“Wake Up.” A Middle Eastern immigrant has a message for America (and Donald Trump)

 He was animated, gregarious and engaging.He was also slightly edgy, not really comfortable.  Glancing around, he seemed to check every person that walked past our table at Whole Foods.But when I heard Joe Bagi’s story, I couldn’t blame him for being furtive.“I never go to crowded places,” he admitted. “I grew up in chaos. War is always on my mind.”Joe grew up just yards from the  Lebanese “Green Line.”  The famous separation kept Muslim factions in West Beirut  from Chri … [Read more...]

Try a Little Kindness (A Skeptic Gives it Another Shot)

You’ve seen the bumper stickers, COEXIST printed out in letters representing all religions. It sounds good, but truth is a funny thing – it doesn’t play well with others. And you believe you have truth, then the clash of ideas enters.The same goes for politics. We’ve seen a nation split. The Blue Dogs and Centrists and Statesmen have all been supplanted by ideologues. The middle ground is viewed as compromise.I’ve tried to reach out to millennials and atheists and those of different color … [Read more...]

The Christmas Pinata

Sometimes meaningless repetition is found in tradition.But if you look, there is great beauty.The story of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to rest on the Holy Night has been retold in  nearly every culture and language.  The King and Savior of the world wasn’t born in a castle, but in the lowest of circumstances. He would die in the same manner.Last night we went a traditional Las Posadas festival. Celebrated throughout Mexico it gives a unique cultural twist on the familiar sto … [Read more...]

Christmas and the Family Feud

My friend Marlene Bagnull is rich in love and grace.And based on an article she wrote more than 35 years ago for Decision Magazine, she is also wise.  Entitled, “When Families Don't Get Along - Peace at Christmas” the piece strikes a chord in many lives.We love to sing the Silent Night, when all is calm, all is bright,” but the reality is that in many families, the season is far from perfect. In fact, it’s often rough and cloudy.  We have memories, some warm and fuzzy, others are painful … [Read more...]

Let it Go: Why Holding on Isn’t Always Such a Good Idea

Three years ago I unloaded my 1956 Chevy. As the buyer loaded it up on the trailer, the groans from the old girl were loud. I watched it go down the road on the trailer like a regal queen, sitting high above the traffic.It was my first car, brimming with memories. Part of the family for more than 40 years, it wasn’t easy to send it away. But the truth was that I would never be able to accumulate the money to replace the rusted floorboards and pitted chrome. The engine belched smoke and the t … [Read more...]

Giving Thanks for Donald Trump {And Why You Should Too}

This Thanksgiving season, it seems that I’m praying a lot.I’m giving thanks for a job, for friends, for family. I’m actually giving thanks for the 20 extra pounds I’m carrying, a sign that I live in the land of plenty. I’m giving thanks for blessings seen and unseen.And I’m also praying for others. I have family members who are far away from God, hanging all my desires on a peg named hope.   I am praying for my employer, for the business to succeed and for the books to balance. I pray for … [Read more...]

Jubilant? Despondent? How God’s people should respond to the election results

The election is over.Finally, the popups, the stuffed mailboxes and nonstop advertisements can disappear and we can get back to living life.A little less than 0ne-half of our nation is suffering disappointment, and another large percentage is completely thrilled. Another large percentage is uneasy with the results.Let me speak to all sides.As a follower of Christ, I offer prayers of blessing upon our new government and our new leaders.  Paul exhorted  us to submit to our aut … [Read more...]

Syrian Refugees Find Faith, Life (It Could Happen in Your Town)

The Syrian crisis continues to be a humanitarian issue that should rivet the world. The renewed assault on Aleppo, by a variety of forces, is creating unfathomable pain. Political leaders, thinkers, religious figures and aid workers should come together and figure how to end the dismantling of a once prosperous and free country.But God isn’t waiting for any those things before He acts. Last year I spent time in Jordan listening and observing, to see how God is at work in two different r … [Read more...]

Millennials: Have you really given up hope?

When I was young, I wasn’t jaded by the news or by history or by fellow human beings. I really thought the world was on the edge of greatness and that maybe I was the one to tip it. Some called me idealistic, but that didn't stop me.Some of those ideals have propelled me through life, and I'm grateful for them. And as a nation we owe a debt to brave young men and women who are willing to take risks, to be bold and courageous. They are the dreamers, the visionaries and the people who plant se … [Read more...]

Words can spark a revolution (But please stop shouting)

I've been thinking about the influence of Words.No I'm not about to talk about campaigns or political ads. Instead, I'm talking about movements that the world, and they all began with words.Independence Day marks the beginning of US freedom. But it started with words – really a short document, a Declaration that named the source of true freedom. The War started with words, not battles.Fast forward 225 words to Ronald Reagan, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." We had spent billions … [Read more...]