daveburchettDave Burchett

All articles by daveburchett

 

The Horror of War Paused by a Silent Night

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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Weekend Wildcard: Coming Attractions

Please take a moment to sign up to receive each new article as it is posted at Confessions of a Bad Christian. Next week I am posting an article about a World War I Christmas Miracle plus the first two parts of “A Gift List for Jesus on His Birthday”. Go to the front page by clicking here. Look to your right just below the smiling disembodied picture of yours truly and my well thought out mission statement. “Bringing sporadic joy and intermittent wisdom to tens of readers several times a week.” There you will find a “sign up for my blog” box. Type in your email address and hit send. You will receive a confirmation email to make sure you really want to go through with this. Hit the confirmation link and you will have the latest ramblings delivered to your email as they are rambled. Thanks for taking the time! Your encouragement is a blessing and inspiration.
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Thursday Thought

“If we are going to grow in grace, we must stay aware of being both sinners and loved children in Christ.” — Tim Keller Wisdom (@DailyKeller) February 12, 2014
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Hump Day Hope: This Little Light of Mine

For some reason this song came to mind today. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. The song was written by Moody Bible student Harry Dixon Loes as a children’s gospel tune. “This Little Light of Mine” also became a Civil Rights anthem in the 50’s and 60’s. Racial reconciliation is still an area that could use a lot of Gospel light. I didn’t realize that the full lyrics included a bit of light for each day. Monday gave me the gift of love, Tuesday peace came from above, Wednesday told me to have more faith, Thursday gave me a little more grace, Friday told me to watch and pray, Saturday told me just what to say, Sunday gave me the power divine, Just to let my little light shine. Wednesday is have more faith day. Regular readers know that I will love Thursday. Jesus told His followers that we are to be a light to those
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Monday Musing: Can Santa Clause Influence Your Christian Journey?

(Today I am re-posting one of my favorite Christmas articles. Consider it “regifting” and feel free to regift to others!) Recently 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 displayed. And that is a shame. Because this book has a message that needs to be heard. The original version of the book was entitled TrueFaced and the newest revision 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. I am borrowing one little bit of content that is very timely during this month. John Lynch is one of the authors of the book and in this section he addresses how we are programmed from childhood to default to performance theology. He calls it the “Santa Claus is Coming to Town theology”.
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Weekend Wildcard: What I Need for Christmas…

Recently I started with a list of things I really, really wanted for Christmas. Everything at the Bose store The coolest new tablet device A 4K television Then I listed everything I really, really needed. Uhhhhh…. Uhhhhh…. Uhhhhh…. Yep. I didn’t need a single thing for Christmas. I give bags of clothing I no longer wear to charities every year. We have more stuff in our house than we can figure out how to store. That cool new tablet would only be another distraction. I have a HD television that gives me a remarkable picture. I still want the stuff from the Bose store but Jesus never said this journey would be easy. So what do I want for Christmas this year? I want followers of Jesus (looking squarely in the mirror as I say this) to take seriously our call to take care of those who have less. Stop here if you want to continue living selfishly. If someone has enough money to
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Hump Day Hope: No Misfit Toys 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 will come back again with the 50th 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
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Monday Musing: A Truly Black Friday

I avoid Black Friday store shopping at all costs. There is not a deal good enough to get me to camp out and storm the doors to vanquish my shopping foes. I don’t even like the name Black Friday. It makes me think of a truly black Friday that we most often ponder at Easter. We have re-branded that day as Good Friday but there was nothing good about that day for the early followers of Jesus. Picture the overwhelming despair of those who had dropped everything to follow this amazing teacher and prophet. There could not have been a blacker Friday or sadder Saturday for those disciples of the long hoped for Redeemer. I cannot fathom their emotions. Crushed. Hopeless. Devastated. Leading up to that Black Friday I relate most to the blusterous and impulsive Apostle Peter. He talked a great game as I often do. He was absolutely sure about his steadfast devotion to Jesus. He knew he
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Weekend Wildcard: I am a Pacifist in the War on Christmas

