The good news, must--in fact--be good news! The good news, must be good news to the poor. The good news must be good news to the down-trodden. The good news, must be good.
18The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]19To proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day [b]when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound.

Below is a very cool and powerful talk (via livestream) from a guy who is, like me, a proud member of the Christian Left, Jim Jobin. Follow him on Twitter: @jimijobin

Watch live streaming video from thechristianleft at
I blogged last night about The Freedom Riders; here is the PBS documentary: (Enjoy!)

Earlier today Kels and I watched the Oprah show. Oddly, this season is the first season that I have actually watched her show on any consistent basis (we DVR the shows and watch them). Today we watched an older show from May. The show was commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Riders.

In a nutshell, the Freedom Rides were non-violent demonstrations coordinated by CORE (Congress on Racial Equality) in the 1960s during the turmoltous era of Jim Crow, racial bigotry and inequality. CORE members (made up largely of college students of many races and religions) decided that racial inequality could no longer be tolerated. They decided that this wrong could no longer go unchecked on their proverbial watch. Toward the end of the taping of this profound show, Oprah asked two questions that have stuck with me since I heard her utter them. She asked, (paraphrasing) "What is wrong with the world and what can you do to fix it?"

Those two simple, yet profound questions nag at my mind this very second. Those questions immediately bring to mind on of my favorite verses of scripture, Micah 6:8:

The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: "See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God." (Contemporary English Version)

They make me want to go out and give myself to something great! Like the Freedom Riders, I want to be willing to lay down my life for a fight that needs fighting. They make me want to fight the fight that may seem un-winnable but needs fighting. I want to see that justice is done. I want to know, like the Freedom Riders, that after this brief, fleeting and momentary life here on earth is finished that I made an impact.

It is hard to believe that only fifty years ago, Congressman John Conyers was beaten simply for trying to do something that I take for granted everyday: be seen as an equal; a man. Hundreds of brave Americans decided that inequality and marginalization could no longer be suffered. They decided that what was wrong with America was inequality, so they rode. The rode with the understanding that their very life might be the price that equality would demand. Knowing that--embracing that---they rode. They rode through the hate-filled south and decided to matter. They decided to be the voice, crying out in the darkness of hate and inequality for change. Damn it, change! They wrote their last wills and testaments and said, as Queen Esther said, "If I must die, I must die."

Equality for all is a fight that is worth fighting. Justice is a cause that is worth undertaking. Whenever people are dehumanized and caricatured, there is a problem; there is a wrong. I, for one, pray that I will never go along to simply get along. I pray that I will never allow my fears to dam the cries of justice from my lips as the Hoover does the waters of the Colorado River. Where there are injustices, I want to be a voice crying out for justice. Where there are inequalities, I want to be one--if the only one--fighting for equality. Lord, make it so.

What is wrong with the world; what can you do to fix it?
Seven weeks ago Kelly and I lead and hosted our first life group at our home for Christ Church. We are nearing a year since we moved from Greensboro here to Hickory. The circumstances that we moved here under were less than ideal. We had a lot of healing to do. For that reason, we decided that we would take all of the time that we needed to just soak in the goodness that is offered at Christ Church. Kelly and I are members (well, she still has to take the class) of the Fairgrove Campus of Christ Church. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of folks who are CC members before we moved here. That was great. However, we had not really gotten the opportunity to meet many folks at the other campuses. Our Taste and See Life Group changed all of that. 

Seven weeks ago today, fourteen folks who we had never met walked into our home. The folks who came were attendees at both the Fairgrove and Mt. View campuses. Our group has folks who are married, divorced, single and widowed. There are folks who are parents to toddlers, teenagers and young adults (such as are Kelly and me). Some folks have been on this Christian journey for a long while and some not such a long while. We have varied and different political, theological and philosophical beliefs. But we work. Over these past seven weeks, we have gotten increasingly close and open with one another. We are learning to lower our defensive walls and be honest; becoming vulnerable. Over food (that each unit brings) and conversation we are becoming a community!

Lifegroup has given us the opportunity to love openly. To use our gifts of hospitality and sheparding in a way that may not have been possibly otherwise in a church our size. I love our church; I love our Life group! This group is allowing us to get to a place where we, in fact, share life together. 
So...I was reading a friend's blog a short while ago. He wrote about his guilty pleasures. That, of course, got me thinking about some of my guilty pleasures. Guilty know. Those things that you just love but hate that you love and you def do not tell others that you love them. Well...Tim asked, so I am going to tell. Here is my list of guilty pleasures. #DontJudgeMe

