Tree Climbing (Luke 19:1-10)

I used to love climbing trees. Now, I’m scared of heights and get dizzy climbing stairs. But when I was young, I loved climbing as high as possible. One house I lived in as a child had a large tree in the front yard. I spent a lot of summer afternoons sitting high atop that tree, listening to my transistor radio.[1] At another house, during another stage of growing up, I hid in a tree in my backyard for hours because I was mad at my brother. I would like to think that back in the day, I was a pretty decent tree climber. Because of my love of climbing trees, I have always loved the story of Zacchaeus climbing a sycamore tree, “for the Lord he wanted to see.[2] Zacchaeus’ story is fascinating all by itself, but when you put it into the context of Luke’s narrative, it becomes even more interesting. Continue reading

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An Email from an Immigrant

Yesterday (Friday, February 17, 2017), I received an email from a friend who is from another country. I believe, in light of all the news about immigrants and refugees, everyone needs to read this email. With my friend’s permission I have copied it below. If have chosen to leave my friend’s name off. Please read, and please share with others. If you have a FB account, please share this on our FB wall.

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“For most of my life I admittedly and honestly was one who feared, shamed, judged and rejected people different than me – before and/or instead of knowing them.  Whether it was through too much TV, too much religion, too little exposure, my introverted nature, fear, ignorance and/or a need to know and control (probably a combination of all), I maintained my little world.

As you may know, yesterday was ‘A day without immigrants’ in the United States.
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What Would I Do?

We live in interesting times. Unlike anything I have ever seen. But they are not unprecedented. Our country has been through difficult times before. But that was then. This is now.

There is a saying that goes like this: Those that don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. My desire is to learn from history, especially U.S. history.

One of the things I have learned from our history is how churches and ministers were complicit in our nation’s dealings with Native Americans. Consider the following, “With a few notable exceptions…those engaged in eighteenth-century mission work disdained Native American culture and barred it from the churches” (Richard Twiss, One Church Many Tribes, 2000, p. 26). What we did to the Native Americans was genocide, and we did it while claiming to be a “Christian nation.” During this period, churches and denominations build schools to convert them to Jesus and “beat the savage out of them.” Continue reading

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Come Out From Among Them

“Come out from them and be separate says the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

I grew up in a very conservative denomination. We rejected the label “evangelical” for the more spiritual label, “fundamentalist.” How conservative where we? Well, in both High School and college (I attended denominational schools) I played basketball in long pants because wearing shorts was considered immodest. Somehow, through all the nonsense I was taught, God reached out to me, and through His grace, brought me to a place of peace, mercy, and forgiveness.

It was early in Sunday School, as a child, that I memorized 2 Corinthians 6:17. As a tribute to my fundamentalist, legalistic upbringing, I will quote it from the only Bible we were permitted to use, The Authorized King James Version: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…” It is impossible to count how many sermons I have heard from this single verse. And all the sermons had the same theme! To be “separate” means you… Continue reading

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What’s In Your Wallet? (Luke 18:18-30).

I’m sure we are all familiar with Capital One’s credit card commercial with the Samuel Jackson saying, “What’s in your wallet?” It’s a commercial about debt management. It’s a commercial that appeals to our consumerism. It’s a cute commercial with a clever tagline. But it is also a commercial that sells a false dream, and that dream is: You can actually save money by spending more money than you actually have. Consider these 2016 statistics:[1] The average household in the United States owes:

  • $16,061 in credit card debt.picture1
  • $172,806 in mortgage debt.
  • $28,535 in automobile debt.
  • $49,042 in student loan debt.
  • $266,444 total debt per household.

What’s in your wallet? Well…not much!

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No Moral Authority

“When there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint”           (Proverbs 29:19, New English Translation)

I think we, in the United States, are living in a time described by Proverbs 29:19. There is no one in our society who speaks with any moral authority (“prophetic vision”). And by “no one,” I mean no one in any high profile position in our government, in our educational institutions, or in our religious organizations. There is no one that when he or she speaks, people from all walks of life listen. As a result, Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Sociologists refers to times like these as anomie; an absence, or breakdown of social norms and/or values that uproot people, leaving them feeling out of control and in chaos. Anomie exists when social norms are no longer powerful enough to dictate personal behavior. Eventually, new cultural norms will evolve. But the time in-between, is anomie.  Continue reading

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Deactivated

Last week I deactivated my Facebook account. What that means is that very few people will read my blog unless you share it on your Facebook wall. (Please do so if you feel so inclined.) I am not saying I am permanently off Facebook, but for right now it seems to be the right thing for me. My main reason for taking a break is to get away from all the political vitriol. The reason I need to get a way is because I am weak and unable to control myself. I have participated in the vitriol, and for that, I ask your forgiveness. Also, I got to thinking of all the people I admire and who I read after and follow, and none of them use Facebook to get their message out. I guess you could say I am in Facebook rehab. “Hello, my name is Kevin and I’m a social-holic.” I have not given up social media all together. I’m still on Twitter and Linkedin, and I may try to reactivate my Instagram account. Then, of course, there is this blog. But, for now, Facebook is off limits. Continue reading

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