daveburchettDave Burchett

All articles by daveburchett

 

Monday Musings – Forbidden Topics

Nothing like starting out the week by discussing two of the three forbidden topics: politics and religion. In just a few days far too few of us will cast a vote to elect representatives and pass or discard new laws and initiatives. The ramp up to election day is predictable. Nasty television spots with ominous music and apocalyptic announcers dominate the TV lineup. Tasteless mailers full of half-truths and hysterical predictions of doom arrive in our mailbox. What should a Christian make of all of this? I used to be a rabid political guy. I once believed that with the right political leaders we could change the culture. I was wrong. Getting certain political leaders in place might help with some issues that matter to me. But even if I get my “dream team” elected we will still have a problem in our culture. Sin. Politics and law don’t change that inconvenient truth (apologies to Al Gore) that we have
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Weekend Wildcard…Big Announcement!

I guess you run a risk when you title something a big announcement. I hope you are not disappointed when you hear the news. Those who have followed my humble ramblings over the years know that I love dogs, grace, my family, baseball and Jesus. Probably not the best ordering of those but you get my point. The big announcement is a new book that combines all of those loves. The title might explain why I slipped “dogs” in first on my list above. Next February Tyndale House Publishing will release Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. When my best canine friend Hannah was diagnosed with cancer I decided to start writing about the lessons I had learned and was learning from her. When I shared those journals with friends they insisted I put them into a book. To be honest, I resisted. When we rescued a second Labrador I continued to write about lessons
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Hump Day Hope – Religion vs Relationship

The Hump Day Hope comes from two of my favorite grace rabble-rousers. My friend Ed Underwood wrote an excellent piece about our innate mistrust of grace. The title alone was enough to generate deep thought. Before You Decide that Grace is Too Radical: Who Thought of Grace? Religion is about control and performance. Jesus changed the dynamic completely and made it about relationship. Ed’s writes that the idea of grace does not come from the heart or mind of man. If you leave human beings to themselves and ask them, “If there’s a God, what do you think He’d demand from people if they wanted to have a relationship with Him?” the answer is always the same, “Be good enough for Him to accept you!” Grace says you can’t be good enough to earn it. Grace says you can’t be too bad to receive it. Grace gives up the need to control. Grace gives up the requirement to perform for
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Monday Musing: Second Chances

Joni and I took a field trip this weekend with our grandson 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).
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The Plan

For those of you who inexplicably look forward to my ramblings I have established a schedule so you know when to expect something new. I will post a short devotional called Monday Musings to start the week. At midweek I will offer a little booster called Hump Day Hope. And on Friday a Weekend Wildcard that may be serious, silly or a combo plate of both. I will post at other times as well but you can plan on having something on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Looking forward to interacting with all of you! Blessings and grace, Dave
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Perspective

  I recently visited a large rehabilitation hospital for patients dealing with spinal cord injuries, strokes and traumatic brain trauma. As I walked  toward my car I noticed two young men in wheelchairs chatting near the entrance. I overheard a snippet of conversation that rocked my day. The tone was not bitter nor sad. This is the sentence I overheard. “I would give it all up just to be able to scuba dive one more time.” What this young man once did without thought or difficulty now was a nearly impossible dream. My heart was pierced. Just that morning I had fussed about a balky hip and yet I was walking freely to my car. I often thought about an aching shoulder but I had freedom to lift and move. All of us take so much for granted. Since that encounter I think of that young man when my hip or shoulder aches. I say a quick prayer of thanksgiving
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More Confessions Ahead…

I know that a few of you have been patiently wondering if Confessions of a Bad Christian would be returning anytime soon. If you have been staring out your PC Window looking for new posts I apologize.  I took a brief leave from the blog which became a pretty long leave of absence. Now I am refreshed and ready to dispense my marginal “wisdom” for my tens of readers. I am sure as new folks stumble to this site I will get this question again. “Why do you call your blog ‘Confessions of a Bad Christian’? Do you really think you are a bad Christian?” And my answer is always something like this. Yeah.  I really am. Sometimes “badder” than on other days. The blog heading of “Confessions of a Bad Christian” started out as a bit of a joke. It was based on the title of my first book, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. But I will tell you that I have
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Remembering Jackie Robinson

