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Leaving Salem

Leaving Salem

Bio

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, blogger, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

An Apple Pie Could Change the World…Or at Least Change Yours

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When my wife’s boss first moved to our small town it was more than a little culture shock. Raised on the slick windy streets ofChicago, he had mastered the ways of the urban jungle, but this experience had done little […]

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Learning to Let Go

posted by ronniemcbrayer

There are things in our life that are very, very good. Money, family, jobs, church, possessions, friends: These are all good and in many cases irreplaceable, but you cannot build your life on these things and expect your life to […]

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Getting an Education

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My children have returned to school; let the rejoicing begin. But I don’t know why they go to school. They know everything already, just like I did when I was their age. See, when I was a kid, I really […]

Step into the Water

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My youngest son was baptized recently. I had the honor of dipping his little shaggy head under the river that runs near our home. It wasn’t quite like my own baptism, however. When I was his age, however, I was […]

Vow-Keeping Faith

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When the ancients spoke of faith, they used a word that described a signature on a contract or a title deed. Faith was the oath that lay beneath such a document. A buyer may not have yet taken full possession […]

Doubt Enough for Me

posted by ronniemcbrayer

There is an old hymn that goes, “There’s room at the cross for you. Though millions have come, there’s still room for one. Yes, there’s room at the cross for you.” I have sung it many times. The words apply […]

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

posted by ronniemcbrayer

At some time in the ancient past our ancestors began to watch the sun make its journey though the midday sky. It didn’t take long to figure out the days and nights, but somewhere in our DNA was the need […]

God is Bigger

posted by ronniemcbrayer

There is a story told about a meeting between Augustine, the early church father, and a little boy on a beach. At the time, Augustine was writing his book on the Trinity and was walking along the seashore, deep in […]

God and Glochids

posted by ronniemcbrayer

He had to stretch out every inch of his four foot frame to do it, but he caught the ball as he tumbled into the edge of the woods. It was one of our regular backyard family football games; I […]

“Enter to Worship…Leave to Serve”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

In the gospels there is an account where Jesus is transformed – “transfigured” is the traditional word – on a mountainside. Jesus picked back up the glory that was once his before his incarnation. His body and clothes become brilliant […]

Behind Every Beautiful Thing

posted by ronniemcbrayer

More than 120 years ago this week, Vincent Van Gogh died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. In his short life, Van Gogh produced hundreds of watercolor paintings, sketches, and prints – some of which are the most valued in […]

The Wiles and Woolies

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When my family moved into our new home I promised my wife I would clean up the backyard. The yard wasn’t dirty; it was just unruly. The previous owners had left the environment in its natural state, a bit too […]

“You Can’t Just Sit There”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Larry Walters was a thirty-three-year-old truck driver living inLong Beach,California. On a warm July morning he visited his local army surplus store and purchased for himself 42 huge weather balloons. With the help of some friends, he filled those balloons […]

Pig Pens and Band Aids

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“Love thy neighbor” is wonderful as a heavenly theory. But it is hell on wheels to practice. Oh, it sounds good, but when you start thinking about the implications of what this means, it is hard to swallow. Sure, loving […]

I Love You…

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Those of you who are parents have probably said something like the following to your children: “There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you.” If we haven’t spoken those words to a child, many of us […]

How to Handle a Hammer

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Almost as well known as the cross of Christ, was his occupation. Jesus was a carpenter. In fact, he spent far more of his earthly years with a tape measure in his hand rather than a Bible. His preparatory school […]

“Just Who Do You Think You Are?”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Not long after I moved to the beach I stopped by my favorite coffee shop. I had visited this café often while on vacation over the years, but I was now visiting it as a local. The early spring sun […]

Mortgaging the Ministry

posted by ronniemcbrayer

A mammoth auditorium. Multiple projection screens. Thousands of dollars in sound, video, and lighting equipment. A stage larger than most middle class homes, and more greenery and floral arrangements than you would find at a Home Depot garden center. And […]

