Jesus Still Loves Tax Collectors

The stock market is going through gyrations. Economists are wringing their hands.

After all the drama over raising the debt ceiling, many are now saying the President and Congress were focused on the wrong thing. Debt reduction (and even elimination), while important long-term, is secondary to getting the economy going again in the near term.

Now they tell us.

Congressman Cantor continues to show his true colors. He is most interested in not raising taxes, in the short term and the long term. Debt reduction, while important in the short term and the long term, is secondary to not raising taxes.

Jesus telling Zacchaeus the Tax Collector to come down from the tree so Jesus could eat with him

Did you know that not raising taxes, or better yet, lowering them, will, in addition to creating millions of new jobs, cure cancer and usher in eternal life?

That’s bad news for tax collectors. But, still they can be comforted by the fact that Jesus is their friend.

Thanks for the Journeys

One of the great privileges of being a pastor is how often I am honored with the heartfelt truths of people’s lives.

Sometimes, these truths are glorious, causing me to sing praises to God for helping them be realized and spoken. At other times, the truths are painful and hard to hear, and see. Yet, even then, I give God thanks for the courage and honesty of the one who speaks and/or lives the truth.

Truth-telling. That is what I experience so often.

In these moments, there is no “spin,” there is no shallowness. In these moments, I know we are on sacred ground.

Many years ago, when I was resisting becoming a pastor, I told Jonathan that a main reason was, “I don’t want to have to listen to all those ‘whiney’ people!” He knew better, and kept encouraging me.

The truth, my truth, is that I hear very little whining. And even it has redeeming qualities–if we can’t whine now and again, it will be hard for us to tell the bigger truths.

So, thank you, God, for showing me people who are honestly on their own spiritual journeys, and for allowing me to accompany them.

To Be a Dog or Not To Be a Dog?

Cocoa turned two on Monday, a day we celebrated by giving him a new toy, some special canned food (he usually eats kibble), and even a card (which we did not let him chew).

He is adorable, of course, and we are grateful every day for his presence–loyalty, liveliness, playfulness–and cannot imagine why we waited so long to get him.

Still, he is a dog, and is not a perfectly behaved one at that!

One thing I have noticed, especially when I am walking him, is how distractable he is. A jogger, a bicyclist or a walker (with or without dog)–any and all of them draw him immediately away from me and whatever was occupying him before they appeared.

But as I have thought about it, I realize I have some of that, too. I notice other folks do as well.

Just the other day, I was talking to someone at church and another person walked in and the person with whom I thought I was engaged in significant conversation simply walked away from me. I never did finish the sentence I was uttering when the person left me.

We are a distracting society–so much noise everywhere, so much demanding our attention. I certainly know I have plenty of Cocoa moments myself.

If only I could be as cute as he is. Then I wouldn’t mind not being that much further up the evolutionary chain.

God, Have Mercy

Only prayer may be left. Only prayer can save us.

We have the spectacle of just averting a financial meltdown only to discover that the economy is tanking far worse than anyone thought. Now, we have no government resources to help.

And even more absurd is that while the leaders in Washington were haggling over what and how much to cut, and some were drawing no-tax lines in the sand (you always know what is most important by what lines are drawn in the sand), 4,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration are out of work, as are tens of thousands of private construction workers who should be working on airport construction projects.

This is because Congress can’t agree on some rules about rural airports and employee union elections. Air traffic controllers are still working, but inspectors of our nation’s airports are not, and others are working without pay and being asked to charge their expenses to their personal credit cards.

Is this any way to run a railroad? Perhaps. But not a nation. And not our airports.

I pity our President. How can lead a country whose policymakers can’t even fix this? But I pity us even more.

God, have mercy on us. This is OUR government.