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Leaving Salem

Leaving Salem

Church Archives

“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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

“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 […]

Video: Shrink Wrapped

posted by ronniemcbrayer

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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, […]

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, […]

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.” […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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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