daveburchettDave Burchett

All articles by daveburchett

 

Give Dad a Personalized Copy of Stay!

Father’s Day is just around the corner. Some of you have told me you plan to give a copy of Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace to your Dad or Grandfather. In my very biased world that is MUCH better than a tie! I have Autograph plates ready to send out that you can place inside the book before you give it. Just send your address and how you want the plate inscribed to dave@daveburchett.com or send me a personal message with the info on Facebook. I will sign the autograph plate and return it to you. I pay the postage as my small thank you to you! You can get Stay at Barnes and Noble, Booksamillion, Mardels and online at Amazon, Christianbook.com, and Barnes and Noble.You link to the online booksellers from the “Order Now” link at the top right of this page. I would love to help you celebrate your Dad or Granddad
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What Does God Want From You and Me?

Regular readers of these humble ramblings know that I love music and the power of lyrics to implant truth in my heart. The group Tenth Avenue North is especially good at doing that for me. A new song resonated from the moment I heard it. What You Want is a powerful plea to give up my personal agenda and my need to be in control. You can check it out here.  Here is a sample of the lyrics. Everyday I’ve been feeling the pressure I always gotta know the plan It’s a weight that I’ve tried to shoulder I thought I could, but I can’t And I’m so tired of chasing dreams When I am wired to let you lead But I resist that innate wiring to follow God and I try to control my path. James wrote about our attempts to “control” our future. Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town
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Quit Trying So Dadgum Hard!

Recently my buddy Ed Underwood (you should read his books and blog) texted that he had found the official anthem for Christians who try to live this journey in their own insufficient strength. I agreed so much that I asked his permission to steal his insight for today’s musing. I will not share the details of the deal but it may or may not involve a future karaoke performance at the fabulous Garman’s Restaurant and Irish Pub in Santa Paula, California. But that unfortunate possibility is not today’s topic. Ed had texted that rock icon Janis Joplin’s song “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” perfectly summed up the frustration of Christians who think that just a little more effort or doing more of the right things will make them holy. It is a losing game. Joplin’s lyrics address a love interest but they fit perfectly into the frustrating cry of many followers of Jesus trying desperately to “be holy”. Yeah,
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Change Me From the Inside Out

Watching the news on television is depressing. Election years seem to pour fuel on the culture war fires. I much prefer to spend my leisure moments reading, listening to music and walking with canine friend Maggie. Today a song on my from Seventh Day Slumber caused me to ask some questions about the way the church engages our culture. The song is From the Inside Out. My heart and my soul I give You control Consume me from the inside out Lord Let justice and praise Become my embrace To love You from the inside out Change happens from the inside out. I wrote about the culture war in my book “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People”. Here is an excerpt from that discussion. If I were to ask the average Christian what victory in the culture war would look like today, I would probably get answers along these lines: Abortion would be outlawed. Homosexuality would be less visible.
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It Really Isn’t Funny How Time Slips Away

Recently the life odometer rolled over another year so it was only fitting that a little tune from Willie Nelson caught my attention. The song is titled “Funny How Time Slips Away” and it is one of his signature songs. I realize that Willie is, for some, an acquired taste. I do not endorse Willie’s recreational choices or his tax paying discipline but I do love his ability to make lyrics real. In this song he laments the loss of a love. Well hello there my it’s been a long long time How am I doin’ oh I guess that I’m doin’ fine It’s been so long now but it seems now it was only yesterday Gee ain’t it funny how time slips away It is not really funny how time slips away. It is downright scary. It seems like yesterday that I was playing sandlot baseball as a kid. Moments ago I was in high school being ADD before ADD was cool.
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Give a Personalized Copy of Stay and Help Patriot Paws!

