Lessons from Mrs. McCarthy


A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34-35, NIV).

My wife and girls like this BBC show, Father Brown. It is a mystery show based off of The Father Brown Mysteries written by the famed by G.K. Chesterton. As the title suggests, the sleuth of the series is Father Brown; a Catholic Priest with a penchant for solving mysteries and murder.

One of Father Brown’s “sidekicks” is one Mrs. McCarthy. In the TV series she is excellently played by Sorcha Cusack.

One of the reasons I say she is excellently played by Cusack is that I can’t stand her! She drives me nuts! Cusack’s performance totally nails the persona of the quintessential old church lady. Prim, proper, and excellent at baking. She sees herself as being kind, pious, righteous, and as a woman who should be respected. But the reality is that she often comes across as very self-righteous, judgmental, and given to gossip, and she has no problem jumping to negative conclusions about people who don’t live up to her expectations. If the elder brother in the parable of the Lost Son of Luke 15 were a sister, she would be it.

To me she represents what many think of when they think of what a “Christian” is. One of the reasons that perception exists is because there are more than a few Mrs. McCarthys in the church. I know. I have run across many myself. I tell you, sometimes I have wished that these people who tell people that they are atheists and help us in reverse!

It is next to impossible to expose one of these Mrs. McCarthy types to themselves. They are often so convinced that they are right they can’t see their hypocrisy.

What can you do?

You need to show them some Father Brown.

No, I don’t mean the TV show or the books, I mean you need to treat them like Father Brown treats Mrs. McCarthy.

Father Brown loves her and is friends with her knowing full well who she is, and loving her anyway.

He does not always respond to every jab or dig or insinuation he makes. But when he does it is never a put down.

He is very forgiving of her.

More than once when Mrs. McCarthy was in the wrong because her wrong thinking or conclusions, or attitude, she nevertheless led Father Brown to a break in the mystery and so he responds by thanking her for helping him so much.

In a word, he does not give up on her. He loves her in spite of her blemishes and failures. Not because he does not see them. But in spite of the fact that he does. He knows that he can’t change Mrs. McCarthy. But he knows that is not his job. That is God’s job. His job is to love her as best he can….and to solve the disturbingly high number of murders that take place in the tiny English countryside village of Kembleford!

Father Brown represents what we Christians should be. Out for the truth, but to build people up and bring them closer to God, not to simply show them how they fall short or to expose them when they sin for the sake of exposing them. It takes no special talent or spiritual acumen to do that. But to do what Father Brown does? That takes spiritual maturity! We could all do well be channel a bit more of Father Brown…including myself.

Homecoming (Part 3)


The resurrection assures us that that forgiveness is real. That the way back Home is real.

The death of Jesus tells us the price that needed paid to make that happen. It brings into stark clarity how hopelessly bad things are. At the cross the Law took all it demanded. Forgiveness isn’t possible unless justice is satisfied. That’s the rub. That is why it is so important.

The resurrection tells us that the Father accepted that payment. The resurrection is the triumph of grace. The way to the Garden is open again. Your Homecoming is being prepared.

That is the new birth that Peter was talking about.

The Christian life is not free of troubles or trials. There are plenty. Those troubles are being used by God to get you prepared for heaven. You are being remade; remade in the image of Christ. There is work to the Christian life. But it is not working to earn, it is working to learn.

Good Friday teaches us the first big lesson that God wants us learning: that I am not, nor was I ever meant to be enough. The cross shows us where we end up on our own. The cross shows us the end of the line if we try to be enough on our own. If we are held accountable for our actions and have to pay for the sins we have made then we are in trouble, big trouble!

Easter assures us about the second and most important truth God that wants us learning: that Jesus is enough; and that in Him, though Him, and because of Him, you will always have enough. The resurrection means that Jesus was not just a good guy. His life was not just “more righteous than most,” it tells us that He was most righteous! He lived a life of loving His Father with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength and loved His neighbor as Himself. And He lived it perfectly.

The cross teaches us that Jesus loved us enough. The more you need to forgive the more you need to love, because love is what it takes to make you willing to pay the price to forgive. Forgiveness is free for the offender but not for the giver, is it? There is always a cost to it. The higher the offense the higher the cost. What kind of love therefore was necessary for Jesus to be willing to step in and pay His Father what we owed? It was not a small price. It required God becoming a man. It required living a perfect and sinless life in world full of temptation, headaches, and heartaches, where He was misunderstood, mistreated, rejected, misjudged, and nailed to a cross. And that wasn’t the worst of it. He had to suffer the justice of God for us. It wasn’t the cross that made Jesus cry “My God, My God why have You forsaken me?” It was experiencing the justice of God, the wrath of God for all our sin.

