So Now What? Love

Gay marriage is now legal in the United States. So now what? How should the Church respond? The following is the final part of five answers to that question.

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Love

A man hits his wife. As soon as his fist makes contact with her jaw, he fills with regret. He knows what he did was wrong. By the time he pulls himself together, all he can see is his wife walking out the door.

He calls her the next day.

“I love you. Please come back.”

She does. Things make a turn for the better. For about a week or so. Then the man snaps again. This time, it’s a slap with the back of his hand. His wife leaves.

And again, he makes that same phone call.

“I love you. Please come back.”

Only this time she doesn’t come back. She doesn’t come back because she has come to understand that the two of them have completely different definitions for the word love.

When it comes to gay marriage, or any heated debate for that matter, most rational people agree that we just need to love one another. But usually, both sides have two completely different definitions for that word. Before we can agree to love one another, we need to know what love really is.

For the world, love is a feeling. It is nothing more or less than an emotion. An emotion that you can’t help. That’s why you hear people using love as a rationale for cheating on their spouse. You fall out of love. You fall back into love. Things happen. It’s also why so many Christians are classified as hateful when they oppose gay marriage. Surely anyone who opposes love can’t be anything other than hateful.

But Christian love is different.

Christian love is rooted in God’s love for sinners as demonstrated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10 (ESV)

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)

Christian love isn’t passive, always apologizing for anything that even comes close to being offensive and it isn’t blind, constantly ignoring sin. Christian love moves toward sin with honesty and grace.

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:10-11 (ESV)

Christians who love well can do so because they are ever aware of their own dreadful condition and the transformation the love of God brought to them.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:12-15 (ESV)

The world’s version of love could easily be defined as, “Shut up and agree.”

Christian love is the laying down of what is rightfully yours for the ultimate benefit of another.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV)

Christians, now is a good time to show the world what love really is. That doesn’t mean that we have to sign off on what the world is selling or sit quietly in the corner while people self-destruct. No, we should speak up. Homosexuality is a sin. No court can change that. But rather than a picket sign, bull horn or Facebook status written in all caps, our platform should be the love of Christ.

This means that our greatest acts of Christian speech and service will be an overflow of love.

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3 (ESV)

It means that we don’t always have to have the final word in whatever the heated debate of the day happens to be.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (ESV)

And it means that truth, not the latest fad, will be our guide.

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6 (ESV)

The world will never find true love in a feeling, a political agenda or a rainbow profile picture. The love that they are looking for can only be found at the cross. As they search, they will gaze through the lens of our lives. May our love for God and neighbor give them an accurate picture of the only love that they really need.

Christians, don’t just show them that they are wrong.

Show them the cross.

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So Now What? Get Unified

Gay marriage is now legal in the United States. So now what? How should the Church respond? The following is the fourth part of five answers to that question.

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Get Unified

A pastor friend of mine was in the process of being run out of his church. There was a member of a prominent family in the church who was acting like a fool. My friend called him out on it. The response he got back went something like this.

“He may be a fool but he’s our fool and he’s not going to change. You need to go.”

Something like that.

But what stuck with me was my friend’s response.

He told me that years ago, when he was partying, no one ever got mad at him. No one ever tried to have him removed from a party. It was all good times. The fighting, bickering and power moves weren’t introduced to him until he started leading in a church.

Sadly, he’s right.

And it has to stop.

Today’s Church has an opportunity to be salt and light in a decaying and dark culture. But it’s never going to happen if we do not first learn how to get along with each other.

Someone once said that nothing unifies like a common enemy. That person hasn’t spent a lot of time around church people.

Consider for example the reactions to the White House being lit up like a rainbow a few days ago. When a believer voices even a smidgen of shock at such a site, other believers are quick to point out his “hatred.”

But that’s just on social media. Surely there’s no problem with unity in local church settings, right?

Right?

Sure, but only if you ignore the lady who got mad because the pastor didn’t speak to her long enough at the ice cream social.

