Sermon: “I WONDER IF……” based on Joel 2: 28-32

 “I Wonder if….?”

November 11, 2012

Joel  2: 28-32

Matthew 6: 21

Joel 2: 28-32  [Also found in Acts 2: 14-17]

God’s Spirit Poured Out

 28 *….. I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

30I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in MountZion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

MATHEW 6: 21

 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also….”



I have been wondering……

In thinking about stewardship of EVERYTHING God has entrusted our care, I wonder…..     

Are we not called to be stewards of our ideas, dreams and visions for the future!

We already talk a lot about stewardship of time and talents and money.  Last week I shared a message on what it means to be stewards of God’s creation—this beautiful earth.  But what about those things that drive us spiritually?  In our thoughts?  Are we not also called to be stewards of our ideas, dreams and visions? 


Within the context of family, what do we hope and dream and envision for our children and grandchildren?    

I think about these things knowing that in just a few months, in March, Nancy and I will become proud grandparents of a little baby boy—named Kenneth Thomas.  We saw some more ultrasound pictures this week.  The baby is about the size of a pop can, 1lb 1oz.  We already have our hopes and dreams for his future…..the future of all our babies – all our children!  We dream about HIS future!  In what ways are we responsible along with Ken and Emily as stewards of all God has given us in life to help with his parents and their friends to build a solid FAITH foundation for him…

Of course we long and pray for happiness and stability with our families and friends.  We dream of safe neighborhoods, good education, secure work and a comfortable home.  We pray for health.  Prayers emerge from our dreams of ‘peace on earth and goodwill toward all people!’  This idea I have been tossing around in thinking about today’s scripture:  Young and old, in what ways are we called to be stewards of our ideas and dreams and visions in building and sustaining healthy families and communities for our babies—our children?


As much as would like to continue dreaming and visioning what I hope for the future for my family and children, I now turn my attention to the ideas, dreams and visions we have for the church and our babies—our children who are the future of the church.  Isn’t part of our stewardship of all life a call from God to find ways to translate our ideas, visions and dreams, into specific, tangible planning we do as Christ’s church?     

A serious question we are all asking in this church:  As membership declines and resources dissipate in part through the care of this large building:  Are we going to let ‘time run out’ for this church? 

Hopes and dreams and visions in hand, what can we be doing to create a framework of ideas envisioning a future for this church and our babies and their children who need the church in the future?  Maybe not this particular church – but the church we know is important in helping our children grow believing in Jesus Christ?


Are you with me?  I wonder?  I wonder what comes next for us as we work to discern God’s will for us as the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church?  I wonder?  What’s the church going to be for our children and grandchildren?    



As stewards of our ideas, dreams and visions:  My first point is something we always carry with us – TOGETHERNESS.  I pray that we will always work as stewards of all that God has given us to pass on to our children and their children the importance of being a Christian community—the “living Body of Christ”.

It’s like the ancient African proverb that says “It Takes a Village to raise a child”….. It takes just two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord – to be the church! 


Each of us as stewards of all that God has entrusted our care, TOGETHER, need to prayerfully and proactively consider what we are going to do with the ideas, dreams and visions we have been entrusted to care for in the name of our generous and gracious God.      

While it is difficult knowing where God is going to take us in the next two or four or six or more years, we have certain responsibilities RIGHT NOW in discerning what God wants us to do and become in the future. 

I wonder?  Can we take more time in all of our meetings to think “outside the box” about the future?  Together, what would God have us become in being creative, in using this building;  in nurturing more collaborative relationships with others who share our values?  If we don’t do this work, who will?  It is our responsibility – all of us – to be the stewards of this wonderful idea—being Christ’s Church! 


My second point, we have an established mission.  Let’s study it.  Let’s follow it.   Let’s use it in planning for the future.  Let’s dream of ways we can do the things we say we want and need to be doing

We have a mission statement that next to scripture gives us some directions on where we need to go. 

The first bullet-point in our mission statement: 

— REACHING UP TO GOD IN REVERENCE AND THANKSGIVING FOR THE MANY WAYS GOD HAS BLESSED US — As your pastor I hear from you loud and clear, worship is the primary and most important thing we do TOGETHER in REACHING UP TO GOD IN WORSHIP & PRAISE!  In all of our wonderment and dreaming and planning:  we are called to be stewards of worship that will continue to meet the spiritual needs of our children and their children….well into the future.