The good news of Easter is, because Jesus prayed that prayer His children never need to. Because Jesus entered that truly God-forsaken place, Christians will never have to go in. If there is one sure description of Christians, it is that they are a people who are never forsaken by God. You can have complete assurance and peace knowing that God will never leave you or forsake you because Jesus prayed a prayer that will never be necessary for any Christian to pray ever again.

Because truth was not compromised, grace now runs free to the Bullock’s of the world (and in case you are wondering, we are all Bullock). All that is needed to get it is to see that grace and truth that the Father offers through Jesus, and accept it. If the Father has opened your eyes to see it, take it. It is His free gift of love to you. And all that guilt and shame from the bad things you have done which hound, accuse, and imprison you will be gone. You will be free. You can come Home.

Homecoming (Part 1 of 3)


The following three posts comprised my Easter sermon this past Sunday at Cliftondale Congregational Church in Saugus, MA. Part 2 will post tomorrow and part 3 on Wednesday. If audio becomes available I will link to that as well…

 

One of the shows that Mandi and I like to watch is Gotham. It is a very interesting show set in DC Comics’ fictional Gotham City. The show focuses on the adventures of Det. James Gordon, who in the future, will be the same Commissioner Gordon who becomes a main ally of the Batman. But that is a long way off. Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) is just a young boy.

However, Gotham is already in serious trouble, and the idealistic Det. Gordon finds himself the lone uncorrupt cop in the city. While all the cops are bad, they are bad to varying degrees, and Gordon eventually finds an ally (or someone he believes he can make an ally) in his partner, Det. Harvey Bullock.

In the episode, “Everybody Has a Cobblepot,” we discover that the Police Commissioner (who is in the pocket of Don Falcone, the head of the mob) is keeping files on all the bad things the cops have done, and uses them as leverage to keep them doing whatever he wants.

Near the end of the episode, Bullock explains to Gordon the rationale for why he did his “bad thing,” and the struggle he still has with it all these years later.

You know…you tell yourself, “I’ll just do this one bad thing. All the good things I do later will make up for it.” But they don’t. There is still that bad thing.

That gets to the heart of all of us doesn’t it? In thirty-two words, Bullock lays his finger on the problem we all find ourselves in as fallen and broken people. When we do something bad—be it intentional or unintentional—we tell ourselves the same thing. We rationalize that we needed to do it so that we can be in a position to do good things, or (more often) that we will be able to make up for it (or at least offset it) by doing good things in the future.

We want to do something to make things right; to make ourselves right.

But inevitably we fail again.

And then again.

And then again.

Now we are not just working to make up for one bad thing, but many bad things. And we find ourselves lost in a horrible downward spiral of trying to show that, in spite of our “bad things,” we are really “good.”

But it doesn’t work does it? No matter how hard we work to “do good things,” they don’t erase the bad things do they? We know that we cannot fix ourselves. We can’t make up for the bad we do by any amount of community service or pious penance. The bad things don’t go away. We may get good at rationalizing them, hiding them, denying them, justifying them, or burying them, but they never go away by our own efforts.

While Det. Bullock is left with no solution, God wants us to know there is a solution for us. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

1 Peter 1:3-9 (NIV), spells out what that grace is.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Peter starts his letter by praising God for what He had given in Jesus. It was not something they needed to pay for, or earn, or measure up to. It was simply given. It was a gift from the Father to them. That gift is a living hope of an inheritance in heaven. It is a living hope because it is a hope that is founded in Jesus. It lives because Christ lives. Because of the resurrection they could be confident that that hope was sure. It couldn’t be taken away. It couldn’t be lost. It couldn’t be broken. It couldn’t weaken or waste away.

Peter reminds them that that inheritance is not here; it is in heaven. There are lots of blessings and joys that it brings now, but the full enjoyment of it awaits in heaven. Peter assured his readers that it was being protected for them in heaven and that—even though it did not look like it right now—they were being protected and prepared for it here. They would come into that inheritance. It was a sure thing.

They were being prepared for that inheritance now. While there was cause for great rejoicing, the fact is that living by faith takes work. Hard work. Sometimes it felt like that inheritance was a pipedream. They were suffering. They were poor. They were being persecuted. It is easy to be faithful and obedient when everything is going your way. It is quite another to be faithful and obedient when things are going backwards no matter how hard you try.

