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Is Joyful Christian Living an Impossible Dream?

Every forty-six years or so I like to be involved with a stage production of Man of La Mancha. Recently Joni and I enjoyed a top notch production of the musical by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. The musical is probably most remembered for the song “Impossible Dream” but it is also a powerful story of believing that you do not have to be trapped in your current or past identity. I wrote a bit about that long ago experience in my book Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. Many years ago, for reasons I still don’t understand, I was cast as the lead in our Senior high school production of Man of La Mancha. I had never acted and was not a trained singer. And yet that stellar résumé somehow landed me the role as Don Quixote. Go figure. The play is based on Miguel de Cervantes’s seventeenth-century novel Don Quixote. The drama unfolds as
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The Secret of Contentment

Regular readers of these humble ramblings (all tens of you) know what an over the top dog lover I am. I shared this illustration in my  book Stay. A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.” Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know.” “You don’t know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?” The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side of which came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness. Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master
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Wonderful, Messy Grace

Sometimes I just want to step away from people. I get tired. Living in honest community can be frustrating and discouraging. And then the song “Lean On Me” cycles up on the iPod. That is not funny Lord. The lyrics sung by Bill Withers talks about being there for others. Life happens, John Lennon famously said, when you are making other plans. Life has been happening to us and many close to us in recent months. Sometimes in our lives We all have pain We all have sorrow But if we are wise We know that there’s Always tomorrow Lean on me, when you’re not strong And I’ll be your friend I have been thinking a lot about community. I have, to be honest, had many moments recently when I wondered if living in community with messy people is worth it. I am drawn to the dysfunctional. My heart goes out to the wounded lambs. But I will confess that
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When Life is Tough, Grace is Enough

I have been writing a lot about where our hope truly lies and that we need to be a positive light in a negative world. Last week Joni and I were meeting with our wonderful church small group from Waterbrook Bible Fellowship. The study was from John and we each read a verse from the passage. Here is my verse and I am not making this up. “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. (John 6:43) I laughed and told the group this might become my new life verse for this very negative cultural season. The verse follows a section where Jesus talks about how He is the bread of life and has come from Heaven. This was just too much for the locals who knew Him as the kid raised by Mary and Joseph down at the carpenter shop. But the message is timeless. I need to stop grumbling and start living out of who God says I am as
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Remembering Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins was (and still is) one of my favorite Christian songwriters. It seems impossible that it was 20 years ago today that he was killed in a car accident. His music impacted me greatly and this song was one of my favorites. “We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are” opens with this stanza. Well, it took the hand of God Almighty To part the waters of the sea But it only took one little lie To separate you and me Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are. If only we could acknowledge that we are not as strong as we think we are and then live accordingly I believe we would see an amazing difference. We need God and community to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. Yet pride tells me that I am able to handle the situation. Fear tells me that telling the truth in love will only make it worse.
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Satan Loves Prevent Defense

If you read more than a snippet of my writings you know that I am a grace guy. But there is a question that confounds me. “If grace based theology as the way to live out the Christian life is true then why is it not more popular in the church?” That is a great question. I have been swept away by grace. Everything in my life has been changed by taking away my performance based faith and believing in Christ’s performance for me. During a recent football telecast I thought about a parallel between one of my least favorite football strategies and this grace conundrum. Perhaps it was an insight from the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it was simply because my brain is not wired to factory specs. But this idea popped in my mind. A lot of football teams play a defense that is called the prevent defense. That style of defense is designed to allow the opponent short yardage gains as
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dealing with doubt

Dealing with Doubt Honestly

I am amazed by people who are so brazenly sure they are right about what they believe. I have friends who are completely sure there is no God and there is no logical need for such beliefs. They believe science is the ultimate answer for everything and they view my faith as a naive weakness. I have always felt that absolute certainty is the trump card of a fool. So I will be honest. I have wrestled with doubt in my faith journey. I am not convinced that I know everything. Here is a bit of what I wrote about that journey in Waking Up Slowly. The story line of the movie Risen was intriguing to me. Historically, there was a Nazarene who was crucified, and two groups had a tremendous interest in making sure that his death was the end of the story. The Romans wanted no movement to grow so large that it would cause political unrest. The
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