Election Day 2020

I don’t want to see my friends and neighbors clamoring and righting over politics, “Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” (Amos 5:24 NLT)Voting is not an act of defiance against one party or individual any more than it is a popularity contest to one party or individual. It is a kind of sacred trust, a civic privilege seldom afforded citizens throughout the ages until this modern era.

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” (Samuel Adams: Essay in the Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781)

Make your voice heard. Cast a vote. Entrust the rest to the one who raises up kings and leads the nations… “… Praise the name of God forever and ever, for He has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; He removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though He is surrounded by light.” (Daniel 2:20-22 NLT)

Betsy Ross

(Image from: https://www.ushistory.org/betsy/)

All Saints Day!

Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews 12:1-2. All Saints Day! #onebaptism #onelord #onefaith #pilgrimpath

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NIV)

Crayon Box Families

Crayons

Dr. Chris Surber

https://www1.cbn.com/family/crayon-box-families

We weren’t looking to adopt another child. We already had four young kids in tow. Our adopted daughter fell into our lives through a series of circumstances too long and complex to describe here. It was God’s doing. We are missionaries to Haiti and when you invest your life in a foreign culture it doesn’t take long for that culture to divest itself into you. Sometimes it adds a kid to your family.

When we came back from Haiti with one more kid than we went with, we were a multicolored family. I don’t like to call us multiracial because as far as I can tell for the Christian family, from the Bible, there is just one race. Humanity.

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (Galatians 3:28-29 NLT) A Kingdom perspective means there are just people of various shades of God’s image. But, this isn’t always the case, even for believers.

If you’ve adopted internationally, married into a mixed race dynamic, or were born into a similar situation, here are four tools for navigating life in a crayon box family.https://4446d506f9bda8bd31b1cbb3f4e53251.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

1. Most people outside the family mean well but some don’t. People don’t know what they don’t know. We can be incredibly blind to the biases that we’ve inherited or acquired.  Our family has encountered a lot of rude situations and but one waitress at an old Coney Island restaurant in Metro Detroit takes the cake.

We were just trying to eat our Coney Dogs and drink our Vernor’s Gingerale in peace. “Where did you get that one from?” She was clearly referring to my daughter from Haiti. It was an awkward way to start a conversation and Christina and I weren’t terribly fond of our daughter being referred to as “that one.” But ok. I responded, using her name, that we adopted her, and she is originally from Haiti.

The waitress began to rattle off every cliché and bad thing she’d ever heard about the Island Natation our family loves, followed by, “How did you get her here?” The emphasis was on “her” as though the concept of an airplane from such a despicable place was utterly inconceivable. We closed the conversation explaining to her what God had done and how love had granted victory in my daughter’s life, finding her way into a family that loves her and can provide for her. She ended with a plainly sarcastic, “Ohhh-Kaaay.” It was clear that this woman had some kind of racial and or nationalistic biases that she was projecting onto our family. She acted very rudely.

That’s going to happen. Whether it’s a so called interracial marriage with children, a foreign adoption, or whatever, there is clearly still a race problem in America.

Families of multi shades can shine the light of God’s love by putting a simple biblical portrait of the Kingdom of God on display in the world. When my beautiful little blond daughter and my beautiful brown haired daughter play, they are just sisters. “For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11 NLT)

Accept that some people don’t mean well. Respond in love. Show them the Kingdom.

2. Some people outside the family are racially biased, even if they are blind to it. “Who does that white woman think she is talking to her like that?” My wife was gently correcting our adopted daughter at a pizza buffet. Two U.S. service women of African descent were seated nearby. One of them was furious that my wife was correcting our adopted daughter about the way she was navigating this buffet.

I overheard them but my wife didn’t at first. They had no idea of our circumstances. It was obvious that she was with us as a member of our family. We’d never met. I can assume two possibilities of their assumptions about us. Perhaps they thought she was my daughter from a previous marriage? Perhaps they thought she was a friend of our children spending the day with us. Whatever it was, they clearly projected some kind of racial bias onto my wife’s interaction with our daughter.

Here is a lesson for would be race warriors and the blended families who find themselves on their radar. “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” (Proverbs 18:13 NLT) I would have loved to have had the opportunity to enlighten these ladies as to our family dynamics. The facts may have cleared up a lot of false assumptions that they were clearly making.

