daveburchettDave Burchett

All articles by daveburchett

 

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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The Secret to Life?

As I contemplate a major milestone birthday an appropriate song cycled up from Kenny Chesney. In the lyrics an interviewer asks a one hundred old man his secret to life. His response? Don’t blink! The lyrics describe 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. He goes on to describe how quickly the years fly by. It seems like yesterday I was playing sandlot baseball. Moments ago I was in high school being Attention Deficit before ADD was cool. Wasn’t it yesterday I met the stunning Joni Banks. Couldn’t have been that long ago that I donned the hideous baby blue tux to wed my beloved. How did those adorable little boys get that old? Don’t blink. I have had, if I may borrow the franchise of Frank Capra, a wonderful life.
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What was Peter Experiencing the Day before Easter?

There is much written about Good Friday. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross is incomprehensible to my puny human intellect. There is much written about Easter Sunday. Christians around the world rejoice and proclaim that “He is risen!”. But there is not nearly as much written about one of the saddest and most confusing days in history. The Saturday between the Friday horror of Jesus on the Cross and the Sunday mystery of the resurrection. Some churches do observe Holy Saturday but it was never a tradition in my faith upbringing. I have been thinking about what that day must have been like for those who dropped everything to follow Jesus. How crushing those events had to be. I imagine the fear they felt that they would also be killed. And for what? On Saturday they feared they had given their careers and their very souls for a false hope. I think in particular of Peter. I identify
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Opening Day is Magic

This week marks my thirty-sixth Opening Day as a television director for Texas Rangers broadcasts. Someone asked me at church if I ever get 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 park a festive World Series look. The players
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Redemption Miracles Can Happen

Watching the wonderful story of Bart Millard in “I Can Only Imagine” caused me to remember a miracle I experienced with my own Mother. I loved my Mom but our relationship was challenging. She was raised in a family where love was not openly expressed. She could be very negative and her comments had wounded me over the years. I felt like I was never enough. I knew that she loved me fiercely but I will admit that I grieved for a more gracious expression of her love. My Mom could be really difficult. As her health declined I prayed that her relationship with God would be clear to her and to her family. In the last summer of her life I journeyed to Ohio to visit. A group of Christian friends in Texas told me they would pray that I could discuss salvation with my Mom. I thanked them for their concern but in my heart I felt they
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Wondering if Grace is Worth the Cost?

Sometimes I just want to step away from people. I get tired. Living in honest community can be frustrating and discouraging. And then the song “Lean On Me” cycles up on the music list. 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 and many close to us in recent months. Sometimes in our lives We all have pain We all have sorrow 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 moments when I wondered if living in community with messy people is worth it. I have come to understand why legalism is so much easier than grace. Legalism allows me to assess the situation and then apply a verse, assign a task and move away
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“I Can Only Imagine” Movie Delivers

Full disclosure. Bart Millard is a friend. So this review could have been an awkward (not Happy) dance if the movie based on MercyMe’s iconic song had fallen flat. But it does not. I Can Only Imagine delivers a powerful and compelling story of redemption, forgiveness and the power of God’s grace. This is a Christian movie you can recommend to friends who have been wounded by life. It is unabashedly Christian but it works because it is not preaching. It is Bart Millard’s story. The elements of faith are not contrived or cringe-worthy because they are simply his story. There is no more powerful canvas to illustrate faith than watching normal people do extraordinary things through the power of faith. Dennis Quaid does a masterful job portraying Bart’s abusive dad Arthur. Quaid captures the fearful rage but also the tortured pain in Arthur’s own soul that needs a healing touch. J.Michael Finley plays Bart Millard perfectly although not quite
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The Real and Dangerous Crisis of Race in the Evangelical Church

This article is one of the hardest ones I have ever composed and it is not because I don’t believe deeply in the importance of this discussion.  It is because I know a lot of readers will react defensively and negatively. Regular readers know that I am not a political guy. I generally don’t write or talk about politics. My hope is in Christ and not in Washington and I mainly talk about Jesus, Grace, and community. Nonetheless, I must address politics when I see it is dividing the body of Christ. The New York Times wrote an eye opening and heartbreaking article “A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshipers are Leaving White Evangelical Churches”.  According to the article the tipping point was the 2016 election and the lack of support from white leaders and pastors addressing the concerns of people of color. Many, if not most, white Evangelicals have a gigantic blind spot when it comes to race in America.
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Do It Anyway

This quote grabbed my attention recently. “What a wonderful life I’ve had – I only wish I had realized it sooner.”  Collette That is true for most of us. But for some reason we tend to dwell on the disappointments, failures and hurts instead of the blessings most of us have in abundance. I love this passage written to the church at Colossae. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always
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Do We Make Faith too Complicated?

