Diminishing Differences


Where are the good guys? 

Where are the bad guys?

Who can tell?

And does it matter that we can or can’t tell?

Yesterday we tried to get rid of “them.” Not in an attempt to send anyone away, but in an attempt to diminish the differences between those who are in the Kingdom of God and those who are in the world. We tried to get rid of a way of thinking that divides and separates — that puts Christians in a separate camp and pits them against the world.

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Putting forth the Effort of Imagination

Martin Luther King Jr. Day couldn’t have come at a better time. It comes at a time when the nation appears more divided than ever before – four days before the inauguration following the most detestable, divisive election in memory.
In a recent article, “What, to the Black American, Is Martin Luther King Jr. Day?” Chris Lebron, professor of African-American studies and philosophy at Yale University, stated, “While he indeed fought for the security of a full schedule of rights for black Americans, [Dr. King] was in fact fighting for something greater and more difficult to articulate – the hope that white Americans could extend a hand of brotherly and sisterly love to blacks. The mark of true love, for Dr. King, was to embrace strangers as familiars, and conversely, to deny that blacks’ humanity was a new and strange thing.”
“To embrace strangers as familiars” can apply to liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Trump supporters and Hillary supporters as well as to blacks and whites. Dr. King was hoping for something deeper than merely tolerating one another or even gaining social rights, he was talking about brotherhood and sisterhood. He was talking about love and respect. He was talking about true unity. The best way to honor Dr. King would be to take action on this kind of love, respect and unity in whatever way is appropriate for you.
Author Wendell Berry has written that to reach across a human divide, we “have to be able to imagine lives that are unlike ours.” In other words, love takes effort – starting with the effort of imagination.
As you contemplate these things today and plan a course of action, I offer some of Dr. King’s quotes for your reflection and inspiration. He was a master at packing a lot into a few words:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. 
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. 
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. 
There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’
That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind.
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
Honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Show love to someone who the current cultural climate says you should be hating.
Celebrate today by viewing Dr.King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Click here.
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‘Don’t give up on me’


My wife, Marti, loves to tell the story of a dramatic rescue in which she played a significant role when she was a flight attendant. On a routine done-it-a-hundred-times flight from Chicago to New York, a gentleman on board had a heart attack. Literally keeled over in his seat. This is when you are really grateful for the flight attendant call button the man’s fellow passenger pushed in a panic.

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Living in a post-Christian age


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
– Charles Dickens

Here’s one thing that is good about this crazy election and the outrageous things we are finding out daily about our new President-elect, speaking of crazy. I think we can safely say we live in a post-Christian country. (I was about to write post-Christian world, but I understand that the church in Africa would put us to shame, and I’m sure there are other places on the planet where Christianity is doing so well, they should send missionaries here.) Here in America, you would have to call this a post-Christian era.

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Living a masterpiece


For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

I received a new book in the mail today. It is by Terry Glaspey, a friend of mine and editor of two of my books. The book is 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know and it just recently received a book of the year award from Christianity Today. From Michelangelo to Mahalia Jackson, Dante to U2, and Van Gogh to It’s A Wonderful Life, the book is a collection of art, literature, architecture, music and film that captures truth and beauty in some form worthy of reflection.

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The bug’s in the drink


[Not to be confused with my November 21, 2016 Catch, “Swallow the bug” which was another angle on this same analogy.]

“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, but ourselves by our best intentions.” 
– George W. Bush

We owe our analogy today to Gary, who sent this to me a week or so after the recent election. He used it to describe how he felt about his participation in it, but I have found it useful on far deeper levels.

Each and every night I drink about a liter of one part grape juice and two parts tonic water (with quinine). I have found that if I drink this stuff I don’t wake in the middle of the night with terrible leg cramps. Well tonight I’m drinking the stuff and I spot a little bug floating in the glass. I think, “Okay I am not going to waste any of my beloved drink.” So I am able to avoid sucking in the little bugger until there’s half a teaspoon left. Only then did it get tossed. Then it dawned on me: That’s how I came to my compromise in the election choice.

This is undoubtedly how many people felt and still feel about last November’s election. According to post-election statistics I’ve heard, up to 80% of the people who participated in this election did not like either one of the candidates, and abhorred the system that delivered these choices to them. They may have avoided the bug they felt was the worst choice for the nation, but what difference did that make in the end, when the bug was in the drink?

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Two thousand seventeen


Welcome to 2017.

I’m not so sure we’re all thrilled to be here, but we should be, and here’s why. What with Russia hacking, Trump tweeting, Congress bleating, the media screeching, and the church in large part running the other way, it looks to be a rather dangerous and unstable year. Some people are understandably afraid to even come out of their houses. But that makes it even more important for you and for me.

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Robbie’s Heroes


I met one of my heroes recently. The church I was visiting had a guest speaker I was eager to hear and meet. He has been one of my favorite commentators on Christianity and culture for many years and I have quoted him on numerous occasions. I once wrote him to thank him for being such an important spokesperson for living out the truth in the real world. Here is a man for whom there is no separation of sacred and secular; instead, God has shown him how to think in such a way as to sanctify everything and pass on that ability to others. So it was with great admiration that I went up afterwards to meet him and thank him personally for what his work had meant to me.

I was so focused on this that it caught me off guard when, upon hearing my name, he welcomed me as celebrity, and introduced me to everyone around him as his hero. Apparently my music had had a significant influence on his early years, and that letter I sent so many years ago has been a treasured encouragement ever since. Hearing this made me think of a letter I once received from the late Herb Caen, revered columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, admiring my book that I had sent him because it had a piece about him in it. That was a letter from one of my heroes saying, “Nice job.” I still have that letter in a frame.

So there we were, mutual heroes meeting for the first time.

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