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Thankful for the Local Church

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This is it. The last stop at Thanksgiving before we board the express train to Christmastown.

It seems like every year as a culture we hop on the Christmas train earlier and earlier. We just can't wait to get past Halloween so we can get to Christmas music, Christmas shopping, and Christmas traditions. In doing so, we trample on the one day that is still reserved for giving thanks to the Lord for his blessings.

I want to take a few days to stop and reflect on the many blessings God has provided my family and I. He has provided jobs and food and shelter. I have salvation thanks to the Lord. I have the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am thankful for that too.

I'm also thankful for the local church. It's a place where I can worship God freely. It provides a sense of family when I live far away from my own. They are willing to help at a moments notice. They have a heart to see people come to know Jesus.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Paul writes his greeting to the chur…

Living like Lazarus

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Have you heard the story of the Lawn Chair Pilot?

In 1982, Larry Walters, in an attempt to fly, tied 45 weather balloons, filled with helium, to his regular, run-of-the-mill lawn chair. He soon soared to 16,000 feet in the air, disrupting traffic patterns at Long Beach Airport, and caused a 20-minute blackout as he descended into some power lines.

It is often hailed as a tale of achieving your dreams and accomplishing what you set your mind to. It is an inspiring story. However, it has a tragic ending.

Walters never made any more off his endeavor. He had a bit of fleeting fame. He appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and the Late Night Show with David Letterman. He tried his hand at being a motivational speaker, but it never panned out. With his fine and costs for the equipment, he never even broke even until he appeared in a Timex ad in 1992.  A year later, disillusioned with his life, he committed suicide in the Angeles National Forest.

Larry Walters did something extrao…

Telling the Truth in Kentucky Teaching Pension Stories

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This may be unpopular with some of my friends but I just don’t like inaccuracies and hyperbole to get touted as truth without rebuttals. So, this will not be one of my faith-based blogs, but more of a political rebuttal type of piece, though done in love and respect.

I’ve been reading many articles and blogs several of my teaching friends in Kentucky are sharing about governor Bevins' proposal to fix the Kentucky pension problem. Here is one of them, though I have read several. Many of the statements are simply untrue and serve as scare tactics. Thus I feel I must rebut them.

In one story, I saw one person quoted as saying 30,000 teachers could exit the system and that schools would be understaffed with ratios of 60 students to 1 teacher possible. That is simply not true.

First off, I know many qualified people—with education degrees AND teaching certificates—who live in Kentucky who simply cannot get hired. Some of that is due to a glutton of people who obtained teaching…

Overcoming Evil

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It can be a bit overwhelming to watch the news anymore. We see an endless parade of images of death, hatred, injustice, and strife.

Over the last week, I've seen countless videos and still photos of the shooting in Las Vegas. I have heard harrowing tales of escape and horror. I've heard the debate over standing or sitting during the national anthem at football games. I've read the hatred on Facebook and Twitter, much of it centered around politics.

Evil is everywhere and it can seem overwhelming at times. When we see hatred and injustice and terror and violence and death, how are we, as Christians, supposed to respond?

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, tells us how. In Roman 12:21, Paul says that we are to overcome evil with good. Good includes love and service and help for those in need. It includes understanding and pitching in. It means we don't just pray for those who are hurting, but we go to them and try to ease their pain.

More than anything it means we need C…

Call It What It Is

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This week was a horrific week in our country. A gunman opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding more than 500 people.

It's senseless. It's cold and violent and unthinkable. In a word, it is evil.

Let's call it what it is. We can try to explain it. We can look for a motive or an illness or an abusive relationship or any number of things to help us feel better. In the end, I find it best to call it what it is. It is pure evil.

Only evil would kill unsuspecting people in mass. Only evil would modify guns to be automatic rifles and rain down bullets at an unrelenting pace for more than 10 minutes. Stephen Paddock is evil, plain and simple.

While that doesn't fit into a label or make us feel safer or more comfortable, it is the truth. It's the closest to a real explanation than we'll likely to get through evidence collection or criminal profiles. He was an evil man and he did an evil thing.

Evil has been around, almost since the…

Membership and Citizenship Matter

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This week, President Donald Trump made news when he announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative put into effect by an executive order by former president Barak Obama.

This policy allowed children of illegal immigrants--whom have no memory of living anywhere but the United States--to be free from the possibility of deportation. Even though they were not legal citizens, they would receive some of the rights and privileges of citizenship, like getting to live in this country. The ending of this program sparked protests and social media backlash. Even lawsuits have been filed.

At the heart of this issue, to me, is the idea that membership matters. To be a citizen of the United States makes you a member of the United States. As a citizen or member of the country, you have certain rights guaranteed by the Constitution. You have the right to free speech, free religion, and free assembly. You have the right to bear arms and the right to due process. Most…

Kneeling and Football

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Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against former Washington State high school assistant coach Joe Kennedy.

Kennedy began a tradition in 2008. At the end of the game, he would walk to the 50-yard line, drop to a knee, and silently offer a prayer. Over the years, players and other coaches joined in the ritual. That was until 2015, when another district employee noticed the prayer and reported it to the school board. Kennedy was asked to stop. He was given an alternative time to pray when no students or fans would be around. Kennedy refused, so he was suspended. Eventually, the board chose not to renew his contract.

Kennedy took legal action. However, in last week's decision, the court ruled that as a public school employee, he speaks for the school, and thus he has no first amendment rights to free speech or religion. By praying, they wrote, he made the school officially endorse a religion.

As I read that story I was struck by the opposite reaction to professional f…