, God is a fire. He draws us over to look – we are attracted – while at the same time He demands we remove our sandals. Moses gave all manner of reasons why he didn't like the way God was acting, but God ultimately says, "I am who I am." In other words, "I give the orders, Moses, not you." God will be who He will be. We don't shape him according to what we want or who we think He should be. He shapes us. If God always corresponds to what we think or believe, then we are not worshipping the Fire. We are in love with a god of our own creation, a god who looks just like us. The good news is that when we encounter God as Fire, as Moses did, He always sends us out to be burning bushes – to be those who, by His presence within us, draw people over to look at the hope of Christ. Moses became a burning bush to Pharaoh. He made Egypt's ruler consider the things of God. The disciples became burning bushes in the early church even to the point of their death. And remember: we can all do this. It wasn't a burning redwood. It was a burning bush. It's not about how fabulous we are. The power was not in the bush but in the fire. Are you trying to shape Him or is He shaping you? And once encountered, where is He calling you to be a burning bush in this world?
  2. The other thing about the burning bush (a nod to Tim Keller here) is what we often overlook: the presence of the pre-existent Christ in Exodus 3:2. It says, "The angel of the Lord called out to him…" And then in verse 4, God speaks. Two voices come from the bush, not one. Who is the angel? Like the fiery furnace and Lion's den of Daniel, the burning bush reveals the presence of Christ, our mediator. How do we know? Moses could never have gotten that close and lived. You could not come that near the fire of God's holiness and survive, but Moses did. How? The presence of our mediator, Christ. Remember, Jesus Christ didn't just pop into existence at Christmas. John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…"
  3. POWER OF TELEVISION: ("This is Us" spoiler warning) Last week on one of America's most popular shows, This Is Us, a fire started in the family kitchen because of a faulty Crock Pot. The next day, Crock Pot stock fell TWENTY percent. Crock Pot's name was not visible, but the company was forced to go into damage control about the safety of their products.
  4. As our culture continues to search for answers in a faithless world, there is yet more evidence for the emptiness of that search. The most popular class at Yale EVER is taking place this semester. It is called unofficially "Happiness" or Psychology and The Good Life. 25% of the student body is taking it – 1,200 people – and the professor believes it will be the roots of "needed social change." The course basically teaches students how to find the things - and invest in the things – that make THEM happy. Sadly, if we think our happiness rests in ourselves, we'll always be lost. We have to understand the larger story we are part of and our purpose in it. That's when we find more than happiness, but true meaning.
  5. PARENTAL STRUGGLE: The most pressing question for parents these days seems to be "when do I give my child a smartphone?" Children put enormous pressure on parents as their peers now receive them at far younger ages. Yet, those who make the technology - execs at Apple and Google – are admitting their addictive power and keeping their children from them. One parent said in the WSJ, "It's like trying to teach your kid to use cocaine, but in a balanced way." Parents readily admit, as soon as their child has one, it reshapes their lives. Said another, "You think you're buying technology, but now it's like oxygen to her." Children unable to use their phones show marked increases in anxiety. Half of the teens surveyed in 2016 said they felt addicted to their phones. Their exposure to both dangerous content and the scorn of others is beyond measure. And then there are parents like Felice Ahn who will not allow her children to have them. She says, "Maybe people are finally realizing and the pendulum will swing back. We are just fine being different." I think the right answer varies according to the child, but I would recommend reading Andy Crouch's, The Tech-Wise Family. Having a smartphone requires AT LEAST the same maturity as driving a car. Parents have to decide when their child has reached that point. Can they handle something that has the power not only to improve their lives but destroy them?
  6. AIRPORT FUMBLE: I went to Dallas last week and flew out of MCO. I got all the way through security, but at 6:30 am was not paying attention and got on the wrong train. I went to the wrong gate pod, realized my mistake, and caught the train back to the terminal. However, TSA agents would not let me simply walk around to the right train! They made me go through security all over again!! I don't get it... I had come from a secure area – why was I somehow contaminated? Anyone?
  7. I saw a tweet yesterday from someone stating that being a student at a seminary does not make you a theologian. I disagree. We are all doing theology every day. It reminded me of Martin Luther's comment: "You don't become a theologian by understanding, reading and speculating. You become a theologian by living. No, you become a theologian by dying and giving yourself up."
  8. IGGLES FOR THE WIN: Congrats to Nick Foles, a good Austin, TX boy, on a great game, great character and a great win for the Eagles. Especially for one without a dog in the fight, it was a fun game to watch.
  9. NEW FEATURE: I get asked quite often about what I am reading or listening to (not into podcasts, but music :), so I'll use my last item to share some of that most weeks.....
  10. WHAT I'M READING: Hope For a Cool Pillow, Margaret Overton. A deeply poignant yet witty reflection on the author's journey with her parents through aging to their eventual death, especially her struggles with her mother's dementia. If you are caring for aging parents, this is for you.
  11. WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: "Drunk Girl," Chris Janson (great country song on manhood) and the audio testimony of Rachael Denhollander at the Larry Nassar trial. Hers was one of the most mature, Biblically sound expressions of forgiveness I have ever heard. Truth with love and love with truth. Great counsel for the church today.