Friday, September 27, 2013


    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

                I recently attended a banquet for Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. It was both an encouraging and a sobering experience. Several young adults shared their stories of drug and alcohol addiction and how Teen Challenge has helped them to overcome. In many ways, the message each of the speakers was the same. The more they indulged in their addiction, the more they became slaves to it. All of them had come to the point where they no longer had any control over their lives.

                We live in a world today that convinces us that we can do whatever we desire, without fear of consequences. We can get away with this for a short time, but then the bill comes due. What is fascinating is how many people are completely surprised when they have to face the consequences of their actions. The young adult goes to a party to “enjoy himself” and then is shocked and angry when he is cited for underage drinking. The business man stops at the local bar for a couple of drinks after work, and then is surprised when he is stopped for drunk driving. A couple shares an intimate night together, and then are horrified when the girl becomes pregnant. The young person experiments with illicit drugs, and then can’t understand why they cannot quit.

                The Bible tells us that when we offer ourselves to sin, we become slaves to sin. W lose control of our lives. We may think that we are in control, but we are deceived. Sin rules our every choice. At first our conscious might fight against sin’s control. But overtime our moral compass fails to register. Step by step we become enslaved to the false promises and empty feelings of sin. Sin is insatiable; it will never be satisfied. Sin always leads us to want more. What used to provide us with the thrill we seek, soon becomes dull and unsatisfying. So we are drawn to a deeper level to recapture the thrill. With each step, the cost gets higher and the opportunity to get out diminishes.

                Paul addressed this issue in Romans 6:15-23.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
                I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

                Paul makes a couple of very important points about our struggle with sin. He warns us that we cannot presume upon the grace of God. God freely forgives all who repent and ask for his forgiveness. But God will not play games with sin. To consciously indulge in sin, banking on God’s grace, is a tenuous position at best.

                When we invite sin into our lives, it never remains a guest. At first it is very polite and respectful. Soon it begins asking for more, which leads to demands, which leads to commands. Paul makes it clear that if we offer ourselves to sin, we become slaves to sin. The outcome of this process is not good. The wages of sin is death! Paul challenges us to honestly consider the pay-off of sin. What real benefit do we gain. Usually, for a temporary thrill, we get regret, broken relationships and a burden of guilt. The outcome of sin then leads us back to more sin to dull the pain.

                There is a way out. We can be set free from the domination of sin by accepting God’s forgiveness and wholeheartedly following Jesus. This forgiveness is offered to us freely; we don’t have to earn it; we cannot. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephes. 2:8-9) It does take total surrender of our life to Christ. We cannot live with one foot in each world. Jesus made this very clear in Matthew 6:24."No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

                At the end of the presentation at the Teen Challenge banquet, the speaker turned to the choir standing behind him and asked this question. How many of you would either to dead or in prison, within the next six months, if you were not in Teen Challenge. All the hands went up. There comes a time in all of our lives when we must count to cost of our decisions. As the clients at Teen Challenge has vividly discovered, the wages of sin is death. But, the gift of God is life, through Jesus Christ. He has come to set us free from our slavery to sin, and to bring us home where we belong. 

Friday, September 20, 2013


                When I was in high school I subscribed to a skiing magazine. I enjoyed reading about all of the amazing ski slopes like Vale and Aspen and Giant’s Ridge. I read about the latest equipment and the newest technology. I dreamed about taking a trip out west to go shushing down an enormous slope covered in powder snow. There were only two things that stood in my way. First, I had never really skied. I had tried it once with a school group and it was a disaster. Second, I lived a very long way away from any real ski slopes. I always told myself; someday I will be a skier. I had to wait a long time for my dream to become a reality. As a young adult in seminary, I was able to take a trip with some friends to Big Sky, Montana, and ski some awesome slopes with real powder.

                Sometimes our faith is like my fascination with skiing. We study about it, we dream about it, but we don’t live it. Our faith can become more of an intellectual pursuit than a physical reality. We can spend all of our life dreaming about someday in the future when we are going to really do something for God.

                The Bible warns us about developing a faith that is all talk and no action. This was Jesus’ major complaint against the religious leaders of His day. "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Matthew 15:8 (NIV) In another place, Jesus chided those who verbally expressed their commitment to Jesus, and yet didn’t act on it. "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."  Luke 6:46-49 (NIV)

                If we are going to be serious about our faith in Christ, we need to put feet to our faith. When Jesus told his disciples to come and follow me, he literally meant it. Near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus made it very clear that he expected action and not just rhetoric. "If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 (NIV)

                The Apostle Paul was an activist. He loved a good debate, and could hold his own with the best of them. But, he was committed to living out his faith in his day-today life. Paul was quick to call people to action. When he wrote to the church at Philippi, he instructed them to do what he had done. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9 (NIV) He told the church in Corinth to “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV) Paul challenged his young disciple Timothy to not hold back in living out his faith. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NIV)

                There are many practical ways that we can put feet to our faith. Here are just a few foundational examples.