(This is an annual revisit of one of the great stories in sports. Something to take your mind off of tax day) April 15th is not my favorite day of the year. Traditional tax day is never fun for a guy who is organizationally challenged. My idea of being prepared is having everything in one box. But I was heartened to find that April 15th is a great day for baseball fans. Jackie Robinson made his major league debut at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on this date in 1947. It was a historic and significant day for baseball but maybe more so for our country. You can argue that the American civil rights movement was ignited when Robinson came to bat in Dodger Blue. The journey for Robinson was difficult at best and nearly impossible at worst. Many Dodgers players, mostly Southerners led by Dixie Walker, threatened to walk if forced to play with a black player. That
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Need You Now

(Reposted from theFish.com) A song by Plumb caught my attention for this week’s edition of the iPod Devotionals. Singer Tiffany Arbuckle adopted the name Plumb of her 90’s alternative rock band for her solo career.  The lyrics to “Need You Now” touched my heart. Well, everybody’s got a story to tell And everybody’s got a wound to be healed I want to believe there’s beauty here ‘Cause oh I get so tired of holding on I can’t let go, I can’t move on I want to believe there’s meaning here I am learning how important community is to make this journey with Jesus work. In my community I hear people’s stories. I learn about their wounds. I believe there is beauty there but I grieve with them through the process. The chorus reflects my response to life battles that are way beyond my pay grade. How many times have you heard me cry out “God please take this”? How many
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Grace and Les Mis

(Reposted from theFish.com) One of the joys of Christmas break is when the lovely Mrs. Burchett and I get to see some movies at an actual theater. One movie has dominated my thoughts since we left the theater several days ago. I did not know what to expect when I bought tickets for the movie version of Les Miserables. I heard some good things so I was optimistic. But I did not expect to be moved so profoundly. In case you do not know the story and plan to see the movie I will not be a spoiler. I will just say this is one of the most powerful stories of grace versus law ever written. The movie came to mind again when a song cycled up from Tenth Avenue North called, appropriately, Grace. The lyrics describe the surprising power of grace to change our hearts. Grace, only grace Can roll your dead heart’s stone away Grace, only grace Can
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The Cattle Were What???????

One of my contributions with this modest little blog is to continually ask the tough questions. While listening to  “Away in a Manger” at church on Sunday 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 questions 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 last question but I can help with the others. Lowing is defined at dictionary.com as “the characteristic sound uttered by cattle; a moo”. So little baby Jesus was awakened by the characteristic sound uttered by a cow. That
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Blessings?

(Reposted from theFish.com) A very dear person in my life is facing a tough decision. This faithful follower prays for wisdom, guidence, assurance and peace. The result so far is confusion and doubt. When they pray to hear the voice of God they hear spiritual crickets. Nothing. The frustration is real. But should we be surprised with the process? A song by Laura Story resonated with my soul on a recent walk. The song is called “Blessings” and the words are profound. We pray for blessings We pray for peace Comfort for family, protection while we sleep We pray for healing, for prosperity There is nothing inherently wrong with praying for those things. But my attempt to maneuver God to grant my wishes is wrong. Laying out my will and praying for God’s notary seal is not what He desires. Blessings are not just receiving good things from God and that truth is beautifully captured by Story’s lyrics. ‘Cause what
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The Power of Thanksgiving

(Reposted from theFish.com) I love watching the giant balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade floating through New York as wide-eyed children watch. I love the traditional football games. The official start of the Christmas season. The post feast nap. I love Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter captures the intimacy of this wonderful holiday. Grateful for each hand we hold Gathered round this table. From far and near we travel home, Blessed that we are able. I have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for another year with my best friend and bride Joni. I am grateful for three wonderful sons, two amazing daughter-in-laws, one heart stealing grandchild and more on the way. I am blessed that our family will be able to be together this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for good friends. I am grateful for the abundant blessings of this country. Grateful for this sheltered place With light in every window,
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Questions