More Than Just Stories

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“I don’t read that article by Ronnie McBrayer,” I heard a critic say not long ago; a critic who did not know I was within earshot. “He thinks the Bible is just a bunch of stories.” Just a bunch of […]

Too Good to be True

posted by ronniemcbrayer

He is six to fifteen feet tall. He weighs in excess of five hundred pounds. He is covered in dark brown or dark reddish hair. He is reported to have a strong, unpleasant smell. The people of Australia call him […]

“What Did God Say?”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Jesus said the worship demanded by God is worship that is “in spirit and in truth.” Now there is a phrase worth taking some time with: Spirit and truth. True worship, as defined by Jesus is a connection of the […]

Time Flies

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Earlier this year my family and I rolled into the wild-west town ofFlagstaff,Arizona. It was an epic journey, one we had planned on for more than a year, and one I had anticipated since my first son was born more […]

Letting Go…

posted by ronniemcbrayer

The late devotional writer and Catholic priest Henri Nouwen compared the leap of faith we must make to follow Christ to the courage of a trapeze artist. This was something Nouwen knew about first hand. Nouwen traveled with the “Flying […]

That Jiving Jacob

posted by ronniemcbrayer

His name was Jacob, and he lived up to his name. “Jacob” means “heel grabber,” or “one who causes others to stumble.” Not very flattering. Today we might use words like trickster, swindler, shyster, or con-artist. Jacob was the kind […]

Jesus Loves Me This I Know…

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Karl Barth was likely the greatest theologian of the twentieth century. He is best known as a prolific writer. His Church Dogmatics took more than thirty years to complete and is more than six million words long. Late is his […]

“We Don’t Need No Education”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Curtain climbers. Yard monkeys. Ankle biters. I don’t know what you call them, but our children have been turned loose on the world. School is out for summer! By the end of summer I’m afraid my description of these little […]

Remembering and Forgetting

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Before there was a Memorial Day, there was Decoration Day. Developed in the Post-Civil War decades, Decoration Day was exactly that: A day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. Over time, and with the sacrifice of so many young […]

Promises Kept

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When I met him in the fall of 2005, Joshua Burton was seventy-five years old. On a walker, slowed by age, his caramel skin calloused by years of hard work, he still had the light of life in his eyes. […]

Getting to the Bottom of It

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Years ago my sister traveled toEastern Europe,Russia, and theUkraineon a mission trip. She worked among the indigenous Christians on a number of worthy projects. And when her time ran up, she returned home with a heart full of joy, a […]

Pew Potatoes

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My grandmother lived her entire life on a farm. First, it was cotton, then it was soybean, and finally it was cows and chickens. I spent every summer of my childhood and teen years on that farm, working in my […]

Raised Right

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When I was growing up, church for me was not a social activity. It was not a weekly event or a spiritual distraction to assist you with the trials of life. Church was a non-negotiable obligation. Sunday School, Sunday morning […]

Love, Mom

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I was smacked away from the dinner table on one occasion. Calm down, I was never abused, not even close. But my parents did believe in the effectiveness of that proverb, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Thus, I was […]

Sancta Ignorantia

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Having lunch with friends recently, we began talking about our earliest childhood memories. Maybe you have a firmer grip on your memory than we do, but none of us could recall anything but flashbulb moments before our kindergarten years. My […]

Strike Three Surdykowski

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Before her retirement, my friend Betty Ann worked for the tourist development council of my hometown. She was the convention and visitors director. God must have a sense of humor. Let me explain. As she and her family unpacked in […]

My Life to Live Over

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My kids are always after me to play a game with them: Monopoly, Uno, Deal or No Deal, and lately even Blackjack. That’s right. The preacher’s kids play Blackjack. I figure they’ll need those skills somewhere in the future. So […]

Jackrabbits and Jethro

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My wife Cindy is a jackrabbit. Do you know what that means? I’ll explain. Cindy and I are bike riders. No, not the motorized, belching exhaust type, but the human-powered, pedaling type. We are bicycle riders. We have learned that bicycle […]

