"I want You back" written on typewriter

The Mystery of Mercy

I think a lot about the church. When you write a book called “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People” you tend to hear from angry and wounded churchgoers. I have received hundreds of emails and blog posts from hurting believers. If a modest selling author and blogger like me gets that many responses then you can extrapolate that this is a big problem for the American church. I began the book mentioned above with this paragraph. “I am a hypocrite. I can be arrogant and selfish. I have been known to stretch, conceal, or slightly message the truth. I am sometimes inconsiderate and insecure. I struggle with lust and impure thoughts. My ego often rages out of control, and I battle foolish pride. I can be lazy and foolhardy with my time. I get angry, petty, and ill-tempered. I am sarcastic and cynical. I am a Christian.” I can make the claim in the final sentence only because of
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Young boy hugging his father's leg and crying

How Harry Chapin Changed My Life

I am digitally ducking as I post this week’s musing. This is the kind of the title that brings the spiritual hall monitors out of the internet woodwork. But it is true. God used the insightful lyrics of Harry Chapin to get my attention about my selfishness. Chapin was a genius in poetically describing how we try to find happiness in the wrong places and with self-centered priorities. The first song to meddle in my life was W*O*L*D. I was an aspiring radio “personality” at a small station in Southern Ohio dreaming of being a big city star someday. The lyrics describe a conversation with the wife he left behind to pursue his dreams. He recounts how he moved from market to market trying to find happiness. Now he realizes what he has sacrificed and hopes to reconcile with his family. Chapin writes a powerful truth about running from the problems in our life. Sometimes I get this crazy dream
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Don’t Store Your Joy and Hope in the Attic this year!

Today I accomplished one of my least favorite tasks of the year. Taking down the Christmas decorations always makes me a bit melancholy. One of our Christmas staples is a yard display that spells out “Joy”. The sign is simple yet the nativity scene incorporated into the letters clearly communicates our feelings about what this holiday represents. As I took down the display I thought about the reason I love this decoration so much. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great JOY to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  (Luke 2, NLT) That is where I place my joy as I head into a unstable New Year. I find my joy in the Messiah, the Lord – who was born in
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Santa Claus at Christmas, New Year's Eve wrote a list of gifts to children on paper in the room with the Christmas tree and fireplace.

Don’t Let Santa Influence Your Theology

It is a classic Christmas song. Santa Clause is comin’ to town and you had better watch out ’cause he is making a list. So no pouting, No crying. Be on your best behavior or else. Sadly that kind of thinking is all too common among followers of Jesus. I am borrowing one little bit of content from John Lynch, one of the authors of the The Cure. He addresses how we are programmed from childhood to default to performance theology. He calls it the “Santa Claus is Coming to Town theology”. You better watch out Better not cry Better not pout I am telling you why Santa Claus is comin’ to town He’s making a list….checking it twice…three times…every day Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice Santa Claus is comin’ to town He sees you when your sleeping, nows when your awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. Oh, he’s
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Blackboard with the text: All I Want For Christmas in a conceptual image

My Christmas List Is Very Short

If I could have one wish for those of you who read these humble ramblings it would be very simple. Amy Grant recorded “My Grown-up Christmas List” for her “Home For Christmas” album. The lyrics imagine an adult going back to Santa with a different perspective on what matters most in life. Instead of material things the writer now asks for good things for others. I love the sentiment of the song. No more lives torn apart That wars would never start And time would heal all hearts Everyone would have a friend And right would always win And love would never end This is my grown-up Christmas list I thought about my “grown-up” Christmas list this week. I would love for all of the things in the lyric above to come true. But I have lived enough to know they will not. Everyday lives are torn apart. Wars start too frequently. Time does not heal every heart. Some who
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figures representing nativity scene on white background

The Cattle Were Lowing?????

(Today is a re-gifting of a “Christmas Classic” from earlier. How does a blog become a classic?  It is your blog, your site, and you pay the server charge so you can call it whatever you want. So enjoy a classic from Christmas past) One of my contributions with these modest little musings is to continually ask the tough questions. While listening to  “Away in a Manger” my inquiring mind kicked in. You likely know verse three of the song. The cattle are lowing The poor Baby wakes But little Lord Jesus No crying He makes As I listened an important series of difficult and probing inquiries popped into my head. What noise, exactly, were the cattle making when they started lowing? Was this normal cow talk? Did lowing just sound better than mooing in the lyric or is lowing a more spiritual and reverent cow sound? And then the most important question came to mind. What is wrong with me? I can’t answer the
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Hands folded in prayer on a Holy Bible in church concept for faith, spirtuality and religion

My Heroes Aren’t Famous

We rightly use the term hero for soldiers, police officers, fire fighters and other first responders. Those men and women deserve the title. Some call those whose faces adorn celebrity magazines or perform in athletic venues their heroes. But my heroes are not famous or powerful. This definition fits my heroes. A person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal. That describes two of my heroes. On November 24th Harry Word passed from this life to spend eternity with the Lord. Just the day before Jake Washburn received a second chance at life with a double lung transplant in Phoenix. Let me share why these two men are my heroes. Harry Word was a faithful and caring presence at my home church, Waterbrook Bible Fellowship. I told him just a few weeks ago that he was my hero because he wanted to be in church
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