daveburchettDave Burchett

All articles by daveburchett

 

Redeemed

  A song by Big Daddy Weave is one of my go to songs to remind me of fundamental theological truths. The song resonates with me every time I hear it.  Maybe you are better at this following Jesus thing than I am but I tend to be forgetful and slow to learn. The song  “Redeemed sums up my struggle and encourages 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” I am redeemed, You set me free So I’ll shake off theses heavy chains Wipe away every stain now I’m not who I used to be I am redeemed I am redeemed. Paul spent a little over two
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Seeing My Father in Me

I am just catching my breath from an intense and humbling finish to my television baseball career. I never imagined I would receive the volume of kind words and love from my television colleagues. Finishing a season of life and getting older caused me to be reflective. A country oldie from Paul Overstreet nailed my feelings. I’m seein’ my father in me I guess that’s how it’s meant to be And I find I’m more and more like him each day I realized that many of the kind things said about me could have been said about my father Paul during his long career in management at Mead Paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio. I remember how kind he was to his employees and how he always made it about them and not himself. I remember resenting when he would skip evening family time to pay his respects at the funeral home to an employee who lost a loved one. I
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My Favorite Globe Life Park Memory is Very Personal

This weekend I wrap up my baseball directing journey and I have to say it feels right to finish on the last day of Globe Life Park. How old do you have to be to have directed both the opening and closing game of a major league ballpark? Old enough to have done games in 49 different stadiums. Old enough to have brought over one million pitches into your living room over the course of nearly 4,000 games. Old enough to have worked with fifteen different play by play announcers. Old enough to have covered twelve different full time and interim managers beginning with Doug Rader in 1983. By the way, he still scares me. When you have been around that long there are bound to be some highlights. Outside of Globe Life Park that would include Nolan Ryan’s Sixth No Hitter in Oakland and his 300th win in Milwaukee. Perhaps the most famous shot of my career was the
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The Need to be a Good Closer

Because many of you have somehow forgotten to buy my books (Shameless plug) I have made my primary living by directing sporting events. I am the faceless guy (actually I have a face, it just isn’t on camera) that selects the camera shots that you see during a televised game. For thirty-seven years I have directed Texas Rangers baseball. And all of those seasons have taught me a valuable spiritual lesson from the National Pastime. I have learned how important it is to be a good closer. In baseball parlance the closer is the pitcher who comes into the game in the last inning to protect the lead and finish off the win. It all comes down to the closer. If he does well the collective efforts of eight position players and the pitchers that proceeded will end in triumph and celebration. If the closer fails all of that effort is wasted. There is nothing more demoralizing than playing a great
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Between the White Lines Available Now!

By late December of 2018 over five million people had watched an emotional sideline television interview with Newton, Texas High School football coach W.T. Johnston.  Now the story of this remarkable man and his heroic example of faith and courage is told in my brand-new book “Between the White Lines”.   I am especially pleased to announce that twenty percent of profits from every sale will go to the W.T. Johnston Scholarship Fund in Newton, Texas. You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online vendors. Getting to know W.T. Johnston changed my life. I think there is a good chance his story will change yours as well.
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Can We Ever Come Together?

An anthem from my youth came on the radio today. The Youngbloods recorded “Get Together” in 1967 and it became one of the quintessential peace songs of the era. I remember listening to a staticky AM transistor radio while singing along with The Youngbloods. I was sure that my generation could make a difference. We would fix the mess that my parents and grandparents had made. We believed peace was possible. We just had to get together. This would be easy enough. Just love one another. Everybody sing now… C’mon people now, Smile on your brother Ev’rybody get together Try and love one another right now Nice words. The problem was contained in the last line of lyric above. Try and love one another right now. How is that working out for our peace loving generation? Not so well. It is far easier to sing about loving one another than it is to actually love another. No matter how much I
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A Sacred Space

(Excerpted from Between the White Lines) It is almost impossible to comprehend what it is like for a sixteen-year-old boy to run onto the Dallas Cowboys home field to play for a state championship. Kids who have played in front of a few dozen or a few hundred look at a vast sea of faces. They struggle to balance fear and exhilaration. Some teams thrive on this big stage and others wilt. The Newton Eagles always looked to one source of strength in these moments: their coach W.T. Johnston. “There is nothing like being in the battle with these young men,” W.T. says. “One of the things I love the most about coaching is the team huddle. It is a sacred place that only I get to share with my players. No one else gets to invade that sacred space between the white lines. I always ask them to take a knee and I get down to their level. I
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A Great Gift