Monastery Mix Up

posted by ronniemcbrayer

A few years ago I made a visit to a monastery. Not that I’m thinking of taking monastic vows, mind you; no, no, no. Jesus told his disciples that not everyone can live the ascetic life. I’m sure he was […]

Draw Near

posted by ronniemcbrayer

An old man and an old woman, who had been married for many years, were driving to church one Sunday morning. They fell in behind another car being driven by a young man. He was of college age or younger. […]

“No Trespassing”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Tooling through the Deep South recently I saw an amazing sight. In a small town, tucked away between rolling hills and cotton fields, was a religious compound of sorts. At least that’s what I think it was. The Landmark Baptist […]

“Nobody Else Was Doing Anything…”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

January 13, 1982 was a cold, snowy day in the nation’s capitol. A massive blizzard delayed the travel of commuters trying to get home and air-travelers trying to leave the city. At the height of the storm, Air Florida Flight […]

“One Hell of a Sermon”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“That was one hell of a sermon, preacher.” That was the word of encouragement passed on to my good friend at the conclusion of an especially inspiring Sunday morning sermon. The young man paying the compliment was a simple diesel […]

Jesus as the Way, not standing in the way

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“I am the way, the truth and the life,” Jesus said. We Christians are quick to fasten hold of these words. We properly talk about his uniqueness, Jesus’ distinctive nature, but maybe we miss the point. Rather than treating Jesus […]

Easter: Of Skeptics and Shoeboxes

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My youngest son, Braden, has been asking me questions about Speedy. He is particularly interested when Speedy is coming home. Speedy, blessed be his name and God rest his soul, was our pet kitten. He went to be with Jesus […]

A Good Friday Reflection…by Ronnie McBrayer

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Blood runs along what remains of his left eyebrow. The drop hangs there for an instant and splashes to the ground. Stripped naked, on his knees, he lets his face fall forward into the dirt as the fading chill of […]

God is in the Goulash

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“Do you believe that God is in total control of this world?” Someone asked me that question the other day. We had been discussing the difficulties of life and the trajectory our planet so dishearteningly seems to be headed. Being […]

Turn the Other Cheek..All of Them

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Jesus said, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” These are some of the more knotty and uncomfortable words Jesus ever spoke. He seems to imply that his followers should be something like sponges. […]

Video: Shrink Wrapped

posted by ronniemcbrayer

The Last Loaf of Bread

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“If there was one last loaf of bread in this town it would be mine.” I swear that’s what he said. He being a rather pretentious member of the clergy, stating how God would take care of him should the […]

March News From Ronnie McBrayer

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Hello Friends, Here is some news you can use from me and mine: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5d8950ae28ffd32aaec1f7906&id=f7322ed9a0 Ronnie McBrayer

Faith Is More Than “What’s-In-It-For-Me?”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“Christians ought to be the happiest people in the world!” I’ve heard this line used more than a few times in my life. The happiness experts would like nothing more than to slather the faces of the faithful with smiles […]

WWSPD: What Would St. Patrick Do?

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Mennonites sometimes use the term “non-violent” evangelism. It is their way of describing the process of sharing their faith, without hurting those with whom they share. According to George Hunter, the Mennonites didn’t corner the market on this approach. It […]

Why Be Afraid of the Truth?

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Maybe Buddhists and Hindus are just as stubborn as Christians, but I don’t think so. We Christians are about as inflexible as they come. Of course many are all too happy with this assessment, equating rigidity with holiness. I’m just […]

“McDonaldization”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“McDonaldization.” I love that word. It was first coined by sociologist George Ritzer to describe American culture. The predictable, robotic means of producing hamburgers and fries, according to Ritzer, has overtaken our society. Like one giant automated system everything from […]

Prayers That “Work”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

The story is told of three ministers having coffee together at a local café. I know, I know. This sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke: “A rabbi, preacher, and a priest walk into a bar…” But it’s […]