Blended families are going to take some unfair criticism. When we can, we’ve got to gently instruct the people in or around our lives, as God grants us opportunity, as to the beauty of the blended family. Don’t take the opportunity to lash out in response.

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1 NLT) These ladies got up and left, while continuing to criticize us to each other. There have been other teachable moments where we were able to talk about the challenges and joys of international adoption and being a blended family. When it is done in love, our families can offer a special witness of God’s lavish love to those we know.

3. Home has to be a sanctuary. This is of course true for every family, but for the crayon box family it has special significance for this discussion. In our home we speak nearly as much Haitian Creole as we do English. We don’t want our adopted daughter to lose her mother tongue but also we have a “Kranglish” culture.

We are back and forth to Haiti and we celebrate the beauty of our lives with one foot in two nations. For other blended families I’ve noticed and researched some of the trials they face. Mixed race kids feel pressure to “pick one or the other” so that they can more easily fit in somewhere. Siblings may not pick the same way as another child.

“A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.” (Proverbs 24:3-4 NLT) Home has to be a place of open discussion and wise biblical instruction so our families don’t fall prey to the ignorance and false ideas of the world.

4. Church has to notice and act. My adopted Haitian daughter is almost the only person of color in the church where I serve as pastor. There is one other precious family. That’s it. Whether it’s my church or other mostly white churches, we’ve got to ask ourselves, “Are our churches places of welcome to all kinds of people? Does our church function in such a way so as to be a place of sanctuary for all people?”

It’s possible that a church is one color or another because that’s the dynamic of its community. It is equally possible that the church is all one shade because everything from the worship style to the décor screams, “This place is for us!”

There is a great article at the Missio Alliance page where Cara Meredith poses some questions on this topic. (https://www.missioalliance.org/ministering-to-multiracial-families-start…) These are good questions to ask ourselves.

Her first observation hits home for me, as our church has wonderful images of church life in our halls, but we may be guilty of her concern. “As a parent, when I walk through the halls of a church building, I love seeing pictures and photographs of children participating in games and spiritual exercises, but if I only see photographs of children who look more like me than like my bi-racial sons, an unknowing invitation of unwelcome is communicated.” What do our decorations say to my daughter and others who may pass through our place of worship?

What about my preaching? Is my content and are my quotes able to capture the attention of a diverse audience? I know pastors who are fond of quoting American founding fathers. Some of those guys owned slaves. How does that communicate to a multiracial audience? I don’t have all the answers to these kinds of questions, but I think we should be willing to notice and listen to the Lord for answers in our context.

Meredith writes, “Change will begin to happen, perhaps slowly and perhaps at unseen levels in your own heart and mind, but change is inevitable.”

Crayon box families are a reflection of the Kingdom of God. Without saying a word, they shout “Life in the Kingdom is not about race. It is a simple celebration of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ for all of humanity.”

Fathering Like the Father You Never Had…

Father playing with child

Dr. Chris Surber

https://www1.cbn.com/family/fathering-like-father-you-never-had

For a man to have real children is easy enough. For children to have a real father is another matter entirely. Growing up fatherless left gaps in me. It does for everyone.

Whether your dad was steeped in addiction, an absentee, or just ill-equipped, here are 5 key lessons I’ve acquired over the years. They are helping me to father like the father I never had. I’m praying they’ll help you too!

1. Be a courageous leader. I am the son of an absentee, alcoholic, abandoning man full of excuses. I tell my sons sometimes, “My first father was a drill instructor.” The sergeants who shaped me into a Marine weren’t fake tough guys. They were tough. They were exactly what this listless 18 year-old needed.

The drill instructor taught me that excuses don’t matter in combat. That’s what fathering is. It is the spiritual battle of raising our kids in a culture that wants their hearts. Now isn’t the time for excuses. Get into God’s Word. Get in church. Imperfect courage is better than perfect cowardice. Lead the troops. “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT)https://34021e196dad53a5cf66c3e1dd731c34.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

2. Be a compassionate man. My wife and I have led hundreds of people on mission trips to Haiti. After one trip a father who had recently recommitted his life to Christ told me the trip had a tremendous impact on him.  ‘What in particular?’ I asked. ‘Let’s hear it.’ He said something like, ‘You won’t believe it.’ He went on to tell me that watching me debate a customs official about allowing us to bring in shoes for orphans had hit him hard. I said, ‘I’m not sure arguing with that man was my finest moment,’ but he contradicted me. “It was. You were forceful but respectful. You fought for those children and weren’t afraid to do it. You are a real man and care about the kids.”