I am officially a pacifist on the “war on Christmas”. I would, however, support a ceasefire if it banned all commercial displays until Thanksgiving. I say “Merry Christmas” whenever I want to and to whomever I desire. And while there is a small percentage that would like all vestiges of the Christmas story purged from any public display I am still free to express my views on Christmas. This war, in my opinion, is not worth it. The collateral damage to the Christian message of love, grace and joy suffers far more than we can imagine from this war we fight each December.  I know that many think I have been drinking way too much grace punch. Probably true. I have to admit that it is really good stuff. But I have come to believe that Christians function best when they are the underdogs. The fact is that in America Christmas has become much more of an economic than a
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Hump Day Hope: Keep Digging and You Will Find Something to be Grateful For

Even though the Christmas decorations have been out for a month in many stores I refuse to acknowledge their existence until Santa arrives at the Macy Thanksgiving Day parade. I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to holidays. I love this season. One of my favorite Christmas movie moments is White Christmas with Bing Crosby. There is a song that applies for all of us as we approach a Thanksgiving that may hold pain and trials mixed in with joy and blessings. When the character played by Rosemary Clooney frets and has trouble sleeping she is serenaded by Bing Crosby with this song. When I’m worried and I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep And I fall asleep counting my blessings When my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all And I fall asleep counting my blessings That is really excellent advice and pretty good theology. Even in adversity I have
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Monday Musings: Thanksgiving Thoughts

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, and three heart stealing grandchildren. 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, Saying “welcome, welcome, share this feast Come
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Weekend Wildcard: Blessings Are Not Always Obvious

A very dear friend is going through a deep trial. This faithful follower prays for wisdom, guidence, assurance and peace. The result so far is confusing. When they pray to hear the voice of God they hear spiritual crickets. Nothing. The frustration is real. I want to do something to help and all I can offer is prayer and presence. But when we study how God works in our lives 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
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Hump Day Hope: Welcome to Stupid Week!

One of my ministries as a “bad Christian” is to make you feel better about yourself as a Christian. Today my sacrificial gift is to make you feel better about yourself as a human being. I am going through a stretch of amazing stupidity. I am serious. I am talking Guinness Book of Records stupid. However, I have adopted the philosophy that if you will laugh about something a year from now you might as well start today. So here is my stupid week in review. In one calendar week I lost my drivers license. Twice. That is not a mistype. Recovered both times thanks to honest citizens. I went to retrieve a toy from the pool for canine friend Maggie. You guessed it. I slipped and fell head over heels into the water. I surfaced to the curious looks of my Labrador who had decided the pool was too cold for swimming. Oh yeah, I hurt my back in
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Monday Musing – Live Like You Are Loved

Regular readers of the humble ramblings (you both know who you are) know that I often confess how my brain was not wired to factory specs. There is no other explanation for the dizzying turns my mind makes. For example, this weekend I heard a song from my ’70’s disc jockey days. The song was Tin Man from America and the normal brain would have heard the song, registered a like it or don’t like it vote and moved on. Not my brain. I fixated on a piece of the lyric and spent time linking it to a spiritual epiphany in my life. You may recognize the lyric that started this Monday Musing. But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man That he didn’t, didn’t already have The lyricist double negatived his way to an important truth. The Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz went on a long journey to try and find a real heart. But
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Weekend Wildcard : Where Does Healing Begin?

I interact with a lot of wounded people. My books and a big hunk of my writing have been directed toward those who are beaten up by life, religion and too often by other people in the church. There is a better way. A song titled “Where The Healing Begins” by one of my favorite groups, Tenth Avenue North, describes that way. So you thought you had to keep this up All the work that you do So we think that you’re good And you can’t believe it’s not enough All the walls you built up Are just glass on the outside All of those years of working hard (and then harder) to be Godly and I found out to my great sadness that it wasn’t enough.  Not only was self-effort not enough it was counterproductive to my desire to experience God’s presence and love. The walls so carefully constructed were, in fact, see-through to those who really knew me well.
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Hump Day Hope : Come on. Say it! Say it!

The use of Hump Day to describe the midweek turning point has been around for awhile. It became a bigger part of the national lexicon thanks to a commercial and a camel.   I wish I was mature enough to say I was only mildly amused by the Geico commercial featuring the overbearing camel wandering through an office. I can’t. I stopped whatever I was doing every time it came on. The hope of this humble rambling each Wednesday is to provide a little hope to get you to the weekend. This is how hope is defined as a verb by dictionary.com. …to feel that something desired may happen. Example: I hope that the Cleveland Browns will play in a Super Bowl before I die. It is interesting that the next meaning of the verb hope is noted as archaic. …Archaic. to place trust; rely (usually followed by in) Call me archaic (my sons and workmates often do) but that
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Monday Musings : Reminder. It is just a game. It is just a game.