Real World- The MTV show that I have watched for as long as I can remember. There is so much about that show that I really like and I know that it doesn't make a lot of sense. I feel guilty watching it...but I keep watching it. I have even gotten Kelly addicted to it, too.
  1. Fruit Snacks- Like my buddy Tim, I, too, love these things. I have a three year old godson who also loves these. I feel so guilty when I eat his fruit snacks. Kels bought a batch of them a while back for the Booge when he comes over...I ate them.
  2. Creepin' on Social Media Sites- You know what I mean. Like on FB when you have not seen a person in a long while and you go through and see their pictures. Kinda creepy but I do that. The worst is when I get to a very old pic and comment on it and they are all sketched out like, "Bro, did you really just go through those hundreds of pics?" To which I reply, "Nah, man. I just went to that one specifically..." Or on Twitter, when I sometimes go through and read the old tweets and their favorites. Is this too much? I'm gonna stop now...
  3. Hallmark Movies- I know...I know. But I really like watching those Hallmark movies... especially the Christmas ones. They always make me cry.
  4. Drinking out of the jug- I am not sure if this is throwback to the college days or what, but I love drinking out of the container. I know it is gross. I know that Kelly hates it. But I love it. It tastes better
  5. Dipping- Yes. That kind of dipping. The long cut tobacco dipping. I used to do it on a regular basis but not so much anymore. But I love it. I remember my dad dipping Red Man when I was a kid and always wanting to try it. Yep. Long cut or pouches.

This has been an insanely awesome and full week for me. A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine who is a Campus Youth Pastor asked me if I would emcee the annual youth week that our new church hosts.

The theme for the week is: Simple. The idea is that there are all manner of things that we do in our lives that we complicate that are, well, simple. They were sure to make the disticntion that simple does not mean easy. Merriam-Webster defines simple as: readily understood or performed. The reality is the actual prayer to "Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior is, simple." The walking out of that commitment is anything other than easy. It is hard and it is complicated.

This leads me to the title of this post. As I think about the life of Jesus, I am struck that he did not hate people. He did not hate the Pharisees, even though those dudes seemed intent on killing him. Jesus did not hate Judas, even though ol' boy was, ya know, a Judas. A Benedict Arnold. A turn-coat. Jesus did not hate Pilate. He did not hate Mary Magdelene. He did not hate. He did not hate. He did not hate. For Jesus, it seemed very simple to not hate. For Jesus, it seemed natural to love. Natural to forgive and natural to include.

However, for present-day followers of The Way (including me) there seems to be that list of folks who are okay to hate. Okay to ostercize. It seems like we have taken the simple message of love and convoluted it. We build obstacles in the way of folks who are curious about this Jesus who they have heard was loving and inclusive. Passages from Matthew come into my mind when I think about all that we have done:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24);

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13);

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15)

The reality that hits me like a ton of bricks, is that we have taken the simple message of Jesus and made it all so complicated. We have told groups of people, namely, LGBT, that God's simple love is complicated and is had by them with an asterisk. However, this is not true. God's love is not complicated; it is simple. God's grace is extended to all through the work and person of Jesus the Christ! God beckons us all to the table to find help and hope in our time of greatest need. The God who created folks within the LGBTQ community is passionate about them and all. He pursues us all with a deep, passionate and furious love.

Abba, may we live into the example of your love. May we mirror your heart. May we share hope with whomever is in need. May we explore and find an ever-increasing reality of your deep and furious love for us, Abba! May we ponder on this: Whom would Jesus hate?

Have you ever thought about how God brings amazing people into your lives, and somewhere along the way you start doing life together and experiencing Him in news ways through the hearts of other people? -Michelle Bentham
 That quote is taking on new meaning for me these days. I mean, I have always loved family (I have the best), friends and my broader community, but there is something different that is happening.  When we moved to Hickory back in October we knew folks. Our best friends, Jess and Mille live here with our godson, Isaiah. Since their family has become like our family, we felt like we had a really good safety net of folks who we knew and were known by. We already had a foundation of other friends who we knew through Jess and Mille such as Chip, Lindsey, Laura, Shaun, Ryan and Allison. Since moving here we have also gotten to know some others like Chad, Tammy, Tim, Shannon, Scott and Lane. As a result of being a McKinnon, I have never had a hard time talking to folks; we are a very social bunch. However, there was something still that did not feel complete. There was this deep longing to be in community with folks in a small, intentional group where we could go deeper spiritually.

About a month or more ago I became a lay pastor at our new church, Christ UMC Church in Hickory, NC. After that I told Chip, our Life Group Pastor, that we would like to be part of a life group. One of the cool things (there are many) that I church does are short-commitment, "Taste and See" groups in the summer. The purpose of these groups is to give folks a taste of what life groups are really all about. Three weeks ago, yesterday, we began to lead and host one of these groups. Each Wednesday night, we gather with folks who were complete strangers and are now becoming friends. In the short time that we have been a group, we have --as a long-time friend of mine would say--gelled. On most weeks we will all bring food to eat together. We have fun eating and then going a little deeper into the message from the previous Sunday. This week we delved into the new sermon series, Credo. One of the questions that we attempted to tackle was this: "Can our creeds hinder us from loving like Jesus?" That questions sparked a lot of great discussion among the group. It was really neat to hear every different perspective and take on that question. The responses to that--on the surface--simple question gave a glimpse into each respondent's heart and convictions.

We are not there fully, but we are learning to trust one another. We are learning that we do not all have to believe all of the same things on every issue, but we can learn to grow together. I am excited to go on this great adventure with all of these great people. I am so happy to be here. Life is crazy and stuff happens but being in a group like this reminds me that I serve a God who give second, third, forth and myriad of chances.
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