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Who is Your Neighbor?

Who is Your Neighbor?

“The commandments… are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9 Who is your neighbor?  Some might recognize this as the question asked by a lawyer wanting to justify himself in the Good Samaritan story. I’m not trying to justify myself. To me, the question is inherent in this summary commandment in Romans. If we are to follow it, we need to know which neighbor to love. Thankfully, Paul is ambiguous about clarifying our neighbor’s identity….

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Where’s the Good and Pleasant?

Where’s the Good and Pleasant?

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1 On the way to a meeting last night, a journalist on the radio reported a protest march taking place in downtown Minneapolis. An unidentified group of people had gathered outside GOP headquarters and were moving down Riverside Avenue shadowed by police. Since it was close to where my daughter lives, I texted her to see if she was marching. She knew about it and wanted…

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Rocks Make Life a Group Effort

Rocks Make Life a Group Effort

“Listen! A sower went out to sow.” Mt 13:3 This past week I got the chance to return to Koinonia, a camp I served for many years. As I walked through the woods, I realized how much of its beauty and unique features I had forgotten. Rocks, once caught up in glaciers, found a resting place in these New York woods when the ice melted away. It is not the kind of soil conducive of growth, yet, the woods are…

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Community and the Joy in Crushed Dreams

Community and the Joy in Crushed Dreams

“Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure” 2 Cor. 13:11 The Message translation. Over the next week, maybe even tonight, camps will be concluding staff training. Those who stand on the outside of those communities never fully comprehend the serious responsibility these staffs are about to undertake. They only see the crazy games, outlandish skits…

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Codes, Criticisms and Good Neighbors

Codes, Criticisms and Good Neighbors

“Then he began to speak to them in parables.” Mark 12:1 A neighbor once came to our house to compliment us on our yard. She was amazed at how much Peggy and I had accomplished in such a short time. It felt good to have our hard work recognized. We had been putting a lot of time and energy into restoring a piece of property which had been neglected. As we talked, I thought how wonderful it was to live…

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The Storm is Here

The Storm is Here

“Keep a cool head. Stay alert…You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world.” 1 Peter 5:8ff  from The Message One summer, while campers played around the basketball court, a thunderstorm started brewing on the horizon. The sound of distant thunder caught my attention and I started to watch the sky to monitor its development. When flashes of lightning could be seen, we got everyone to start moving to a…

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Not Good to be Alone

Not Good to be Alone

“…God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone;”  Gen. 2:18 In the movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, four lost souls accidentally become a community of friends. Each one is from a different planet, so they have a difficult time communicating. In one funny exchange, group member, Rocket, shares an observation about another member of the group, Drax. Rocket says of Drax, “His people are completely literal. Metaphors go over his head.” To which Drax responds, “Nothing…

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A House Divided

A House Divided

“And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” Mk 3: 25 “If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it.” These words from Abraham Lincoln serve as a healthy reminder for those who seek to predict the future of our great nation. He delivered these words on the steps of the Illinois State Capitol shortly after…

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Dinners of Expectation

Dinners of Expectation

When you give a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. (Lk 14:12) Fundraising dinners are critical for the life of any non-profit agency working to transform a community. The right people need to be invited. New people need to be included. No matter what your relationship, there is a clear expectation each guest will contribute. Significant donors have…

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Lost in the Woods

Lost in the Woods

God finds his people in the desert, in a barren wasteland. God shields them and cares for them, guarding them as the apple of his eye. (Deut. 32: 10) When I was at Koinonia, a camp in New York, a church youth group decided to take a nice long hike on a warm fall day. Several students left on the hike without jackets. Two students, familiar with the camp, decided to walk ahead of the group and explore. However, they…

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