(Reposted from theFish.com) Those who know me well would say that “speechless” is not a descriptor often directed at me. I have ideas about a lot of things and occasionally some insight. But the past two weeks have brought events that have left me stunned, numb and speechless. I have been friends with Dr. Steve Wilkes for many years. We served together as “Ranger Steve” and “Ranger Dave” in church youth ministry with our sons. His son Paul was a constant fixture around our house for many years. His wife Debbie was a loving mom who nurtured Paul and his little sister Amy to become amazing adults. Our lives followed the trajectory of many friendships. Different schools, different churches and different seasons of life allowed us to drift apart. But my respect for this family never changed. I heard the first bit of sad news two weeks ago that Steve said goodbye to his beloved wife Debbie after a long
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How We Can Help Be The Hands And Feet Of God

(Reposted from theFish.com) I have watched the news recently with sadness. I cannot imagine the suffering and stress that many of our fellow citizens are enduring today. Sometimes we wonder if our prayers are even heard let alone answered. And then a song by country/Christian band Diamond Rio played on the iPod shuffle today. The title? God Is There. Carrying the weight of the world God is there Where you think he won’t come to where he’ll be waiting for you God is there I believe that with all of my heart. But we have a role in His plan. God uses you and me to be His arms and legs on this planet as well. I keep thinking about the slogan that the Salvation Army has on their website. “We combat natural disasters with Acts of God” I love that thought. We as the body of Christ commit “acts of God” by loving, helping and healing those who suffer
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You Don’t Have To Yell

(Reposted from theFish.com) There are just a few days left until we exercise our sacred privilege to vote. The conversation between the two parties over the next few days may be less than gracious. You have to be a trained professional to have that kind of grasp of the obvious. I had to laugh when a forgotten song by Chris Rice cycled up on the iPod today titled “You Don’t Have to Yell”. I tuned in to hear the news I don`t want your point of view if that`s the best that you can do, then something`s missing and experts on whatever side you plug your ears, you scream your lines you claim to have an open mind, but nobody`s listenin` don`t you think we`re smarter than this? How should a follower of Christ engage in the political discourse? Dr. Gregory Boyd has said some controversial things but, in my humble opinion, this is not one of them. “Christians are
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A Simple Faith?

(Reposted from theFish.com) There is a common phrase that sportscasters use when a rookie is struggling on the football field. They say the game needs to “slow down” for that young athlete. That means the action is too fast and furious for them to react correctly. When the game “slows down” that player will be much more effective. That simply means that with experience and growth the athlete will learn what matters, what to react to, how not to get faked out, and how to respond properly in each situation. The game really doesn’t “slow down” but the player’s response to the speed of the action is much more mature. I think that is what is happening for me after all of these years. My once frenetic efforts to be a “good Christian” are slowing down. I think I am learning more about what matters, what to react to, how not to get faked out by Satan, and how to
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The Lure of Revenge

(Reposted from theFish.com) Over and over and over I hear stories of pain inflicted by well meaning or too often not well meaning churchgoers. And I get really angry. REALLY ANGRY. All caps angry is rare for me. My first response is usually sinful. But I am not unique. A couple of guys who were really close to Jesus had the same sinful response to bad behavior. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” (Luke 9, NLT) My response? You betcha! The response of Jesus? But Jesus turned and rebuked them. So they went on to another village. As much as my heart cries out for vindication and revenge Jesus says no. You go
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A Way To See In The Dark

Sometimes this faith journey goes pretty smoothly and it is easy to express your trust and dependence on God. At other times it feels lonely, frightening and sad. I have been navigating the latter reality of late. I give grace and it is not returned. Every street feels like it is one-way. Dear friends are deeply wounded by people who claim to be following Jesus. I agonize over how these believers can wound so deeply and still say they know Christ? Marriage vows are abandoned at the altar of self. Illness ravages families and friends. I question my ability to have any impact for Christ as I stumble clumsily through my own journey. It is at these crossroads that we realize how much we are really trusting God. A song by Jason Gray resonated with me. Most of Jason’s songs do resonate with me and I am beginning to suspect he has a spy camera on my faith walk. The
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The Mystery of Grace