John Piper’s “Fingers of God” Gives the Finger to the Suffering

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I usually stay out of direct theological arguments, though I like to occasionally stir the pot. I cannot ignore, however, John Piper’s recent post regarding the terrible tornado outbreak of late February/early March 2012. Piper asked, “Why would God reach […]

Christianity Is More Than Apple Pie and Patriotism: An interview with Ronnie McBrayer

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My hat is off to Tiffany Orr for this great article and interview. Thanks Tiffany for the love! Jesus. America. Apple pie. Guns. Whoever the Republican candidate is at the moment. Based on the prevailing stereotype of the prototypical American […]

“This Is All We Can Do”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

In his book, The Fall of Fortresses, Elmer Bendiner describes a bombing run over the German city of Kassel during World War Two. His B-17 Bomber was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual. Routinely, if […]

“Don’t Waste It”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

In summer 1998 I visited the Fort Knox gold mine operated by the Kinross Corporation. This open pit is located just north of Fairbanks, Alaska. It is the largest gold-mining operation in North America. While gold has been enticed from […]

Holy Ignorance

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Thoughts for Ash Wednesday

posted by ronniemcbrayer

It’s Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Lent is the season of the year that many Christians use to prepare for Easter and the Holy Week. As an adult I have come to appreciate this time of preparation. As […]

Let Go of Your Baggage

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Charles Lowery tells the story of a husband and wife who reached an impasse in their marriage. Years of resentment and hurt had piled up until it threatened to smother the relationship. They made an appointment with a therapist. The […]

Resilience

posted by ronniemcbrayer

The Old Testament character, Joseph, endured enough injustice to fill multiple lifetimes. Betrayed by his family, sold into slavery, falsely accused of sexual assault, unfairly abandoned in a Middle Eastern prison: It was enough to break the hardiest of souls. […]

Barbie Ain’t Biblical

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When Ruth and Elliot Handler’s baby girl was born, they knew she was destined for greatness. She blossomed into nothing less than a Madison Avenue sensation, and began a decades-long domination of the fashion and entertainment worlds. At ten years […]

The “Will” of God

posted by ronniemcbrayer

During World War Two the Nazis set up a camp where prisoners were forced to labor amid barbarous conditions. Prisoners were ordered to move a huge pile of garbage from one area of the camp to another. The next day […]

Too Many Fences

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Last year my wife and I took a long-awaited pilgrimage of sorts to the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. On our first morning there, I rose early for a walk, some of that desert stillness, and an exploration of my […]

Save Jesus a Seat

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I struck up a conversation with a man at the coffee shop the other day. He was a nice chap. We talked about the usual neighborly dribble: The weather, the news, work. When he discovered I was a “Christian,” he […]

The Kingdom of God is like…The Mighty Mississippi

posted by ronniemcbrayer

The kingdom of God. This was Jesus’ favorite subject. We find the phrase on Jesus’ lips more than a hundred times in the gospels. If forced to parse Jesus’ message down to one theme, this would be it. But what […]

It “Resonates, Percolates and Unsettles”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

By Dawn Cribbs, Associate Editor, McCook Daily Gazette A new book is a treasure to hold. As a writer and a prolific reader, new books generally don’t stay new very long if they’re within my reach. Also, unless borrowed from […]

“If It’s Going To Be…It Won’t Be Me”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Have you ever heard of a fellow named Sisyphus? I know. His name sounds like a communicable disease or something like that. But in Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a great king and founder of the ancient city of Corinth. In […]

The Blue Bomber

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I love it when my children ask me to take them to school. It doesn’t happen often, so if I can take them, I do. Why? Because I know there will come a day when they will be far too […]

“The Sons of Former Slaves and Former Slave Owners”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I was fifteen-years old when the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday first became the law of the land. Having lived my entire childhood in Georgia, also Dr. King’s birthplace, I knew his story and heroics well. I also knew that […]

How Much is Enough?