And the man who let everyone in the church know how mad he was when his Sunday School teacher didn’t call him after his mother’s uncle passed away.

And the group that really likes one method of educating their children and just can’t seem to get along with the other group with a different approach.

I could go on and on.

Christian, how do you expect a boy who now identifies himself as a woman to believe that you love him when you don’t even love the people in your own church?

The world doesn’t much care for unity. Conformity is what they’re into. They want everyone to believe the same, feel the same, accept the same things, share the same culture and worship the same god.

Unity is different. Unity is when people who vote differently, educate their kids differently and spend their money differently still come together to love one another, cry with one another and laugh with one another. This is only possible in Christ. He is the one common link between all believers.

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (ESV)

It is important that the Church speak the truth. The Church needs to call sin what it is. Churches must stand on the gospel. Compromise is not an option.

But none of that, no matter how fervent, sincere or right it may be, will amount to anything more than clanging cymbals if the Christians who are standing for truth are not unified with one another.

Earlier, I quoted a saying.

Nothing unifies like a common enemy.

That can be true of the Church.

But we must understand that the gay couple that just came into town to get a marriage license is not the enemy. They are wrong but they are not the enemy. Satan is the enemy. And his favorite fiery dart that he throws at churches is a spirit of disunity because it is then that he takes away their voice.

Yes, we must love the sinner marching in the gay pride parade.

But we also must love the saint two pews down from us who prefers a different style of worship music.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)

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So Now What? Get In The Word

Gay marriage is now legal in the United States. So now what? How should the Church respond? The following is the third part of five answers to that question.

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Get In The Word

I’m almost 40. I’ve never been mistaken for Brad Pitt. There is nothing whatsoever that is even remotely cool about me. But none of that mattered a while back at a pizza restaurant when one of the waitresses told me that I was fine. Right to my face.

“You’re fine.”

I went back to my table and told my wife. She rolled her eyes. That’s because she knew that there had to be more to the story. There was.

I was coming out of the restroom and, as is usually the case for me, I almost ran into someone. The waitress. I told her that I was sorry.

“Oh, it’s okay. You’re fine.”

Context.

It makes a big difference. Without it, you hear what you want to hear in order to prop up whatever it is that you want to believe. With it, you get to the truth. When it comes to the Bible, many in our culture pass when it comes to the truth. In politics, everyone is a Libertarian until they want something from the government. In matters of theology, every unrepentant sinner hates what the Bible says until they can make it say something different. Paul could see this coming 2,000 years ago.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV)

Paul’s words before this are shocking. They are shocking because there are many professing Christians who would tell us that, since the Bible is unpopular, we need to put it back in the drawer. We need to exchange preaching for conversations where the world speaks their own version of the truth without context while we mostly just sit back and apologize.

Paul gave completely different advice for a culture that, like ours, treated the Bible as their own personal back scratcher.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (ESV)

Don’t abandon it.

Don’t try to make it more hip.

Don’t talk about it but never really use it.

Don’t water it down.

Preach it!

But why?

Paul’s answer is simple. Because it is from God and it is true.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

Politicians change their version of the truth whenever such a transition is needed in order to keep them in line with their financial backers and the popular crowd. If you don’t believe me, go on YouTube and look at those old clips of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talking about how much they support traditional marriage.

Prophets are different from politicians. They speak the truth in love regardless of what it might cost them. The world needs more prophets. Real prophets. The kind of prophets who say hard things in a loving way. But that will never be you if your Bible is nothing more than religious paraphernalia or just something you use from time to time to support whatever opinion you’re latching on to at the moment.

And here’s a little something that you might not like. It is impossible to consistently speak spiritual truths in love while at the same time ignoring the Bible or taking it out of context.

 

When you die, Jesus won’t ask you how popular you were. It is your faithfulness and obedience that will matter the most. But no matter how hard you try or how well meaning you may be, authentic faithfulness and obedience will never be a part of your life if your life is not in the word.