One of my peers recently noted that “getting old is not for sissies”. Indeed. Even if you escape personal difficulties you undoubtedly have family and friends who are going through physical, emotional and spiritual trials. One of the songs that I default to when I am walking through valleys with others is from singer/composer Rich Mullins. The song is from his CD called Songs and it is simply titled “Hold Me Jesus”. Well, sometimes my life Just don’t make sense at all When the mountains look so big And my faith just seems so small Right now I am in a pretty good place in my life and journey with Jesus. But then I started thinking about the many friends and loved ones who could relate completely to those lyrics in their current situation. And I can certainly remember seasons of my life when those words accurately reflected the condition of my soul. And I wake up in the night and feel the dark It’s
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The Lessons of Tragedy

Another week of tragic losses has sobered all of us. The school shooting in Broward County, Florida is heartbreaking. More police officers killed in the line of duty. Deadly accidents. Sadly, I could go on and on. In church this week we looked at Psalm 90. In that text Moses wrote words that directly apply to the sad news we encounter everyday. Teach us to realize the brevity of life,     so that we may grow in wisdom.  (Psalms 90:12, NLT) What would that look like if we lived that truth?That is one of the primary reasons I wrote Waking Up Slowly.  Here is an excerpt from the book… Just this week I sent a consoling message to a friend. Her apparently healthy and robust father died without a moment of warning. Not to be maudlin, but that is the reality of this earthly existence. We don’t know if we have tomorrow or even the rest of today. Certainly we must
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Are We Worried about the Wrong Things?


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The Father is Anxious to Walk With You Through Trials

One of my favorite sports memories involves a runner who was the last to cross the finish line. Derek Redmond was an elite athlete who had a chance to bring home a medal in the 1992 Olympics as Great Britain’s 400-meter representative. After an injury-plagued career, Redmond seemed ready to leave a lasting legacy at the Barcelona Games. He had recorded the fastest time in the first heat and won his quarter-final race. Redmond started well in the semifinal, but about 150 meters into the race his hamstring snapped, and he collapsed in agony. Medical personnel rushed to his aid, but Redmond waved them off. He struggled to his feet and began to hobble around the track. He was going to finish the race. Cheers rang out for the actual winner of the race, but then the crowd of sixty-five thousand in the stadium began to comprehend the drama unfolding of a solitary figure limping in agony toward the finish. The spectators rose
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Does Your Faith Feel Like Groundhog Day?

Every year they rudely awaken Punxsutawney Phil long enough for the prognosticating rodent to let us know whether six more weeks of winter awaits. Phil always looks about as happy as I do when when I am disturbed in the morning. Twenty-five 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. 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 feels he is “above” such an inane assignment. Connor’s looks into the camera and cynically reports: “This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.” The premise of the movie is that Phil Connors realizes he is doomed to live
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The Power of a Father’s Touch

It is hard to believe it has been seven years since I posted this article. Our first foray into the amazing world of grand parenting came with the birth of Ethan Paul Burchett in Waco, Texas. Since Ethan was a bit early the doctors were cautious about some fluid building up in his lungs. To be sure that all was well they scheduled an x-ray on his second day. New dad Matt went along with Ethan for the procedure. Unswaddling made the little guy unhappy and scared. As he grew more anxious his dad did what every loving father does for their child. He touched him to let Ethan know he was there.. Our friend Jana happened to be at the nursery and captured the candid moment. I keep thinking about that moment. How Matt instinctively knew that Ethan needed that touch and how Ethan wrapped his little fingers around dad’s big finger. Instinctively, Ethan calmed down when he felt the touch of his
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Wounded Souls Often Drift Away

An old favorite, Drift Away by Dobie Gray, cycled up on the iPod today. Day after day I’m more confused So I look for the light in the pouring rain You know that’s a game that I hate to lose I’m feelin’ the strain, ain’t it a shame Those lyrics cause me to reflect on the millions of emotionally lonely and hurting people in a country of ridiculous wealth. I have a heart for wounded people and especially those wounded by the church. I regularly receive notes from people who have left the church because of ugly experiences with people who claim the title of Christian. I can’t dispute those folks’ claim to a relationship with Jesus. But they surely are not acting like Jesus taught His followers to act. Only when we love others sacrificially can our message be received. Paul described how that looks. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly
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Politics and Jesus