Wow. I expected it to be a sermon, a prayer, or a hardship that had been overcome. Instead, it was compassion mingled with confidence.

Dad, be a man who is compassionate and understanding. They aren’t opposite ends of a spectrum. They are two sides of the same coin. “The LORD is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.” (Psalms 103:13 NLT)

3. Be a champion. We all need inspiration. I’ve never known anyone who did anything worth doing who wasn’t inspired by something or someone. Our kids are looking to us to find the courage to face the world. Do we really need any greater inspiration for finding the champion in us than to know they are emulating us?!

The Apostle Paul writes of his spiritual children (the disciples he had made for Jesus), “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.” (3 John 1:4 NLT) You don’t have to be Captain America to be their champion. Just do your best to put Jesus on display in honesty. He’ll do the rest.

4. Be a cheerleader. You know, anytime I talk about learning fatherhood lessons from my drill instructor, folks look at me sideways. But they don’t know the whole story. I met the meanest of my drill instructors later in my military service. He was then a Master Sergeant and I was a Staff Sergeant. It had been years since boot camp but he still made me nervous. That is, until I got to know him and realized how incredibly proud he was of my successes. I saw a different side of him.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NLT) There’s a time for correction but when we’re on track as dads, we’ll build through encouragement and never tear them down.

5. Be a coach. Ken Gangel was an early pastoral mentor of mine. I had the privilege of having him as one of several great pastoral coaches after leaving the military for the pastoral ministry. In the book Fathering Like the Father, which he co-authored with his son Jeffrey, Ken wrote:

“Discipline means training the team. Basketball coaches talk about a player “out of control,” which means he may be extremely fast, a good shot, aggressive on defense, but he does not work with other players in a disciplined game plan. Just as in sports, discipline doesn’t come automatically to children; somebody needs to run them through training camp to get them ready for the season.” (Baker Books, 2003)

We have a joyful obligation to coach our kids. That’s what godly men do. They lead in difficult times in ways consistent with God’s call for manly leadership. Their leadership isn’t squashed or shaped by the conditions of the world. They live a life of growth in terms of their own spiritual maturity and their own capacity to lead.

Men, lets learn to father like the fathers we never had. Let’s imitate godly character where we find it in admirable men. Most importantly, let’s imitate the Father who has always been there for us. “The LORD is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.” (Psalms 103:13)

Geography Test

My family and I move to Haiti early next year to fully implement the work of our ministry Supply and Multiply. A central piece of our work in Haiti is training pastors through Legliz Ansamn (or “Churches Together”), an evangelistic association founded by our ministry partners in Haiti in preparation for our coming there.

Whenever I am in Haiti lecturing and answering questions from our pastors, I am struck by the need for Bible-centered sermons everywhere. My Haiti sermons should be identical in substance to what I preach in America. The context is different and the illustrations may change, but the message of God is identical.

Can your sermon preach anywhere? Or is your preaching so distinctly American that it could never preach anywhere else? Is the God of your sermon the same on Wall Street as He is on the dusty streets of rural Mexico? Is the God of your sermon the same on the sidewalk in L.A. as He is in the slums of Port Au Prince?

Here are the four questions of what I’ve come to call “the geography test”:

1. Are you preaching the pure Gospel or a gospel of affluence? Does your preaching have an inherent bent toward describing the blessing of God in terms of financial success? Can you get down on your knees, look a hungry child in the eyes in a back alley in Mumbai and preach your sermon as confidently as you can from a mahogany pulpit in Michigan?

2. What about sin? Sin is sin everywhere around the globe. When we preach the Gospel, we should be laying a foundation for repentance, not prosperity. The root problem the Gospel addresses is sin and separation from God, not poverty.

Poverty in all its forms is rooted in the fall of man into sin. Are you preaching candy-coated sermons about finding a little more happiness now or robustly biblical sermons about finding peace with God now and bliss eternally?

3. How do you deal with pain and suffering in your preaching? Is suffering a means of identification with Christ and growth in grace? Or do you ignore it entirely like the vast majority of people in our culture or imply that if we prayed harder it would go away? What did Paul say about suffering?

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV). What do you say about suffering?