(This is an excerpt from my new book Between the White Lines. I hope you read this remarkable story.) W.T. Johnston sat alone in a service tunnel inside the cavernous home of the Dallas Cowboys. From his folding chair he could hear the cacophony of sounds as two high schools—Brock and Rockdale—battled for a state title. Soon he would lead his Newton Eagles football team against undefeated Gunter for the UIL 3A Division II Championship of Texas. Johnston’s mind raced as he considered the miracle of this moment. Most Texas high school coaches only dreamed of being on this stage. He chuckled to himself. The entire population of Newton would fit forty times into AT&T Stadium with just a few seats left over. He knew that most of the town had made the 265-mile trek from Newton County to Texas football’s crown-jewel facility. Three years earlier, Johnston had his first chance as a head coach to win a title on
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How Thomas Jefferson Tried to “Fix” Christianity

Thomas Jefferson is an enigma for many. Political enemies in his day accused him of being an atheist yet he started the statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom with the phrase, “Almighty God hath created the mind free.” He certainly would not have been invited to speak at an evangelical conference to share his view that most clergymen are “soothsayers and necromancers.” You likely have a bigger brain than I do but I will confess that I had to look up necromancers. It literally means one who interrogates the dead. Okay. Not sure what church Jefferson was frequenting. Jefferson believed that authentic Christianity had been hijacked by church leaders. Jefferson decided to fix the problem. He took out his scissors and cut out the parts of the Bible that he didn’t believe. He excised the virgin birth, all of the miracles and the Resurrection. He cobbled together a book he titled “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth”. Jefferson described his
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Unmasking My Christian “Agenda”

The title “Evangelical Christian” seems to have become a pejorative to many in the media and culture. I understand the frustration (I have written about it a lot) when very vocal or celebrity Christian leaders fail spectacularly. I share your anger when a religious person espouses hateful or judgmental comments. I grieve when an institution or leader fails to protect the innocent. Critics say that Christians have an agenda and dangerous desire to control other people’s lives. I confess that has been true for some religious types. But the followers of Jesus that I have gotten to know over many decades don’t resemble that stereotype at all. Perhaps that is why Jesus warned so plainly about the dangers of power. The selfless, giving, and caring believers get little notice in this world but I believe they are quietly and faithfully making a difference. I thought about what my answer would be if I was asked to outline my agenda. I
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The Mystery of Grace

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. I began the book mentioned above with this paragraph. “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 ill-tempered. I am sarcastic and cynical. I am a Christian.” I can make the claim in the final sentence only because of
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The Most Important Parable for Times Like These?

I can’t remember a more contentious cultural climate in my lifetime. Followers of Christ are wondering how to make a difference in an often unfriendly environment. I think a parable related by Jesus might be the best strategy. One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The religious “expert” should have quit right there. Instead he did what many of us try to do when Jesus tweaks our hearts. We look for the loopholes. The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is
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Redeeming the Pain of Adolescence

A country song titled “Don’t Laugh at Me” by Mark Wills brought back some memories about the pain of adolescent passage. Don’t laugh at me Don’t call me names Don’t get your pleasure from my pain In God’s eyes we’re all the same. Janis Ian sang about how hard growing up can be in her song At Seventeen. I learned the truth at seventeen That love was meant for beauty queens And high school girls with clear skinned smiles Who married young and then retired My junior high years were hard. I was bullied by one student. I never had the courage to share that with an adult and this is the first time I have written about it. I remember shame because boys are supposed to fight back and I didn’t. I can still remember my stomach hurting as I got ready for school. Now I realize that what I once considered some of the worst moments of my
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The Importance of Finishing Strong

I have attended way too many memorial services in recent years. Recently I joined family and friends to celebrate the life of Dwight Pearson. One of the ways I honor the person being remembered is by trying to take away something from their life that I can apply to my own journey. Some lives are easier to find those takeaways than others. Dwight’s life gave me a clear and important lesson to apply. I met Dwight about fifteen years ago when my son married his daughter Holly. I knew Dwight as having a ready smile, hearty laugh, and giving heart. His story contained some regrets and bad decisions. Relationships were hurt in that season of his life. And that is where my lesson from Dwight comes in. He spent the latter years of his life determined to repair those relationships. The testimonies of his children and friends indicated his success. Their words poignantly illustrated the redemptive power of forgiveness. My
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God Loves Me Anyway

