Matthew 18:15-20; Romans 13:8-14

"I don’t smoke them,” he said. “I eat them.” I knew what he meant. Neither one of us smoked cigarettes until we were a few months into our first pastorates—tiny, rural churches staffed by us city boys straight out of seminary. When Reinhold Niebuhr wrote glowingly in his diary about small churches in rural communities he admitted that some are “small and mean.” He had in mind the church I was serving. Although it has been nearly 20 years, my memories are as vivid as if it were yesterday. For three years I went to bed every night with knots in my stomach.


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