Matthew 6:19-34

28 Oct

Yesterday I preached on Matthew 6:19-34. After studying the passage, I paraphrased it to help me get my head around what Jesus was communicating. I find that reading Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, “The Message,” illuminates certain passages for me that I’ve become too familiar with. I hope this will be a similar experience for you.

Matthew 6:19-34 (paraphrased)

  • 19. Don’t hurriedly try to amass and consume the things the world values. That’s a futile endeavor. Things have a shelf life.
  • 20. Stockpile treasure in heaven. It’s infinite, doesn’t corrode, and can’t be stolen.
  • 21. Whatever you treasure has your heart.
  • 22. Keep your eyes pure. They direct your whole body. If you fix your eyes on God, your body will be full of light.
  • 23. But if the enemy or culture or marketing executives get your eye, your whole body will be full of darkness.
  • 24. You can’t serve two masters. Either you’ll hate one and love the other or you’ll devote your life to one and despise the other. You can’t serve the creator-God and the god of mammon.
  • 25. So, don’t worry about anything–food, drink, your wardrobe, your body. Isn’t life more than that?
  • 26. Look at the birds. They have a terrible investment portfolio. Yet the Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth a lot more than pigeons, you tiny-faiths?
  • 27. By worrying can you add a single minute to life? Can you add an inch to your stature? What is worrying accomplishing for you?
  • 28. Why do you worry about clothes? Look at wildflowers. They grow without much effort on their part. The creator waters and they grow.
  • 29. Yet despite their continually terrible performance reviews, they exhibit more beauty than every a-lister at The Oscars.
  • 30. God does that for flowers on the backsides of mountains no one ever sees. Is it outlandish then to think he’ll clothe you? Have faith!
  • 31. So quit worrying–filling your mind with endless possibilities of things going terribly wrong. Don’t worry about your plate–it’ll be covered. Don’t worry about your cup–it’ll be filled. Don’t worry about your body–it’ll be clothed.
  • 32. Pagans are caught up in those pursuits. Your Father knows every need of your life more intimately than you do.
  • 33. Seek the kingdom (God’s active rule on the earth) first and his righteousness and everything else will fall into place.
  • 34. Live in this moment. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Let it worry about itself. A single day has enough going on without you adding tomorrow’s worries to it.


24 Oct

I realized yesterday that I needed new tires. So I found a random shop in south Charlotte and headed that way. This was not a part of the schedule for the day but had to be done. I arrived to a full waiting room of folks and found the only open chair. Seated beside me was a woman in her sixties. She was demure. Her features were plain, as was her attire. She was lazily reading a magazine wrapped in a red plastic protective covering. (Evidently three dollar gossip magazines need to be preserved.) After there had been an adequate time of silence between us, we made small talk. She had a tire blow out on her a few days ago. Her husband took over an hour and a half to get to her to fix it. “I wasn’t happy about that,” she said through chuckles and big grin. Conversation continued. She asked about why I was there. We got all the basics of out of the way. She’s lived in Charlotte 45 years and was a real estate agent before she retired. Her husband was a contractor. Each of them are on their second marriage. They have 10 grandchildren together and 1 great-grandchild that she gushed about.

But in the midst of the small talk something shifted. We were no longer strangers. We were old friends. The invisible line of separation between us had evaporated. She told me a story about her 41-year-old son who died six years ago. She said he was riding in a bicycle race in the mountains and was 3 miles from the finish line when he had a massive heart attack. He had a wife and three children ages 1, 8, and 12 at the time. She talked about coping with the loss of a child. Hot tears began to well up in the corners of her eyes as she spoke. The pain was real. Six years of distance from the tragedy and the wounds are still open.

In the midst of this heart-wrenching story she told me something that spoke to me on a level I can’t really begin to articulate. As her son’s heart failed on the mountain that day, he fell off his bike (he was in 3rd place at the time). Directly behind him was a cardiac surgeon. He jumped off his bike and treated her son in the midst of his massive heart attack. His efforts were ultimately futile. “I’m so thankful that doctor was behind him,” she said. I responded with a somewhat puzzled look. He failed. Her son died. It didn’t matter that he was a cardiac surgeon, I thought. “If he hadn’t been there, I would have forever wondered if his death could’ve been prevented. God knew I needed that,” she said.  “He was a gift to me. God gave him to me for 41 years. I can choose to think about time lost or time given.” It was such a genuinely beautiful moment. There was a distinct sense that God was present with us. I sat in stunned silence at the beauty that I witnessed in the life of a woman who had lost so much.She told me that her grandson, her son’s youngest child and only son, asks her regularly to “tell me about my daddy.” “Do I look like him?” he’ll ask. She talked about seeing her son in the boy. Her tears were equal parts devastation and joy. This trip to a random tire store had turned into holy inconvenience.

I believe inconvenience is what much of the beauty of life is made up of. Eugene Peterson says, “Life is full of starts and stops, blind alleys, disappointing detours, and bad guesses. Eventually, by God’s grace, we find our way into acts of obedience, acts of praise.” So I keep stumbling along–trying to figure out what it means to be a husband, pastor, son, and friend–trusting God all the way that he’ll piece together all the raw materials of my humanity into something for his Kingdom’s sake.

Eventually, my car was finished. I had new tires. Two hours had passed. We both searched for parting words after such a beautiful moment and ultimately found none. A smile and a nod and I was gone.  I don’t know the woman’s name. I may never see her again. But we had a moment in a tire shop and the Lord was there with us.

Lord, inconvenience me more.

The Pure in Heart

23 Aug

I preached last Sunday on the pure in heart. Below is the link:

Jacob’s Wrestling Match (sermon from 6/30/13)

8 Jul

Power in Weakness (Sermon from 5/5/13)

8 May


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