depressed young people sitting in the tunnel

What a Fool Believes

A song from the Doobie Brothers got me to thinking. The title is “What a Fool Believes” and I thought about some of the things I once believed. Yep, I have believed some foolish things in my life. I used to believe that I had control. Life showed me otherwise. I used to believe that performance pleased God. Now I know that the gift of grace is that my faith pleases Him. I used to believe that I could go it alone. I have learned that is the worst way to navigate this journey and that we are designed to be in community. Philip Yancey states it beautifully. “The church works best not as a power center, rather as a countercultural community – in the world but not of it – that shows others how to live the most fulfilled and meaningful life on earth. In modern society that means rejecting the false gods of independence, success, and pleasure and
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Gratitude Rhymes with Attitude

Today I stopped during a road trip for the usual infusion of a caffeinated product. I visited the coffee shop restroom first and noticed that it could use a bit of attention. But I recognized that this was an extremely high-volume pit stop and gave the workers some grace that they were trying to keep up with drink orders more complex than the tax code. An article on Quora named the most complicated Starbucks order of all time: a Venti, half whole-milk, one-quarter one-percent, one-quarter non-fat, extra-hot, split-quad-shots (1½ shots decaf, 2½ shots regular), no-foam latte, with whip, two packets of Splenda, one Sugar in the Raw, a touch of vanilla syrup, and three short sprinkles of cinnamon. If I worked the counter and heard that order, I would curl up on the floor in the fetal position and whimper quietly until help arrived. But God raises up people who can handle that kind of stress. I try not to be
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Young people looking down at cellular phone - Teenagers leaning on a wall and texting with their smartphones - Concepts about technology and global communication

What Would Jesus Tweet?

Twitter makes cowards courageous and the anonymity of cyberspace can make the mean spirited downright evil. I have watched with sadness as Twitter tyrants have destroyed or severely damaged people and institutions. Sometimes the venom is directed at those who simply have a sincere difference of opinion on moral issues. Nothing seems to generate more glee than a Christian leader or institution failing. Without fail the hypocrite word is used with smug satisfaction. And it is true. Let me make this personal since I can only speak honestly for me. I am a hypocrite. I do not consistently live up to the teachings of Jesus. I fail. I sin. That is why I need a Savior and not a self-help course. I am confident not in my holiness but in the holiness of Jesus. I remember hearing a pastor say that “we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But that doesn’t keep us from comparing distances.”
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What Really Matters to Me?

I have been doing this church thing for a lot of years. I have sung hundreds of songs over the four decades or so that I have been a follower of Jesus. Some lyrics moved me to deep worship of God. Some times I really meant what I was singing. Other times I was singing through the motions while thinking about when the kick off was going to happen. One song has always made me uncomfortable. The song was put to music by the legendary George Beverly Shea in 1932. The words were a poem written by Mrs.Rhea Miller in 1922. I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands, I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand. Can I really say that I would rather have Jesus than silver or gold? Maybe my retirement fund will make that decision for me. Do I mean
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Performance

Curing Performance Addiction

Hearing a Beatles song today reminded me of a lesson I learned as a kid. “You Never Give Me Your Money” finishes with an English children’s rhyme. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, All good children go to heaven. I learned in a legalistic church that my eternal destiny was determined to a large extent by my performance. I had to be good. I had to do my part. The performance message was reinforced all around me in church and in life.. If you eat your vegetables you can have dessert. If you are good you get toys at Christmas. If you get all A’s you will get a monetary reward. If you behave your parents will be proud of you. So I learned to perform to get rewards and affirmation. Performance addiction is easy in legalism because you always have someone willing (and extremely happy) to challenge how well you are doing and where you can improve. So
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Should the Gospel Have a Warning Label?

On a recent flight I received the perfunctory peanut pack and noticed this odd warning. Packed in a facility that handles peanuts. Disclaimer: I am totally sensitive and supportive of warnings for those with peanut allergies. But it seemed a bit odd to have to disclaim that the place where peanuts are packaged handles peanuts. I remembered seeing this warning on a brass fishing lure with a three-pronged hook on the end: “Harmful if swallowed”. I am sure many large mouth bass would agree. There is another warning that we might consider posting for those who choose to follow Jesus. Caution – “In this world you will have trouble”.  (Read the small print in Mark and John, this truth IS in the brochure) Perhaps the most insidious tactic of the Enemy is to suggest that troubles demonstrate that God is not there or that He has abandoned us. I think one of the most dangerous ideas that Christians communicate is that
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redeemed

Redeemed, How I Seem to Forget It!

A song by Big Daddy Weave cycled up on the playlist recently. Maybe you are better at this following Jesus thing than I am but I tend to be forgetful and slow to learn. A song called “Redeemed” summed up my struggle and encouraged me to know (again) that I am not alone in this battle. Seems like all I can see was the struggle Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past Bound up in shackles of all my failures Wondering how long is this gonna last Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “Son stop fighting a fight that’s already been won” That is the truth I have to remind myself just about every day. The fight has already been won. Yet I too often live as if my self-effort is required to make up for past struggles and efforts. That I need to earn the grace that is already mine. I need to remind myself
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