I am partnering with Patriot Paws and donating a portion of the advances and royalties for Stay and my next book releasing in 2017. Patriot Paws is an organization that trains service dogs to assist veterans who deal with PTS, mobility and  other injuries. Go to Amazon, Barnes and Nobles or other book sellers to buy a copy of Stay. Then private message me at my Facebook author page and I will send you a personalized autograph plate to place inside the book. Here is an example… Give a special gift (or receive one) and help a wonderful cause!  
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I Once Was Lost…

I was honored and blessed to witness a very emotional day at Patriot Paws recently in Rockwall, Texas. “Matching Day” was the culmination of two years of training for some special service dogs and two years (or more) of agonizing waiting for some deserving veterans. The graduating service dogs are introduced to the veterans during some training and social sessions. The staff watches the interaction and chemistry between various canine/veteran combinations. Then the trainers match the veteran with the best fit for their needs. The veterans might have had a hunch but did not know for sure until the official “Matching Day” ceremony. Watching the tears stream down the faces of these men as they officially met their new companion was heartwarming. Many of you know that I have committed to share a portion of royalties and advances from Stay and my next book project due out in 2017 with the Patriot Paws organization. After watching Friday I am convinced
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Here’s To You Mr. Robinson!

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

I have some really exciting news to share today. I am so proud to announce that I will be partnering with Patriot Paws to share a portion of royalties from my book Stay. I was looking for an organization that modeled the many lessons we learn from our canine friends that I wrote about in Stay. Patriot Paws trains service dogs to assist, comfort and love disabled veterans who have suffered PTS and other injuries in the service of our country. The dogs are provided at no cost to the veterans. Patriot Paws fit perfectly as a partner with their commitment to faith, our wonderful veterans and the unique connection dogs have to the emotional well-being of these heroes. The added bonus was the prison offender training program that is giving hope, love and life purpose to many for the first time. Certified service dog trainers from Patriot Paws work with the inmates and their dogs at the correctional institutions
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Easter Song

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

As Easter approaches I remembered an article in USA Today titled We are Easter People. I think it is worth a second look and here is a portion of the piece written by Diane Cameron. One of the lowest points in my life occurred years ago when I was living in Washington, D.C., at Easter time. My older sister had recently died and both of my brothers were seriously ill; my best friend was leaving town, and on top of that I was questioning my work. In my journal that April I wrote, “Am I depressed?” When I read those pages now I laugh and shake my head. “Depressed?” That I even had to ask. In that long year I thought I’d never laugh again, just as I thought I’d never again feel love, the joy of easy friendship, or the satisfaction of good work. I went to church that Easter out of both habit and desperation. I had grown up in
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Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

The iTunes shuffle landed on a song by The Animals that brought back black and white memories. I remembered Ed Sullivan awkwardly introducing “The Animals” on his show many years ago. Fifty years if anyone is counting. After watching the clip again it was even more awkward than I remembered. The song is called “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and it produced a surprising time of reflection and prayer. Are you telling me that you don’t have your quiet times around songs by The Animals? The song is an apology and explanation to a love interest. The writer wants her (in this case) to know that he means well and sometimes he is just human. He makes mistakes. If I seem edgy I want you to know That I never mean to take it out on you Life has it’s problems and I get my share And that’s one thing I never meant to do Because I love you… Oh,
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Who Really Wrote the Book of Love?

Regular readers of my humble ramblings know that I love to link music of all types to spiritual thoughts. Recently a forgotten oldie caused the neurons to fire oddly in my noggin. The song “The Book of Love” was written and recorded by The Monotones in 1958. Here are some of the lyrics. Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who Who wrote the Book Of Love Chapter One says to love her You love her with all your heart Chapter Two you tell her you’re Never, never, never, never, never gonna part In Chapter Three remember the meaning of romance In Chapter Four you break up But you give her just one more chance So there you have it. Before you get to Chapter Five you have already parted ways according to this version of the book of love. By the way, there is a little “boom” sound in the first lyric that is oddly translated “mmbadoo-ooh” above. The story
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It Is A Simple Game!

