Happy 4th of July to all our U.S. readers! I remember this day well as I recall sitting on the front porch of a friend in Detroit, Michigan, 18 or so years ago on this day after watching a 4th-of-July parade, amazed at what extent Americans go to celebrate their independence.

Last year at this time I lost a few Twitter followers after I made a comment about an arrogance I sensed in my dealings with folk in the States around this time of year. While I admit my comments were a little caustic to Yankee ears, I feel somewhat validated in seeing this article on Out of Ur which reminds Americans to be careful what you worship. Patriotism is great, but be careful not to turn your country into an idol.

Along the same lines, a book I highly recommend on this topic is The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd, another reminder that we need to be wise in how we celebrate our patriotism. Here’s a link to a YouTube video of a TV appearance by Greg Boyd about this book.

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BCCurt’s blog put me onto Beliefnet which contains a myriad of spirituality-inspired articles and resources. No, I don’t agree with everything that is on the website (because I know some of you were wondering), but there is a lot I find inspiring, encouraging, refreshing and challenging. Here’s a link to a short piece on energising your prayer life.

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The Rich Man & Lazarus, by Leandro Da Ponte Bassano (1590-95)

I really enjoyed meeting with the church this morning. It was great to catch up with friends, worship together, and be challenged by Stephen Spence through the parable (which uncannily sounds like ‘powerball’ when he says it) of the rich man and Lazarus. He spoke not about the traditional interpretation focusing on the destination of the two men, but on the need to listen to ‘Moses and the prophets’ and to serve the Lazarus that sits by our gate, no matter how wealthy we may or may not be.

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I came across an article by Frank Schaeffer this week in Huffington Post about why fundamentalists must exclude gays (and other ‘sinners’). It raises some interesting points and addresses the reasons why many who preach against certain pet ‘sins’ often end up doing the very thing they condemned. For a while now, I have been quite wary of ‘anti-[insert behaviour being condemned here]’ preachers–and, from what I see, so are numerous others. We are all human and should be careful what we judge in others–and how much we judge others–because we ourselves may end up condemning ourselves.

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On a lighter note, here’s a take-off of Nooma videos by someone who doesn’t really look a lot like Rob Bell, but he’s got the video styling and the mannerisms down pat. Enjoy! … and you’ll even learn ‘Burrito’ is in the Bible!

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I am an ordinary man, living an extraordinary life with my wife and partner-in-greatness, Vicki. We have two amazing kids who are living incredible adventures of their own. I enjoy most things I do, but especially coffee, the beach and a good read. My opinions are my own.

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