Nothing like starting out the week by discussing two of the three forbidden topics: politics and Jesus. I used to be a rabid political guy. I once believed we could change the culture with the right political leaders. I was right to have the dream but wrong about the method. Even if I could get my “dream team” elected we would still have a problem in our culture. Sin. Politics and law don’t change that inconvenient truth (apologies to Al Gore) that we have an inherent human heart problem. Jesus gave us a perfect example of what it looks like to be a good citizen while recognizing what really changes the heart of man. The religious legalists (the Pharisees) were trying to trick Jesus to get Him in trouble with the Roman government. Nice try. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell
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How Does God See Me?

Philip Yancey wrote this insightful paragraph in his book “What’s So Amazing about Grace?”. “Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?” Indeed. One of my biggest struggles has been trusting that what God says is true about me is actually true. That is not a very flattering admission on my part. I have read this verse from Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth dozens of times: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Because of Christ I have a new identity. I am righteous because of Him and not because of trying
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Don’t Store Your 2018 Hope in the Attic

Last week I finished one of my least favorite tasks of the year. Taking down the Christmas decorations always makes me melancholy. I love Christmas and the message of hope it brings. That God entered human form and gave us hope in a Savior who understands our struggle. We packed up a treasured Nativity creche that has been a part of our family tradition for decades. That miracle in Bethlehem is where I place my joy as I head into a very unstable New Year. I find my joy in the Messiah, the Lord – who was born in the city of David. It is so easy to remember the reason for hope during Christmas. But now that we are past this wonderful season it is very easy to pack my hope away and unpack lots of worry. The twenty-four news cycle feeds on negativity. Hearing the message of gloom and doom over and over has it’s effect on even the most steadfast
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There are NO Misfits on the Island of Grace!

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. I love the music, the memories, the traditions and the chance to annually think about Burl Ives. His memory returns with the annual airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Ives is the voice of Sam the Snowman who narrates the “enhanced” story of Rudolph. Rudolph and his elf buddy Hermey don’t fit in with the others. Rudolph looks different than the others. Hermey is not interested in making toys. In an odd plot twist, Hermey wants to be a dentist. Not surprisingly, his elf supervisor is upset with the unproductive Hermey. So the two outcasts set off to find their fame and fortune.                                                       The part of the story that resonates with me these days is when Hermey and Rudolph find their way to the Island of Misfit Toys. All of the toys on this island are castoffs because they are flawed or deemed as worthless. There is a “Charlie in the
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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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The Cattle Are What????

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 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 would not have flowed well
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That’s What Christmas is All About

One of the songs that popped up on a Christmas station came from the original soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas. Jazz musician Vince Guaraldi’s score is simple and brilliant. Listening to the vocal version of “Christmas Time Is Here” brought back some wonderful Christmas memories. Christmas time is here Happiness and cheer Fun for all that children call Their favorite time of the year A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my annual delights. (Watch it online at ABC.com) In many ways Christmas has become an economic and not a religious holiday. One of the most powerful reminders of the message of Christmas came from the genius of the late Charles Schultz. One simple and elegant scene captures it all. Charlie Brown has failed miserably in his attempt to find the true meaning of Christmas. But then Linus recites the following passage from the King James version of the Bible. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding
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The Bad Theology of Santa Clause Comin’ to Town

The conversation from the backseat was illuminating. I quizzed the grand-kids about what they asked Santa to bring this year. After telling me their wish they followed up with this statement. “Unless we have been bad. Then maybe we won’t get it until next year.” I smiled and assured them that they were not bad. Parents have dangled that Santa “nice list” carrot to get good behavior for generations. Santa Clause is comin’ to town and you had better watch out because he is making a list. So no pouting, No crying. Better be on your best behavior or else. And that performance trap learned as a child waiting for Santa can also profoundly and dangerously impact Christians.  I am borrowing some content from my dear friend 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
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Not Always So Jolly Saint Nicholas

