Monday Morning Musings for 3.26.18

"None is righteous, no not one..." Romans 3:10

  1.  WE'RE THE NAKED GUY. That's right. In Mark 14:51, an unidentified young man is grabbed by the mob that had come to arrest Jesus, and it says "He fled naked." Ran right out of his clothes. Why is that in the Bible? The man is a symbol – for ALL of us. We are exposed, naked in our sin before God which is why, deep down, we fear being "found out." We know there's something wrong, so we hide. We cover. It started with Adam and Eve. In their shame before God, they realized they were naked and so covered themselves. It was an external response to an internal reality. We fear that if others knew our flaws and imperfections, they wouldn't love or accept us, so we cover. Thus, the only way to find freedom is to stop pretending – stop the carefully crafted social media images - and admit it. Accept it. I'm not saying shout your troubles from the rooftops, but be real. Be authentic with others. Once you can live into and accept your own brokenness, it's amazingly freeing. You no longer have the burden of keeping the secret because people already know! If we can't do that, then like the naked guy, we'll flee from the only One who has what we need. We all do it. We run for safety when the cost gets too high. We want to follow Jesus, but only at a safe distance - one that won't cost us too much. We just don't trust that Jesus really is sufficient - able - to be Lord of our lives, but the reality is the entire Biblical story is about being clothed. God is constantly putting coverings on us – clothing us – from Genesis when He clothed Adam and Eve, to Revelation 21 when the Church is "adorned" as a bride. That's what a wedding dress is: the covering of the righteousness of Christ. Thus, God sees us the way grooms see their brides – He sees our beauty – our wholeness. It is the grand exchange made possible in this Holy Week. By his death and resurrection, He gets our ashes, and we get His beauty. Yes, we have a big problem, and we fear it's exposure. The good news is that our messy hearts have been redeemed – covered – in the gracious love of Christ.
  2. I'M CRUMBLING: Several times last week, people said something to the effect of "I have a hard time coming to church. When I walk in it seems like everyone else has it all together, but on the inside, I'm crumbling." I've had similar feelings at times. I remember wrestling with high school insecurities and my Mom saying, "David, just remember - no one has it all together - everyone is hurting about something on the inside." Her words have proven to be true. Yes, we are skilled at putting on appearances - and building an image - but per #1, none of it is real. The truth is we are all crumbling - all broken - all naked in our vulnerabilities, our problems, our failures. So if that's how you feel, don't be fooled. Just remember Mark 14:51. That's who we all are, and that's why we're in church. We know we need help, and we're not afraid to ask for it from a loving, redeeming God. Come join us.
  3. EASTER is a unique day. I hope you'll join us at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts next Sunday (9 or 11 am) as we explore the crazy notion that a dead man came back to life. It sounds nuts, but if there's even a possibility that it's true – that death may have been overcome - isn't that worth exploring? I'll look at the intellectual case for the resurrection through the lens of our earthly love for power. For all the details, go to EASTERINTHECITY.COM. I do hope I'll see you there!
  4. NAVIGATING WHAT'S NEXT: I have come upon an unexpected blessing and opportunity to share my thoughts on many issues surrounding the "end of life." My friend and FPCO member Ted Bogert has a regular FB Live show in which he addresses all manner of topics. However, he kept getting questions related to "end of life" issues, so he invited me to start a regular show to share and discuss. We call it NAVIGATING WHAT'S NEXT. We do it Tuesdays at 3:30, but it remains on FB through my page for views at a later time. I have been surprised at the interest and the number of questions asked – allowing me to address things like: what happens to children, suicide, near-death experiences, deathbed regrets, evil, why bad things happen to good people, heaven, hell, and will we know our loved ones in heaven. We have more than 100 questions submitted for this week! So, if you have time, tune in… grateful to be part of it.
  5. I am absolutely going to get a Sister Jean bobblehead. No question.
  6. GRATEFUL FOR FREEDOM TO WORSHIP: Last week, the Chinese government destroyed the Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province where more than 50,000 worshipped each week. The explanation was that the building had been "illegally constructed." What those same authorities don't understand is that throughout human history, whenever the Church has been persecuted, she grows.
  7. NO SURPRISE: A study by MIT on the proliferation of false information on the internet revealed false statements spread 6 times faster than true ones. Reminds me of the old CM Spurgeon line: "A lie will go round the world while the truth is pulling its boots on." 
  8. WHAT I'M WATCHING: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri… and it was awful. Good heavens. My wife said at its conclusion, "Well, there's two hours of our lives we'll never get back." 
  9. WHAT I'M READING – Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, Tish Warren. This book was an unexpected gift – rich and insightful in so many ways as she compares daily life – making the bed, brushing your teeth, losing your keys – to the sacred rhythms of worship. Trust me, if you're an FPCO person, you'll be hearing more about this book…
  10. If you want to know how to comprehend what has happened in The Church of late – do yourself and favor and read this essay by Andy Crouch, "It's Time to Reckon With Celebrity Power".