daveburchettDave Burchett

All articles by daveburchett

 

Tomorrow is the Day!

Finally, the official release of Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace happens Tuesday, February 24th. Spread the word! http://www.daveburchett.com/my-books/stay-lessons-my-dogs-taught-me-about-life-loss-and-grace/
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4 Love Lessons My Rescued Dogs Taught Me

(Re-posted from Crosswalk.com) “Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace” is a collection of spiritual truths I learned from my rescued Labrador Retrievers Hannah and Maggie. Martin Luther wrote about his canine companions. “The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made his greatest gifts the commonest.” We can learn so much from these faithful friends about life, love, and grace. Who knew that some of my most profound lessons would be taught by a couple of rescued puppies? Here is a sampler from the book. Love Your Life Is there a better example of this than a canine companion? If only we could live like we were just let off the leash to run in freedom and joyous abandon. I wish I enjoyed anything as much as my dog enjoys everything! Enjoy the day you have. Sure, life can be hard
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Free Preview of Stay!

We are just over a week away from the release of my new book. Tyndale Publishing has provided a free preview of the Intro, Forward and Chapter 1 for you to sample. Click on this link and then download the preview by clicking the “First Chapter Free” button at the top of the page. I would be grateful if you helped spread the word.    
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A Wonderful Endorsement

I am very excited and honored to have received this praise from a truly credible source for Stay. You can count on one opposable thumb how many books hold my interest. But Dave Burchett has written an incredible piece that describes what we’ve been trying to model to you all about God’s grace, His astonishing love, and what life feels like when humans discover who He’s remade them to be, even on their worst day. And the pages smell like a freshly cut lawn. I gotta get my master to read this! ~ Bali Lynch    John Lynch’s Golden Retriever Bali, who loves to chew on her master’s books The Cure and On My Worst Day Thanks Bali! Your best friend writes some pretty good books! Give him a nuzzle for all of us.
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The Dogs of Stay: Maggie and Discipline

I am delighted to share a brief snippet of my new book Stay. The book releases in less than 2 weeks. You can pre-order a copy now by clicking here. Today Maggie and I traversed the usual path. She sniffed and I listened to a podcast as we paced briskly through a comfortable Texas fall morning. She spotted something and moved toward the curb. My eye caught something at the same time, and I jerked violently on her leash to pull her toward me. She looked surprised, puzzled at what she had done wrong for such a harsh correction from me. The truth was that she hadn’t done anything wrong. Some knucklehead had shattered a beer bottle and a jagged piece was right in her path. She could have been seriously cut by the razor-sharp glass. I was thankful I had spotted it, but I could see that my action confused and maybe hurt Maggie’s feelings. I needed to assure
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The Dogs of Stay: Sweet Hannah and Condemnation

I am delighted to share a brief snippet of my new book Stay. The book releases in about 2 weeks. You can pre-order a copy now at my website. Paul talks about no condemnation from an eternal perspective. It is the passage that contains a verse that has already played a role in this journey. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but
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The Dogs of Stay – I Once Was Lost

Several years ago youngest son and dog lover Brett called from Baylor University. He had spotted five abandoned puppies along the side of the road. He tried to round them up but could only catch one. Brett called to let me know that he intended to bathe, feed, care for the dog and then take him to the Humane Society on Monday for adoption. I knew I was in trouble when Brett decided to let me know what his rescued puppy looked like. I called the lovely Mrs.Burchett. “He is working me,” I told her. “He is falling in love with this dog.” On Sunday I was driving through Waco and I stopped to see Brett and his alleged short term friend. The way this puppy followed Brett around and looked at him was astounding. He appeared to sense that Brett was, for him, the canine version of Amazing Grace. That dog seemed to understand that he once was lost and now was
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The Dogs of Stay – Shake it Off!