My nomination for the most obvious lyric ever written is awarded to the Beach Boys.  In their tune “Little Saint Nick” the boys gave us this incredibly helpful piece of information. Christmas comes this time each year! (To be faithful to the text I will show it in context) It’s the little Saint Nick Ooooo, little Saint Nick It’s the little Saint Nick Ooooo, little Saint Nick Ahhhhhh Oooooooo Merry Christmas Saint Nick Christmas comes this time each year!!!! So if the Christmas holiday has been sneaking up on you perhaps you haven’t noticed that Christmas comes at this time every single year! Thanks to the Beach Boys for that amazing insight. The Beach Boys song imagined Santa’s sleigh as a holiday hot rod but the homage to Saint Nick is intriguing. A little research on Saint Nicholas revealed that he could be both naughty and nice. First, a little background on his “saint” side. The fourth-century bishop of Myra (present-day Turkey) was the
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Concerned? Yes. Afraid? No.

Watching the news is depressing and even frightening. My first tendency is to react with fear about the future. But I can’t get around a couple of things that Jesus said about worry. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today”(Matthew 6:34, NLT) That is a true statement! But Jesus was not saying that my concerns are not valid or even important. He was saying that worrying about the future misses the point of what really matters. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” The key word is need. I long for wants but our Father promises only that my needs will be met. And over and over God tells us another thing. Do not be afraid. Over 80 times you find the phrase “do not be afraid” in the Bible. Perhaps the most relevant example is when
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Give a PERSONALIZED copy of Stay or Waking Up Slowly for Christmas!

Looking for a truly unique gift idea? How about giving a personalized edition of Stay:Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace or Waking Up Slowly to a friend or family member. Just go to your local Barnes and Noble, Christian book store or order one or both online. Send me your mailing address and how you want the book/books signed. I will mail you an autograph plate(s) that you can affix inside the book. Simple and very personal! Send your requests to dave@daveburchett.com or private message me on Facebook with your mailing info and requests. Merry Christmas!   Dave Burchett    
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No More Spiritual “Stats”

I live in the performance driven world of sports. We too often measure value not by character but by statistics like how many tackles for loss or how many yards gained per carry. Character is a nice bonus but performance is generally king. Recently I heard a comment from Northwestern University football coach Pat Fitzgerald about the impact of negative stats on a football player’s performance. Coaches often talk about the need to reduce “missed” tackles and they keep track of each miscue. Coach Fitzgerald has a different philosophy. His staff does not keep track of missed tackles at all. The staff evaluates each play by their effort even if it does not produce perfect results. His next comment stuck with me. “I don’t like to put negative results in their minds because you become what you think about.” It immediately hit me how profound that comment is for followers of Jesus. We tend to keep spiritual stats on failure.
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One Amazing Thing All of Us Can be Thankful For

A lot of folks on social media are writing about what they are thankful for this November. I have so much to be grateful for this year. Joni is now an eleven year cancer survivor. New grandbabies have joined the tribe. Good health to enjoy those little blessings. Wonderful family and friends. A job I enjoy. The truth is that most of the things on the list are out of my control. I can’t dictate Joni’s or my own health. I know that grandchildren are a gift some don’t get to enjoy. Job situations change without notice. Some may struggle with a family member or the betrayal of a friend. Thanksgiving may be a little less obvious for some reading these words this year. But there is one gift that is available to everyone. You don’t have to worry that it may change or go away. That gift is grace. The gift of being in a relationship with God and
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Committing Acts of God Make All the Difference

Our Sunday plans took a hard left turn yesterday morning. Instead of going to church Joni and I headed to the emergency room to check out a little medical scare. Thankfully all is well. But part of the process brought back some difficult memories from my bride’s cancer journey many years ago. As we went through the check-in process Joni began to tear up. The nurse filling in the paperwork stopped dead in her tracks and stood up. “Do you need a hug?” Then she leaned across the counter and gave my wife a hug. It was a remarkable example of remembering that all of us are in the people business. It was a moment that changed the narrative for both of us. In retrospect it was a pretty simple gesture. It cost this nurse about 30 seconds in her form filling task but it made a huge impact. Acts of kindness are something all of us can do and
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Can We Ever Get Together?