Today I realized that I am making real progress after only five decades of following Jesus. What a quick study I am! The realization is that in spite of my failings and lack of trust I am starting to believe that God loves me. Just as I am. Maybe to you that is scant progress. As a recovering legalist I still struggle with the concept that God does not withdraw His presence when I sin. The church of my youth seared that fear into my heart by preaching how my sins, no matter how minor, could put me “out of fellowship” with God. My congregation taught that you could reach a state of sanctification where you no longer sinned. I was not mature enough to understand that they were deceiving themselves or worse. So I was constantly living in a state of tension, fear and defeat. A song from a group called Sidewalk Prophets popped up this weekend on satellite radio.
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We All Serve Something or Somebody

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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The God of Second Chances

Joni and I love going 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). I related to the second paragraph. “Many
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What Should Christians Tweet?

A song from my (much) younger days triggered the musing for this week. The song Easy to be Hard was written for the musical Hair but it became a big hit as a cover for Three Dog Night. The lyrics could have been written last week about the interactions on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. How can people be so heartless How can people be so cruel Easy to be hard Easy to be cold. I could sing those lyrics almost anytime I cruise through the comments section on Twitter. The dialogue is often mean, unforgiving, and disheartening. I get particularly distressed when people of faith descend to that level of discourse. People who have proudly labeled themselves in their bio as followers of Christ use language on social media that once would have made a sailor blush. Regular readers of my musings know I am not a purveyor of guilt in my writings. I am just asking a question.
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Things I Wish I’d Known in High School

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 their peers. Had I been the coolest guy or the best athlete I most likely would not have developed a
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Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven…Eventually

Country music just seems to be a gold mine for topics to muse about. A catchy song called Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven  caught my ear. Kenny Chesney sings that everybody wants to go to heaven but they are just not interested in going any time soon. I am aware that Chesney is not a theologian so I am not throwing him under his tour bus but there is some shaky theology in this song. For example, these lyrics reflect the beliefs of many people and churches in this nation. It used to be mine. Preacher told me last Sunday mornin` Son, you better start livin` right You need to quit the women and whiskey And carrying on all night My issues might not have been whiskey and carrying on all night but I had plenty of my own. And that was my church upbringing. Preachers telling me I had to do better, shape up, quit sinning and live right.
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The Cost of Freedom

With the political rancor in our culture I fear we are losing some of the foundational things that used to unite all Americans. Memorial Day was special growing up and not because of cookouts and the end of school. My generation had fathers who served in World War II and Korea. We were told about the sacrifices made on foreign soil. We believed that freedom was worth whatever cost needed to be paid. We knew someone who had lost a husband, brother, or friend in combat. A song from Five for Fighting  called “Freedom Never Cries” is timely for this holiday. Writer/singer John Ondrasik writes personal and powerful songs that resonate with me. “Freedom Never Cries” is a song about how we take freedom for granted. Ondrasik talked about the song in an interview posted at liveDaily. “It was definitely a statement song that has a point of view. I think it kind of speaks to the fact that, I know at least for
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Only Here for a Little While

Regular readers of the Monday musings know that I love the power of musical lyrics to inspire thought and meditation. I was driving home from Newton, Texas after attending a beautiful memorial service for legendary high school coach W.T. Johnston. I thought about the amazing impact Coach Johnston had in only 54 years on this planet. A song popped up on satellite radio from the Righteous Brothers. If you believe in forever, Then life is just a one-night stand. I do believe in forever and those two lyrical lines reminded me that whether you only have the 54 years that W.T. Johnston got or you are given 100 years this existence is still just an eternal blink of the eye. Clearly your significance is not how long but how well you live your life. Not long after that I was cycling through the stations and a song called “We’re Only Here for a Little While” pops up. I kid you
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W.T. Johnston: A Life Well Lived

Over my forty-year sports broadcasting career I have met a lot of coaches. Some are famous. Some are infamous. Rarely does an interaction with a coach impact my life in a truly significant way. That happened to me when I became friends with a Newton, Texas high school football coach named W.T. Johnston. One of my assignments in 2017 was directing a number of Texas high school championship games for Fox Sports. Our preparation included a conference call with each coach. Most of the time the coaches simply tell us about their season and their players. W.T. Johnston did that in December of 2017. When a question was asked about his health challenges I was captivated by his story. Johnston had been diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 1998. That was the lung disease that ultimate took the lives of Hall of Fame football player Reggie White and comedian Bernie Mac. Johnston eventually needed a double lung transplant and at first it
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Life’s Tapestry

