Legacy

Over these past three days, our youth have been participating in Disciple Now Weekend, focusing on living authentic lives for Christ. We will be hearing from them as they lead us in worship Sunday.

Peter’s second letter speaks to authentic living. He wrote: “As we know Jesus better, His divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3). The apostle was determined to leave a legacy of faithfulness while encouraging others to do the same: “I plan to keep on reminding you of these things as long as I live” (1:13).

You cannot build a legacy after you die; you can only leave one. What will you leave behind that will be worth passing along? Peter told his readers that he desired that they remember what he had taught them “long after I am gone.” He also stressed that his words were not “clever stories” but his own witness and convictions. As he had told the Sanhedrin when they demanded that they quit spreading news about Jesus: “We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

What will the world hear about Him from us? Our legacies have to have eternal consequences. You might think our youth are not old enough to consider such things, but they are charting their life courses now. As we surround them with support and encouragement, it would certainly give us more credibility if we were living authentic lives, too!

Now, who am I?

Ah, spring is in the air! For many of us, that means pollen season. Oh, joy! With a wacky winter soon behind us, our thoughts turn to budding trees, blooming flowers … did I mention pollen season?

It is almost time for baseball to begin again. The 162-game schedule will stretch into early November – over seven months to watch a handful of teams contend for a title while the rest try to reach .500. A 20 year-old stadium was ditched in Atlanta so that people in Cobb County will have something to gripe about for years to come. The new stadium has a shelf life of at least two decades, right? Night games will have to start at 9:00 so fans will have a chance to negotiate the I-75/285 traffic.

Baseball has its twists and turns. According to history.com: “On March 12, 1903, the New York Highlanders were given the go-ahead by team owners to join baseball’s American League.” The team had recently relocated from Baltimore, where they were called the Orioles. In their new home, fans began referring to them as ‘Yankees’ and the name stuck. In 1913, the team got its new identity – the New York Yankees. Teams relocate and players get traded. The Braves started in Boston, moved to Milwaukee, then landed in Atlanta. Keeping up isn’t simple.

Sometimes it’s hard. Consider the case of Joel Youngblood. Youngblood made baseball history by getting a hit in two different cities, for two different teams, against two Hall of Fame pitchers, all on the same day in 1982.

To understand baseball better, you need to watch the classic Abbott and Costello “Who’s on first?” routine. Any confusion you may have should be cleared up soon.

Identity can be a challenge for a team or a player. In life, we need more, something deeper. Henri Nouwen wrote: “Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God.”

Creature finds himself in relationship with Creator, discovering the most exciting answers to two crucial questions: ‘Who am I?’ ‘What is my purpose?’ Paul knew where our identity should be found: “For to me, to live is Christ.”

Rich!

We’re rich! Can you believe it? We just got this very personal letter from a guy in Nigeria, who I am sure is destined to be a really good friend. He wants to give us $3 million. $3 million! He is doing this out of the goodness of his heart because he wants us to be happy. I can be happy with $3 million, can’t you? The details are a bit fuzzy … something about needing our financial information so that the transfer can be handled without any problems. I am so excited just thinking about all the things we can buy with that money!

Oh, you’ve heard from him too. He must have lots of friends and lots of money. What a guy!

Somebody must have taken the bait. Somebody has had his/her bank account drained by this scam. I hope they catch the guy and all the rest just like him … but they won’t.

I only know one get-rich scheme that works. There was this other guy wo sent me a letter. He spoke about treasure and inheritance and abundant life. He wasn’t trying to get into my bank account; He was trying to get into my heart. He promised me something money couldn’t buy and I couldn’t earn. It was worth far more than any earthly wealth could acquire.

His letter wasn’t a scam letter; it was a love letter. He didn’t just address it to me. He wanted everybody to read it. He wanted everybody to know it was meant for each of us.

I am rich. I am a joint heir with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. I hope you are, too.

Slow is good

In 1989, Carlo Petrini launched a global, grassroots organization “dedicated to preventing the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteracting the rise of fast life and combating people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, and how our food choices affect world around us.” Slow food … they have a chapter in Atlanta and involve people in 160 countries around the world.

Slow is good, right? In a hurried world, it makes sense to do more than just take your time eating well. We were not designed to live at this pace. The price tag for our mile-a-minute lifestyles is staggering. Suffering from information overload, we find it increasingly difficult to process what we need to know when we need to know it. The ravages of stress and pressure take their toll, and that’s just with our kids! 72% of adults say they feel stressed most of the time.