4. Could your message have reached my friend “Grams”? Grams was a very elderly woman my family knew in Haiti. She lived on a dusty hill in a tin-roofed shack of a house. She was the poorest person I have ever known personally until she died very recently. She was also probably the most sincerely thankful to God person I have ever known. “Glwa a Jezi” (glory to Jesus) rolled off her tongue in every conversation. She knew God’s grace in her lack. She loved God and I am certain she basks in the light of heaven at this very moment. Does your message preach to people in poverty who know the freedom of knowing the God of glory amid lack in this life?

The Gospel crushes our Western desire for wealth and elevates the worth of Christ regardless of earthly circumstance. The Gospel smashes our shallow sermons about how to engage God for more comfort. The central idea of the geography test is this: Can you look at a starving person in a slum in the third world and preach your message with as much sincere boldness as you can preach that same message to folks who drove to church from the suburbs in their SUVs?

The Gospel is for everybody everywhere. Is your sermon?  

Do You Have to “Kick the Flock” to Get Their Attention?

By Chris Surber -March 17, 2015

My kids are great. They teach me a lot; sometimes by kicking me. As toddlers, my two youngest sons made a habit of kicking me in the shin to get my attention after church. Having a talkative pastor as a dad isn’t easy. When he’s engaged in conversation with church members or visitors after a worship service, kicking him in the shin repetitively until he acknowledges you seems like a good idea.

Sometimes children get their way by demanding it. Sometimes we do too. Sometime we become leaders in order to get our way. We kick the flock in the shin demanding obedience rather than loving people to the point of influence. The biblical motif of leadership is clearly exemplary and sacrificial—in godliness.

Here is a quick look at three ideas found in I Timothy 4:12, where Paul is instructing Timothy in matters of Kingdom leadership. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (ESV)

Paul tells Timothy to set the example. Whether a leader is young or old, new to leadership in a specific setting or seasoned in leadership across many settings, this primary rule of leadership never changes. Leaders who demand things they themselves don’t live up to will always have stubborn flocks because the leader is setting a stubborn, unteachable example.

I’ve never met a donkey capable of leading a band of horses. Any stubborn fool can be in charge. Godly leaders lead by example.

It’s easier to kick people in the shin and demand immediate obedience than it is to cultivate an atmosphere of desired participation, but the investment of time and prayerful energy creates a culture of Kingdom collaboration. When that kind of culture is established, it is easy to nurture. When it is not established, it is impossible to force. Set a godly example and others will want to follow you.

Kingdom leaders ought to be conduits of God’s love. Whether you’re dealing with volunteers on the mission field, nursery workers in a church, or local church employees and staff, love is a necessary ingredient in Kingdom leadership.

A leader can have every gift for communication, every skill, every talent commonly associated with leadership in the world, but if he doesn’t have a genuine willingness to love those he leads sacrificially, he will always be kicking shins wondering why it is so difficult to elicit desired results.

It is possible to lead in love and still be respected. Jesus did it. While we can’t possibly do it as well, love should be a primary ingredient in our leadership.

Sacrificial leaders garner dependability. Sacrificial leaders create an atmosphere of authentic accountability. You can threaten, you can demand, you can kick people’s shins all day long, but you will never cultivate an atmosphere of authentic loyalty from those you lead without sincere love.

Finally, these things must be encapsulated in godliness. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines godliness this way: “Godliness is an attitude and style of life that acknowledges God’s claims on human life and seeks to live in accordance with God’s will.” Whether you are a pastor or some other type of leader in the Kingdom, our responsibility extends well beyond securing obedience.

The purpose of Kingdom leadership is to foster an environment that glorifies God.

It’s far better to show the sheep how to glorify God and foster a culture conducive to glorifying God than it is to kick them into obedience. Don’t kick the flock. Get their attention by being a living example of godly character and love.  

Make Marriage a Place of Healing

Mature couple hugging and smiling

Dr. Chris Surber

https://www1.cbn.com/marriage/make-marriage-place-healing

Christina and I have counseled couples in crisis, couples in premarital times, couples who’d grown distant, and everything in between. Over these past twenty years of marriage and ministry, we’ve realized that with all the hurts of life, for marriage to last, the marriage relationship must be a healing place.  

Here are 4 ways to increase the sacred vitality of your marriage as a healing place.

1. Cast off worldly illusions. If twenty years of marriage has taught me anything it is that the most beautiful fairy tale romance isn’t found in romance novels or in even the best chick flicks Hollywood has to offer. Real romance is a life of increasing trust as a couple travels through the difficulties of life together.