I have been known to be a bad sports fan in addition to being a bad Christian. I suspect those confessions could be related. I grew up a rabid Cleveland Brown’s fan and that is, unfortunately, a lifetime condition. You try and manage your Brown’s addiction while hoping to lead a somewhat productive life. I completely related to a story about a Brown’s fan who passed away last year. Scott Entsminger placed this request in the Columbus Dispatch obituary.  He respectfully requests six Cleveland Browns pall bearers so the Browns can let him down one last time. I became a Baylor Bears fan (thanks to my boys) much later in life. Incredibly, the Brazos Baptists have become a national football power. So I geared up for a big game last Saturday against forever power Oklahoma. During the game I agonized over missed opportunities. Fumed over momentum changing penalties. Expressed frustration when a defender missed a tackle. Baylor overcame a tough
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Weekend Wildcard – Who Are You Serving?

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

Last night may or may not have been good for you politically. I am hopeful that real change can happen in this country. Just know that I do not put my hope in parties or political action groups or rising political stars. Been there, done that, using the t-shirts to wipe up messes. My hope is in revival through grace inspired communities that serve and love and make a difference. In a recent article I touched on how a bunch of disadvantaged and essentially powerless believers truly changed the world with a new movement called Christianity. An article about the early church from Christian History Timeline had some answers. The earliest Christians did not have church buildings. They typically met in homes. (The first actual church building so far found is at Dura Europos on the Euphrates, dating about 231.) They did not have public ceremonies that would introduce them to the public, and they had no access to the mass media of their
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Monday Musings – Looks Can Be Deceiving

We had the privilege of hosting our dear friend Deb Johnson this weekend. Since she and hubby Brad moved to Nebraska those opportunities are too few. She told us that they dodged disaster when a massive tree limb crashed into their back yard and somehow managed to miss everything. Thankfully no one or no thing was damaged. Pictures showed the enormity of the fallen limb. An arborist estimated this magnificent Oak was a century old. Deb told us his observation about that towering tree. “No one could have known this tree was sick or weakened just by looking at it”. The arborist pointed out evidence of diseased wood on the fallen branch. Even though the tree itself still looked healthy and vibrant it was dying from the inside out. The bark and leaves looked fine but the core was dying. Soon another great branch would be weakened enough to crash down. Deb told me how that tree seemed to parallel
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Weekend Wildcard – Vanishing Grace?

Philip Yancey always challenges me with his writing. He is the writer I want to be when I grow up. I have recently started his newest book Vanishing Grace : Whatever Happened to the Good News?. As usual, Yancey does not disappoint. I learned about the book from an interview in Christianity Today. Philip Yancey has written over a dozen best selling books and one of those is What’s So Amazing about Grace? I found the first question of the interview fascinating. Why did you choose to revisit the subject of grace? I know why the interviewer made the inquiry. You want “new” material from an author. Why plow the same ground? But I think that question is a mirror to one of the big problems in the Christian community. We never get past our daily need to revisit grace and the Good News of the Gospel. Martin Luther said that “you should preach the Gospel to yourself daily.” Why?
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Hump Day Hope – Mercy Me!

This week has had some challenges. That hardly makes me unique. I remember my Grandmother saying “Mercy me!” when she encountered something difficult. I had a variation of that response today. I cued up some MercyMe. I would guess that many of you who have stumbled onto my blog are familiar with the uber successful Christian band MercyMe. Their signature song, I Can Only Imagine, is a compelling ballad about Heaven and what it might be like when we see Jesus someday. But I am praying that their legacy will have really started with the release of “Welcome to the New”. This new album is the most amazing, encouraging, moving and upbeat packaging of grace and identity in Christ that I have ever discovered. My favorite track on the album is Flawless. Here is a sample of the lyrics. Could it possibly be That we simply can’t believe That this unconditional Kind of love would be enough To take a
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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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