The second bullet-point: 

— REACHING IN TO USE OUR HUMAN AND PHYSICAL RESOURCES TO NURTURE – in a variety of ways, the use of all the gifts and blessings God has entrusted our care—including this building.  In thinking about this I would like to add to our mission Statement: “Using our spiritual resources” as well in envisioning and planning our future.

The third bullet-point in our mission statement:

n     REACHING OUT TO SHARE THE LOVE OF GOD WITH OTHERS. We continue to be in this location as a church because it is from this corner of Warren and Millard we open our doors to the neighborhood.  Is this part of our collective identity and vision for the future?  I wonder?  In what ways can we continue to open our doors to the community around us? 

Through the Women of Colors and health Delivery we will be hosting in our building the “Parent Action for Healthy Kids” workshop down in the Gym…..finding ways to bring parents of middle and high school age youth into our building to learn and develop their parenting skills?  This is important work we are already doing in REACHING OUT TO OTHER WITH WHAT WE VALUE – THE LOVE OF GOD!


In addition to the mission of the church, I envision something we will always want to dream about for the future:  Meaningful, uplifting, enriching MINISTRY.  MINISTRY!  Consider this definition:    

“Ministry is our using all the gifts God has given us as the “body of Christ” to serve our Lord in TOGETHER responding to the needs of each other and those in the larger community around us.”

I wonder?  I wonder if good solid caring and compassionate ministry aren’t key component to becoming and sustaining the church of the future?  I truly believe these ministries of care and compassion are part of our spiritual DNA we must pass on to future generations of Christians.    

To this day, with over 147 years of dreaming and visioning behind us, it is our ministering to and with each other in times of need that will sustain us and keep us moving forward as Christ’s church… the end all that’s really important isn’t the structural church as much as the spiritual church and what we do together in loving and caring for each other!          


We had a meeting back on June 3rd.  Most of you were at this meeting. This was the gathering we had in the Memorial Lounge to talk about our future.  This was a good time of conversation in sharing some of short-term visions and dreams. 

At this meeting we put out some difficult facts….sobering details about where we are as a church.  Some of these facts: 

Fact One:  We are a small church.  Back on June 3rd we were a 90 member church.  We are now an 87 member church.   The fact remains, we are a ‘maturing’ congregation and “we cannot predict how quickly our membership may drop”[1]  (A side note:  About half of this presbytery, 23 churches are our size or smaller—we are not alone!  There is still one church, Ithaca Lafayette, that still worships with a congregation of 10 members, The Elkton/Chandler church with 21 members). 

Fact Two:  It is more and more difficult to make up pledges we are losing through the decline of membership—that’s why every pledge—every increased pledge that helps us make up what we are losing—is vitally important….helping us take dependency off investment funds…..investment funds that are fast being depleted if we keep on doing what we have been doing!

The good news that came out of that June 3rd meeting was the enthusiastic, passionate and positive things you had to say about this church! 

Simply, this was an important meeting back on June 3rd because we are dreaming dreams and realistically envisioning our future.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So now I wonder…..what kind of church can we become with fewer members, a large building, and a small budget?  What kind of new things can be developed in collaboration with others?  Are there new ways for us to think about fund-raising?  What are others doing in situations like ours?  There are lots of questions we need to be asking! 


So now I ask myself the critical question:  What has this sermon been all about?  As I said at the beginning of this message:

There are many things we need to be doing as stewards of our ideas, dreams and visions—in using them to create a path into the future….so we can do some serious planning for the future. 


And this final point:

Absolutely critical to our future!

We need to have fun in what we are doing!  We need to do things that bring smiles to our faces.  We need the laughter.  We need to be friends in doing the important work we have been called to do.

I am still having fun doing what I am doing. I enjoy being with you. I may not always like the work that needs to be done.  I never really enjoy hearing the phone ring to share someone is hurting or ill….but I get a great deal of satisfaction in knowing this is what I have been called, ordained and trained to be doing as your pastor.  I enjoy being your pastor.  .