Years ago in a college dorm room far, far away I would drift off to sleep listening to Carole King’s Tapestry in spectacular portable cassette quality. Tapestry was the title cut of an album that Rolling Stone placed in their Top 50 all-time album list. Tapestry talks about how seemingly unrelated threads can be woven into something beautiful and even royal. I suspect that my life experience makes this a much more meaningful song than it was when we played it in a now demolished dorm room. My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue An everlasting vision of the ever changing view A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold So many threads of life that seem completely unrelated have come together to weave the tapestry of my life. My life tapestry sometimes feels tattered and ugly and ill-fitting. But as a follower of Jesus I
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A Timely Lesson from Ephesus

A favorite song from MercyMe cycled up at a good time. The lyrics from the song Greater perfectly describe my need to trust who God says I am. Bring your doubts And bring your fears Bring your hurt And bring your tears There’ll be no condemnation here You are holy, righteous and redeemed. That is the truth I have to remind myself just about every day. There is no condemnation in Christ. Yet I too often default to shame and self-effort. I have to daily remember that the grace of God is already mine. I need to remind myself everyday that I am redeemed. Paul spent a little over two years teaching and discipling the new believers in Ephesus. Just a few short years after he left Paul received reports that those new hearts had reverted to old habits. Things were a bit of a mess and the word came back that the old behaviors of rage, immorality, lying, stealing and
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Dealing With My Doubt

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

I often wonder what it was like for followers of Jesus on the day he was killed. They saw nothing good about that Friday. They went from great hope to complete despair. To their eyes everything they had put their faith in died on a cruel Cross. No doubt they were scared, confused, and hopeless. They did not know on that dark day that the hope of this season was all about Sunday. Tony Campolo writes about a life changing sermon he heard in his book It’s Friday but Sunday’s Comin’. (Note to spiritual cyber hall monitors…I know Mr.Campolo is controversial. Just enjoy this illustration, take a deep breath, and move away from the keyboard). Campolo writes about hearing a wise African-American pastor preach about the events of Easter week. For an hour and a half he preached one line over and over again…”It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’!” He started his sermon real softly by saying, “It was Friday; it was Friday and my
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One Word I Hate

I am trying to limit my use of the word hate. I don’t say that I hate those who oppose my faith. I don’t hate those who have opposite political views. I don’t even hate the Pittsburgh Steelers even though that will get my Browns Backers pass revoked. I do, however, have a few things for which I will use the word hate. One thing I hate is legalism in Christianity. Legalism is answering to the wrong source of authority. My faith journey began in a legalistic church and I will probably always walk with a bit of a spiritual limp. Legalism takes the sweet Gospel of Jesus Christ and mixes in some “churchified” version of the law. Church by-laws often occupy equal footing with God’s Word. Righteousness is no longer about Christ but about right behavior as only they define it. Legalism cherry picks verses that support behavioral control while conveniently ignoring dozens of verses about grace, forgiveness, kindness, love, gentleness and forbearance. Focusing on
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Life Happens

The goal of my book Waking Up Slowly was to examine actions and attitudes that cause us to be less connected to God and one another. One of the things you can be sure of when you write or teach about your faith is that you will get a pop quiz on your own material. John Lennon famously wrote that “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”. I think we can all relate to that. You have expectations for a day or project that are derailed by unseen events. Schedules don’t line up. People let you down. The daily rhythms of life can be frustrating. At times if feels like the universe is conspiring against you. But I believe there is joy to be found and sacred moments to discover in the most frustrating situations. My lovely wife calls these moments “postcards from God”. Satan relentlessly reminds us of how bad our situation is and that we
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What Do You See in the Mirror?


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Hope Springs Eternal on Opening Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baseball fans countdown the day until pitchers and catchers report like a kid impatiently marking off calendar days til Christmas. The teams arrive in Florida and Arizona as the nation grows weary of gray and gloom. Spring Training is the first hope of Spring. Today begins the annual six week period of teaching, training, and repetitious fundamental drills. It seems almost silly for uber talented and well paid athletes to be reviewing the same fundamentals they learned in youth baseball. Yet you watch the very best players focus on repeating proper fundamentals over and over. Superstars hit off a tee. Gold Glove fielders practice footwork repeatedly. Pitchers constantly repeat correct throwing motion. The message is clear. Talent is important but even the best can be derailed by forgotten or sloppy fundamentals. Perhaps we should co-opt that idea of fundamental training for followers of Jesus. Today I am starting a movement for “Preachers and Christians” to report for Spring Training. For a few
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Grace Doesn’t Keep Stats