So which will it be? Will you choose the shifting sands of popularity or the solid rock of God’s word?

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So Now What? Get Your House In Order

Gay marriage is now legal in the United States. So now what? How should the Church respond? The following is the second part of five answers to that question.

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Get Your House In Order

Parents spend a lot of money in hopes that their little boy will be the next LeBron James or that their little girl will be the next Taylor Swift. This rarely turns out being a worthy investment. Even in the unlikely scenario that the kid does get famous, he usually has a very public celebrity meltdown because his parents were more like agents than sources of love, direction and wisdom.

If you want your kid to be like someone, here’s a better option.

Daniel.

If you’re familiar with the Bible, he’s the guy who was thrown into a den of lions by the government for praying. Years before that, he was taken from his homeland and forced to live as a slave in Babylon. Obedience to God made him and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, stand out among the other slaves.

A few years ago I preached through the book of Daniel. I couldn’t help but think about my kids. Will they remain devoted to Jesus when they leave home for college or married life? Worse, would they react like Daniel if an invading army ripped them from their family and country? I hoped so. Perhaps I’ll be getting my answer sooner than I expected.

But here’s the thing. We haven’t been overthrown by an invading army. Yet. No, we’ve just morphed into Babylon all on our own. The world around us is quick to bow to our culture’s many 90-foot statues in the name of love and tolerance. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, will our kids be the ones standing up when everyone else mindlessly bows? Like Daniel, will our kids bow to the real King when everyone else carries on worshipping safe, pretend gods?

Parents, the answer to that question has a lot to do with the devotion that your kids see in you.

Theres a popular verse going around the Internet these days.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1 (ESV)

Jesus said that. And now, so does every unrepentant sinner on the planet when someone dares to confront their sin. Here’s how it usually works.

Repentant Sinner: “Hey, so you’re robbing banks. You know, stealing is a sin. But I used to do it too. I once was a bank robber too but now I’m free from that life. You can get over this.”

Unrepentant Sinner: “Leave me alone! Jesus said don’t judge. Also, I’m having hate speech charges brought up against you. Have fun at your re-education camp in Terre Haute, Indiana.”

Taken in context, Jesus’ words aren’t a prohibition of discernment. He actually commands his followers to judge in verse six of this same passage. Instead, it’s the self-righteous variety of judging that Jesus condemns.

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5 (ESV)

Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner is wrong. But moms, don’t ramble on and on about how immoral and disgusting that is on your way to see Magic Mike. Cast the log out of your eye first.

So-called gay marriage is wrong. But dads, don’t yell about how it’s destroying society when you treat your own marriage and family like a chore that you only address if there’s enough time after you’re finished doing the stuff that you really like.

Parents, the government has proven to us that they have no clue what family is. So stop depending on them, or anyone else for that matter, to teach your kids about it. It’s up to you to show them.

Love each other in a Christ-like way.

Teach your kids the Bible.

And pray together.

There’s a good chance that when they’re on their own, your kids will do the same thing.

Even if it means a trip to the lion’s den.

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So Now What? Get Ready To Grow

Gay marriage is now legal in the United States. So now what? How should the Church respond? The following is one part of five answers to that question.

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 Get Ready To Grow

I’ve read a lot of books about how to grow a church. Many of them focus on marketing strategies. Some even cross a line into manipulation and trickery. But there’s one word that I don’t know if I’ve ever read in one of those books.

Persecution.

A quick survey of the history of Christianity will show you that the church’s greatest impact has coincided with times of great tribulation. The book of Acts is a perfect example. It begins with a few scared disciples hidden away in a room after the persecution, death and resurrection of their Leader. Thousands and thousands of new disciples later, the book ends with another great leader on trial for his life and with Christianity on the verge of becoming a global movement. Tertullian said it best. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Within minutes of the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, church leaders were predicting persecution for believers. Many Christians agreed. Skeptics scoffed. But put aside your view of homosexuality and gay marriage for a moment. No matter what your opinion is, it’s hard to get around the idea that a tough road lies ahead for the Church.