I enjoy the fact that NOBODY HAS GIVEN UP ON THIS CHURCH!  We haven’t lost any pledges.  People aren’t leaving this church because they don’t like what we are doing.  I THANK GOD YOU’RE NOT WALKING OUT ON MY SERMONS—AT LEAST NOT YET! 

I hope and pray that with all our dreaming and visioning—we make sure there is time to enjoy what God has given us – that we have fun doing Christ’s work.  That’s why we are going to have a special Harvest dinner after worship next week…so we can have some fun together! 

So now my friends—it’s time for us to put our faith next to our dreams and visions so that our sons and daughter can continue to prophesy, our more mature members can dream dreams, and the young adults in our midst see visions for the future – and TOGETHER WE HAVE FUN planning and serving our lord and savior Jesus Christ.   

I wonder?  What comes next?


[1]  From June 3rd Meeting of the Congregation


The Obama Doctrine: American Civil Spirituality

“The Obama Doctrine:  American Civil Spirituality.”

As always, I find Diana Butler Bass[1] on the cutting edge of the “changing shape of American Religion” with her recent piece, “The Obama Doctrine:  American Civil Spirituality.”  As one of Obama’s greatest achievements as he transitioned into his second term as president.


“President Obama is helping to reinvent American civil religion, the way we think about God and national purpose. Call it the Obama doctrine of American civil spirituality…….His presidency has coincided with one of the most dynamic, transformative periods of religious life in United States history, and he is responding to this era of profound change.”


Backed with a foundation of statistics, Diana Butler Bass moves into a thought provoking discussion backed with relevant statistics:


“Although the United States is still a majority Christian nation, its historic Protestant center has collapsed, including an unanticipated decline in evangelical church membership among Anglo-Americans. The nation’s large Catholic minority is in spiritual disarray with 1 in 10 citizens claiming to be “former Catholics.” American Judaism is under significant stress, having gone from 4% of the population in 1950 to just under 2% last year, and is facing serious issues, especially related to intermarriage and childbirth rates. More than one third of young adults under 30 claim no religious identity; another third belong to new immigrant faiths (either ethnic Christian minority traditions or non-Western religions).”


There is a clear evolution taking place between Obama’s election in 2008 and his second inaugural


“Obama’s spiritual-but-not-religious politics

In 2008, presidential candidate Obama generally drew on the older form of civil religion, proving himself comfortable with biblical language, social justice evangelicalism, and the themes of Christian theology, with an occasional nod toward Islam or Buddhism. By 2012, however, President Obama’s tone had changed. His speeches included a far more embracing view of God, along with an appeal to a wider faith audience.”

While Christians would easily find the gospel within this speech, people of varoius religious perspectives could easily identify with what he says. 

“In the second inaugural, President Obama proposed that the American journey is not aimless. Instead, it is a journey toward a deep realization of community, prosperity, mutual care, stewardship of the Earth, peacemaking, and human rights. These six ideals form an American creed, the fundamental aspects of the democratic project. Each one of these could be interpreted as Christian or Jewish (as they have traditionally been) or could be much more widely understood through other religious perspectives. The address ended with a call to action: Serve the poor, have hope in the future, renew your hearts. Make new the nation’s ancient covenant of justice and equality in this uncertain world. Create a new American future.”

This is a good article—worth taking the time to read.  I look forward to giving more thought to the changtes we are experiencing in American religious culture.


[1]Diana Butler Bass holds a Ph.D. in American religious history from DukeUniversity. She is the author of eight books in religion and spirituality, a regular contributor to Huffington Post, and a popular speaker and consultant to religious and non-profit organizations. Her most recent book, “Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening” (HarperOne, 2012), focuses on the changing shape of American religion. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.


Dimensions of Wellness

Dimensions of Wellness

After writing a brief blog ( about William Danforth’s book, “I DARE YOU” I encountered a short article by Kelsey Osterman and Cyntia Ray in Presbyterian Outlook ( that shares six dimensions of wellness to include in everyday life.  Quote:  

Physical:  Participation in  regular physical activities.

Intellectual:  Encouraging continued learning, problem solving and creativity.

Vocational:  Having a purpose.  Preparing fdor and participating  in activities that provide personal satisfaction and life enrichment.

