Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was called an extremist by fellow clergy and others. You see, his passion exposed within them deficiencies. To their charges, he replied thus:
Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you"? Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll to down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream"? Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus"? Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God"? And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "Thus this nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremist we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?
The question is not whether or not we will be extremist, the question is what kind of an extremist will we be? Will we be people who are impassioned for justice, mercy, equality and grace. Will we be extremists for love or will we be extremists for hate. Will we live our lives for reconciliation or division. Will we be folks who say to Abba, "Use me!" or will we be folks who fold under opposition of others.

Lord, may we each be extremists of love. May we each right wrongs, love mercy and walk with humility (Micah 6:8). May peace be our aim. May love be the target of our lives.
You know what is great about having friends? Laughter. Laughter is so underrated. When I get together with any of my firends there is sure to be copious amounts of laughter. You see, Karl Barth says that laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God. I cannot agree more with him. If you do not have friends with whom you can laugh deeply, then I implore you to find a few. I am talking about the laughter that cleanses the soul. Laughter that says, "No manner of hell that comes against me, I shall overcome." Laughter that looks into the face of adversity and declares, "You lose!"

Tonight, I was able to be with those whom I am able to be naked and unashamed. I was able to be Ray Shawn McKinnon and know that those folks would not shun me. I know how rare it is to have a group of folks with whom this is possible. Abba, I thank you for laughter. I thank you for friends. Abba, I thank you for your grace!
Last week I turned 31! It was such a great experience. I got to spend the Saturday before my actual birthday (12/11/1980) with my brothers and some of my dear friends. I know that I am a blessed man each time I look around me and see such dear folks with whom I share this crazy journey called life. I had so many people who took the time to post well wishes on my facebook page, call me, text or tweet! I know that it doesn't seem like much, but each person who contacted me reminded me that I am loved, known and here. I thank each person who thought enough of me to write. I love my life and I love my people.

Tonight I got the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with my new colleagues at Christ United Methodist Church in Hickory, NC. The coolest thing is that on this team are folks whom I love deeply and respect. I love that I am able to share the hope of Christ with folks who share the call and mission to share that hope with those who do not yet belong. Thursday marked my first official day as a member of the team in the capacity of Celebrate Recovery Pastor. I am excited about all that God has in store for that very important ministry.

When I survey my life, the evidence of God's grace is ever present. From the relationships to the opportunities that God continues to allow this scrub and effed up dude to take part. I am a blessed man and I can only hope that the next thirty-one years are as incredible as the first. At this moment, the love of my life an my biggest fan sleeps. She is, without a doubt, the greatest treasure and gift for me. It is incredible to have a person who you know, through good, bad, ugly and other, will have your back! I love my wife. I am thankful for my wife.

Father, in my life, have your way and use me to bring hope to those who are without it. Justice to the maligned, and joy to the downcast.

Merry Christmas!
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