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Norris Burkes

Spirit Matters Columnist

About This Author

Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of the book No Small Miracles. He is a retired chaplain for the Sacramento VA Hospital and the Air National Guard.

Articles by this author

Turn That Cheek

Today’s media can seem like a name-blame-shame game with its frequent demands to have someone’s head on a platter, at least in a figurative way.

The language is not new. It recalls the literal beheading of John the Baptist in Mark 6:14–29.

If it’s been a minute since you read the passage, John was Jesus’ cousin. He was also a prophet who publicly condemned King Herod for the despot’s illegal marriage to his brother’s wife.

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Story Telling

As I prepared for my first speaking engagements in our new post-pandemic environment, I was ready for an unpleasant question: “Why is church attendance declining?”

Last month in this space, I raised this question myself and shared a Gallup poll tracing the decline of America’s church membership by a whopping 23 percent through the last two decades.

So, what should a church do?

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Dwindling Flock

One recent Sunday morning, my wife and I pulled up to a stoplight near our home and spotted our neighbors alongside us. We exchanged the requisite fun faces of surprise before the green light signaled our Subarus to resume highway speed.

For the next 10 minutes, we passed each other back and forth along a 10-mile, four-lane highway in the foothills. Coincidently, we both turned off at the next stoplight.

“It would be fun if they were joining us this morning,” I said to my wife.

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The First Waltz

Seven years ago, I planned a special cruise ship dinner during which I’d tell my wife I was retiring from the Air Force.

I enlisted a photographer to record her tears of joy when I surprised her with my retirement orders. I wrote about that touching moment in 2014, but I left out the sweetest part—when I asked Becky onto the dance floor.

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Funny You Asked

Before the quarantine, I often traveled the country, speaking before church and civic groups. After I spoke, I hosted question-and-answer sessions.

I’ve not yet booked post-COVID speaking engagements, so I thought this column would be a good place to share the answers to some frequently asked questions.

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