Here’s a test: Complete this statement – “I don’t have time to ……”

Often the answer has to do with sleep, exercise, choosing and eating food, time alone, time with friends or family, time to focus on spiritual matters.

Fatigue is not our friend. The physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual strain wears us out. We are more susceptible to depression. The lack of motivation for needed change leaves us feeling sad and hopeless. Our brain function is impaired. Feelings of guilt, resentment, and agitation grow.

I’m no psychiatrist and I haven’t spent a night at a Holiday Inn, but I do know we don’t have to live on this treadmill all our lives. The psalmist urged us to cease striving, be silent and remember who is God (Psalm 46). Why is that important? Because “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Because Jesus invited us: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Because Paul wrote to the Philippians: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

It makes sense. The One who made us knows exactly what we need.

What a mismatch!

Udonis Haslem has had quite a career. While a senior at Miami Senior High School, he led his team to two state titles. He played at the University of Florida where he was a significant part of four UF tournament teams. After a year of professional ball in France, he signed with the Miami Heat of the NBA. The Heat have won three NBA titles while Udonis has played for them. He now has thirteen years with the team, a remarkable achievement in a not-for-long league.

Before moving to Miami to finish high school, Udonis attended Wolfson High School in Jacksonville. He was a formidable presence in a really good high school basketball program. My oldest son and my nephew were on those teams. They also played on a youth church league team when rules allowed such things.

So use your imagination. Think of your average youth church league basketball team and envision one of those kids dribbling down the court to face a 6’8” guy waiting for him in the paint. David and Goliath come to mind … only every time David shot, Goliath swatted the ball into the bleachers. What a mismatch!

The classic story of the shepherd boy against the giant of Gath is known by almost everyone. What a mismatch! Goliath never had a chance. David didn’t just come to the battle armed with a sling and 5 stones; he came in the power of the God he represented.

Sometimes we can be overwhelmingly intimidated by our opposition. We may feel we have no chance for success. Who wants to go into challenge with no confidence of a positive outcome?

The David and Goliath story reminds us of a great truth. You plus God makes a majority, no matter who or what is standing in your way. When Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” he wasn’t relying on his own might. He knew better. I hope we do, too.

Unfinished Business

Rich Stearns is president of World Vision U.S. and has authored two books, one we are very familiar with – The Hole in our Gospel. It was a great privilege to host Rich and his wife, Reneé, last year at Wieuca. His second book, Unfinished, begins with the premise that believing is only the beginning. He urges readers to consider the call to action that Jesus issued to those who would follow Him. He writes: “Our lives are part of a much bigger story … and unless we understand how our story fits into this bigger story we will live our lives with little sense of real purpose or significance, drifting through life like a ship without a rudder.”

It would be unusual to meet a person who doesn’t want his or her life to count for something more than just self-gratification. We might think otherwise, but research bears this truth out. Most people want their lives to matter beyond themselves.

Three passages in Matthew specifically call Christ followers to such commitment:

  1. The Great Commandment – “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (22:37-39)
  2. The Great Compassion – “When you did it to one of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!” (Matthew 25:40)
  3. The Great Commission – “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always.” (28:19,20)

We all know these are critical days for Wieuca. As we pray for God’s direction and blessing, let us determine to complete unfinished business. There is world just outside our doors in need of our love in action.

Disappointment

If you are fan of the University of Alabama and/or the Atlanta Falcons, 2017 didn’t start off very well. A last second loss at the national championship game and the Super Bowl melt-down could wreck your day, mess with your mind, rip out your heart, force you to look for someone to blame, or cause you to say words your mom wouldn’t like.

Perhaps disappointment is too mild a word. AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH might be better. You can always try: “We’ll get ‘em next time” or “Wait til next year” or “We wuz robbed!”

The mild-mannered, sensible, “what’s the big deal?” crowd will say things like: “It’s only a game” or “grow up” or “why don’t you care about something really important?”

AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I get it. Disappointment isn’t fatal – it just seems that way. I know what ‘fan’ stands for – fanatic. We do get worked up about things that get more attention than they should … maybe.

Webster’s defines disappointment: “To leave unsatisfied; to fail to meet hopes or expectations.”

We all experience disappointment. It hurts. It hurts when our favorite team doesn’t win but it really hurts when a relationship goes south, or when we feel unwanted, abandoned, taken for granted, or when life becomes cruel and unjust.

Paul wrote to Christians in Rome when the heat was on. It was tough to live out your faith when there was so much at stake. The trophy he talked about was far more significant. Try these out:

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

“Can anything separate us from the love of Christ?”

“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Sometimes it helps to remember what team really matters.