Today you will see why I keep “Confessions of a Bad Christian” as my blog title. Recently the movie Bull Durham turned up on a cable channel. Hard to believe it has been over 25 years since it was released. In this article I am going to draw some spiritual applications from an R-rated movie. Gasp. In my early church experience real Christians didn’t watch any movie and most assuredly not an R-rated one. The really godly people did not drink or dance. The really, really godly people did not have televisions. They were a laugh a minute. If any of those folks were to read today’s post they would no doubt remove me from their fellowship that I used to call “The First Church Of Misery Loves Company But We Probably Won’t Love You”. Despite that risk of censure I press on. No baseball movie that I have seen comes closer to capturing the unique culture of baseball like Bull Durham. It has some rough language and sexual
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My Take on the Movie Risen

I have had a very mixed relationship with religious movies. I often find the acting or the story lines lacking compared to other movies. So I was a bit unsure how I would feel about the new movie Risen. I wrote the following about the improbable rise of these early Jesus followers in my book “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People” a few years ago. History records that several alleged messianic figures were running around during the time of Christ. It is possible that some of them had followers as impressive as the twelve selected by Jesus. Jesus took twelve guys of questionable attributes and built the largest faith in the world. Not one of the other would-be messiahs’ influence made it into the second century, let alone the twenty-first. So our calendar is dated by the birth of Christ. Does it not pique your curiosity that such a band of men could have such a global impact? No
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Are Authentic Christians a Little Crazy? They Should Be!

Today’s Monday Musing was inspired by Alison Krause and Union Station. Alison Krause has a voice like an angel. She is an artist that I can listen to no matter what my mood might be. Today my iTunes shuffle landed on a song titled Crazy as Me. The lyrics are talking about a series of failed relationships. The lyric that Alison Krause sings that relates to me are these words. Some folks seem to think I only got one problem I can’t find nobody as crazy as me There are some drive-by readers that are pretty sure I have more than one problem but let’s put them aside for awhile. I laughed when this song came up because I often feel that way in my journey with Jesus. Am I missing something here? Does my messy walk with Jesus make me a bad Christian? Or does my willingness to be honest about my weakness give me a chance not to be
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We Have Strayed So Far…

A tune and a tweet dominated the morning walk and worship time. The tune is from Casting Crowns. I am amazed at the power of music and lyric to move my heart and soul. One or two lyrical thoughts can have more impact than a beautifully written article or book. The song “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” has a number of those powerful lyrics. Jesus Friend of sinners we have strayed so far away We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing Ouch. How much damage has been done in the name of Christ by well-meaning or by just mean churchgoers? The toll is heartbreaking. Truly that sword was never ours to wield. The next few lines are just as powerful. Jesus friend of sinners the truth’s become so hard to see The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me Nothing breaks my heart more than the thought that
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We Are Not As Strong As We THINK We Are

Rich Mullins is one of my favorite Christian songwriters. It seems impossible that it has been 19 years since he was killed in a car accident. His music is still all over my iTunes and one of his songs is the subject of the Monday Musing. “We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are” opens with this stanza. Well, it took the hand of God Almighty To part the waters of the sea But it only took one little lie To separate you and me Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are. If only we could acknowledge that we are not as strong as we think we are and then live accordingly I believe we would see an amazing difference. We need God and community to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. Yet pride tells me that I am able to handle the situation. Fear tells me that telling the truth in love will only
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Don’t Know Much About…

(There was no time to muse for this Monday so I am offering a gently read post from the past) Some of the theologians I encountered did not seem like anyone I would actually want to be around on purpose. I made the crack that 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 is changing in my life. I am really seeing 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 I do know that I love you
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Remind Me Who I Am

When I fired up the iTunes today the first song I heard made me chuckle. Not because of the content but because of the appropriateness of the song for this week. The artist is Jason Gray and his song is called “Remind Me Who I Am”. Jason Gray’s song is exactly what I needed for this week. Here are some of the lyrics. When I lose my way When I forget my name Remind me who I am In the mirror all I see is who I don’t wanna be Remind me who I am I have to be reminded constantly that to be effective in this journey you have to remember who you are in Christ. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is in play here. Paul had 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
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Smiling Faces Sometimes…

Recently a song came up on the iTunes shuffle from a a group called Undisputed Truth. Smiling Faces Sometimes was originally recorded by the Temptations but the version released by Undisputed Truth in 1971 became the number 3 song that year. Here are the opening lyrics from that song… Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes They don’t tell the truth uh Smiling faces, smiling faces Tell lies and I got proof After the publication of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People  I received hundreds of letters (okay…emails and blog responses) from wounded Christians who could have started their notes with those lyrics. They have been hurt and betrayed by other churchgoers, often with smiling faces. I try to encourage them. I remind them that we are all sinners in need of His grace. I ask them to look to Jesus. I try to
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Remember Where You Came From!