Many churches will shrink in size. That means that giving will decrease. And it means that some large churches will become small churches. Or former churches. It’s been said before that church folks vote with their feet and their checkbooks. When the going gets tough, you can be sure that many church people will take their checkbooks, walk out and vote with the popular crowd.

On Sunday morning, a group of people stood up to interrupt one of the most popular pastors in the world. Six times they shouted him down before being escorted out of the building. But they didn’t leave alone. A significant portion of that pastor’s congregation left with them. Not because they agreed with the rude protestors. They left because they were afraid that something bad might happen. This serves as a perfect parable. A lot of people are okay with church. Until it starts to cost them something. And then they start looking for something safer to be okay with.

So where does the growth come in?

Here’s another word.

Revival.

When I was growing up, revival meant that time of the year when you had to go to church every night of the week to hear a guy in a bad suit make you bow your head and close your eyes. Genuine revival is different. Genuine revival means repentance of sin. It means a renewed love for God and neighbor. It means restored relationships. And it means growth.

The kind of growth that you need to get ready for probably isn’t the kind of church growth you’re used to. It might not mean bigger buildings, hiring new staff members and bragging to your buddies at the next pastor’s convention about how many new members you got last month.

This kind of growth could mean that you have to leave your current building and start meeting in homes.

It could mean that your church looses it’s prominence in the community.

And when that happens, you’ll want to get discouraged. But just remember the book of Acts. At it’s core, it’s the story of early Christian leaders getting kicked out of town and taking their unpopular message with them until the entire world is turned upside down.

Take a kid and put him in a field of dandelions. Tell him to get rid of the weeds and he’s likely to walk around kicking everything until all of those little white seeds are gone. Or so he thinks.

Christian, our time to get kicked may be just around the corner.

But remember this. The more we get kicked, the more the message spreads.

So Christian, get ready to grow.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

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The Proper Response To The South Carolina Church Shooting

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When a tragedy like Wednesday evening’s church shooting happens, there are always two types of first responders. One group of first responders is made up of law enforcement and medical personnel who quickly arrive on the scene, usually at great risk, to do the job that few of us want. We need these first responders. Many times, after all of the dust has settled down, their stories are the ones that provide us with hope and inspiration.

There is another group of first responders and they provide us with something quite different. These first responders don’t usually show up at the scene. In fact, they rarely know anyone involved or any of the details of the situation. But still they respond.

They respond by using the tragedy as a trampoline of sorts to catapult their particular agenda into the spotlight. These are the types of first responders that we don’t need, especially from within the body of Christ.

Thursday morning I made the mistake of listening to people on the radio talk about the South Carolina church shooting. After a grand total of ten minutes, I heard the radio host say that the cops should look into a bomb threat that had been reported at a hotel near the church, “because that’s how it always happens in the movies,” and how the suspect’s haircut meant that he was likely a person of influence who was being protected by powerful people.

First responders at the scene with badges and medical bags are brave.

First responders on their keyboards and microphones are usually foolish.

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:27-28 (ESV)

I, like many people, am a fan of guns. But this tragedy isn’t our opportunity to go on social media and annoy everyone with posts about how this never would have happened if more people shared our passion for firearms.

Nor is this the opportunity to ramble on and on about tougher gun laws.

What we need is a third group of first responders. These first responders aren’t equipped with special training and may never be considered heroic but they are just as important as the men and women in uniform. And these first responders are devoted to something much more important than getting their opinions out to the public.

These first responders, before they do anything else, pray. They pray for justice. They pray for peace. They pray for the hurting.

And they cry with the hurting.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:15-16 (ESV)

They do this because they don’t see what happened in South Carolina as a political event or an opportunity for social analysis. They see it for what it is. Evil. And as a result of this particular evil, nine people lost their lives.