The song “Get Together” was written in 1963 by a songwriter who went by the stage name of Dino Valente. “Get Together” was recorded by The Kingston Trio and also by We Five (of “You Were on My Mind” fame) in the mid-60’s. The Youngbloods recorded the song in 1967 and it became a minor hit. The song had a major breakthrough after the National Council of Christians and Jews used the song for radio commercials to promote unity. In 1969 the song became a top five hit and one of the quintessential peace songs of the era. I remember listening to the static on my AM transistor radio while singing along with The Youngbloods in 1969. I was in my junior year in high school and I was sure that my generation could make a difference. We would fix the mess that my parents and grandparents had made. Now my kids dream of repairing the mess my generation has
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An Interview with Paul of Taursus

Church signs sometimes make me smile. Sometimes they make me cringe. Recently a church sign made me think about a remarkable gift. Here is that church sign message. Don’t Fear The Full Ten Commandments They Are The Character of God Uhhhhh…Actually I do fear both the full and even the partial Ten Commandments. And the reason I fear them is because the Ten Commandments actually do reveal the character of God. They also reveal that I can never measure up to God’s character. What can we do about this conundrum? I decided to invite a man who is an expert on Biblical law to the Monday Musing. It is my honor to welcome our special guest Paul of Taursus. Paul of Taursus: May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Dave of Garland: Thanks. I know you wrote a bit about the crushing requirements of the law that God gave the Jews. Yet you
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The Only Thing Grace Doesn’t Cover

I talk about Grace so much that the auto-suggest on my phone pops up the word as soon as I hit “G”. I suspect that sometimes you faithful readers wish I would mix up my topics. The truth is I cannot. Understanding grace rocked my spiritual world and changed my walk with God in dramatic and wonderful ways. I regularly extol the virtues of grace for a follower of Jesus. Grace compels you to trust others with you. Grace compels you to trust Jesus with your sin because you can’t manage it yourself. Grace compels you to forgive because you have been forgiven. Grace compels you to accept others and not judge them. Grace compels you to move toward the unlovable and not away. Grace compels you to sacrifice when you desire security. Grace compels you to love when your heart is hateful. Grace compels you to trust God when you are afraid and weak. The amazing thing about God’s
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Is Joyful Christian Living an Impossible Dream?

Every forty-six years or so I like to be involved with a stage production of Man of La Mancha. Recently Joni and I enjoyed a top notch production of the musical by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. The musical is probably most remembered for the song “Impossible Dream” but it is also a powerful story of believing that you do not have to be trapped in your current or past identity. I wrote a bit about that long ago experience in my book Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. Many years ago, for reasons I still don’t understand, I was cast as the lead in our Senior high school production of Man of La Mancha. I had never acted and was not a trained singer. And yet that stellar résumé somehow landed me the role as Don Quixote. Go figure. The play is based on Miguel de Cervantes’s seventeenth-century novel Don Quixote. The drama unfolds as
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The Secret of Contentment

Regular readers of these humble ramblings (all tens of you) know what an over the top dog lover I am. I shared this illustration in my  book Stay. A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.” Very quietly, the doctor said, “I don’t know.” “You don’t know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?” The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side of which came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness. Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master
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Wonderful, Messy Grace

Sometimes I just want to step away from people. I get tired. Living in honest community can be frustrating and discouraging. 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 and many close 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 community with messy people is worth it. I am drawn to the dysfunctional. My heart goes out to the wounded lambs. But I will confess that
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When Life is Tough, Grace is Enough

I have been writing a lot about where our hope truly lies and that we need to be a positive light in a negative world. Last week Joni and I were meeting with our wonderful church small group from Waterbrook Bible Fellowship. The study was from John and we each read a verse from the passage. Here is my verse and I am not making this up. “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. (John 6:43) I laughed and told the group this might become my new life verse for this very negative cultural season. The verse follows a section where Jesus talks about how He is the bread of life and has come from Heaven. This was just too much for the locals who knew Him as the kid raised by Mary and Joseph down at the carpenter shop. But the message is timeless. I need to stop grumbling and start living out of who God says I am as
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Remembering Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins was (and still is) one of my favorite Christian songwriters. It seems impossible that it was 20 years ago today that he was killed in a car accident. His music impacted me greatly and this song was one of my favorites. “We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are” opens with this stanza. Well, it took the hand of God Almighty To part the waters of the sea But it only took one little lie To separate you and me Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are. If only we could acknowledge that we are not as strong as we think we are and then live accordingly I believe we would see an amazing difference. We need God and community to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. Yet pride tells me that I am able to handle the situation. Fear tells me that telling the truth in love will only make it worse.
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Satan Loves Prevent Defense