Emotional:  Feeling positive and enthusiastic about ourselves and life; recognition of feelings, seeking and maintaining satisfying relationships and stress coping.

Social:  Living in harmony with others and seeking posiutive interdependent relationships with others.

Spiritual:  Having a positive, personal value and belief system that we strive to nurture; acting in ways that are consistent with our values and beliefs.  As we think of wellness, let’s remember that we are whole persons in the eyes of God and each other.”

 Six “dimensions” I plan to integrate into my weekly journaling.   TBC 

Sermon: For Such a Time as This

“….for Such a time as this”  based on Esther 4:14b.  This is a Stewardship Sermon delivered to the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church congregation on October 23, 2013.

Today, a “story book” version of our scripture from the Old Testament book of Esther.  Esther is a short book found between Nehemiah and Job.  It is considered to be an ancient Jewish novella set during the Jewish Diaspora in the Persian Empire roughly 250 years before the birth of Christ.

In the fourth chapter of this short book, Esther becomes the queen.  Her Jewish cousin Mordecai reminds Esther of her ancestry and her duty as the queen to come to the aid of her people – those who are being persecuted.  This scripture is a wonderful verbal exchange between Mordecai and Esther, Mordecai who says,

 “Perhaps you were given that crown for such a time as this.

 Now is the time …

Because this is complicated story, I hope you enjoy this version written by the Rev. Libby Tigner, a United Church of Christ pastor[1]     

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in the land of Persia, there lived a beautiful queen. She was the most beautiful woman in all the land, and her husband, the king, who was the ruler of the entire Persian empire, loved her very much. The queen’s name was Esther.

Now it so happened that Esther was Jewish, the greatgranddaughter of people

who had been taken to Babylon in the exile, more than a hundred years earlier. For whatever reasons, not all the Jews returned to Jerusalem when the exile ended. Esther’s family was among them, and they now lived in Persia. It also so happened that Esther was an orphan, and had been adopted by her cousin, Mordecai, who took care of her.  But when Esther was chosen to be the bride of the king and became the new queen, she, of course, went to live in the palace. Her uncle, Mordecai followed her there, and stayed nearby, so he could keep an eye on her.

The king’s prime minister was named Haman, and Haman, well, let’s say he had an ego. He required absolute obedience and obsequiousness (flattery and sweet talk). He demanded that everyone bow down to the ground as entered a room, or anytime he walked by. And since Mordecai was always near the palace, watching out for Esther, he and Haman crossed paths frequently. Mordecai refused to bow down, said that he was Jewish and that he was not going to bow down to any human being; he would only bow before God. As you can imagine, Haman was not pleased.

Haman devised a plot to punish Mordecai – in fact, to punish the entire Jewish

community living in Persia. He went to the king and told him that there was an entire group of people who were “different,” who disregarded the king’s laws, and who needed to be rooted out and destroyed. Obtaining the king’s permission, Haman devised a plan to kill all the Jews in the land.

Mordecai heard of Haman’s plan, and went to Esther and said, “You have got to

go to the king and stop this thing from happening!” Esther said, “What do you think I can do? I may be the queen, but I have no power. I can’t go to the king unless he sends for me. If anyone goes before the king without being summoned, the punishment is death! Only if he raises up his golden scepter to someone will that person live.”

Mordecai said, “You may be the queen, but you are still a Jew, and they will kill

you, too. You are the only hope that we all have. Who knows? Maybe this is the very reason that you are the queen. Perhaps you were given that crown for such a time as this.”

Esther went to the king, unsummoned, not knowing if she would live or die

because of this rash behavior. The king, because he did love her, raised up his golden scepter and she was able to approach. While there is a little more to the story, the ultimate result is that, because Esther dared to approach the king, Haman’s  evil plot was exposed, he lost his position and his head, the execution of the Jews did not happen, Mordecai and his family were elevated to positions of honor, and there was great a great celebration. [2]

This is the Word of the Lord!

 Thanks be to God!


Do you feel  “overwhelmed” with all that is going on in the world?  The wars, politics or economic forecasts?  Health issues, lack of good paying jobs?  Insurance?  Corporate greed?  There’s a lot going on!  I am frustrated.  The protests that are canvassing the entire nation seem to have one common theme:  the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer and the middle class is being squeezed into oblivion.     