Healing marriages are covenant communities of two where hurts are exposed by life and healed by godly love. Healing marriages are places where our brokenness is exposed and the intimacy of God in Christ is modeled as we cultivate a kind of acceptance that cannot be duplicated elsewhere.https://eb209a97816168ea7661ba49ba84ce74.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The first step in creating a marriage of healing is to despise false worldly notions about marriage. Begin at God’s Word to build a healing marriage. “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” (I Peter 3:7 NLT)

In a world consumed with personal rights, so few people are willing seek the interest of others, but that’s what godly marriage is. It is a sacrificial relationship where equals seek the best interest of the other in ways that bring glory and honor to God. Draw close to one another in the love of God. No fanciful romance Valentine’s Day sentiment will substitute.

As Shakespeare quipped, “Knit your hearts with an unslipping knot.”

2. Cultivate a climate of grace. Once we have decided to take Gods’ Word for making marriage a healing place, we must make our marriage a grace place. “And while marriage is a gift of God for the happiness and welfare of mankind, it is more than an end in itself: it may really be a means of grace through which husband and wife enter more fully into companionship with God.” (The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 12, 1957) Marriage, rightly considered and cultivated is a kind of instrument of grace in the lives of husband and wife.

When this becomes a reality in our marriage, it spills out into the world around us by way of godly example and the genuine love that flows from a godly healing marriage. The grace I’m talking about here isn’t abstract. It comes in concrete ways.

Choose to respect one another. Admire the wonderful things about one another’s character. Recognize the burdens each person carries and reassure one another of their ability in the Lord to carry them out. Everyone desires respect. The world may not give it freely, but the child of God in a marriage can give it lavishly. 

Develop mutual interests. Get bikes and ride them together. Whatever it is, make Mark 10:8 a practical reality in your marriage. Make your marriage an instrument of practical grace and watch as healing from past and present worldly hurts become a shared reality. “… and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one.” (Mark 10:8 NLT)

3. Create marital competence. Marriage is a vocation. A tradesman studies his craft. The greatest woodworker I ever knew had an entire collection of ancient tools and knew how to use them, even though he mostly worked with modern electric equipment. He loved his art and wanted to know everything he could learn about it. We must be the same way about marriage.

A seamstress becomes adept at ancient practices but she loves to engage in conversation about new fabrics and their interaction with the thread and needle.

Study what God’s Word says about love and marriage. Be willing to endeavor in marriage according to what God says about it. Our marriages are more than the flippant paper structures of convenience that our culture declares them to be by its words and actions. Marriage is serious business. It is hard rewarding work.

“The family is near me root of redemption, and is both its means and model. God always uses the family to bring redemption to His people. At the same time, He employs it as His living model of redemption.” (The Biblical Battle For The Family, George Scipione, 1993) When we want success in our employment vocation we study and work hard. Marriage is the foundation of our daily practical life. It will either be a fountain of blessing or a prison.

Bring Bible Study about marriage into your discipleship. Make marriage a blessed vocation! “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive His approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15 NLT)

4. Continue to defend one another. When Christina and I were early in our relationship, a gas station attendant made the mistake of falsely accusing me of having sullied a hot dog with nacho cheese. I had taken the wrapped hot dog out of the hot case. I had paused at the cheese pump but I decided not to engage in such culinary delight. I returned it to the hot case, choosing a hamburger instead.

His false accusation ended with my future bride opening every hot dog from its wrapping and slinging them in his direction with a fiery, “Does that have cheese on it?! How about that one. How about that one…” and so on. Not her finest or calmest moment. But I decided on the spot that she was a keeper!

After twenty years of marriage I can still count on her to defend me. The difference from then to now is that, while in public she’ll still be my shield, in private she’ll counsel me to keep from stumbling. Over the years we must continue to defend and protect one another. We have to teach one another that this marriage, this space, is a safe haven to make mistakes and remain a person worth of defending.

When we know our partner is our defender, it increases our confidence to be vulnerable to one another. If they’ll defend me in public, surely they’ll protect me in private. The principle of making marriage healing is obvious in the Bible.

Proverbs 31:10 works both ways. “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10 NLT) “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 NLT) Sacrifice for one another. Defend one another.