- Align your lifestyle with your values. Too often we separate our faith from our everyday lives. We espouse one thing on Sunday morning and operate in a different way on Monday morning. If our faith is going to have feet, then it must influence everything that we do.
                Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

- Demonstrate Christ’s love to others in practical ways. Too often Christians are accused of being all talk and no action. We speak of love for others, but fail to get our hands dirty. John challenges us to let our actions speak louder than our words.
                This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)

- Put Kingdom values above earthly concerns. Let’s face reality; life can be hard. We can become discouraged by the trials and tribulations that we face. When we see people who live as if God doesn’t exist prospering, while we are struggling, we begin to wonder if it is all worth it. But keep in mind our rewards are not temporary, but eternal. Our joy and happiness in life is in direct proportion to what we focus upon as of greatest value. If we focus on the things of this world, we will be constantly discouraged. If we focus on the things of God, we will transcend the challenges of life.
                But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
                Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18 (NIV)

                The Apostle Paul was great at using vivid imagery to convey spiritual truth. He often dipped into the world of sports to capture the attention of his audience. Being a runner myself, I appreciate his athletic analogies. So I leave you with his words of encouragement and challenge us as we all work to put feet to our faith.

                Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


                I heard on the radio the other day that 7% of Minnesota is back in drought conditions and that southern Minnesota is in severely dry conditions. It doesn't seem real after the wet spring and early summer we had. But this last month has been dry. According to the MN DNR, drought is defined as a period of abnormally dry and/or unusually hot weather sufficiently prolonged for the corresponding deficiency of water to cause a serious hydrologic imbalance. In other words, things are drying out.

                The worst drought in US history occurred during the 1930’s. It was deemed the Dust Bowl. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), at least 50,000,000 acres of land were affected. Poor soil management practices made matters worse; without native prairie grasses or cover crops to keep soil in place, the Great Plains quite literally turned to dust and blew away in enormous dust storms dubbed "black rollers" or "black blizzards."

                The US faced another major drought in the Great Plains and Southwest from 1950 to 1956. Temperatures were hot and rain was scarce. In Texas, rainfall decreased by 40 percent. In some places, crop yields fell by half.

                The Northeast got its turn in the 1960’s. A widespread period of drought between 1962 and 1966 that hit much of the Northeastern United States. This Northeastern drought actually occurred in a period when temperatures were lower than average, but the rain disappeared. 

                Today, more than 60 percent of the continental United States is in drought conditions, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared a disaster area in more than 1,000 counties countrywide. The current drought is a "flash drought," so named because the time frame has been on the scale of weeks to months, rather than years. A relatively dry winter combined with record heat in June and July has made moisture a rare sight in many parts of the country. Ironically last week Colorado experienced torrential rainfall resulting in major flooding and enormous damage.

                There is another kind of drought going on in America today; a spiritual drought. At no time in our history has the spiritual climate been so dry. During the period of 2000-2005, on average, 3,700 churches closed their doors every year. During that same period of time 4,000 churches were planted each year. That sounds good until you factor in population growth. In order to meet the need of our expanding population, we need to plant 3,200 more churches every year or a total of 7,200.

                There are many causes for the spiritual drought in our country.
- Spiritual apathy: Christianity has been taken for granted and consequently it has been marginalized. Regular church attendance is no longer seen as a necessary thing. Today, if a person attends church once a month they classify themselves as regular attendees. Many people have settled for showing up only at Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals.

- Cultural diversity: With the increased influx of people coming from non-Christian cultures, the role of the church has been diluted. We are constantly told that we cannot favor one religion over another. All religions are of equal value and all should be embraced. The problem with this religious tolerance is that it diminishes all religions. If there are no distinctive, then there is no relevance.

- Secularism: We have become more and more a secular society. Science and reason rule the day. Faith is seen as old-fashioned at best and ignorant at worst. Even a former President once made the comment that conservative Christians are uneducated, ignorant and backward people. The concept of the freedom of religion, which was formed to protect the sanctity of the Church, has now been turned into freedom from religion. Religion is no longer given a place at the table of public debate.