I was talking to a woman this past week who is extremely frustrated.  She said that for the first time in her life she felt like she would have to put all of her bills in a bag and just pulling them out one at a time to pay them as she can / if she can…..

This story is being repeated over and over again in hundreds of households in this community, in tens of thousands of households across this nation.     

And here were are in the middle of a stewardship campaign asking for pledges to support the work of this church! 

In desperate times I know and fully understand times are tough.  For some, how can you pledge what you don’t have?  That’s why I encourage those of us who can do a little bit more to pick up the slack, may wish to do so if for no other reason to make up for those who are ‘tapped out’! 

For those who have hit rock-bottom financially?  There is something important you can give:  YOUR PRESENCE!  RIGHT HERE!  IN THIS PLACE!  IN THIS SANCTUARY!  IN WORSHIP!  Where we can PLEDGE our lives to God.


It is “for such a time as this” we are called as disciples and advocates to step up our game in serving our Lord as active, committed members of the body of Christ – the church.  

II.  Some more reflections on our story from the book of Esther….

As the story of Esther unfolds, the two people between whom the primary conflict lies are Haman and Mordecai.  They are symbolic of larger, global issues…..particularly with Haman wanting the king to eliminate the entire Jewish race.  But the act that is central to the story is Esther’s moment of truth. Will she risk everything in naming and then standing up to the injustices?  This threat against all the Jewish people?

If Esther had not found the strength deep within herself to face this moment of truth, the story would have ended with her death and the slaughter of the Jewish people. This was a defining moment for Esther, just as Mordecai said, “Perhaps, for such a time as this” to do something instead watching from a distanced as the Jewish world would have been destroyed…..

For us:   

This story is asking if we will first (1) stand with Esther in naming the injustices as we see them and second (2) muster the courage to do what is right in the face of the injustices.   

Standing with Esther and knowing what God has given us through Jesus life and death and resurrection, how can we NOT respond as advocates against the injustices we see in the world?

We are in this inner-city neighborhood because of our commitment, as Christ’s church, to help the people who need us in this community.  We open our doors to the youth center because of our commitment to help the children in this community.  We maintain a playground so children will have a safe place to play. We donate literally thousands of dollars to mission, through our budget and special offerings – close to $15,000 – because we know it is the right thing to do, for such a time as this, in the name of Jesus our Lord.  More than money, we share this building rent free with this community.  We give of our time and talents in caring for this church – because we care for this community.   

From our church constitution:  We reach out to “offer care and nurture to God’s children, to speak for social justice and righteousness, to bear witness to the truth and to the reign of God that is coming into the world.”  (G.1.01b)

From our church mission statement: “We reach out with historical determination to share the Good News of the gospel in our church, neighborhood, city and world.” 

From an Old Testament perspective:  Esther calls us to be stewards in identifying / then addressing the injustices people face in their lives daily lives.  Our identity as a church is tied to this location as we work in mission to bring Christ into this ‘stressed’ neighborhood. 

From a New Testament perspectiveJesus is our motivation for doing God’s work, as the living body of Christ.  Christ is alive and working in this community to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, bring comfort to the distressed, struggling with us to bring peace into the homes and hearts of those we encounter as Christ’s church.

It is for such a time as this  to be Christ’s church, the Warren   Avenue Presbyterian Church, to combine our resources with our passions in making this a better world in which to live.

 III.  “….for Such a Time as this….

In summary:

Travel with me again into the world of Esther as leaders of the church.  Esther reminds us  “for such a time as this” – today in this time and place — to step forward with our commitments to do what is honorable and right in the eyes of God.  Not alone but together, as Christ’s church, “for such a time as this”  to step forward with a renewed-heart-felt commitment to do and be what you feel Christ is calling you to do and be…..not tomorrow….but God saying “for such a time as this” – TODAY – where the needs are prevalent NOW….to respond with courage in doing what is honorable and right – NOW — in the eyes and heart of God.  

This message is not just for some of us but ALL OF US who call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ…called to do what is honorable and right with our time and talents and commitments.  The moment of truth – as it was upon Esther is upon each of us NOW – TODAY!

