daveburchettDave Burchett

All articles by daveburchett

 

The Cattle Were 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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Looking for a Unique Gift 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. The deadline is December 17th so hurry! Merry Christmas! Dave Burchett
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All I Want for Christmas is…

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 are reading this are lonely. Right seems to lose way too often and love ends for many. So what could
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Following Jesus in an Angry World

I have been thinking and praying a lot about following Jesus in the current climate. How can I represent the grace and love of Jesus in a culture that is angry and divided? I read pundits and commentators saying terrible things about the motives of Evangelicals as if all people of faith act in lockstep. To be fair, some of their accusations are valid. I wrote a book called “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People Happen to Good People” so I would suggest I have no problem owning the shortcomings of Christians. In some circles you bring up Evangelical Christians at the risk of getting your hair parted. Too often the church has made what we stand against the message of our faith instead of the wonderful and liberating Good News of the Gospel. The word Evangelical literally means “Good News”. Is that the connotation the word has in our culture today? Do we share in the degeneration of
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The Most Important Thing in the Church

This week the Most Valuable Players in Major League Baseball were announced and it reminded me of a former baseball MVP. I have written a lot about how people in the church do considerable damage with actions and words that do not reflect Jesus. I have been frustrated by Christians who receive grace willingly and deny it to others. I see division in the body of Christ where we should see unity. It occurred to me that the church does not understand a few key principles that winning baseball teams understand. The first thing that winning teams understand is that every teammate brings strengths and weaknesses to the team. A great team celebrates the strengths of each player and works together to offset the weaknesses. I pondered this as I was reading about the career of Joe Gordon. In 1942 Gordon led the American League in strikeouts. He made more errors that year than any other second baseman. He hit into more double plays
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The Beauty of Refining Trials

My lovely wife loves pottery, so one of my “sacrificial” ways to love Joni is to accompany her to pottery shops. Guys refer to that as “hitting behind the runner” or “taking the charge.” Once we visited a shop where the artisans were making vases and pots right before our eyes, surrounded by shelves of the colorful, beautiful, and functional finished products. While Joni looked around, I watched a potter take a nondescript lump of clay and skillfully make a unique creation. This verse from Isaiah came to mind. O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.  (Isaiah 64:8) I was fascinated by the complexity of the process. The potter must make sure that no dirt or impurities are in the clay. These unwanted materials will make the pot weak and unusable for its intended purpose. God desires to do the same with us. Impurities (sin) weaken us and
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We All Serve Something

Bob Dylan wrote some powerful songs about his faith journey in the late 70’s. One song he composed popped up on the music feed recently. “Gotta Serve Somebody” simply says that no matter how independent, self-sufficient or in control we might try to be we still serve something or somebody. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody That lyric struck a spiritual chord because it reminded me of some seriously head and heart messing stuff I have been reading from Tim Keller. Keller wrote a thought provoking definition of idolatry and how we can substitute even good things for God. “Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily
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Don’t Know Much About…

I used to get nervous around Biblical scholars. They would start talking about the text in the original languages and I realized the only Greek I understood was yogurt. To be honest, some of the theologians I encountered did not seem like anyone I would want to be around on purpose. It seemed like some theologians were to joy in Christ what nutritionists were to enjoying cheesecake. They both took something full of delight and made you feel mostly bad about it. Yet something has changed in my life. I saw the need for a solid theological basis for what I believe. All of this came to mind when Sam Cooke’s classic Wonderful World popped up in my iTunes. You know the one where Sam builds a strong case for academic slacking actually being a strength. Don’t know much about history Don’t know much biology Don’t know much about a science book Don’t know much about the french I took But
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As I was finishing my first book the editor at Waterbrook Publishing asked me to submit some potential titles. I sent ten suggestions but, in keeping with my character, three of them were jokes. Imagine my surprise when one of my “smart aleck” ideas was chosen as the official title. That is how the book became “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People”. I had no idea how much that book would resonate with people who had been wounded by the church. I started the book with a rather unusual disclaimer. I must begin with some words of disclosure. I am a hypocrite. I can be arrogant and selfish. I have been known to stretch, conceal, or slightly massage the truth. I am sometimes inconsiderate and insecure. I struggle with lust and impure thoughts. My ego often rages out of control, and I battle foolish pride. I can be lazy and foolhardy with my time. I get angry, petty, and
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My Response to Circumstances is a Choice