A few years ago the lovely Mrs. Burchett and I had the joy of watching Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder in concert. I have decided that if am ever unresponsive you can check my heart status by playing a Ricky Skaggs album. If my toe doesn’t start tapping I am likely flat-lined. You just can’t help responding if you have a pulse. Recently one of his tunes cycled up and brought back memories of something my Mom always said to me. The song that jogged that recollection was called Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’. Now lookee here gal don’t ya’ high hat me, I ain’t forgot what you used ta be When you didn’t have nuthin, That was plain ta’ see. Don’t get above your raisin’ Stay down ta’ earth with me. Mom was raised as a farm girl in Kentucky and she was fiercely proud of that. So anytime she perceived that I was getting a bit uppity and full of
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God’s Weight Loss Plan for 2016 – Part 3

We have been outlining God’s Guaranteed Weight Loss Plan. With this plan you can begin to lose the weight of bitterness and anger caused from lack of forgiveness. If you are carrying around an unforgiving spirit it is weighing you down spiritually and emotionally. I know from sad personal experience. Part one and two set the stage and today we wrap up the list. Fact 7: Forgiveness is not denial of the hurt. Pride will often cause us to “not allow the person who hurt us the satisfaction” of knowing we are wounded. That is absurd. Acknowledge the reality of the injury, but make the choice to be healed. Fact 8: Forgiveness eliminates revenge as an option. The late author Lewis Smedes makes a brilliant point about revenge. No matter how much we try “we cannot get even; this is the inner fatality of revenge.” When we start trying to get even, we have lost. How many times must I
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God’s Weight Loss Plan – Part 2

Yesterday I started discussing God’s Guaranteed Weight Loss Plan. With this plan you can lose the weight of bitterness and anger caused from lack of forgiveness. If you are carrying around an unforgiving spirit it is weighing you down spiritually and emotionally. Part one set the stage. For the next two days we will look at some things I have learned (usually the painful way) about forgiveness. Fact 1: Our ability to forgive is rooted in the depth of our gratitude. The foundation of forgiveness is our gratitude for the undeserved forgiveness we have received through Christ. Take some time to meditate about how much you have been forgiven. In the gospel of Luke we read about a sinful woman who washes Jesus feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. Jesus said, “Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” (Luke
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God’s Weight Loss Plan for 2016 – Part 1

Most of us see New Years Day as a fresh start. We make steadfast resolutions of how we are going to do better next year. The reality is that January 1st is just another day. We could just as easily resolve on May 18th or August 3rd that we are going to change how we live. But there is something psychologically powerful about a New Year. The most cited resolutions generally include things like exercising more, saving more money, getting out of debt, and reading the Bible all the way through without getting bogged down in Leviticus and skipping directly to the Psalms. The most popular resolution year after year is losing weight. I thought I would be doing a real service if I gave you God’s Weight Loss Plan to take into 2016. This weight loss plan will make you healthier, reduce stress, give you more joy and cause you to grow in your relationship with the Lord. By following this no
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Final Gift Suggestion For Jesus On His Birthday

I love Dave Barry. As long as he is alive I will not have the weirdest brain on the planet. Here is his take on the secularizing of Christmas greetings. Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice. In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it “Christmas” and went to church; the Jews called it “Hanukkah” and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukkah!”or (to the atheists) “Look out for the wall!”  These days, people say “Season’s Greetings,” which, when you think about it, means nothing. It’s like walking up to somebody and saying “Appropriate Remark” in a loud, cheerful voice. But “Season’s Greetings” is safer, because it does not refer to any actual religion.
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Another Gift Idea for Jesus on His Birthday