(Re-posted from theFish.com) 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. A study by the Barna Group among unchurched adults shows that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) said they avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people. My heart aches when I hear stories of people who have been wounded and even abused by the churchgoers, leaders and pastors. I used to get angry and self-righteous. “How can they call themselves a Christian?” That is a question that I am often asked. But now I am more inclined to ask the
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Lean On Me

(Reposted from theFish.com) Recently I have just wanted to be selfish for a while and let others fend for themselves. I am tired. 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 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 messy community with messy people is worth it. One of my dearest friends is Dr. Gil Herren. He used to tell me stories about working the emergency room at
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Like My Dog?

I have confessed in the past that my Southern Ohio and Kentucky roots helped me develop an appreciation for country music. Now and again I venture over to the country channels to sample some of the latest offerings. Recently I heard a song that made me laugh and made me think. The title of the tune is “Like My Dog” and singer Billy Currington is lamenting that he wishes his significant other would “love” him like his dog. He never tells me that he’s sick of this house He never says, “Why don’t you get off that couch?” He don’t cost me nothin’ when he wants to go out I want you to love me like my dog I want you to love me like my dog does, baby When I come home, want you to just go crazy Not sure that philosophy will resonate with the stunning Mrs.Burchett. Regular readers of my ramblings know how much I love my
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Where Is Your Hope?

(Re-posted from theFish.com) My least favorite time period occurs every four years during September and October. Those are the months leading up to another Presidential election. My distaste is slightly mitigated by the start of college and pro football but I still detest those weeks. Why? Because those weeks are when normally nice and civil human beings become angry, hateful, bile spewing, frothing defenders of their politics. Ridiculous motives are assigned to people for committing the apparently unpardonable sin of looking through different political lenses. Hateful (and almost always courageously anonymous) posts are left accusing their opponents of everything from hate to stupidity to treason. The tone of our political discourse is depressing. On television the techniques most often used are more volume and interruption instead of thoughtfulness and exchange of ideas. This is particularly tricky for followers of Jesus. Of course our faith directs our decision making (or it should). But does that allow us to demonize those who
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My Wish

(Re-posted from theFish.com) School is about to start again and I always think about the kids who don’t get to sit at the “cool” table. A song popped up on the iPod that made me think about my prayer for these precious young souls. “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts offers a lot of lyrical wisdom and a wonderful sentiment. My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to, Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small, You never need to carry more than you can hold… As a parent you wish your child could avoid heartbreak and pain but the truth is nobody gets out of this journey unscathed. So you try to prepare them to deal with the inevitable bumps of life. I hope you never look back, but ya never forget, All the ones who love you, in the place you left, I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
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What Song Comforts You During Trials?

Re-posted from theFish.com My friend Ed Underwood asked this question via social media. “When you are going through hard times what song comforts you?” I have been thinking about that recently as we are going through  some valleys in our lives. A song by Steven Curtis Chapman is one of my favorites at times like this. It is possible to write powerful lyrics without actually experiencing deep sadness and loss. But it is more impactful when you know the writer has experienced devastating trials and still remained faithful. In May of 2008 Chapman’s five year old daughter Maria was run over and killed on the family property. Her teen-aged brother did not see her playing in the driveway before she was struck. It was a tragedy of unspeakable sadness. I remember that my first thought was how could God allow this to happen to a couple who have done so much for the body of Christ? The answer is found
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How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You

(Reposted from theFish.com) I have made some really bad decisions in my life. But fortunately I made a couple of really good decisions that put the bad ones in proper perspective. In 1968 I decided to follow Jesus. I believed that He was the way to be forgiven and justified from my sin. I was fifteen years old and unfortunately my early teaching was short on grace. But that legalistic church got the Jesus/salvation part right. That decision kept me from going down some very dangerous paths during the tumultuous cultural changes of the late ‘60’s. I cannot imagine how my life would have played out apart from that declaration of faith in Christ. In 1975 I made another great decision. I decided to ask Joni Banks to be my wife. Great decision 2 would not have happened without great decision 1. We met at staff training for the organization formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. July 17th marks
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He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