This was an interesting week. The lovely Mrs. Burchett acquired a brand new knee on Monday (so I was nursing and not musing last week). She is doing great and will be chasing grand kids in short order. The day before surgery a brief but violent storm took down multiple power poles in our neighborhood leaving us without power. We hoped it would be quickly resolved but the reports said we would likely be without power until Friday. Now I had a conundrum dealing with a convalescing wife in a home without power. Do I curse the darkness (literally) or do I address the problem with determination and good cheer? That is a choice. I would venture that any energy wasted on complaining and assigning blame is wasted energy. I put out a call to friends and family for a generator. We found one and had the generator up and running by Monday night. We were able to power the
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We Forget our Blessings Way too Easily

When I need “comfort” music I often go country. Tracy Lawrence has a simple yet thought provoking song called “As Easy As Our Blessings.” Here is the opening stanza: Lately I’ve been having more nights that I can’t sleep Storms of life keep blowing in sometimes it gets so heavy It drives me to my knees and it’s coming down again Then a voice inside reminds me of the roof over my head And my wife and kids are tucked away warmly in their beds I have written often about Satan’s strategy to rob us of our joy. When we spend our time regretting the past or living in fear of the future we cannot live in peace in the moment. Paul addressed the syndrome in his letter to the church at Philippi. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4 NIV Perhaps the most insidious tactic of
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A Secret to Happiness

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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Finally Confident In Where I Am

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. Likely not going to Heaven. Definitely a bad Christian. Not really loved by God 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
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I was blown away the first time I heard Lauren Daigle’s song “You Say”. The lyrics perfectly describe the battle that most of us fight to believe that what God says about us is true. Here is a sample of her powerful lyrics. I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low? Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know… I wrote about this topic in my book Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. I am drawn to wounded and dysfunctional people like a moth to light. When I hear their stories, I see a familiar pattern. They tend to believe that all the old junk in their lives is still true about them in God’s eyes. Too many followers of Jesus cannot
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Back 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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My Hope

Sometimes we wonder if God is still there. Sometimes we wonder if He really cares about what is happening in our lives. Sometimes we wonder if it will ever get any better. Those are questions that every honest follow of Jesus has wrestled with. My friend Bart Millard of MercyMe was pondering those questions when he wrote one of the most powerful songs from their amazing new record Lifer. I found it interesting that in the same time frame I was writing a chapter about doubt in my book Waking Up Slowly. Bart can write in a stanza what it takes me hundreds of rambling words to say. But both of us experience the same struggle. We share the hope of grace. We write and sing about how our identity is not worldly success but who we are in Christ and who God says we are because of that relationship. You should be extremely grateful that Bart Millard is the
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Did Satan Invent 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 preseason 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
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The Myth of Control

You see t-shirts and signs that proclaim that I am the master of my destiny. Slogans like these sounded really empowering. “If it is to be, it is up to me” “If you can dream it you can achieve it” I agree that having a good attitude and determination is important. But sometimes my life experience is more accurately described by the great boxer and philosopher Mike Tyson. “Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth” Yep. Well said Mike. No matter how much I may plan my life I will face the inevitable “punches” in the mouth that life delivers. No amount of efforts to control my life will prevent illness. I do not have control over every relationship in my life. I cannot keep those I care about from making bad decisions. I cannot control unforeseeable circumstances that impact those I love. Recently I have had a couple of Mike Tyson moments. James warns about
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Six Things I Wish I Had Known in High School