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I heard the story of a financial broker who took a vacation to Mexico. His outing carried him to a secluded fishing village on the country’s western coast. It was a place of peace and tranquility. Strolling on the beach […]

Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid

posted by ronniemcbrayer

John Steele was my first principal. Broad-shouldered and tall, he was the kind of man you might see in football pads on Sunday afternoon, not one walking the hallways of an elementary school. To go with his massive frame, he […]

Crashing Faith, Crashing Computers

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Maybe faith is a lot like your personal computer. Is that a stretch? Well, think about it. No one really thinks about their computer until it stops working. Faith isn’t much different. I spent some time once with a young […]

Ronnie McBrayer Opens Windows

posted by ronniemcbrayer

By Chris Johnson, Director of Communications, The Fuller Center for Housing There are many religious writers out there who can preach to you, often preaching down to you.But there aren’t many writers like Ronnie McBrayer who merely show you windows […]

“I Just Did What I Could…”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Artie Whitfield Bearden. My maternal grandmother was a woman like no other I have known. She died four years ago this weekend, New Year’s Day, 2003. She owned very little; a smattering of furniture; her clothing; a few gardening tools. […]

“From Jesus to Jesus”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Sometimes, rather than being the one behind the pulpit, I get a chance  to listen to someone else wax eloquently about God, life, grace and faith. Not long ago, anticipating a treat, I sat in on a talk by a […]

Is There Any Hope?

posted by ronniemcbrayer

On Saturday, December 17, 1927, the crew of the Navy submarine S-4 was trolling beneath the waters of Cape Cod Bay. They were engaged in routine testing of their vessel. The Coast Guard Cutter Paulding was traveling across the surface […]

I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy…

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.” So goes the children’s tune I first learned in a Sunday School class more than thirty years ago. “It’s down in my heart to stay,” the familiar refrain ends. […]

Peace on Earth Requires Faith

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” So the angels sang on Nativity’s morning. Peace on earth? We haven’t seen much of that. In the course of written human history, there have been […]

Leaving Salem…More Than Words

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Roger Williams arrived in the Massachusetts Bay colony ten years after the first Pilgrims. He was part of that Puritan effort to build a “city on a hill,” to prove to the nations of the world how God’s people were […]

A Change Would Do You Good

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Repent. Now that’s a uniquely Christian word. I’ve heard it most of my life, and to this day it still makes the hair on the back of my neck tingle with fright. See, as a child, I heard the call […]

The Bus Stops Here

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Most every day I walk my boys to the bus stop. We talk each morning about the day to come. We double-check homework. We might say a prayer for the day. Sometimes we play with a football or kick the […]

Home, Not-So-Sweet, Home

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Not long ago I returned to my hometown to speak at a former congregation’s “homecoming Sunday.” Homecoming is a combination of gospel music, sweet reunions, blissful nostalgia, and of course the famed “dinner on the grounds.” My family and I […]

Someone With Skin

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Sometimes we need to know that we are not alone; not unlike the little boy who cried out for his mother during a midnight thunderstorm. The wind tore at the windows. Thunder shook the house. Lightning flashed. His mother stepped […]

Of Goats and Gratitude

posted by ronniemcbrayer

A man went to his rabbi and complained, “There are ten of us living in one room. Life is unbearable! What can I do?” The rabbi answered, “Go home and take your goat into the room with you.”  The man […]

Fear, Flights, and Faith

posted by ronniemcbrayer

A parishioner walked up to me after a recent Sunday meeting and gushed, “I wish I had half as much faith as you!” I laughed in his face. Quickly I tried to explain that while I may serve as a […]

For Charles

posted by ronniemcbrayer

You never knew my friend Charles. You would have loved him. He was a husband, father, English teacher, social worker, canoeist, bluegrass player, therapist, connoisseur of green-apple moonshine, and a good friend. He spent the last decade of his life […]

Would Jesus Drive a BMW?

