What do you do when it starts raining and then it never stops? Somebody asked me that question yesterday. I was sitting across the table as this friend poured out the details of some really difficult things that are going on in his family right now. Really difficult things that I honestly can't understand or relate to because I've never been there myself. So for that reason, I wasn't sure how to answer his question. What do you do when things get dark and there's no light at the end of the tunnel? Actually, let me ask the question this way, because this gets right at the heart of things: What do you do when you pray, beg, cry out for Jesus to step in and calm a storm in your life, and then you wait and wait and wait for the peace to come and it just.....doesn't?

The thing I love most about being a part of the team at First Christian Church is the fact that we are a place for all people, regardless of background or baggage or brokenness, to find a place to belong, to rest, to heal, to grow, to find community, and to ultimately bump into Jesus and allow Him to work in their lives. Over the past few years, we've seen God do some incredible things because of that vision. But the truth is, we believe the best is yet to come. We believe God has even greater things in store down the road. Through the month of June we've taught about our mission, vision and values, and how they are going to play out in what we do over the next few years as we chase after the call Jesus has given us to reach out with unconditional love to all people. If you've ever wondered how a church can become that kind of place, here is what it looks like for us (video after the jump):

What do Indian food and Syrian refugees have in common? I'll tell you. I (mostly) love Indian food. There's this buffet in Canton that I go to once in a while, and it's the perfect way to eat Indian food. I can take as much chicken curry as I want, and walk right by the weird vegan......thing......they have at the far end of the line. I can get extra naan bread and just a little bit a few other things I like to eat with it, but only a bite or two before I've had enough. I can take what I want and leave what I don't. Buffets are great (* - Golden Corral is the exception to this rule) for eating. But conceptually, it doesn't work in other areas of life. You can't do that whole buffet thing at work, only doing what you like and not doing what you don't. You'd get fired in no time. You can't do that in your family. Lots of people try, and it always ends in broken homes. And you can't treat following Jesus like a buffet.

I'll bet that if you and I were to sit down over coffee and I asked you if anything is worrying you or stressing you out, you'd be able to rattle off a handful of things without even thinking about it. I could too. There are a few things I've lost more than a little sleep over. Maybe you can relate to this: sometimes there are extended periods of life where it feels like that's my reality. It's more than just a season or a phase...stress just becomes part of the routine. You've most likely experienced the same feeling. We explain it away, try to ignore it or brush it under the rug, or do what we can to endure it. But worry is toxic. It's a slow-moving poison that is deadly. And because it tends to creep in a little at a time, we usually don't do anything about it until it's too late.

The past few days have made me sad. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, comment threads on news articles, conversations outside Starbucks...everywhere I look, everywhere I am, I hear anger. Hatred. Even rage. At the same time, I hear hurt. Pain. Sadness. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding homosexual marriage, it's all over the place. I know you've seen it too. I'm not assigning a certain behavior, action, attitude or feeling to one "side" or another. I see it all on both "sides" of the issue. This past week, I've heard one phrase more than almost any other. I've seen Christians, even well-intentioned, compassionate, grace-giving Christ-followers, use this phrase:

"Love the sinner, hate the sin."

But is it working?