As promised, another classic comic-strip combo. I hate losing things almost as much as I hate mosquitoes. I hope Moth remembers to cancel his credit cards.

Our family currently lives in a neighborhood riddled with abandoned houses, vacant lots, and unkempt property. Our home is certainly no deluxe mansion, but it’s monetary worth is affected by the surrounding area, just like anywhere else. We try to keep it looking nice, despite the plethora of toys in the yard and the fact that I don’t own a lawn mower. We’ve made improvements to the inside and outside that should add some value in the long run. We are located less than a block from a new school, and there are four churches less than a quarter mile away. The nice mix of ethnic backgrounds tends to keep tensions low, and we’re far enough away from the train tracks, the freeway, and the airport that the foundation doesn’t shake too often.

Still, there is a stigma attached to this urban branch and others like it, which tends to hinder progress. Crime is high; broken families are in abundance; unemployment is prominent; education is inadequate; drug and alcohol abuse are obvious; disease is rampant; sin is evident. What once was a clean, growing, healthy community, has become another smirch on another city’s reputation.

But there are springs of hope. There are amazing, Spirit-filled people who are deliberately living and working here to positively effect those around them with the love of Christ. The transformation I have seen in the past several years is startling and inspiring.

Meanwhile, men love darkness rather than light, and so the same mindset that drags down a neighborhood simply migrates on to another one over time, creating predictable, harmful trends. We can blame the economy; we can blame racism; we can even blame generational sin. All of those reasons are valid, but, obvious or not, certain elements can stand in the way of that first step toward… you name it: social justice; urban renewal; racial reconciliation; spiritual redemption; dramatic change.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a series of blog entries entitled “Exact Change” in an attempt to break down those barriers, for myself and for you the reader. I hope you will continue to enjoy the adventures of Moth and Ethan, but don’t forget to scroll down to check the other commentary below. It’s occasionally relevant. Thanks!