"You shall have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:2
- John Calvin once wrote, "People are perpetual idol factories..." There is something in us, in spite of God's gracious care, that leads us to falsely think that the things of this world can somehow give us life in ways that God cannot. I struggle with it. You do, and Israel certainly did in Joshua 24. As they entered the Promised Land, God called them to "throw away the false gods of your forefathers...and serve the Lord." He then implored them to choose. "Choose this day whom you will serve..." Honestly, isn't that an obvious choice? If God is who He says He is if He has redeemed us in Christ by His death and resurrection, if He is King and Lord of all, then there should be no hesitation in our choice. Even so, like the Israelites, we slowly blend our lives into the values, beliefs, and morals of the surrounding culture. It's called syncretism, and sadly in the church, we see it happening all around us. We are more and more shaped by the voices of our times, our cultural gods, rather than the voice of He who is Lord of all. Thankfully, Joshua leads us to the answer: a renewal of our covenant vow. It takes four things: You re-engage the body, you invest in and receive the Word of God, you repent and recommit your life to God, and then you do something which reflects that commitment. If in your personal reflection, you find yourself swayed by our culture more than you were aware, then take those steps. Make a decision. CHOOSE THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE. Joshua made his declaration as a part of minority culture, but he still had the courage to live as God had called him. We are once again minority culture, so I pray God will give us that same courage.
- The choices and decisions we make in our households have an enormous impact, far greater than we perhaps realize. Mark Merrill, a social scientist, describes it as the "generational effect." He said, "The way we raise our children today, the way we love them, teach them, discipline them, educate them – will impact not only our children but the next four generations." What we do in our households will impact the next 80 to 100 years as our family legacy. You will impact at least one generation you will never meet. Thus, take Joshua's admonition seriously. Your choices matter. Choose wisely.
- As I wrote in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel, I found our legislature's decision to put our state on permanent daylight savings time a deeply flawed decision. The havoc it will create is considerable and expensive, from airline schedules to computer functions to prime time TV and live events to children going to school in utter darkness. To date, the only logic I have heard in support is it will create better fitness. (Right. We're all going to go home and workout in the extra daylight. Sure we will.). Thankfully, even if Gov. Scott signs it, it will take an Act of Congress to allow it. However, as always, am I missing something? Why would we want to be an hour ahead of NYC and Wash, DC?
- MARCH MADNESS: For those of you who may not be aware, James Naismith, the creator of the game of basketball, was a Presbyterian. Thus, your enjoyment of March Madness is being brought to you by the Presbyterian Church. You're welcome.
- MARCH MADNESS 2: I have had a pretty good run with my bracket, picking Marshall, Buffalo, and UMBC… said no one ever. My bracket is now only useful at the bottom of a birdcage, but it has been such fun! Sister Jean and Loyola? UMBC – the Retrievers? The serious basketball will happen next weekend, but here's to Cinderella!
- HANDYMAN VICTORY: For just the eleventh time in the history of my life, I have fixed something in my home. Such moments are so rare, they are worth reporting. I have a sprinkler head that is about two feet out of the ground that sprays our bushes. It had cracked, spraying water everywhere and lowering water pressure at all the other heads so our grass was too dry. Swanson to the rescue – with duct tape! I grabbed my handy silver roll and wrapped that plastic pipe – voila – fixed!! I'm more than happy to come fix any of your homeowner needs.
- THIS IS US, BUT DON'T MISS THE BIGGER PICTURE: For those of you who follow the series, it captured family homelessness in such a perfect way two episodes ago. It was easy to miss it as a viewer. We get enamored of all the other things happening, but there it was - Daisha, Beth and Randall's one-time foster child, sleeping in a car with her mother having been kicked out of their apartment for failure to pay rent. Real life last week in Orange County, CA, a family of four was found dead in their car. Homeless for two weeks, they had parked too close to a median and the grass had blocked the exhaust pipe causing their death from carbon monoxide poisoning. So here's what I don't get: if what we need is affordable housing in order to reduce family homelessness, why do our state legislators continue to sweep all the money out of the Sadowski fund, one created for that purpose? This year, they took $182 million that should be spent on affordable housing, but it went elsewhere.
- I know this is a little late, but I was so disappointed with the Oscars. Hollywood has become so out of touch that the best movie was The Creature From the Black Lagoon aka The Shape of Water. Is that the best we have?
- WHAT I'M READING: The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah. I read this novel on my anniversary trip and it was wonderful. Great writing about a family of three, the Dad just back from Viet Nam in the mid-70's. He takes his family to Alaska to live on the frontier as a last-ditch attempt to save himself - and them. Alaska becomes a character in the story. Wow.