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The Importance of Finishing Strong

I have attended way too many memorial services in recent years. Recently I joined family and friends to celebrate the life of Dwight Pearson. One of the ways I honor the person being remembered is by trying to take away something from their life that I can apply to my own journey. Some lives are easier to find those takeaways than others. Dwight’s life gave me a clear and important lesson to apply. I met Dwight about fifteen years ago when my son married his daughter Holly. I knew Dwight as having a ready smile, hearty laugh, and giving heart. His story contained some regrets and bad decisions. Relationships were hurt in that season of his life. And that is where my lesson from Dwight comes in. He spent the latter years of his life determined to repair those relationships. The testimonies of his children and friends indicated his success. Their words poignantly illustrated the redemptive power of forgiveness. My
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God Loves Me Anyway

Today I realized that I am making real progress after only five decades of following Jesus. What a quick study I am! The realization is that in spite of my failings and lack of trust I am starting to believe that God loves me. Just as I am. Maybe to you that is scant progress. As a recovering legalist I still struggle with the concept that God does not withdraw His presence when I sin. The church of my youth seared that fear into my heart by preaching how my sins, no matter how minor, could put me “out of fellowship” with God. My congregation taught that you could reach a state of sanctification where you no longer sinned. I was not mature enough to understand that they were deceiving themselves or worse. So I was constantly living in a state of tension, fear and defeat. A song from a group called Sidewalk Prophets popped up this weekend on satellite radio.
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Dylan

We All Serve Something or Somebody

Bob Dylan wrote some powerful songs about his faith journey in the late 70’s. One song he composed popped up on the music feed recently. “Gotta Serve Somebody” simply says that no matter how independent, self-sufficient or in control we might try to be we still serve something or somebody. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody That lyric struck a spiritual chord because it reminded me of some seriously head and heart messing stuff I have been reading from Tim Keller. Keller wrote a thought provoking definition of idolatry and how we can substitute even good things for God. “Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily
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The God of Second Chances

Joni and I love going to the Gentle Zoo in Forney, Texas. It is a fun and kid friendly place where you can feed animals by hand. Our grandson’s favorite animals to feed were the goats. They were sweet and gentle as they took the food out of your hand. Not so nice was an overbearing Llama that forced his way into every feeding opportunity. We were warned that this critter would spit in your face if you made eye contact with him. That sounded too much like a couple of people I have encountered recently so we avoided him. What caught my eye was a sign posted around the grounds. That made the trip more special to know that many of the animals had been rescued from abusive or neglectful situations. It even allowed me to give a bit of grace to the spittin’ Llama (but I still kept a wary distance). I related to the second paragraph. “Many
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What Should Christians Tweet?

A song from my (much) younger days triggered the musing for this week. The song Easy to be Hard was written for the musical Hair but it became a big hit as a cover for Three Dog Night. The lyrics could have been written last week about the interactions on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. How can people be so heartless How can people be so cruel Easy to be hard Easy to be cold. I could sing those lyrics almost anytime I cruise through the comments section on Twitter. The dialogue is often mean, unforgiving, and disheartening. I get particularly distressed when people of faith descend to that level of discourse. People who have proudly labeled themselves in their bio as followers of Christ use language on social media that once would have made a sailor blush. Regular readers of my musings know I am not a purveyor of guilt in my writings. I am just asking a question.
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Things I Wish I’d Known in High School

1.    I wish I had known that my high school years did not define me for life My teen years were a mixed bag of memorable highs and incredible lows. Now I realize that I am grateful for what I once considered some of the worst moments of my life. In many of those spiritual valleys you could not have begun to convince me that God was molding me or that those experiences could ever be of value. I have developed a heart of compassion for those who are wounded. Why? God gave me the privilege of being wounded early in my life. That sounds crazy as I read back over that last sentence. But I can now see that my struggles as an overweight, geeky and often outcast adolescent molded my heart to empathize with those who are hurt and ostracized by their peers. Had I been the coolest guy or the best athlete I most likely would not have developed a
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Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven…Eventually

Country music just seems to be a gold mine for topics to muse about. A catchy song called Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven  caught my ear. Kenny Chesney sings that everybody wants to go to heaven but they are just not interested in going any time soon. I am aware that Chesney is not a theologian so I am not throwing him under his tour bus but there is some shaky theology in this song. For example, these lyrics reflect the beliefs of many people and churches in this nation. It used to be mine. Preacher told me last Sunday mornin` Son, you better start livin` right You need to quit the women and whiskey And carrying on all night My issues might not have been whiskey and carrying on all night but I had plenty of my own. And that was my church upbringing. Preachers telling me I had to do better, shape up, quit sinning and live right.
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