(Reposted from theFish.com) A classic song from the Hollies has taken on a much deeper meaning in my journey. In 1969 the recording of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” became a worldwide hit for the British group. The road is long With many a winding turn That leads us to who knows where Who knows when The road is long and many of the turns lead to sadness, disappointment and grief. This song could be the theme song for what real community should look like in the church. I understand why so many Christians are reluctant to jump into unvarnished and honest relationship with other believers. Immersing yourself in the lives of others is messy, sad and difficult. And in a great paradox of our faith, it is the most fulfilling thing you can do. I have taken the risk of trusting a group of men with everything that is true about me. They have done the same with
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The Hurt and the Healer

(Reposted from theFish.com) When I began to write these weekly lyrical devotional musings I was aware of the power of music to stir the soul. But when I became intentional about finding the sacred in all music I was stunned by how often I am impacted by a phrase or thought from a song. Writer Aldous Huxley wrote these words. “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” I am going through a season of trying to process and express the inexpressible. Being in community with others means you share in their joys and their sorrows. Sometimes the sorrows come in tsunami waves and all you can do is care, pray and be present. A faithful Christian servant faces a deadly illness. A selfish man betrays his marriage vows and deeply wounds his trusting family. Good and decent people deal with financial, emotional and physical suffering. A song called “The Hurt and the Healer” by MercyMe
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Every Dad Leaves a Legacy…Part 3

Every dad leaves a legacy. I have learned a few things through trial and many errors about being a dad who is trying to leave a positive legacy. Previous installments detailed two ways to leave a good legacy. Love Your Wife Affirm Your Kids Today we will examine two more ways to establish a positive legacy. And we are adding a very dangerous twist today. I polled my three sons about my strengths and (gasp) shortcomings as their father. Those knee-buckling results were both sobering and encouraging. First, the third way to leave a positive legacy as a dad. 3.  Enjoy every mile of the journey The best description I have heard about being a parent is this bit of wisdom:  “Parenting…the days are long and the years are short.” In his book, Being a Good Dad When You Didn’t Have One, Tim Wesemann gives his readers a two-word piece of advice: “Lighten up!”  He says that adults laugh an average of 15 times a day while
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Every Dad Leaves a Legacy…Part 2

This week I am doing a brief series on leaving a legacy as an earthly father. Every dad leaves a legacy. The only question is what kind. The first step to leaving a positive legacy is to love your wife. For some readers that already has not worked out. That does not mean that you cannot leave a good legacy. There are many ways to redeem the father/child relationship. The second part of leaving a legacy that endures is to be an encouragement to your kids. Paul wrote this simple instruction to the church at Colossae. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. The Message translates this verse  like this…. Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits. I cannot remember hearing a lot of teaching on that verse over the years. It is really easy in this success mad culture to discourage your children. Nearly every dad wants his child to be successful.
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Every Dad Leaves a Legacy….Good or Bad

Occasionally people will observe our three wonderful sons and ask something like this. “What did you do to parent such great kids?” My response is simple. “I married Joni. The rest is a blur.” There is a little too much truth in that answer. She was and is remarkable. But we did partner in this grand adventure called parenting. Along the way I learned some things mostly by error and stumbling trial. Over the next two days I will share what I have figured out with the disclaimer that I do not claim to be an expert. It is with humility and grateful appreciation to God that He has given me the gift of this family. One thing I have learned in my journey is that every dad leaves a legacy. The only question is whether that legacy will be good, bad, or indifferent. Being a father is tough because we generally learn how to parent while on the job. Ken
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Redeemed

(From theFish.com) A song by Big Daddy Weave nailed my heart during the morning walk. 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
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Same Song, Second Verse