If you read more than a snippet of my writings you know that I am a grace guy. But there is a question that confounds me. “If grace based theology as the way to live out the Christian life is true then why is it not more popular in the church?” That is a great question. I have been swept away by grace. Everything in my life has been changed by taking away my performance based faith and believing in Christ’s performance for me. During a recent football telecast I thought about a parallel between one of my least favorite football strategies and this grace conundrum. Perhaps it was an insight from the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it was simply because my brain is not wired to factory specs. But this idea popped in my mind. A lot of football teams play a defense that is called the prevent defense. That style of defense is designed to allow the opponent short yardage gains as
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Dealing with Doubt Honestly

I am amazed by people who are so brazenly sure they are right about what they believe. I have friends who are completely sure there is no God and there is no logical need for such beliefs. They believe science is the ultimate answer for everything and they view my faith as a naive weakness. I have always felt that absolute certainty is the trump card of a fool. So I will be honest. I have wrestled with doubt in my faith journey. I am not convinced that I know everything. Here is a bit of what I wrote about that journey in Waking Up Slowly. The story line of the movie Risen was intriguing to me. Historically, there was a Nazarene who was crucified, and two groups had a tremendous interest in making sure that his death was the end of the story. The Romans wanted no movement to grow so large that it would cause political unrest. The
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Where am I? Who am I? Identity Alert!!!!

I had some social media fun with the picture above helpfully proclaiming “YOU ARE HERE”. As if I could be anywhere else while I was, well, there. But as you probably already suspect that picture produced some musing that begat today’s blog. For years I wandered spiritually wondering where I was on my journey. Was I going to Heaven? Was I a good, bad, or indifferent Christian? Was I loved? Was I significant? The question of where I was as a follower of Christ and who I was as a person consumed and confused me. The always present Enemy answered the questions above on a regular basis. Probably not going to Heaven. Definitely a bad Christian. Not really loved or bad things wouldn’t happen to you. Totally insignificant. The following is a little excerpt on this topic from my latest book Waking Up Slowly. For too many years I believed the accusations, without considering the question that Philip Yancey asks.
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What If?

Regular consumers of my humble ramblings (Bless your hearts!) know that I often find spiritual application from song lyrics both secular and sacred. Blame it on faulty brain wiring at the factory. This week I heard a snippet from Carly Simon’s haunting ballad “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” that triggered today’s musing. The song talks about the ideal of marriage. Her partner wants to marry and is convinced their union will be different. The lyrical response hit my heart. You say we can keep our love alive Babe – all I know is what I see – She had seen too many marriages start with fairy tale dreams and end in sorrow. That sad topic is another blog. What hit me on this day was how that principle of believing only what you see is true for us as followers of Jesus. We tell people we have good news. We tell people we have an eternal
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A Gentle Assignment for my White Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Listen!

My heart has been deeply saddened by the racial tension that has surfaced recently with frightening intensity. Like many white Americans I rationalize that I am not a part of the problem. I have always condemned those organizations that teach hate toward my brothers and sisters of color so I felt like I was a spectator in this battle. Three friends have been helping me to see another side. My eyes began to be opened by my friend Kevin Butcher. Kevin is white pastor of a mulitcultural flock in a predominantly black Detroit neighborhood at Hope Community Church. He told me that Black Christians want their White brothers and sisters to listen to their hearts and not offer excuses or rationales. They simply want to be heard. So I decided to do just that by seeking to hear the hearts of two Black brothers in Christ. I know Duke Barnett well. He is an amazingly talented educator, administrator and leader.
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Glen Campbell Had it Right!

Even in my rock and roll days I liked Glen Campbell. There was something about his smile and warmth that made him seem real. Glen seemed like the kind of person you could approach and he would be kind. You never know with celebrities so I was delighted to hear from sound technicians who worked with him that he was exactly that. Kind and approachable. His final gift before his death was a moving and deeply personal look at how Alzheimer’s affects a family in the documentary “I’ll Be Me”.  So that background makes this week’s musing even more impactful. One of my favorite Glen Campbell songs, “Try a Little Kindness”, is a message that we desperately need to hear and heed in our current societal climate. You got to try a little kindness Yes show a little kindness Just shine your light for everyone to see And if you try a little kindness Then you’ll overlook the blindness Of
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The Minefields of Marriage