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Having just returned from a developing country wrecked with poverty, I thought I would post an excerpt from my book The Jesus Tribe. Food for your thought… # # # More than a decade ago I made a couple of […]

The Fuller Center for Housing

posted by ronniemcbrayer

This blog entry is coming to you from San Luis Talpa, El Salvador. I am here with a merry band of USAmerican volunteers with the Fuller Center for Housing. The Fuller Center for Housing is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing […]

Idiot Compassion

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Zen Buddhists use a descriptive phrase that we who are Christian should adopt into our own vocabulary. The phrase is “Idiot’s Compassion.” This term was first used by Chogyam Trungpa, a provocative and controversial Tibetan who helped bring Buddhism to […]

Longing for Home

posted by ronniemcbrayer

This past summer friends of mine sent their eight-year-old daughter to camp. This camp was a primitive affair with lodges, sleeping bags, and creatures of the night. Conspicuously absent were all the comforts of home. Air conditioning, television, soft mattresses, […]

“Oh No! This Is Just Like Church”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I pulled from my mailbox that little envelope that I knew would ultimately arrive: A summons requiring my presence in the halls of justice. Jury duty. So I prepared myself to look as disrespectful as possible; not as a difficult […]

“Please, Talk to Me”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

One Wednesday afternoon my twin sister and I were ripping up terra firma in my grandmother’s fallow garden. We were only five-years-old, just months before beginning kindergarten. My sister, in her clod-crushing zeal, miscalculated the distance between herself and me. […]

It’s Never Too Late To Learn…

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Hilda is my dear friend and an example in perseverance and grace. Thanks to Sean Dietrich for this video. Hilda  

“Hey Dad…Chill.”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“You know Dad, you do a lot of good work in the world, but you need to chill out a little.” So said my eight-year-old son as I clicked the “off” button on my cell phone. He and I were […]

“Sweat It Not…Dude”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When I was a bit younger and a bit braver, a group of friends and I shot the rapids on the Ocoee River in southeast Tennessee. The Ocoee, which I think is the Cherokee word for “terrified rafter” is a […]

The Greatest Gift

posted by ronniemcbrayer

On this day in history, October 18, 1970, the lives of Roy and Rita McBrayer changed forever. Roy, a shy boy and a month shy of his twenty-second year, and Rita, even younger, were two redneck kids weaving their way […]

Some Assembly Required

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Do you know the three most frightening words in the English language? “Some assembly required.” You order something online; a toy or a bicycle for your children. Or you go to a big box store to get a grill or […]

Pride Goeth Before A Tinkle

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Sometimes everything comes together perfectly: In life, at home, even in church. I had one of those perfect Sunday mornings not long ago. The weather was warm and pleasant. The sky was clear. It was one of those days in […]

The Preacher

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I grew up with a lot of religious rules. To violate these rules was to subject oneself to the violence of God. You may be familiar with these rules. No drinking, no smoking, no dancing, no mixed-bathing (a prospect that […]

Does Worship “Work?” Only If You Get Out.

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Churches are peculiar places. I have had the opportunity to serve a few of them. Some of my pastoral experiences have been awesome and rewarding – baptisms, weddings, the transformation of individuals and families. Some other experiences have been about […]

Don’t Mess With Mama!

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“Be sure your sins will find you out.” That’s what the Good Book says. My mama said it a lot too. In fact, my mother once arranged for the public display of this proverb. I’m just glad I wasn’t on […]

An Uncommon Communion

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Today is World Communion Sunday. It is an annual event in which Christians worldwide celebrate our oneness in Christ, in spite of our many differences and traditions. We pause to pray for unity and peace, and we recommit ourselves to […]

“Maybe I Outgrew the Church…”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

It was a winter day as I waited beneath the funeral canopy. Still, drops of perspiration collected in the small of my back as my dark suit and nerves conspired to suffocate me in spite of the cold weather. Funerals, […]

Is It In You?