As a public service I am providing a shopping guide for things you can give to Jesus on His upcoming birthday. For the internet hall monitors who love to send anonymous and snarky comments I understand that the celebrated date of Christ’s birth is likely off a bit. But since this is when we celebrate we will go with the date assigned. Let’s be honest…giving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords a unique gift is really tough. The last post examined the gifts brought to the young Christ child over 2,000 years by the wise men, I had hoped that examining what the Magi brought might jump start our gift giving ideas.  Alert readers from the last article remember that the first gift was gold. That is always a lovely gift. But now it gets a little tougher. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. (Matthew 2:11, The Message) The second gift brought out of the luggage by the Magi was
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What To Give Jesus On His Birthday?

Christmas shopping can be really difficult for my species. Many of us men give gifts to our significant others with fear and trembling. Humor writer Dave Barry relates the confusion most men deal with when giving a gift to their wife. He could tell by her reaction to the gift that she had not been dreaming of getting an auto emergency kit, even though it was the deluxe model with booster cables and an air compressor. Clearly, this violated an important rule, but the man had idea what the rule was, and his wife was too upset to tell him. Barry continues his thoughtful treatise… So why is the Christmas season so difficult for men? There are many complex reasons, by which I mean: women. The problem goes back to the very first Christmas. We know from the Bible that the Wise Men showed up in Bethlehem and gave the baby Jesus gifts of gold,frankincense, and myrrh. Now Gold is always
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The Power of a Silent Night, Holy Night

One of my favorite Christmas stories happened during the horrors of war. The Christmas carol “Silent Night” was responsible for a wartime Christmas truce. The year was 1914 and soldiers were having to spend Christmas Eve night on the battlefields of France during World War I, the Great War, as it was called. After only four months of fighting, more than a million men had already perished in the bloody conflict. The bodies of dead soldiers were scattered between the trenches. Enemy troops were dug-in so close that they could easily exchange shouts. On December 24, 1914, in the middle of a freezing battlefield in France, a miracle happened. The British troops watched in amazement as candle-lit Christmas trees began to appear above the German trenches. The glowing trees soon appeared along the length of the German front. Henry Williamson, a young soldier with the London Regiment wrote in his diary: “From the German parapet, a rich baritone voice had begun to sing a song I remembered my German nurse singing to me…. The
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My Christmas Wish for 2015

If I could have one wish for those of you who read these humble ramblings it would be very simple. Amy Grant recorded “My Grown-up Christmas List” for her “Home For Christmas” album. The lyrics imagine an adult going back to Santa with a different perspective on what matters most in life. Instead of material things the writer now asks for good things for others. I love the sentiment of the song. No more lives torn apart That wars would never start And time would heal all hearts Everyone would have a friend And right would always win And love would never end This is my grown-up Christmas list I thought about my “grown-up” Christmas list this week. I would love for all of the things in the lyric above to come true. But I have lived enough to know they will not. Everyday lives are torn apart. Wars start too frequently. Time does not heal every heart. Some who
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Tell Me Again What The Cows Were Doing?

(Today is a revisit of a “Christmas Classic” from earlier. How does a blog become a classic?  It is your blog, your site, you pay the server charge so you can call it whatever you want. So enjoy a classic from Christmas past) One of my contributions with this modest little blog is to continually ask the tough questions. While listening to  “Away in a Manger” 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
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A Thanksgiving Like No Other Still Haunts Me

Ten years ago we toured Israel. There were so many memories that were life changing. But one memory was unexpected and lasting. We were in the midst of a whirlwind tour of Israel when Turkey Day arrived. As the day dawned in Jerusalem I remembered past Thanksgivings with family all around. Watching the Macy’s Parade while the tantalizing aromas of roasting turkey, pumpkin pie and fresh baked bread filled the house. Watching the football games, eating way too much, and  then the afternoon lapse into semi-consciousness known as the traditional Thanksgiving day nap. I knew that this year would be a little different but I had no idea how much. When I heard our schedule I knew this would be a Thanksgiving like no other. Our final activity for that day would be a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.  My first reaction was “No, no, not today”. But then I reconsidered. What better reminder of how very much I have to be thankful for
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We All Need A Little Help Now and Then

