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Hope Springs Eternal on Opening Day

This week marks my thirty-seventh Opening Day as a television director for Texas Rangers broadcasts. I must have started when I was twelve. Someone asked me at church if I ever grow tired of Opening Day. The answer is a resounding no! When I do it will be time to move to a rocking chair at the old director’s home. I feel like I am just behind Lou Gehrig as the “luckiest man on the face of the earth” to have been able to do this year after year. In my mind there is no more special day in sports than Opening Day in baseball. It is an annual rite of Spring to post this article on the magic of Opening Day. The smell of freshly cut emerald green grass delights the senses. The base lines painstakingly and perfectly defined by a grounds crew that is committed to perfection on this day. Red, white, and blue bunting give the ball
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The Cost of Worry

“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” That old proverb came to mind as I read a study about the link between increased worry and stroke risk. After adjusting for other behaviors they discovered that those participants with the highest level of anxiety factors had a thirty-three percent higher risk of strokes than those in the lowest range of anxiety. The study was sobering on a personal level. My Dad was a chronic worrier. He died from complications of a stroke. Worry steals joy and peace from its victims. I saw it with my Dad. I see it all around me. As I get older I experience more and more how practical Scripture is for daily living. In the teaching of my youth the Bible was a book of lofty and seemingly impossible demands to behave in a way that would please God. Now I see that the Bible
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Friends Who Are Good For Your Soul

An article titled “Friends Who are Good for Your Brain” caught my attention this week. The BBC post postured that we can only process so many things so we develop shortcuts to help us cope. The downside is that approach limits creativity and growth. One of their solutions was one I wholeheartedly agree with and have written about in these musings. Spend time with people who look and think differently than you. “When people are exposed to a more diverse group of people, their brains are forced to process complex and unexpected information. The more people do this, the better they become at producing complex and unexpected information themselves. This trains us to look more readily look beyond the obvious – precisely the hallmark of creative thinking.” Philip Yancey points out that getting out of your comfort zone is really important for followers of Jesus. “As I study the Pharisees, and Jesus’ strong words against them in Luke 11 and
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What is a “Real” Christian?

  “If you were a real Christian you would (fill in the blank)” is one of my least favorite phrases. I have found that blank is always filled with an observation that you would believe exactly as your accuser if you were, in fact, a real Christian. The strategy is from the guilt is a way easier persuasion tactic than grace handbook. Recently I passed a billboard with this message. Real Christians Obey Jesus. Okay. I get the intent of the message. Too many folks leave their Sunday Lesson in the parking lot as they drive to lunch. Exactly what does it mean to be a “real Christian”? We subtly (or in my own experience, not so subtly) program Christians to believe that growth is about doing more right things. That righteousness somehow requires busyness for Jesus. We imply that change can only happen when you are trying hard and being disciplined for God. The truth is that a dramatic
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Don’t Blink!

Yesterday was a convergence of reality and random satellite radio surfing. As I contemplated that my first born is somehow forty years-old a song fired up from Kenny Chesney. In the lyric an interviewer asks a man celebrating his one hundred and second birthday about his secret to life. His response? Don’t blink The lyrics go on to describe just how quickly this earthly journey goes by. Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife Don’t blink You just might miss your babies growing like mine did Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half” Of fifty years is there in bed. Wow. I am right there. I’m still a ways from the century mark though my shoulder feels that old this morning. It seems like just yesterday that I was playing sandlot baseball as a kid. Moments
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Stopping the Slow Rot of Sin

I used to be quick to jump on Christians who failed morally. How could they claim to be a Christian and do something like that? A bit of insight came from a Texas storm a few years ago. Strong winds toppled a 50-foot-tall tree in a friend’s backyard. But strong winds are a part of every spring in Texas. Why did this particular storm fell a mature tree? The answer came as my friend cut up the fallen tree. It was completely rotted inside. There was no way to tell when you looked at the tree. The bark covered the decay and the leaves were still green and pretty. But inside the tree was dying. It finally reached a point where there was not enough strength left in its core to withstand another storm. The example from nature is a metaphor for how we can topple as Christians and completely surprise those around us. We wear masks. We look good.
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Spring Training for Followers of Jesus?

Baseball fans countdown the day until pitchers and catchers report like a kid impatiently marking off calendar days til Christmas. The teams arrive in Florida and Arizona as the nation grows weary of gray and gloom. Spring Training is the first hope of Spring. Today begins the annual six week period of teaching, training, and repetitious fundamental drills. It seems almost silly for uber talented and well paid athletes to be reviewing the same fundamentals they learned in youth baseball. Yet you watch the very best players focus on repeating proper fundamentals over and over. Superstars hit off a tee. Gold Glove fielders practice footwork repeatedly. Pitchers constantly repeat correct throwing motion. The message is clear. Talent is important but even the best can be derailed by forgotten or sloppy fundamentals. Perhaps we should co-opt that idea of fundamental training for followers of Jesus. Today I am starting a movement for “Preachers and Christians” to report for Spring Training. For a few
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