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Dr. Robert Cade and Dr. Dana Shires of the University of Florida are responsible for the one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century. It’s not the computer chip, the television set, or the internet, but it was and […]

A Drug Problem

posted by ronniemcbrayer

There I sat, stranded in a continuing education conference for a week. The lectures made me sleepy. The content bored me to tears. The schedule, unrelenting, did not allow for more than fifteen minutes of freedom at a time. Oh, […]

A Garden in the Wilderness

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Roger Williams arrived in Massachusetts almost four centuries ago, just a decade after the first Pilgrims disembarked from the Mayflower. He joined that Puritan effort to build a “city on a hill,” to prove to the nations of the world […]

Pilgrims, Puritans, and Power

posted by ronniemcbrayer

The following is an except from The Jesus Tribe, by Ronnie McBrayer, available today from Smyth and Helwys Publishers. When that little group of Separatists left England for the New World in a little boat called the Mayflower, they landed […]

The Perils of Power

posted by ronniemcbrayer

The following is an except from The Jesus Tribe, by Ronnie McBrayer, available today from Smyth and Helwys Publishers. There is an ancient story from the Cherokee Nation that was used to illustrate the danger of getting too close to […]

No Need to Keep Jumping

posted by ronniemcbrayer

There’s a proverb that says if you love something, let it go. If it returns, it’s yours. If not, well, it never belonged to you in the first place. But had my son Braden written that proverb it would go […]

Toxic Words – No Children’s Game

posted by ronniemcbrayer

There may be no more hostile crowd than a horde of tanked-up adults cheering for their children in the heat of competition. Moms and dads shrieking and squalling; grandparents riding the umpire’s backside like a cheap suit; armchair coaches managing […]

Back in the Saddle Again

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When my wife insisted that I accompany her to the gym I thought it was a good idea. She had been pressing me about it for some time, and combined with my recent lipid readings I finally relented and agreed […]

I Remember

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I was in the hardware store when I first heard the news, though I did not know what I was hearing. As the cashier tallied my purchase, I overheard a reporter on the store’s radio make the peculiar announcement that […]

Waste Not, Want Not: Just Do What You Can

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“What a waste.” When a young person dies recklessly and unnecessarily, friends gather and respond, “What a waste.” When I spend an afternoon waiting and waiting (and waiting) at the dentist’s office or at the bank I conclude, “What a […]

Sprinkles

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Several years ago I sat with my young son one evening watching his favorite channel: The Cartoon Network. It wasn’t Bugs Bunny or Huckleberry Hound, but it was entertaining enough. After a few laughs Braden reached up with his small […]

Church? Why?

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“Why do you go to church?” someone asked me the other day. That’s a good question. I’ve mulled over an adequate answer more than once in my life. Yes, I have found incredible satisfaction in this thing we call “church.” […]

All Fixers Welcome

posted by ronniemcbrayer

A familiar passage from the New Testament speaks of Jesus’ visit to the sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha, the consummate homemaker, set out to make everything perfect. Who can blame here? How many people get a personal visit from the […]

“Had I Known…”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

In 1938 three German scientists working in a laboratory in Berlin made a discovery that altered the course of history: They split the uranium atom. The fear among scientists was that Adolf Hitler would create a mega-bomb and use it […]

Praying for a Mulligan

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Years ago, when I served as a pastor in North Georgia, I had an afternoon off. I decided to squeeze in a quick round of golf. There is a suspicion that pastors only work one day a week, so they […]

“You Gotta Be Tough If You Are Going To Be Stupid”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My friend Brody is a self-financed missionary in the mountains of Honduras. He and his family have spent the last decade taking in abused, neglected, and abandoned children. They care for them medically, emotionally, and spiritually. They save their lives. […]

Xbox Evangelism

posted by ronniemcbrayer

It was one of those perfect mornings for doing nothing. No one had to be at work, a soccer game, baseball practice, or the football field. The weather outside was wet and cold. The thermostat was set just right. The […]

Abba

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My wife and I took a recent trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This Appalachian paradise has been a favorite place of mine since childhood. I love how the morning fog hangs over Wear’s Valley, the hardened breeze off Mt. LeConte, and […]