(iPod Devotional from theFish.com) This is a first. Same song, second week. The tune is from Casting Crowns. The song “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” continues to rock my world. Last week I wrote about how we followers of Jesus do damage with snap judgments and lack of compassion for others. This week I have been thinking about these lyrics. Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and love like You did I decided to write down some things I am for and some things I do not believe but often get accused of by others. Some things I do not believe. I do not believe you have to be of a particular political persuasion to be a Christian. Like it or not, heaven will be bipartisan and I am totally fine that there will not be sides of the golden aisles. I
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Jesus, Friend of Sinners

(From theFish.com) A tune and a tweet dominated the morning walk and worship time. The tune is from Casting Crowns. I am amazed at the power of music and lyric to move my heart and soul. One or two lyrical thoughts can have more impact than a beautifully written article or book. The song “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” has a number of those powerful lyrics. Jesus Friend of sinners we have strayed so far away We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing Ouch. How much damage has been done in the name of Christ by well-meaning or by just mean churchgoers? The toll is heartbreaking. Truly that sword was never ours to wield. The next few lines are just as powerful. Jesus friend of sinners the truth’s become so hard to see The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me Nothing breaks my heart more than the
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He Loves Me Anyway

(From theFish.com) I am going through a spiritual dry spell. A brutal travel schedule, some difficult challenges and sad news from folks I care about has beaten me up a bit. But today I realized that I am making real progress after only four 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 really believe that God still loves me. Just as I am. Maybe to you that is scant progress. As a recovering legalist I still struggle with concept that God does not withdraw His presence from me 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
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The Day Pee Wee Reese Stood Very Tall

(This is an annual revisit of one of the great stories in sports. Something to take your mind off of tax day) April 15th is not my favorite day of the year. Traditional tax day is never fun for a guy who is organizationally challenged. My idea of being prepared is having everything in one box. But I was heartened to find that April 15th is a great day for baseball fans. Jackie Robinson made his major league debut at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on that date in 1947. It was a historic and significant day for baseball but maybe more so for our country. You can argue that the American civil rights movement was ignited when Robinson came to bat in Dodger Blue. The journey for Robinson was difficult at best and nearly impossible at worst. Many Dodgers players, mostly Southerners led by Dixie Walker, threatened to walk if forced to play with a black player. That
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Easter Song

(From the iPod Devotional at theFish.com) I think of Keith Green every Easter week because he recorded one of my favorite songs about the power of the resurrection. I have written before about the amazing life of Keith. He was one of the pioneers of contemporary Christian music. His influence was so powerful that artists like Michael W Smith, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Rebecca St. James, Matt Redmond and many other recorded tribute cover versions of his songs after his tragic death in a 1982 private plane crash. What I loved most about Keith Green was his passion for Christ. Like many who came to faith during the Jesus movement Green was sold out to the Gospel. His zeal for ministry led to a charge that Christian celebrities are rarely accused of committing. Not profiting from his music. Green voided his successful contract with Sparrow Records so that he could give his albums to those who could not afford
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The Magic of Opening Day

Today is opening day for the American League Champion Texas Rangers. Even though the World Series didn’t end exactly like I hoped it still feels really good to be a part of such a nice run. In my mind there is no more special day in sports than opening day in baseball. The smell of freshly cut emerald green grass delights the senses. The base lines are painstakingly and perfectly defined by a grounds crew that is committed to perfection on this day. Red, white, and blue bunting give the ball park a festive world series look. The players today act like little boys. This is the one day that these privileged athletes seem to forget they are millionaires and appear extra grateful that they are paid to play a kid’s game. Children skip school and parents do not care because memories are being made for both of them. The hot dogs taste like gourmet food. Tacky souvenirs are treasures
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Jesus Is Just Alright

(The latest iPod Devotional from theFish.com) A song from a career long, long ago and far, far away cued up on the iPod today. Right out of high school I worked as a disc jockey at a small radio station in Southern Ohio. I remember being so excited to play a song from The Doobie Brothers called “Jesus Is Just Alright”. The song was also recorded by The Byrds. Hearing The Doobie Brothers sing about Jesus was pretty amazing in my still young faith journey. I was sure they had to be believers to release a song like this. I know. I was incredibly naive. Apparently none of the group was particularly religious but the song became an anthem for the incredible Jesus Movement that swept the land. My buddy Ed Underwood has written a great book about the power of that movement called Reborn To Be Wild. I remember one critical Christian (hard to imagine that) hearing the song
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From the Inside Out