Real and honest relationships are messy. Marriage is at the top of that difficulty list. If you take the chance to be known and get hurt it is easy to build a wall. If you take another chance and get the same result the temptation is to build an impenetrable fortress around your heart. And that is tragic. I see that happening with too many people around me. Sara Groves is a powerful lyricist with a great voice. That’s a very appealing combo plate. Her song entitled “It’s Me” is amazing. She captures the insecurities, old stories about our past and selfishness that leads to relationship meltdowns. And those moments seem to come out of nowhere. weather came and caught us off our guard we were just laughing and feelin’ alright had such a great time just last night we walked into a minefield undetected you took a tone and I took offense anger replacing all common sense oh run for you
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Can Money Buy Love?

A new channel on satellite radio features songs by the Beatles. Today a song took me back to 1964 when I was an overweight nerd struggling to find my place in the world. What a difference fifty-three years makes. Now I am not overweight. “Can’t Buy Me Love” reached the top of the charts for the group. When asked about the deeper meaning of the song Paul McCartney gave this reply. “The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well, but they won’t buy me what I really want.” Sing along with me aching Boomers… I’ll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel alright I’ll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel alright ‘Cause I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love I’ll give you all I got to give if you say you love me too I may not have a lot to give but what
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Ready for a Better Way?

Even occasional readers of my humble ramblings know that the start of my faith narrative was mired in legalism. My first church believed you could not spell denomination without “no”. Starting from that faulty foundation led me to years of sadness, tiredness and performance bondage. I replayed my long and fragmented journey to grace and freedom as I listened to a song from Hillside United titled, “From the Inside Out”. One thousand times I’ve failed Still your mercy remains Should I stumble again I’m caught in your grace Everlasting your light will shine when all else fades I remembered day after day of agonizing self-loathing because I kept failing. I did not understand His mercy nor did I believe I could fall on His grace. I was taught that such an attitude showed a lack of obedience and a dependence on “cheap grace”. Somehow I missed the message of Jesus to the religious hypocrites as I was influenced by the
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Maggie’s Favorite Chapter

Here is a free preview of Chapter 21 in Waking Up Slowly. You can get an idea of how you can use these short chapters as daily devotionals to connect more fully to God, yourself, and one another. Maggie and I hope you enjoy! SOUNDS OF SILENCE Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God. Ralph Waldo Emerson I love to watch Maggie when she is overseeing her backyard domain. Sometimes she goes to the fence and lets out a couple of deep-throated barks to let some perceived threat know that she is on duty. Or she patrols every inch of the yard, sniffing as if it is her first and not her one-thousandth time to do this. Sometimes she stops to growl at a feral cat behind the fence. But the routine I love most is when she lies in the yard with head high, surveying her kingdom in silence. She is completely dialed in,
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Remembering When I “Knew It All”…

OK, I admit it. I like country music. I also like rock, Motown, jazz, pop, folk, gospel, and classical music. I once tried to distance myself from country in an ill-fated attempt to be sophisticated. To quote an old family idiom, that effort was like putting earrings on a hog. I am a small town boy and my roots are in the hills of Kentucky. So I no longer deny that I have a few banjos and some fine squirrel recipes in my genetic pool. In addition to my chromosomal predisposition toward Nashville, I am developing a deep appreciation for the honesty of country music. It is one of the few safe places to discuss God, country, and old-fashioned values without fear of politically correct busybodies getting their undergarments twisted. We all laugh at a few outrageously titled country tunes, but there are many songs that reflect exactly who I am: a proud father, a husband who married way up,
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Freedom is a Gift to be Cherished

I love the Fourth of July. My beloved and I had our first unofficial “date” on an Independence Day celebration in Fort Collins, Colorado many, many years ago. A song from Five for Fighting  called “Freedom Never Cries” is timely for this holiday. Writer/singer John Ondrasik writes personal and powerful songs that resonate with me. “Freedom Never Cries” is a song about how we take freedom for granted. Ondrasik talked about the song in an interview posted at liveDaily. “It was definitely a statement song that has a point of view. I think it kind of speaks to the fact that, I know at least for myself, we tend to only appreciate things when we need them. Growing up here in the bubble of the United States, we are statistically lucky to be born into this country where freedom, to us, seems natural. We couldn’t imagine anything else. I think sometimes we don’t recognize that. Freedom never cries. Freedom doesn’t sit in the corner
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