Fools and Drunks

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Marvin had spent more than two weeks in the hospital trying to clear up a clogged lung. When the final test results arrived, he had more than respiratory issues. He had cancer. Marvin wasn’t surprised. I visited him as he […]

No “Decision” Required

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Allow me to introduce you to my friend Susie. She is a nurse, and a very good one. Professional, skilled, and tough. If it can take place within the constricted space of a hospital room, she’s probably seen it. Not […]

Give Thanks

posted by ronniemcbrayer

A man went to his rabbi and complained, “There are ten of us living in one room. Life is unbearable! What can I do?” The rabbi answered, “Go home and take your goat into the room with you.”  The man […]

Coffee Shop Eschatology

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I seem to have more epiphanies in coffee shops than in church sanctuaries. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it is the combination of early morning air, a clear head, and the aroma of boiling java that opens me […]

“You Haven’t Changed A Bit”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“You haven’t changed a bit.” I heard folks using that phrase at least fifty times at my wife’s recent high school class reunion. The mighty Yellow Jackets of Sprayberry High School, Marietta, Georgia, were together again. Cindy said the class […]

Fear, Fear, Everywhere

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My son Blayze has a frightful disease: Arachibutyrophobia. Though he didn’t know the technical name of the ailment, he properly diagnosed his case. Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. Seriously. I understand […]

Five Hundred Days

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I can remember growing up as a child of the 1970s, envisioning my life as an adult. The turn of the millennium was coming and with it, my thirtieth birthday. I thought my life would essentially be over at that […]

My Jesus Versus Your Jesus

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Reverend Ken Autry is the former pastor at First United Methodist Church on the lake yard in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. I say, “former” pastor only because he has now moved on to another appointment. Those Methodists won’t let their preachers […]

The Adventures of Miscommunication

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I still chuckle every time I hear the story. It seems a poor fellow’s vehicle had conked out on the side of the road. After waving about like a banshee for half an hour he finally convinced a speeding motorist […]

The Beautiful, Blended Family of God

posted by ronniemcbrayer

All sorts of words are used to describe today’s families. Traditional, dysfunctional, multi-generational, blended, just to name a few. I suppose that latter category – blended – would describe the little people living under my roof. Like most families, my […]

Previous Posts

An Apple Pie Could Change the World...Or at Least Change Yours
When my wife’s boss first moved to our small town it was more than a little culture shock. Raised on the slick windy streets ofChicago, he had mastered the ways of the urban jungle, but this experience had done little to prepare him for the Deep South. He had never eaten grits. He did not know wh

posted 4:16:42am Sep. 04, 2012 | read full post »

Learning to Let Go
There are things in our life that are very, very good. Money, family, jobs, church, possessions, friends: These are all good and in many cases irreplaceable, but you cannot build your life on these things and expect your life to sustain itself. These can all turn to sand. Money vanishes a lot quicke

posted 4:12:16am Aug. 31, 2012 | read full post »

Getting an Education
My children have returned to school; let the rejoicing begin. But I don't know why they go to school. They know everything already, just like I did when I was their age. See, when I was a kid, I really thought my father was something. I looked up to him as if he was a superhero who could leap tall b

posted 4:05:34am Aug. 28, 2012 | read full post »

Step into the Water
My youngest son was baptized recently. I had the honor of dipping his little shaggy head under the river that runs near our home. It wasn't quite like my own baptism, however. When I was his age, however, I was terrified of water. I didn’t learn to swim until I was an adult, so commanded by Jesus

posted 4:57:42am Aug. 24, 2012 | read full post »

Vow-Keeping Faith
When the ancients spoke of faith, they used a word that described a signature on a contract or a title deed. Faith was the oath that lay beneath such a document. A buyer may not have yet taken full possession of the property, but the closing documents gave them the faith that they one day would. Fa

posted 4:53:56am Aug. 21, 2012 | read full post »

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