For Such a Time as This!

To give our time and talents and money – and ALL

in the name of the living Christ.



[1]   Used with Permission from Libby Tigner, First Congregational Church,  Long   BeachCalifornia, October 24, 2010

[2]  I believe I got this version from BIBLE.ORG, Women of the Bible, by Kay Daigle.

Ministry Tool Box: I Dare You to Live a Balanced Life!


“What I’ve dared I’ve willed; and what I’ve willed, I’ll do!”  –Melville


I don’t know how many “motivational” type devotional books I have read through the years.   Most of them have been pretty good.  Only one stands out! 


I DARE YOU is a small book by William H. Danforth (1960) I received when I graduated from high school.  I was given this book by Rev. Robert E. Meanor, the Assistant pastor of my church in Aurora Colorado[1].  I don’t know when this book was first written.  The copy I was given in 1971 was the 23rd privately printed edition.  I have used his formula for in my life/ministry for over forty years.        


In my TOOL BOX for ministry I place this little book and this simple idea:  I DARE YOU!  I DARE YOU  TO LIVE A BALANCED LIFE!  This little book has challenged me to create a mental picture of a checker (Danforth’s term)—a box with four sides:


Physical=stand tall

Mental=think tall

Social=smile tall

Religious=live tall


Through the years I have tried to use these four pillars (my term) in living my life centered in Jesus Christ.  I have tried to write about these on a regular basis in my personal journal and now my blog.   For example, every Wednesday I address my thoughts on my “Physical self”; Thursdays on my “Mental health”;  Fridays on my “Social life”;  Saturdays on my “Spiritual growth”.   I then try to establish goals that I can carry with me through the week.         


Living a balanced life will mean different things to different people.  For me it has been important to try to be intentional in reflecting and setting goals.  Some of the questions I ask myself:


  1. Physical:  What can I do to be in better shape?  How can I improve my diet in losing weight?  What can I do to promote being/becoming healthier?


  1. Mentally:  What am I reading?  Listening to?   What is stimulating mental health?  What about puzzles and games that help me “exercise” my mind?  I have gone to the web page to help with some neat mental exercises!  I created this BLOG to exercise my mind.  I am also listening to a variety of on-line speakers/preachers to stimulating thinking about who I am in relation to what I believe. 


  1. Socially:  I am ISTJ on the ‘Myers-Briggs’ scale—note I am a strong introvert.  This is unusual for a minister.  It is therefore important for me to work at engaging with others in a variety of contexts.   I need to be intentional in creating social experiences.  I also ask:  Who do I trust who can engage with in-depth conversation?  Personally and professionally?  Who is in my personal network of colleagues and friends?  Now that I am retired, I am trying to re-establish contact with people from my past….some of whom I have not seen for years!


  1. Spiritual:  Some would say as a pastor, I don’t need to devote a lot of time to this area.  What is God calling me to do and be in living my life as a Christian?  Am I living what I preach?  Now that I am retired, what can I do to continue living my life as ‘prophet, priest and king’ (see blog Jan. 16)[2].  Am I living as ‘complete’ Christian every day and with every breath I take?


This text from Galatians comes to mind as I write about the need for balance in my life.  Clearly, all of you who were baptized in Christ’s name have clothed yourselves with Christ.”   Galatians 3: 27


In what ways, each and every day, will I put on Christ physically, mentally, socially and spiritually?


For those who read this blog, join with me in accepting the DARE to lived tall, stand tall, think tall – and perhaps more important than anything else:  SMILE TALL!


[1]  Bob Meanor was the Assistant Pastor who guided me through the decision to contemplate entering ministry.  He still lives in Omaha, Nebraska.   

“7 Ways to Be Sure You Are a Martin Luther King Jr. Kind of Christian


Take time on January 20th to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.!

Thanks to Paul Brandeis Rausenbush for putting together this article and list of “7 Ways to Be Sure You Are a Martin Luther King Jr. Kind of Christian”.

This seventh question is for me the most important:  “Is your faith grounded first and foremost in love, and do you believe that love, not dogma or judgment, is the defining characteristic of God?” 

From Dr. King:  “Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. ” –“Loving Your Enemies”  —