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Leaving Salem

Leaving Salem

Leaving Salem Archives

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 […]

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“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 […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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