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

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-six 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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We All Bleed The Same

I have been on a news fast for a month. I backslid last week and tuned my satellite radio to see what was going in Washington (D)ysfunctional (C)hildren). Within a minute I regretted my decision. Both sides were attacking and demeaning the other’s motives, integrity, and decency. My mood turned sour. Then I flipped to another channel and the first song I heard was a duet from Mandisa and TobyMac. These lyrics immediately grabbed my heart. Are you left? Are you right? Pointing fingers, taking sides When are we gonna realize? We all bleed the same We’re more beautiful when we come together We all bleed the same So tell me why, tell me why We’re divided. Why indeed? I am praying for another leader like Martin Luther King Jr who will remind us that hateful rhetoric never, ever, ever changes a heart. Followers of Christ have a message of hope and light that is desperately needed. But we get caught
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Surviving Trials

No one gets through this journey unscathed. A song I default to when walking through valleys is from singer/composer Rich Mullins. The song “Hold Me Jesus” is from his CD called Songs. 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 start thinking about the many friends and loved ones who can relate completely to those lyrics. The words do not exaggerate the agony of going through dark valleys. And I wake up in the night and feel the dark It’s so hot inside my soul I swear there must be blisters on my heart I remember how I used to respond. I would deduce it must be my fault. God must not be pleased with me. I would decide that I had to do something to bolster my faith. I needed to
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A Leadership Trait That Changes Everything

I am a lifetime, avid Cleveland Browns fan. I know. Thank you for your prayers. I am more optimistic now than I have been in many years. Part of that hope is some great young players. But another factor is the new head coach. Freddie Kitchens is a down to earth and positive influence on the field. He asks each player what plays they like to run and then implements their ideas into the game plan. The players were blown away by that level of personal involvement. My first reaction was “why is that deemed unusual”? Why wouldn’t a leader want buy-in and ownership of the game plan? Why wouldn’t a leader create a culture of affirmation? As General Dwight Eisenhower wisely observed. “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”  A recent book entitled The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton concluded that appreciation might well be the missing accelerator for
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Finding My Way in a Confusing Culture

Joni and I live in a racially diverse city. Even with that disclaimer my recent morning errand run was unusual. I made four stops, interacted with at least a dozen people, and not one of them looked like me. Every encounter I had was friendly, upbeat, and kind. Not one black, Hispanic, or Asian person seemed to notice or care that I was not like them. I reflected on that experience versus the America the media and politicians portray. According to the inflammatory headlines we are a country of hatred, racism, and greed. I am not naive. We are far from a perfect union because our nation is made up of imperfect people like me and you. People who want freedom. People who want to be able to enjoy friends and family. People looking for acceptance by others and forgiveness for mistakes. People who want to believe they are a part of something more significant than just getting through the
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A Cure for the Post-Christmas Letdown?

Greeting cards have all been sent The Christmas rush is through But I still have one wish to make A special one for you     Lyrics from ‘Merry Christmas Darling’ – The Carpenters During my caffeinated quiet time today I reflected on the odd way we celebrate Christmas. We rush pell-mell to Christmas Day with intensity that would make a Marine drill instructor proud. The build up to Christmas goes on for weeks and then, before you can assure everyone that Mary did know, it is over. Maybe the idea of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a good one if we can overhaul the confusing and messy gift list. The cost to fulfill the 12 Days of Christmas shopping list inflated to $39,094.93 this year. Labor costs have driven up the price for the Lords a leapin’ and the Pipers piping by over 3 percent. The good news is the price for the gold rings declined 9 percent. Let’s concede that
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There are NO Misfits on the Island of Grace

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. I love the music, the memories, the traditions, and the chance to annually think about Burl Ives. His memory returns with the annual airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Ives is the voice of Sam the Snowman who narrates the “enhanced” story of Rudolph. Rudolph and his elf buddy Hermey don’t fit in with the others. Rudolph looks different than his peers. 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 purpose and a place to be accepted.                                                       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 and deemed worthless. There is a
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The Healing Power of that Silent Night

One of my favorite Christmas stories happened during the horrors of war. The Christmas carol “Silent Night” was actually responsible for a wartime Christmas truce. The year was 1914 and soldiers were having to spend Christmas Eve night on the World War I battlefields of. 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 grave and tender voice rose out
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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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