Watching the news on television is depressing. Election years seem to pour fuel on the culture war fires. I much prefer to spend my leisure moments reading, listening to music and walking with canine friend Hannah. Today a song on my iPod from Seventh Day Slumber caused me to ask some questions about the way the church engages our culture. The song is From the Inside Out. My heart and my soul I give You control Consume me from the inside out Lord Let justice and praise Become my embrace To love You from the inside out Change happens from the inside out. I wrote about the culture war in my book “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People”. Here is an excerpt from that discussion. If I were to ask the average Christian what victory in the culture war would look like today, I would probably get answers along these lines: Abortion would be outlawed. Homosexuality would be less
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Groundhog Day Faith

(As a part of my new “green” blog initiative I am recycling these Groundhog day musings) They woke up Punxsutawney Phil Tuesday morning long enough for the prognosticating rodent to let us know whether six more weeks of winter must be endured. According to Phil you should plan on bundling up for next month and a half. Phil looks about as happy as I do when when I am disturbed in the morning. Seventeen years ago a funny and underappreciated  movie came on the scene. Groundhog Day told the story of a self-absorbed news reporter (redundancy alert?) that finds himself stuck in an endless repeat of the same day. Bill Murray is perfect in the role of reporter Phil Connors. Since I live in the odd world of broadcast television I can relate to the cynical personality of Murray’s character. Reporter Phil is less than thrilled that he has been assigned to cover Punxsutawney Phil’s annual peek outside to predict winter’s duration. He
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Why Me Lord?

(The latest edition of the iPod Devotional series from theFish.com) Why me Lord? I suspect that most of us have cried out to God with that question. And I would also guess that ninety-nine percent of the time we are asking God why some trial or affliction has come our way that we feel is undeserved. The same question has been asked throughout history. “Why me Lord? Why me?” A song by Kris Kristofferson cycled up on the iPod today and reminded me of a better perspective. I have loved Kristofferson’s song “Why Me?” since I was a young believer and, if you do the math, you realize that I am not so young a believer anymore. The truth is I am still trying to apply the wisdom of these lyrics. Why me Lord, what have I ever done To deserve even one Of the pleasures I’ve known Tell me Lord, what did I ever done That was worth loving
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Dancing in the Minefields

(The latest iPod Devotional from theFish.com. With a shout out to my Pastor Jeff Denton) I never know which direction this weekly adventure known as the iPod Devotional will take me. The usual procedure is to grab dog friend Hannah, set the trusty iPod to shuffle and head out for a morning walk. I just walk until a song hits my heart or sense of humor. Today was both. The song that popped up is meaningful but recent context made me smile. My pastor at Waterbrook Bible Fellowship in Wylie, Texas decided to preach a four week series from 1st Corinthians, chapter seven. For reasons unknown Pastor Jeff Denton chose this on purpose. The text deals with sex in marriage, the sin of sex outside the marriage and the always fun topic of divorce. So when Andrew Peterson’s song “Dancing in the Minefields” cued up on the iPod today I thought of Pastor Jeff and chuckled. He has truly been
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I Am New

(The latest edition of the iPod Devotional at theFish.com) I love the cynical mind of Scott Adams expressed through his Dilbert cartoon strip. A recent New Year’s Eve panel expressed the skepticism that Dilbert had for attaching meaning to the annual calendar rollover. “I don’t celebrate the magical thinking that says one random point in the space-time continuum is somehow special.” – Dilbert We do place a remarkable emphasis on the New Year as a specific point in time where we can resolve to do something better or something less or something not at all. I have resolved over the years to work out more, read all the way through the Bible, lose weight, be more organized (HAH!) and assorted other failed bits. But there is power in the hope of change and new beginnings. A song by Jason Gray reminded me of the power of starting anew. Jason is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers/singers for Christian lyrics.
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The Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town Theology is a Lump of Coal