Yet while they were going through all sorts of headaches, heartaches, problems, and challenges, these Christians, Peter noted, still had this joy about them, an inexpressible and glorious joy. As they were doing the hard work of living by faith, Jesus was working His grace deep into them. That grace could be seen, felt, and experienced in a love and joy for Jesus that changed them so much that the way Peter described it is a new birth. They are not what they were. They are something new.

Part 2 comes tomorrow.

Grateful for Grace


One of the ways I have been taking in Scripture is listening to it during my commute to work in the morning. The last few days I have been in Deuteronomy. You can’t listen to the layout of God’s Law without being overwhelmed by it. The Law is a comprehensive and unapologetic laying of God how expects the Israelites to live, work, relate to people, treat people, love people, worship Him and how to handle it when they did not. Certainly grace was woven into it. But let me tell you when you are listening to 7-8 straight chapters of Law, if you are really listening you will quickly come to the conclusion that there is no way to keep it. Not because it was flawed, or unjust, or because it asked too much. There is not any one thing in there that is beyond our capacity to understand and do. I just know that I could not have kept it.

I am very glad that Peter felt the same way. When the question came up in the early church about whether to make Gentile Christians follow the Law, Peter stood up and said,

God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? (Acts 15:8-10, NLT).

I am so glad that we are saved by grace. The Law tells how God wants us to live. That is good. But the Law also tells us that we don’t live up to it. What is worse, the Law is unable to enable us to keep it. It shows what is right, and reveals that we are not. It reveals our brokenness and our need for grace.

I am so glad that God not only met our need to know how the righteousness that He requires, but also met our need for grace that our unrighteousness requires.

Why Celebrate?


My daughter Anna struggles with depression and anxiety because of her Non Verbal Learning Disorder (NVLD). She was hospitalized eight times within a two year period. It was hard, real hard. Basically every three months she was in a hospital or C-BAT unit. But after that, because of her hard work and the prayers of many friends she started to make significant strides in learning to cope with her NVLD. When we came to the one year anniversary of her being free of self harm and hospitalization we had a celebration going to her favorite restaurant, the China Buffet. When she made it two years, we had a party with family and friends to celebrate her accomplishment.

But three months after the two year celebration, she hurt herself again and ended up back in a C-BAT unit.

The question has come up: what is the point of celebrating such milestones of recovery when there is no certainty that the recovery will continue without times when we fall? Does the fact that she fell again say that our celebration premature?

The reason for celebrating is not about what you are going to do tomorrow. It is acknowledging the work that was done in the past. She worked hard. She accomplished a lot. That was worth celebrating. We weren’t celebrating the expectation that she would never fall down again, we were celebrating the fact that she had gone so long without failing down again.

And you know what? She had a much easier time getting back on her feet this time. She is not the same person she was four and a half years ago. She is in not in the same place she was either. She is stronger, wiser, and more resilient. And so are we and the rest of her support system. Celebrating her milestones is about building her up, giving her hope, and acknowledging her work on her journey, not setting expectations for perfection in the future. She knows that.

I say, yes, it was worth celebrating. It was not a mistake. It was not premature. If I had the chance to do it over again, I would. And when we get to a year from her latest trip, we will all celebrate again. Love drives us to celebrate these milestones with her, no less than it drives us help her up when she falls.

Lessons from Ruth


The book of Ruth is a simple, beautiful, and poignant story of how a Moabite widow comes to be the grandmother of King David, and therefore a great grandmother of Jesus.

Chapter 1 opens explaining that a famine in Israel forced Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons leave their home in Bethlehem and go to the country of Moab. Things had to be really bad for an Israelite to move to Moab, a country with a long history of hostility towards Israel.

There may have been food there, but Moab did not end up being a happy place for them. After several years, Elimelech died. Naomi still had her two sons who married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. But after only a few more years, both Naomi’s sons died too. So there were three widowed women living together.

News eventually reached Naomi that the famine in Israel was over so she prepared to return to her home town of Bethlehem. Orpah and Ruth insisted that they go with her, but Naomi urged them not to, for she had no more sons to give them. She encouraged them to stay in Moab so they might marry again. Orpah listened to Naomi, but Ruth insisted on going with her. When Naomi again urged her to stay behind, this was Ruth’s reply:

Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me (1:16-17).