Make your marriage a place for healing. Make it a place where God’s Word concerning marriage is alive and present. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14 NLT)

Don’t Miss Monumental Moments

Dad fake driving with young son

Dr. Chris Surber

https://www1.cbn.com/parenting/dont-miss-monumental-moments

My nearly fifteen year old son learning to drive is unnerving my peace of mind. “Dad,” he said to me from behind the steering wheel, “You’re actually really terrified aren’t you?” It must have been my stomping the invisible break petal on the passenger side floorboard that gave it away!

We all look forward to monumental moments in our lives. We don’t all think carefully or biblically about how we are going to get through them when they come. We look forward to their high school graduation but are as worried for their safety as they head off to college as we were when they tool their first step.

Here are 4 biblical concepts that I’ve learned and am always relearning about mastering monumental moments in our lives.

1. Deal with it sooner than later. You can’t procrastinate your way out of monumental moments. The clock is ticking dad. The deadline is rapidly approaching mom. Like it or not, the monumental moment is on its way and there is no way to slow that train. Worse yet, if you’re not ready today, you won’t be ready tomorrow.https://539c4b24abcea710111a5fd20b3d65cf.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

In II Thessalonians 3:11 the most intriguing word is found on the topic of the necessity of hard work. “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” (KJV) “Busybodies.” I have wondered for years where that word came from. Why is it here or on the street used to describe someone who is nosy or ide? If they are busybodies then aren’t they fast at work? Aren’t they Busy? So, I looked into it.

In the underlying Greek the word comes from a compound of two words. It is the combination of “to work” and “around.” Moms and dads, we can’t work around the impending doom of a learners permit. Proactive parenting can’t prevent the encroaching anxiety of monumental moments, but I’ve always found that it is always better to face something head on than to let it sneak up behind me.

2. Be mindful of a loose tongue. Ok. I’ve got a confession to make. I’m a Pastor. I’m a Missionary. I’m also a former Marine. Apparently under extreme pressure brought on by watching your son look left with a blinking left turn signal, just plain turn right into oncoming traffic, it is possible to actually travel back in time and actually become a barking sergeant again. Who knew?!

“You’re stressing me out dad!” It took me a few seconds to regather my composure in order to muster the calm to say, “Son, the blinker lets other drivers know what we’re doing. We must then do what we’ve signaled them we are going to do.” That was after a few phrases he’d not heard me say before and that I frankly didn’t know still lived deep inside of me.

It’s not just loud words that are the danger here. Monumental moments can be so overwhelming that we can say things to those we love that really don’t mean. We must guard the tongue in times of transition. “And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (James 3:6 NLT)

Words carry weight. Let’s be prayerful and mindful about our words in these times and use words in worthy ways. Stay awake to the power of the tongue.

3. Cling to God’s love. I cling to the promise of God’s love leading to heaven every time I place the “Patience: Student Driver” magnets on my van. But that’s not really what I’m talking about here. Remember that Gods’ love is active, observing, and has a goal. God’s love is present in your pain. And pain is often present in monumental moments because they always involve some sort of life transition.

A father giving his daughter away at her wedding, even to a great man, can be a frightening proposition. As much as a mother wants to watch her son marry a beautiful girl, she may grapple with feelings of loss. In times of major life transition, cling to the love of God. God’s love is active and present. His love is observing and has a goal. Maybe that’s the piece we forget most often.

Romans 8:28 is a sure source of strength in monumental moments. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (NLT) God is bringing about His greatest glory and our ultimate good, even and especially in these difficult times.

4. Be thankful. Gratitude is the greatest glorifier. It’s also a prerequisite to growth. Being grateful that this boy has grown to a place of being able to learn to drive is a great source of hope for me. Being thankful to the Lord for the gift of this young man is a kind of springboard for strength. God is bringing about His glory through this child of man as well. God has a plan for my son to go places in the world.

In Psalms 118:28-29 we read, “You are my God, and I will praise You! You are my God, and I will exalt You! Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.” (NLT) Thankfulness is a cure for worry. Gratefulness is a gift we give to God as gratitude and get back from God as healing.

A century ago, Chesterton said, “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Approach them head on. They are on the way whether we like it or not. Guard our tongues. Let’s not give in to the temptation to say things we’ll regret. Cling to God’s active love. Be grateful.

Master monumental moments with gratitude, knowing that God is weaving together an artist’s tapestry in the complexities of our lives. We must not let monumental moments get the better of us, “Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.” (II Peter 3:18 NLT)