Nine people.

Not nine Democrats or Republicans.

Not nine blacks.

Not nine church folks.

Nine people.

Nine people created in the image of God.

Look, we all have opinions and our own ideas for solutions when tragedies like this happen. That’s good. But at least for a few days we should keep them to ourselves. Or maybe we could just share them with friends over a meal.

The people impacted by this tragedy do not first need our opinions, theories or even our passions.

They need our prayers.

And our tears.

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Holy Political Correctness, Batman!

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We live in a politically correct world. That’s another way of saying that we can’t really have fun anymore. The Great Commandment of our politically correct age is this. Everything you say is offensive. And the second commandment is like it. Everything you do is dangerous.

Case in point, the Daly family photo shoot.

If you haven’t heard by now, Roxanne Daly gave her husband Mike a unique Father’s Day present. She had Mike dress up like Batman and their toddler son dress up like Robin. Roxanne was the damsel in distress. This make believe damsel in distress was pretending to be tied to train tracks. But never fear! Batman and Robin were there to save the day. And it was all caught on camera to be enjoyed by the Daly family for years.

Unfortunately, the Politically Correct Jokers arrived to ruin the day with their two Great Commandments.

Everything you say is offensive.

Everything you do is dangerous.

Seeing as how this was a photo shoot and no words could be heard, the Daly family was cited for breaking rule number two. When they posted the pictures online, most people laughed, clicked the like button and carried on with their lives. But not the Politically Correct Jokers.

They were upset because, get this, the track was, wait for it, active. Gasp!

Here’s some advice for my politically correct friends. Active railroad tracks are not running with electricity. You won’t get electrocuted if you touch one. It just means that a train could come. And here’s the thing about trains. They’re not butterflies. They don’t just show up out of nowhere. They’re big. And loud. That means that you can see them coming with plenty of time to get out of the way.

Here’s an example.

Photographer: “Look at Mommy, Robin.”

Dad: “I hear a train and the rails are shaking. Let’s go stand over there.”

Family stands in the woods for five minutes and waves at the engineer, conductor and the three hobos on the last car.

Dad: “Great Scott it’s hot in this suit! Let’s get this thing over with.”

In usual political correct fashion, those who found themselves so offended have threatened the Daly family and even went so far as posting their home address online. Because nothing shows how much you care for the safety of someone like posting their address online and threatening to come visit in the middle of the night.

If Roxanne Daly would have done her research before this photoshoot she could have avoided all of this controversy and the hate of the Politically Correct Jokers. If she would have put on the Batman suit, made her husband wear a dress and said that her young son was self identifying as a female Eskimo with ties to ISIS, none of this would have happened. They could have taken their pictures high atop Mt. Everest and been just fine. Well sure, they may not have survived the ordeal but just think of how brave everyone would have said they were.

But instead, it’s just a regular mom, dad and son on some railroad tracks so the Politically Correct Jokers want to attack.

So I say, attack away.

But just be ready.

The Dark Knight and his side kick have never been ones to care about political correctness when it comes time to fight. But even they don’t put up a fight like a loving wife and mother who has had enough of all the senseless drama and keyboard crusading.

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A List Of Just Some Of The People Who Would Make A Better President Than Donald Trump

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1. The Great Kabuki

2. M.C. Hammer

3. Dusty Rhodes (RIP)

4. The guy who played Turbo in Breakin’ Two: Electric Bugaloo

5. Herschel Walker

6. Rasheed Wallace

7. The Hay Pushing Lady

8. Keith Sweat

9. That nice lady with the red hair who ran the school for those girls on The Facts of Life. Edna, I think was her name.

10. Gregg Allman

11. Duane Allman (RIP)

12. Don and Arlene

13. Conway Twitty (RIP)

14. Hank HIll

15. Henry Hill

16. The cast of One Tree Hill

17. Vin Diesel

18. Whoever the 12-year old boy is who was responsible for writing the screenplay for all of The Fast and The Furious movies.