When Naomi saw that Ruth was committed to her, she let her come back with her to Bethlehem.

When they arrive, it’s clear that the famine is indeed over, but they have nothing but the clothes on their back. So Ruth determines to go into the fields to look for grain that was left behind or dropped while it was being harvested so they could eat.

The field she ended up gathering in belonged to a man named Boaz. When he came by to check on the work of the harvest in his fields, he noticed Ruth following after his harvesters. “Who does that young woman belong to?” (2:5). he asks them. His foreman answered, “She is a Moabite who came back with Naomi. She asked to glean behind the harvesters. She’s been in the field all day” (2:6-7).

The truth is, Ruth probably stood out like a sore thumb. Not because she was a poor person following the harvesters picking up after them, there were probably others; but because she was a Moabite.

The Moabites, as I alluded to earlier, were longtime enemies of Israel. They were the people who hired Balaam to curse Israel in Numbers 22. The Moabites seduced the Israelites into worshipping Baal by having their women invite the men to join them in temple prostitution in Numbers 25.

The Moabites were the enemy, and there was one picking up food in his field! When you have that context in your mind, it adds a whole new layer to Boaz’s question in 2:5, “Who does that young woman belong to?” Boaz didn’t seem to be bothered that she was a Moabite. He noticed a young woman and wanted to know her story.

Then he goes up to her and tells her to stay in his field and to gather as much as she can; that he would protect her and keep her safe. He praises her for her care of his relative, Naomi and for her willingness to leave her home and her country and her people to do it. Then he invites her to lunch!

When Ruth finally comes back to wherever she and Naomi were staying, she has 30 pounds of barley and a doggie-bag from lunch! Naomi asks the obvious question, “Where did all this come from?” When she hears that the field Ruth had been working in belonged to Boaz, hope starts to bud again in her heart.

“The LORD bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers” (2:20, NIV).

You couldn’t permanently sell your land in Israel. But if things got bad you could sell your land for the time between then and the next Jubilee year. The worth of the land was greater or less depending on how close the next year of Jubilee was. In the year of Jubilee, the land you sold reverted back to you. However, God set it up in His Law that a close family member could redeem it and give it back to you before the next Jubilee by paying the remaining value of the land off. Boaz was a close relative of Elimelech and could invoke that on their behalf.

So Naomi encourages Ruth to stay in his field and not go elsewhere lest she run into people who were not as kind. So she continued to work in his fields throughout the barley and wheat seasons. But nothing happens.

Chapter 3 opens with Naomi orchestrating a move to encourage Boaz to act as the guardian redeemer. Her plan was simple. Get Ruth all dressed up, made up, and beautified, and when Boaz is sleeping after “eating and drinking,” go in to wherever he was, uncover “his feet” and lay down with him. If that sounds suggestive, it is because it is! And it is very ironic. While the Moabite women were seducing the men of Israel to break God’s Law in Numbers 25, here Ruth is seducing Boaz in order to entice him to obey God’s Law!

And it works! Boaz is startled in the middle of the night and wakes up to a sweet smelling Ruth who is dressed to impress! His response says it all:

“The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character” (3:10-11).

Hubba!

Boaz promises that he will act as her guardian redeemer and will take her to be his wife. But there is a hitch that needs addressed first. Boaz wasn’t the closest relative. The only way he could act was if the closer relative refused to.

Ruth 4:1-10 tells us what happens the following day,

Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.

Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek.

I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.”

“I will redeem it,” he said.

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”

At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”

(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)

So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.

Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”

Notice…

Ruth was rejected by the closest relative. While the prospect of getting the land was good to him, she was a deal breaker. Think about that.

Ruth was poor.

She was a foreigner.

She was a widow.

She came at a cost.

The point is that Boaz saw all that, and redeemed her anyway.

The lesson for us is that Jesus loves us and redeems us like Boaz loved and redeemed Ruth.

Like Ruth, we are not in a position to redeem ourselves. Ruth’s care for and commitment to Naomi was commendable, but it did not change the fact that she was destitute and dependent on the mercy of others to survive. Try as she might she would not be able to redeem herself.

We are in the same position are we not? We may look good when we compare ourselves to one another, but when we measure ourselves against God’s Law, we realize that no matter how good we may think we are, we aren’t that good. I hear people say, “I give God my best!” Well He isn’t getting much then is He! Like Ruth we are enemies. We are poor. We are in debt. If we are not redeemed we will die in that poverty and be held accountable for what we owe.