I wrote this for my niece a few years ago. Perhaps there is a student you can share it with. 1.    I wish I had known that my high school years did not define me for life My teen years were a mixed bag of memorable highs and incredible lows. Now I realize that I am grateful for what I once considered some of the worst moments of my life. In many of those spiritual valleys you could not have begun to convince me that God was molding me or that those experiences could ever be of value. I have developed a heart of compassion for those who are wounded. Why? God gave me the privilege of being wounded early in my life. That sounds crazy as I read back over that last sentence. But I can now see that my struggles as an overweight, geeky and often outcast adolescent molded my heart to empathize with those who are hurt and ostracized by
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Bald is Beautiful

This is an article I wrote twelve years ago when Joni was going through chemotherapy for Her2 Positive breast cancer. She is a proud survivor and I am re-posting this for my wonderful niece Deb and others who are going through this trial. Last night I had the weird privilege of helping clip off the rest of my bride’s hair that was falling out from the chemotherapy. As I reflected on that moment later I realized that nearly everything I knew about beauty when I was 25 years old was wrong. Like most men I looked for appearance first and then tried to find some good qualities. Joni was a stunningly beautiful woman when I fell in love with her over thirty years ago.  I have often said that I married my trophy wife first and got it over with. I also joke that I married her to deepen my gene pool. And she has done that admirably. One of the ironies of this cancer journey is
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Some Things Jesus Didn’t Say

I received a lot of feedback from a post suggesting that we make faith entirely too complicated. Jesus didn’t say figure out every theological jot and tittle. (Note to spiritual hall monitors: there is an important place for that discipline. No all caps comments please) Jesus didn’t say, “Go and clean up your act, and I will deem you a worthy follower.” He didn’t say, “Browbeat yourself and others into behaving better in order to earn the badge of righteousness.” Jesus didn’t say,  “Try harder, be more disciplined, and I will be pleased with you.” He simply said, “Follow me.” Not once. Pretty regularly. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Jesus told him, “Follow me.” (Matthew 8:22) [Jesus said,] “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) [Jesus answered,] “Come, follow me.”  (Matthew 19:21) Finding Philip, he said to him,
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Faith Over Fear

Recently our family was rocked to hear that my wonderful, kind, beautiful niece Debbie would be fighting a difficult battle in the months to come. When she heard the words bladder cancer she had the predictable responses of shock, fear, and sadness. Here is what I love about this woman. She took in the news, processed it, determined that she would fight with every ounce of strength she possessed and made it known that she was trusting God. Deb adopted a verse from Isaiah for the difficult road ahead. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NIV) This past week Debbie enjoyed a family beach getaway as she prepared for battle. Debbie knelt down and wrote this in the sand.   I loved the imagery of writing these words of trust
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Recovering From Legalism

I was introduced to Christianity in a church that put a legalistic leash on my behavior. By strict rules they believed they could force me to live a holy life. You can imagine how that worked out for a teenager in the sixties. Our denomination reminded me of characters from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We did not have the dreaded knights who said, “Ni” but we definitely had the dreaded pastors who said, “No.” I’m certain there were several volumes filled with things that were forbidden and, not surprisingly, most of them were man-made rules. Here is a sample platter of no-no’s I was asked to follow. NO movies. (Might have been in violation) NO drinking. (Too young so I got holiness points for this one) NO mixed swimming. (I kid you not) NO television. (The temptation of Mr Ed, The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction was too strong) NO cards. (More holiness points) NO rock-and-roll
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Putting On This Lens Changes Everything!

The grand kids love the spectacular optical effects of 3D movies. They feel like they can reach out and touch the images floating right in front of them. It takes sophisticated film techniques and amazing creative talent to produce these stunning results. But there is one component that is essential to seeing all of the beauty, magic and wonder of a 3D film. A special pair of glasses that cost a few pennies make the millions of dollars of 3D production come to life. During one spectacular nature scene we were surrounded by a flock of birds. We fought the instinct to duck as they came flying right at us. Then I took off the glasses and the magic was gone. The image was blurry and flat. There was nothing special about the images without the 3D lens. There is another lens we can put on that changes everything. It is the lens of grace. The lens of grace doesn’t
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Watch for Postcards from God