- Spirituality: This sounds good on the surface, but it is really a cancer to the soul. There has been a rise in interest in spirituality and a decline in involvement in traditional, established religions. The foundation of today’s spirituality is that each individual gets to define it for themselves. We have developed an ala carte mentality to faith. A person has the right to pick and choose the aspects of any religion that they like and combine them into their own form of spirituality. This is at the heart of the New Age movement.

                We can let these trends discourage us and at times even depress us, or we can dig new wells. It is not that spiritual water is not available in abundance. It is just that people are looking in the wrong places. They have been deceived by Satan to put their hope in dry wells and broken cisterns. The prophet Jeremiah lamented this ion his day.

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)

                Satan is still selling false hope and dry wells. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV)

                Our hope is still in the one who can provide living water. In Jesus’ day, people made a distinction between still water and living water. Still water was gotten from a well and was sometimes less than pure. Living water was gotten from a spring or stream and was seen as pure and refreshing. Jesus announced that anyone who comes to him will receive living water; water that can refresh our souls.
                        On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:37-39 (NIV)

                We can tap into this living water by following Christ with our whole heart. The Psalmist gives us a great picture of what it means to truly trust in God’s love and care.
                Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalms 1:1-3 (NIV)

                Often times, in drought stricken areas of the world, relief organizations will come and drill new wells for the people. They can do this because they have the technology and the resources to accomplish the task, which the people do not have.

                In a spiritual sense, we are called to be that relief organization. Jesus used two different analogies to highlight this call. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

                We can show people where to find living water. It is not found in politics, economics or social reform. It is not found in stale religion or formal traditions. It is found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the true source of living water and he has extended an open invitation to all who will come to him.
                "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

                Many farmers are worried about the harvest this year. With this late season drought, some of the crops are not fully developing. What looked like a bumper crop a month ago may be moderate at best.

                Many Christians are concerned about the spiritual harvest. There was a time in America when we produced a bumper crop of righteousness. With this extended dry spell that we have been experiencing, many are despairing that the harvest will be poor. But take heart. The Lord of the harvest has not abandoned us. There is water aplenty for those who will seek it. There are new wells to be dug that will produce spiritual life for those who drink there. So keep digging.

                Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)

                This weekend I will be attending a men’s retreat where there will be between 300-400 men. The camp where we will meet will be packed, straining its capacity. There will be men everywhere. The atmosphere will be charged with excitement and anticipation. The days will be filled with a variety of activities that appeal to men; from spiritual discussions to athletic competition to physical challenges. On Saturday evening, the men will gather around enormous charcoal grills, standing shoulder to shoulder, to grill large, juicy steaks just the way they like them. The whole weekend is designed to challenge and encourage men in a distinctly Christian atmosphere.

                I have attended this retreat a number of times. Each experience has had something positive to offer me. I remember with fondness canoe rides with a close friend and long conversations well into the night. I also relish the memory of taking my sons to the retreat and entering into the many activities with them at my side. I can honestly say that going to men’s retreat has been good for me.

                Now, here is the rub. Every year I debate with myself about whether I want to go or not. I am torn between two factors that pull me in opposite directions. On one side is the pull to spend quality time with men from my church and to connect with men that I know from other churches. Men’s retreat is a great opportunity for men to connect and begin to get to know one another on a deeper level. On the other side is my introverted nature. I tend to shy away from large crowds; they tend to drain my energy. I am not always comfortable in the press of all of the activity. It would just be easier to stay home.

                A danger that all of us face in our walk with Christ is to become spiritual introverts and isolate ourselves from others. This has been reinforced, in a negative way, by our society. We are constantly being told that matters of faith are private and should be kept out of the public arena. Therefore, our tendency is to shy away from corporate expressions of faith.

                The writer of Hebrews warns us against falling into the trap of spiritual isolationism. We have been designed by God to live in community with others. When we forsake community, we become vulnerable. It is in community that we can truly grow and blossom.

                Community reminds us that we are not alone on this journey of faith. One of Satan’s tactics to undercut our faith is to convince us that our experience is unique; that other people would never understand. The Bible makes it clear that perspective is a lie. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

                Being in community with other believers provides us with the resources we need to face the challenges of life. In community we can find wise counsel. In community we can find positive encouragement. In community we can refine our faith and correct our missteps. Being in community can make us stronger and can encourage us to take more positive risks in life. Solomon hit upon this when he penned the words found in Ecclesiastes 4.

                Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

                Being involved in the right community is essential. We hear much talk today about the need for community. This is often couched in the framework of acceptance and tolerance of different values and life-styles. I do believe in the value of community on a secular level. If we all knew each other better, we would all get along better. But secular community can never be a substitute for a solid spiritual community. Paul is very blatant is his warning to us about accepting all forms of community as of equal value. Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)

                Being consistently involved in a community of faith is an essential for our spiritual health. This could include being a part of a local church, participating in a small group or meeting regularly with a trusted Christian friend. We were never designed to run this race of life alone. It is as we come together, under the banner of Christ, that we experience the full power and glory of the Gospel. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20 (NIV)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


                Pluralism, diversity and tolerance have become the main virtues of our day. These three virtues trump everything else. When other values clash with the big three, they win every time. In America, we have prided ourselves in being a melting pot of cultures. We have opened our doors to the world, and this has dramatically changed who we are. We long ago ceased being a relatively homogenous society. Today, we are a collection of cultures living on parallel tracks, side by side. We have been taught that all these cultures are good and that we must accept everything about them. If we object, we are seen as bigoted, close-minded and divisive. The idealistic goal is that one day all of these diverse cultures will blend together to make a beautiful new tapestry. Unfortunately the reality is something quite different.

                To illustrate my point, think about cooking. Every good cook knows that certain foods and spices mix well together and others do not. For example, peaches and cream is delightful while citrus and cream is disaster. When certain foods are combined they enhance the flavors of each. When other foods are combined they fight one another, often resulting in something disgusting. I suppose a person could learn to eat disgusting food combinations, but it can’t be pleasant. It has become popular among some people to “juice” their food. They take different foods, combine them in a mixer and puree them. The result is often a non-descript brown substance that has lost all resemblance to the original ingredients. All the original ingredients have lost their distinctiveness.

                The downside of pluralism is that, like the foods in the blender, we lose our distinctiveness. Instead of enhancing the positive qualities of each culture, we obscure them. In addition, pluralism tends to disregard the fundamental, underlying differences between cultures. It is not just a matter of understanding; it is a matter of trying to bring together opposing value systems. These value systems are often incompatible with one another. No matter how much we try to blend them together, they will always produce conflict.

                Here is another example. When American companies began doing business in Japan, they had a difficult time getting anything done. The American business men would meet with the Japanese business men over dinner to conduct business. They would go through the whole meal and nothing would be accomplished. At the end of the meal both parties would depart frustrated. The reason for their frustration was a clash of values. Americans value getting things done. We don’t want to waste time so we multitask. It is common to do business over a meal. Kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Japanese business men value relationships. Before they will do business they need to build the relationship with the other person. They would never think of doing business during a meal. It is unheard of. This kind of cultural clash is going on all the time in our pluralistic society.

                What does all of this have to do with faith? We have been told that, in the name of pluralism, diversity and tolerance, we must accept all faiths as of equal value. The problem is that to be true to any faith a person cannot accept other faiths as of equal value. People will give lip service to this. They will act as if they accept other belief systems, but their more fundamental values always sour the mix. When it comes to issues of faith, there is no good combination.

                The hardest thing about Christianity is that it is, by definition, an exclusive faith system. It begins with the first premise of the Ten Commandments. "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Deuteronomy 5:7-10 (NIV) God has left no room for the syncretism that is being championed today.

                Later Jesus made an even bolder statement about the exclusive nature of Christianity. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NIV) Jesus was very clear that there are not many roads to God, there is only one road. A person may argue with that statement, but if they want to be a follower of Jesus, they must accept it.

                When Jesus was being tempted by Satan to compromise his faith in God he responded in no uncertain terms. The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'" Luke 4:5-8 (NIV)

                If a person is going to call themselves a Christian, then they must be exclusive in their faith. If a person is going to call themselves a Muslim, they must be exclusive in their faith. If a person is going to call themselves a Jew, they must be exclusive in their faith. The idea that we can accept all faiths as of equal value is illogical. If a person takes the time to carefully compare religions, they will discover that, unlike popular opinion, they are not all headed in the same direction. In fact, they are headed in very different directions.

                The Bible commands that we love all people, but love is very different from tolerance. Love can value the person without necessarily accepting the person’s value system. Love calls for us to seek the deeper values, such as the worth of every person, without giving in to a superficial and artificial blanket acceptance. Whether we like it or not, we all bring to the table deeply rooted values, which shape our interaction. These cannot be ignored without negative consequences.

                There is an old saying that goes like this. Oil and water do not mix. You can put them into the same container and shake them up, but within a very short period of time they will separate. In America we live in a cultural mixture that will never truly blend. We can continually try to shake the mixture up, but it will always separate.