19. Whoever the 12-year old girl is who is responsible for writing all of Luke Bryan’s songs.

20. Nature Boy Ric Flair. Wooooooooooooo!

21. Bubb Rubb and Lil’ Sis. Woot, woot!

22. Flo Rida

23.That guy in the Statue of Liberty costume dancing on the side of the street telling you that his uncle’s place is your best option for quality accounting services and the selling of any gold that you may need to get rid of.

24. Screech!

25. Keith Richards (RIP)

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Time Tells A Story

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A kid my age wasn’t supposed to like that sort of thing. I was captivated. I couldn’t help it.

My grandfather was a storyteller. He could tell a story better than anyone I’ve ever heard. On Sunday afternoons, after eating the massive lunch that my grandmother had prepared, we would all find a chair and listen to the master do his work.

He told stories about haints. A haint, in case you’re not from the south, is a ghost. I used to think that there was no such thing as haints but I’ve visited a few churches that cause me to have my doubts. His haint stories were the perfect balance of scary and funny.

He told stories about his time fighting in the South Pacific during the second World War. There were friends who died just after finding out that they’d be going home soon. There were crazy soldiers walking around with the ears of the men they had killed. There were enemy soldiers who came way too close to putting an end to my grandfather and his stories. Again, there was balance. These stories were part patriotic masterpieces and part horror. There was no humor.

And he told stories about quitting school as a kid to take care of his family after his father died. In spite of the hardships, these stories made us laugh. No matter how often we heard them.

The stories all had one thing in common. Each one highlighted the faithfulness of God. My grandfather was no theologian but, in his own way, he was doing more than just telling stories. He was preaching sermons. His sermons told of a God who is trustworthy. Even while bullets are flying in the South Pacific. Even when fathers die. And even when something called a haint appears to be walking in the middle of the road.

When the stories ended, my mom, my sister and I climbed back into our wood paneled station wagon for the hour long trip up Interstate 75 back to our south Atlanta home. Mom drove, my sister sat up front and I was always in the very back, where the party is.

My grandparents hated that. They would always remind us of some kid they saw on the news who had to have his spleen removed because he was riding in the back of a station wagon when it wrecked. As we drove off, the look of worry on their faces made it seem like they were shipping us off to the South Pacific to fight another war.

After being taken care of in a war, provided for through childhood and comforted from supposed southern ghosts, my grandparents were still consumed with worry.

This is exactly how worry works for all of us.

Time tells a story. The past, if we take the time to notice, always tells the truth. It tells of a faithful God who rules over all things for the ultimate good of his people. But the present can be a liar. Much like the diet that always begins tomorrow, the present sometimes tells us that the unraveling will begin tomorrow. Sure, maybe God was in control yesterday but tomorrow will be a different story. You will be on your own. You are in trouble.

Jesus speaks a word of truth to counteract the lies the present likes to tell us about the future.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

For a minute, that doesn’t look too comforting. It sort of reads like Jesus is saying, “Why are you worried about tomorrow? Worry about today. That’s where the real trouble is.”

Thankfully, he’s not saying that.

Each day has sufficient trouble. But that’s not all that it has. Read what Jesus told a suffering Paul about sufficiency.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

The present likes to tell you a story about troubles coming in the future. That part isn’t a lie. You will have troubles in the future. But it’s only a half truth. Along with those troubles, God will give you grace. His grace. Sufficient grace. And it will be enough.

The Christian’s source of hope is never the absence of trouble. Rather, it is the presence of Jesus in the trouble.

If you listen carefully to the stories of your past, no matter how tragic they may be, you will be reminded of Jesus’ presence and the sufficient grace that comes along with it.

There is plenty to worry about. But Christian, there is no need to worry. That’s because the Author of your story is in complete control.

 

And he loves you.

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