Hey! Knock it Off!

Steve & Shirley

Steve & Shirley

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” – Matthew 7:3

I wonder if you find it irritating that the Israelis are so insistence on building settlements on disputed, formerly Palestinian, territory. I also wonder do you want to join me in saying: “Knock it off, will you. Give peace a chance.”

Yeah, that is what I want to do. And then I remember mentioning something to Shirley yesterday about old Andy Jackson… and add to that the way we have done things here in the good old USA from the very beginning. We have done some of the same stuff. Including that we Americans were deeply into building settlements on other people’s land ourselves, and calling it “progress,” “civilization,” and even “providential design.”

In the 19th century there was a huge influx of immigrants from the U.S. into the then-Mexican territory of Texas. Illegal immigration from the U.S. to Mexico. Yeah, us.

In other parts of the West, Indians lost their homelands not because they had sold them or given them away, but because the U.S. government allocated their lands to its citizens for their settlement. Settlements. We, in North Carolina, are reminded of the “Trail of Tears” when Andy Jackson sold out the Cherokee Indians and made them walk to Oklahoma. Good going, Andy.

I still wish that today’s Israel would back off on settlements on the West Bank. But maybe we should be a little less self-righteous, a little less sure that we would certainly never do anything like that. Because, well, we have… and worse.

Yes, there is a place for a word of advice and correction to someone else. But there’s a big difference between saying, “I’ve made mistakes and can maybe share something from what I’ve learned,” and saying, “We the righteous will set you straight.”

Remind us again, Holy One: the world does not divide between saints and sinners; but between saints who know themselves to be sinners, and sinners who believe themselves to be saints. Move us into the direction of working together for the peace of the world, in and through Jesus. Amen.

Grace and Peace


Jesus Wept

1174831_10151632886487947_607091026_n“Jesus Wept!”

I never thought I would hear what I heard on TV News tonight… not in North Carolina… Not in America.

It seems that in Raleigh – our State capitol – it is against the law for churches to feed people – homeless people in downtown Raleigh – especially one area of Raleigh. It is true. Over the weekend three churches were feeding the homeless downtown and a policeman came up to them with the warning that if they did not stop feeding the homeless he would have to give them a citation. He would arrest the church for feeding the homeless in an open place in downtown Raleigh. 

This is the  same Raleigh who voted (legislature) to end extended unemployment and reduce the amount of they would get overall. Don’t they know that if you take support away from those who are unemployed they will become homeless – there will be more homeless people? Cutting the funding to Community Colleges which get more people back to work quicker than the four-year colleges, and making it even harder to get help through government sources just adds to the problem. For them it seems to be about money and not about people.

Here is what Raleigh is more worried about… in the news piece the business owner being interviewed said “these homeless people could hurt their business.” Isn’t that what it is really about… money and not compassion… possessions and not people??? I think “Moral Mondays” and “Moral Wednesdays” should turn into “Moral Everyday.”

Even more severe is the news coming from Columbia, South Carolina. Columbia’s proposed new homeless program called “Columbia Cares” is giving the homeless in the city of Columbia three choices: 1). Agree to be relocated (out of the city to a rural area) to a homeless shelter; 2). Leave town on their own, or 3). Be put in jail. This to be built homeless shelter is not funded and the council expects the churches to take care of the homeless.

Do you hear what they are saying: “We don’t want people to see that there are homeless people in Columbia – don’t stain our pristine look – get out of sight – especially the historic district. And the money to support them is to be a “Budget-Neutral” situation. That means the city is not going to pay for it.

Haul them out-of-town, make it illegal to be homeless and feed homeless out in public. Doesn’t the legislatures of North and South Carolina realize that we are called to help those in need. 

I have done a lot of things wrong but I, knowingly, have never pressed that button to make it against the law to feed the poor in a public area. I think my finger would catch on fire.

I pray that people’s voting fingers catch on fire the next time they vote for anyone who voted for this law (those who take that safety net from the poorest of the poor).

I honestly believe Jesus looks down on our lawmakers and what they are doing to the poor and those of us who remain silent, and his heart breaks. Jesus not only wept at the death of a friend, I believe he weeps every time we ignore those in need.

Dear God, if there is anything that makes Jesus weep it is our blindness when the poor come around and we want to run them off rather than care for them. Lord, we need some help down here now… our government is going crazy. Touch our hearts and melt them… cause the scales to fall from our eyes till we can see the poor and take steps to help them in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Grace and Peace


Heart’s Priorities

Steve & Shirley

Steve & Shirley

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21

The Sunday School teacher said to the class: “According to the gospel, the love of money is the root of all evil.” A student responded: “Well, it’s not that I love money, I just love the things money can buy.”

What we love says a lot about who we are. And since we usually spend our money on the things we love, our financial statements are really statements of self-disclosure. They reveal our true priorities, our true values and our true delights.

Talk is cheap. We can say that we are committed to being healthy and avoiding/controlling diabetes through a healthy diet and exercise, but if we are spending more on junk food and alcohol than we are on vegetables and exercise, we know what has really taken precedence in our hearts.

We can say that we love the church and we are committed to the vitality and sustainability of its mission, but if our financial contributions to the church do not reflect the substantive consistency of God’s faithfulness in our lives, we know what the priorities of our hearts really are.

We can say that we value public education as the greatest agent of racial integration and economic uplift that America has ever produced, but if we allow the problems plaguing public education to make us abandon all efforts to adequately fund it and make it more efficient, our funding decisions will say a lot about what we really value at the heart of our nation.

The price of a thing does not necessarily reveal its value. But the things we value are things that we are willing to pay any price to attain and to maintain.

I understand the need for balanced budgets. But I have a problem with austerity measures in government which, while they may make the numbers look better, are too often undertaken without a heart for the people most impacted.

If we are not making serious investments in the things we say that we really value, then we are not being true to our own heart’s desires. If there is a continuous disconnect between what we say we value in our hearts and how we spend our dollars, then perhaps we’re just not being true.

Dear Lord, you have told us that our treasures and our hearts are reflected in one another. Help us to rectify the incompatibilities and to spend our dollars on the things of real value, in and through Jesus.  Amen.

Grace and Peace


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