There is so much pain in this world. So many hurting people. I feel overwhelmed and helpless. What can I possibly do? And the answer quietly comes to me. Do something. A classic song called “Lean On Me” reminded me that we all need to do something for others. The lyrics sung by Bill Withers talks about simply being there when friends and loved ones are hurting. Sometimes in our lives We all have pain We all have sorrow But if we are wise We know that there’s Always tomorrow Lean on me, when you’re not strong And I’ll be your friend I have been thinking a lot about community. I have, to be honest, had many moments recently when I wondered if living in messy community with messy people is worth it. One of my dearest friends is Dr. Gil Herren. He used to tell me stories about working the emergency room at a Memphis hospital and how much
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When A Man Loves A Woman

I love the power of lyrics to touch the heart. A song by Percy Sledge brought a spiritual connection to the morning walk. I loved Motown music as a teen and I still do. My secret desire was to perform as the bass singer with the Temptations. Remember the song “Papa was a Rolling Stone”?  I wanted to be the guy that said “and that ain’t right” in that deep, deep bass voice. But my lack of talent, dancing ability and the general composition of the group precluded that dream from becoming reality.  “When a Man Loves a Woman” reached number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts in 1966. The song was number 54 in the 500 best songs of all time in a poll by Rolling Stone Magazine. Anyone who has ever been in love can feel these lyrics deep in your soul. I remember when I fell in love with the stunning Mrs.Burchett. I could have written these
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A Better Way

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

I don’t want to become a grumpy old man but I sometimes need an emergency grace infusion to not go full metal grouch. This weekend I sat through a very soggy Homecoming victory by the Baylor Bears. It was not the sharpest performance of the season but I reminded myself that Baylor is currently ranked as high as second in the nation. This is the school that lost a game years ago because they tried to run one last scoring play when all they had to do was take a knee. The running back lost the ball and Baylor lost as their opponent ran the recovered fumble 98 yards for a touchdown. Think of the irony of a Baptist school that loses because they refused to kneel! Fast forward to the Art Briles era. This same school now wins Big 12 Championships and is a legitimate contender for the Championship Playoff. I remind myself of the miracle that has happened
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Redeeming Suffering and Trials

Full disclosure. I envy songwriters. A songwriter can say in a phrase or chorus more than I can communicate in paragraphs or chapters. I am surprised by how often I am impacted by a phrase or thought from a song. Writer Aldous Huxley wrote these words. “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Being in community with others means you share in their joys and their sorrows. Sometimes the sorrows come in tsunami waves and all you can do is care, pray and be present. Good and decent people deal with financial, emotional and physical suffering all around us and it is easy to lose heart. The news seems to be only tragedy and heartbreaking sadness. What can be redeemed of all of this suffering? A song called “The Hurt and the Healer” by MercyMe resonated when I first heard it but now that same song ministers much deeper in my soul recently. Why? The
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How Do So Many Christians Fall?

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? I wondered how they got to such a low point in their journey. Perhaps a bit of insight came from a Texas storm. 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 had 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
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The Importance of Being a Great Closer

(Today I am recovering from the marathon of the baseball season. I humbly offer this gently read post from the past as the Monday Musing) Because many of you have somehow forgotten to buy my books (Shameless plug) I continue to make 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-three 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
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YELLING IS AN EFFECTIVE PERSUASION TECHNIQUE! Said no one ever.

Like Christmas displays in September the political season seems to get earlier and earlier. The conversation between the two parties over the next few months will often be less than gracious. You have to be a trained professional to have that kind of grasp of the obvious. I had to laugh when a forgotten song by Chris Rice cycled up on the iPod today titled “You Don’t Have to Yell”. I tuned in to hear the news I don`t want your point of view if that`s the best that you can do, then something`s missing and experts on whatever side you plug your ears, you scream your lines you claim to have an open mind, but nobody`s listenin` don`t you think we`re smarter than this? How should a follower of Christ engage in the political discourse? Dr. Gregory Boyd has said some controversial things but, in my humble opinion, this is not one of them. “Christians are not to seek
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Satan’s Strategy Includes Prevent Defense