What if we are stubbing our toes on the sacred every day and not realizing it? That is one of the taglines promoting my book Waking Up Slowly. The book suggests that we are the most connected culture in history but arguably the most disconnected from the awareness of God’s presence. I examine twenty-one different attitudes and actions that cause me to miss the sacred moments that I believe can be found in every day. But like the believers of the early church at Galatia I have an amazing ability to forget what I have learned (and written). Paul could have addressed this to me in recent weeks. You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for He is the one who called you to freedom. (Galatians 5:7-8, NLT) I run along smoothly for a day. Sometimes two. Then I forget who I am. Not my actual name.
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Jesus Message about Children was Revolutionary

(This is an excerpt from my book Waking Up Slowly. I don’t care how pundits, politicians, and propagandists cherry pick the words of Jesus to support their side. I do care about how the radical rabbi viewed these precious children. His teachings rocked the culture. They still should.) Jesus had some subversive teachings about children and women. We forget how revolutionary His message was in that culture. Children were viewed as expendable. In his book When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity, historian O. M. Bakke details Jesus’ radical teaching among the people of His day. An infant boy was not named until the eighth day, and an infant girl was not named until the ninth day, enough time for parents to decide if they wanted to keep their child. Those less fortunate infants, ones who were deformed or just happened to be girls, would often be killed or left to die of exposure. Bakke makes
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A Tribute to My Leader of the Band

Dan Fogelberg was a gifted songwriter who wrote “Leader of the Band”.  Fogelberg’s father was a musician and he passed that talent down to Dan. Parts of the lyric made me think of my own dad in his final years.. The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough And, papa, I don’t think I said ‘I love you’ near enough My dad knew how much I loved him. Still I wish I had told him more. But this is the portion of the song that continues to impact me as his son. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band Paul Burchett was a wonderful, kind, loving, and flawed man. I have the flawed part down. I
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The Outrageous Extravagance of Grace

This line from poet Nancy Spiegelberg may be the most indicting summary of my misunderstanding of grace for decades. Lord I crawled across the barrenness to you with my empty cup uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known you better I’d have come running with a bucket. One of the most compelling illustrations of God’s extravagant grace is the story of the Prodigal Son. The son rebelled, sinned, and suffered the horrible consequences of his actions. The son realized his sin and in humble desperation decides to throw himself on the mercy of his father, believing he had lost all his privileges of being a son. But nothing had changed for his father. It reads like a Hollywood story of tear-jerking redemption. A child who is lost and hopeless. A father who never quits believing in and loving his son. The son trudging toward an uncertain homecoming with eyes downcast. Hearing a commotion down
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Busyness is NOT next to Godliness!

Regular consumers of my humble ramblings know that I love to use song lyrics as a springboard to spiritual meditations. A song from the country group Alabama hit home during a hectic week. I’m in a hurry to get things done Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun All I really gotta do is live and die But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why. It seems those lyrics describe the norm for many of us. Especially the life’s no fun part when we are crazy busy. Slowing down was a big part of my motivation in writing Waking Up Slowly. Here is an excerpt about the danger of busyness from the book. Letting our busyness get in the way of our relationship with God shows how out of balance we let our schedules become. Nowhere in Scripture will you find this command. Be busy and know that I am God. Our busyness does not please God.
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No Condemnation Here…

I wrote Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace during and after the cancer journey of my canine friend Hannah. She was a remarkable companion and I realized from her how much dogs can teach us about life. One of her sweetest characteristics was a total lack of condemnation no matter how selfishly I might behave toward her. Condemnation seems to be the starting point for disagreements in our angry social media world. I can carry that over into my journey with Jesus. When I trip and fail to live out the truths I espouse my first reaction is that God must be disappointed. Surely a Holy God would condemn such actions. The Apostle Paul wrote that is not the case. Here is an excerpt from Stay on that topic. Paul talks about no condemnation from an eternal perspective. It is the passage that contains a verse that has already played a role in this journey.
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What a Fool Believes