What Boaz was for Ruth, Jesus became for us. In order for us to be redeemed He became one of us so that He could act as the ultimate guardian redeemer.

We were enemies.

We were poor.

We had a debt that only God could pay it was so big.

Jesus saw all that, and redeemed us anyway.

The big difference being that we did not do anything to entice Him to do so. Ruth had the noble character to catch Boaz’s attention, but she had to seduce him in the middle of the night to get him to act.

Not so with Jesus. We didn’t do anything to catch His attention. We didn’t seduce Him to. Heck, not only did we not ask, but we didn’t want Him too. John says in John 1:10-11 (NIV), He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Isaiah says in Isaiah 53:3 (NIV),

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Jesus acted as our guardian redeemer when we rejected Him. It was one-way love. It was all grace.

What should we take away from this?

First we should respond with joy and thanksgiving! If you are in Christ, if you have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, you have been redeemed! Your debts have been completely paid. Be it ever so serious, no matter how grievous, your guilt has been expunged! Not only has your debt been paid and your slate wiped clean, you have been adopted as sons and daughters with full rights to Jesus’ estate. Heaven and earth are yours! The Father sees you, relates to you, and loves you with the same love and joy He has in His Son. And He has promised to love you, protect you, provide for you, and see you safely Home.

Or perhaps you have doubts about that. Maybe you’ve wondered away. Maybe you’ve said some things, or done some things, that you regret. And you wonder if Jesus still wants you. To you your Guardian Redeemer says,

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you (Isaiah 44:22, NIV).

If that is you, take a moment to let that call sink in to your soul.

Perhaps you have not done so yet. Perhaps you say, “I’m too broken. I’m too damaged. I’m too far gone. I’ve done too much.”

Let me tell you something. I know that every person in here has done something that they are so ashamed of, that if I were to repeat it here in front of everybody you would most likely head for the nearest bridge. But you need to know, that the grace that Jesus can fit on the head of a pin is more than enough to redeem you ten thousand times over. His arm is not too short. His mercy has no limits. There is no sin, no guilt be it ever so great, that can stand even one second under the omnipotent force of His grace.

You have probably heard of John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

But have you heard of John 3:17? For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Jesus is not out to get you. He’s out to redeem you.

Perhaps you have been told that you are hopeless. Perhaps like Ruth you’ve met people like the unnamed guardian redeemer who could have helped you out, but passed you up. Perhaps you have heard the equivalent of “I cannot do it, it would endanger my estate.”

The good news is, you don’t have to convince Jesus to redeem you. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to be good enough. You don’t have to get it all right. You don’t have to have all your ducks in a row first. You don’t need to prove yourself worthy. You just need to ask Him too. You just need to answer His call. He is not going to say “No.” He is not going to make you wait. He is not going to make you show what He gets by getting you.

That’s what the story of the lost sons in Luke 15 was all about. How did the Father respond when he saw his son who wished him dead and took his inheritance and blew it all walking on the road?

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate (Luke 15:20-24, NIV).

What is waiting for you is not judgment but celebration. You will not be rejected or turned away. You are not going to find Jesus too busy, or out of sorts, or in such a mess that He cannot help. If that is your picture of Jesus, you need to throw it out. It is not true. Jesus is not only able, not only ready, but is eager to redeem you. Go to Him. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

Uncomfortable Grace 


I have been learning that grace allows you to walk away from the things in our past that kept us from moving forward or in the right direction. But grace is not content to leave us where we are. God’s grace not only meets us where we are but leads us to where He is. It moves us to follow Him. While Grace frees us from the pain of the past and the pain of our brokenness, it is not always comfortable following Jesus where he leads. It’s always challenging to change. Sure some changes we are more than happy to make, but other changes can be daunting, anxiety producing, and some are downright scary. Living in the faith of grace is not easy. The challenges us to change how we think about things. It challenges us to let go of things that maybe we don’t really want to let go of. The challenges us to lay hold of things and to move and directions that we’re not really sure we want to move in or grab hold of. It is a hard thing to be learning that we are not enough. But the good news is, wants God’s Grace has a hold on you, He doesn’t ever let go. So much like being on a roller coaster that’s traveling 75 or 80 miles an hour going around all these curves and loops and dives it makes you wonder if you’re safe, God’s grace can be a wild ride too. But grace always keeps you safe. You’re never out of the hands of the God who loves you and is bringing you to Himself.