Today I poured over the new titles at the local Christian bookstore. The usual suspects dominated most of the shelf space. One of the most important books in my Christian journey was not prominently displayed. And that is a shame. Because this book has a message that needs to be heard. The organization is called TrueFaced and the newest revision of their book is called The Cure. I don’t think I have ever had a book (excluding the inspired one) impact me as much as this one. Here is how strongly I feel about this book and ministry. I have written two books. So selling a few books would be awesome for the fading retirement account. But if you only have the budget to buy one book in the near future I would tell you to buy The Cure. (That gives you a hint as to why I rarely am asked to do marketing seminars) I am borrowing one little bit
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Tell Me Again What The Cattle Were Doing

Today is a revisit of a “Christmas Classic” from earlier. How does a blog become a classic?  It is your blog, your site, you pay the server charge and you can call it whatever you want. So enjoy a classic from Christmas past… One of my contributions with this modest little blog is to continually ask the tough questions. While listening to  “Away in a Manger” at a recent Christmas program 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
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More Gift Ideas for Jesus on His Birthday

This series was well received last year. Some would call this a repeat but I prefer to think of it as environmentally friendly blog recycling with no carbon offsets required. Merry Christmas!  Dave As a public service I am providing a shopping guide for things you can give to Jesus on His upcoming birthday. For the internet hall monitors who love to send anonymous and snarky comments I understand that the celebrated date of Christ’s birth is likely off a bit. But since this is when we celebrate we will go with the date assigned. Let’s be honest…giving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords a unique gift is really tough. The last post examined the gifts brought to the young Christ child over 2,000 years by the wise men, I had hoped that examining what the Magi brought might jump start our gift giving ideas.  By the way, there is a plaque that is available in catalogs this year with the title “What
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Gift Ideas for Jesus on His Birthday

This series was well received last year. You may view this as a repeat. I prefer to think of it as re-gifting. Blessings and Merry Christmas! Dave We are fast approaching the hardest day of the year for most men. Many of us men give gifts to our significant others with fear and trembling. Humor writer Dave Barry relates the confusion most men deal with when giving a gift to their wife. He could tell by her reaction to the gift that she had not been dreaming of getting an auto emergency kit, even though it was the deluxe model with booster cables and an air compressor. Clearly, this violated an important rule, but the man had idea what the rule was, and his wife was too upset to tell him. Barry continues his thoughtful treatise… So why is the Christmas season so difficult for men? There are many complex reasons, by which I mean: women. The problem goes back to the very first Christmas.
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The Silent Night Miracle Remembered

One of my favorite Christmas stories happened during the horrors of war. The Christmas carol “Silent Night” was responsible for a wartime Christmas miracle. The year was 1914 and soldiers were having to spend Christmas Eve night on the battlefields of France during World War I, the Great War, as it was called. After only four months of fighting, more than a million men had already perished in the bloody conflict. The bodies of dead soldiers were scattered between the trenches. Enemy troops were dug-in so close that they could easily exchange shouts. On December 24, 1914, in the middle of a freezing battlefield in France, a miracle happened. The British troops watched in amazement as candle-lit Christmas trees began to appear above the German trenches. The glowing trees soon appeared along the length of the German front.  Henry Williamson, a young soldier with the London Regiment wrote in his diary: “From the German parapet, a rich baritone voice had begun to sing a song I remembered my German nurse singing to me…. The
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Occupy “All Streets” With Christmas Giving!

I have watched the “Occupy Wall Street” and similar occupy movements with some bemusement. I believe I was able to sort through the garbled messages to find the primary point. I think the main point is that the system to make and grow income should be fair and equitable to all. I concur. But the part that really puzzled me was the self-righteous anger toward the demonized one percent. We are the ninety-nine percent was the recurrent chant. But I kept thinking that there is a really awkward truth being ignored by many if not most of the protestors. We have a very different expectation as Americans for what we are “owed”. An article I found at Yahoo News was sobering. In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. We are, however, among the richest nations on Earth. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world? $34,000. That was
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