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

I was walking with a co-worker recently who is not a person of faith. The comment from this individual about the treatment of Christianity in the media and culture surprised me. “I wish they would balance out their reporting with some of the good things that Christians do in the world in addition to the hypocritical things.” So do I. But as my sainted Granny used to say “that horse has left the barn”. I thought about that statement later. What caused this person who does not believe to defend Christians? I think it is because this friend has seen me (and other Christians) deal honestly with life through our lens of grace and Jesus. They have watched real people that they have a relationship with represent Jesus through kindness, giving and caring. That is what Jesus was talking about in the Sermon on the Mount. “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it
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We ALL Serve Somebody or Something

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

Recently I have been saddened by the all out sprint to judgement of people and institutions that have made mistakes. It often seems the harshest comments come from people who ought to tap the brakes before they go there. These are folks that have made their own mistakes. Big ones. And they were offered grace and second chances. My initial response was self-righteous indignation because, let’s be honest, I am good at that. Eventually the quiet voice of the Spirit reminds me that I am also that guy who is too often quick to judge. I am that guy who tries to argue with God about forgiveness and whether someone “deserves” mercy. A little snippet from my book Stay addressed this very issue after Paul threw down an incredible statement to the Ephesian church. Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32, NLT) That is a very tall order
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Is Grace Worth It?

Sometimes I just want to step away from ministry. I get tired. And then the song “Lean On Me” cycles up on the iPod. That is not funny Lord. The lyrics sung by Bill Withers talks about being there for others. Life happens, John Lennon famously said, when you are making other plans. Life has been happening to us and many close to us in recent months. Sometimes in our lives We all have pain We all have sorrow But if we are wise We know that there’s Always tomorrow Lean on me, when you’re not strong And I’ll be your friend I have been thinking a lot about community. I have, to be honest, had many moments recently when I wondered if living in community with messy people is worth it. I am drawn to the dysfunctional. My heart goes out to the wounded lambs. But I will confess that I struggle with the cost of walking in honest
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Prone to Wander

Joni and I recently enjoyed a brief and delightful getaway to Fredericksburg, Texas. But there was one sad moment that I keep thinking about. We stayed away from the city and drove country roads into town. Each day we passed a sheep pasture. We chuckled about one adventurous sheep that found a way to get out of the fenced area and grazed happily in tall grass along the road. He seemed to know what he was doing and never got too close to the dangerous highway. The next day he was out again enjoying his freedom and a different grazing menu. Then we spotted another sheep that had also tried to find greener grass on the other side. This poor creature had gotten stuck under the fence and it had not taken long for the searing Texas heat to take his life. It was obvious that this unforunate animal had everything he had needed on the safe side of the
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The Outrageous and Scandalous 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 message 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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Training Camp for Team Jesus

I love football. The opening of football training camps gets my juices going. I watch some of the greatest athletes in the world getting ready to play a highly skilled game. So what do they start with every summer at training camp? Footwork and technique drills. Coaches demanding constant repetition of fundamental skills. The best teams are the ones that most consistently execute the basic fundamental aspects of their craft. Legendary Coach Vince Lombardi famously began each training camp by gathering wide-eyed rookies and grizzled veterans around him. He would begin by holding the pigskin in front of him and solemnly proclaiming this truth. “Gentlemen, this is a football.” From that rather rudimentary start he would detail the importance of understanding the fundamentals of the sport. I can learn something from that approach. When I first came to faith I was so excited to learn the fundamentals of faith. How do I study the Bible? How do I pray? How
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Enjoy Another Free Chapter From Stay!

In honor of National Mutt Day my friends at Tyndale are providing another free chapter from my latest book Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. Since our newest rescue Maggie is a mutt she wanted me to feature her. This chapter relates how difficult it was for our rescued friend to learn her brand new forever name. Download “Forgetting Her Name” from Stay by clicking on this link. I hope you enjoy this sample! If you want to read the rest of Stay you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com and other fine retailers.    
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