A song from the Doobie Brothers got me to thinking. The title is “What a Fool Believes” and I thought about some of the things I once believed. Yep, I have believed some foolish things in my life. I used to believe that I had control. Life showed me otherwise. I used to believe that performance pleased God. Now I know that the gift of grace is that my faith pleases Him. I used to believe that I could go it alone. I have learned that is the worst way to navigate this journey and that we are designed to be in community. Philip Yancey states it beautifully. “The church works best not as a power center, rather as a countercultural community – in the world but not of it – that shows others how to live the most fulfilled and meaningful life on earth. In modern society that means rejecting the false gods of independence, success, and pleasure and
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Gratitude Rhymes with Attitude

Today I stopped during a road trip for the usual infusion of a caffeinated product. I visited the coffee shop restroom first and noticed that it could use a bit of attention. But I recognized that this was an extremely high-volume pit stop and gave the workers some grace that they were trying to keep up with drink orders more complex than the tax code. An article on Quora named the most complicated Starbucks order of all time: a Venti, half whole-milk, one-quarter one-percent, one-quarter non-fat, extra-hot, split-quad-shots (1½ shots decaf, 2½ shots regular), no-foam latte, with whip, two packets of Splenda, one Sugar in the Raw, a touch of vanilla syrup, and three short sprinkles of cinnamon. If I worked the counter and heard that order, I would curl up on the floor in the fetal position and whimper quietly until help arrived. But God raises up people who can handle that kind of stress. I try not to be
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What Would Jesus Tweet?

Twitter makes cowards courageous and the anonymity of cyberspace can make the mean spirited downright evil. I have watched with sadness as Twitter tyrants have destroyed or severely damaged people and institutions. Sometimes the venom is directed at those who simply have a sincere difference of opinion on moral issues. Nothing seems to generate more glee than a Christian leader or institution failing. Without fail the hypocrite word is used with smug satisfaction. And it is true. Let me make this personal since I can only speak honestly for me. I am a hypocrite. I do not consistently live up to the teachings of Jesus. I fail. I sin. That is why I need a Savior and not a self-help course. I am confident not in my holiness but in the holiness of Jesus. I remember hearing a pastor say that “we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But that doesn’t keep us from comparing distances.”
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What Really Matters to Me?

I have been doing this church thing for a lot of years. I have sung hundreds of songs over the four decades or so that I have been a follower of Jesus. Some lyrics moved me to deep worship of God. Some times I really meant what I was singing. Other times I was singing through the motions while thinking about when the kick off was going to happen. One song has always made me uncomfortable. The song was put to music by the legendary George Beverly Shea in 1932. The words were a poem written by Mrs.Rhea Miller in 1922. I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather be His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands, I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand. Can I really say that I would rather have Jesus than silver or gold? Maybe my retirement fund will make that decision for me. Do I mean
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Curing Performance Addiction

Hearing a Beatles song today reminded me of a lesson I learned as a kid. “You Never Give Me Your Money” finishes with an English children’s rhyme. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, All good children go to heaven. I learned in a legalistic church that my eternal destiny was determined to a large extent by my performance. I had to be good. I had to do my part. The performance message was reinforced all around me in church and in life.. If you eat your vegetables you can have dessert. If you are good you get toys at Christmas. If you get all A’s you will get a monetary reward. If you behave your parents will be proud of you. So I learned to perform to get rewards and affirmation. Performance addiction is easy in legalism because you always have someone willing (and extremely happy) to challenge how well you are doing and where you can improve. So
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Should the Gospel Have a Warning Label?

On a recent flight I received the perfunctory peanut pack and noticed this odd warning. Packed in a facility that handles peanuts. Disclaimer: I am totally sensitive and supportive of warnings for those with peanut allergies. But it seemed a bit odd to have to disclaim that the place where peanuts are packaged handles peanuts. I remembered seeing this warning on a brass fishing lure with a three-pronged hook on the end: “Harmful if swallowed”. I am sure many large mouth bass would agree. There is another warning that we might consider posting for those who choose to follow Jesus. Caution – “In this world you will have trouble”.  (Read the small print in Mark and John, this truth IS in the brochure) Perhaps the most insidious tactic of the Enemy is to suggest that troubles demonstrate that God is not there or that He has abandoned us. I think one of the most dangerous ideas that Christians communicate is that
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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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