Leading up to the release of Stay I will be posting some brief excerpts from the book. This lesson came from a summer outing and watching Hannah “shake off” water in impressive fashion. The life lesson from Hannah was not how to shake off water. What I need to learn is how she can shake off rejection and disappointment way better than I can. If I say no, Hannah doesn’t get insecure and touchy. When she is rejected, she doesn’t start wondering why she is not good enough. She doesn’t hear condemning barks from her puppyhood. She doesn’t flash back to her littermates mocking her with cruel yips. She doesn’t think, Maybe Dad doesn’t like that toy; if I bring his favorite toy I’m sure he won’t be able to resist. Hannah doesn’t slink away and hide, thinking she is worthless if I don’t respond. She simply accepts that now is not the time and communicates through her body language
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The Dogs of Stay – Part 2

One of the great philosophical questions of our age was addressed lyrically a few years ago. And I quote from that thoughtful anthem by Baja Men. Who let the dogs out (woof, woof, woof, woof) (woof, woof, woof, woof) Today we know a partial answer to that haunting query. On February 24th Tyndale Publishing House will let the dogs of Stay out to your E-Reader, bookstore, and online vendor of choice. As a lead up to that day we thought it would be fun to do some bios of the dogs featured in my new book. The stars of the book are Hannah and our new rescued friend Maggie. Hannah was our amazing friend and canine comforter during Joni’s cancer journey nine years ago. Hannah’s best canine friend was Sadie. Our son Scott adopted Sadie while attending Baylor University and it was love at first sight for both of them.      A bit later Hannah joined the family and these
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The Dogs of Stay

I almost changed the title of this series of canine bios leading up to the release of my new book Stay. The title sounded like the followup reality series to the Housewives of Orange County. But rest assured the Dogs of Stay are far less catty. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. I am really excited about Stay and I thought it would be fun to get to know some of the “stars” of my new book. First up is our unforgettable Golden Retriever Charlie.       Puppy Charlie making sure the dishes are all clean. Most of us remember our dogs because they leave paw prints on our heart. Charlie certainly did that. But just to make sure he was not forgotten he left chew marks on our table, scratch marks on our doors and teeth marks on our doorknobs. I quoted John Grogan (of Marley fame) in Stay about the charm of dogs like Charlie. “Dogs are great. Bad dogs, if we
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Can We Ever Really Get Together?

A peace 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 the static on my 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
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Hump Day Hope – Power Versus Influence

The pundits are parsing the State of the Union address this morning. My friend Ed Underwood wrote a wonderful piece on the topic of power versus influence. Today I yield my space to the gentleman from California. (Reposted from EdUnderwood.com.) Every time Jesus’ first disciples dreamed of position and power, He warned them that His measure of greatness was serving (Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45). When we ignore His warning dreams of position and power sidetrack us. Books and sermons on a Christian’s relationship to government often fail to distinguish between political power and cultural influence. The primary passages—Matthew 5:13-16, Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, 1 Peter 2:13-16—clearly teach us that our role is to use whatever position we have to influence society toward righteousness and justice as we submit to governmental authority. Biblically, influence and power are not the same. The influence is ours, but the power is God’s. Historically, when Christians confuse the two, we lose both—today and forever. Confusing influence
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Monday Musing: Redeemed. Believe it.

One of my phone apps offers new music that I can redeem from the app. Recently I went to download a song and this message came up. Already redeemed. I had already acquired the song. There was no need for further redemption. It was mine. How I wish I could trust that for my relationship with God. A song by Big Daddy Weave called “Redeemed” sums up my struggle and encourages me to know that I am not alone in this battle. Seems like all I can see was the struggle Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past Bound up in shackles of all my failures Wondering how long is this gonna last Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son stop fighting a fight that’s already been won” That is the truth I have to remind myself just about every day. The fight has already been won. Yet I too often live as if my
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Where Is My Treasure?

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

A song by James Taylor called “You’ve Got a Friend”  has been on my heart this week. Life can be really hard. Good friends are a big part of making it to the finish line successfully. Taylor’s lyrics resonated with me after returning from seeing friends in California. Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend. Ain’t it? Real friends are a treasure. We spend so much time acquiring stuff. We spend so much time acquiring titles and power. We often spend far too little developing real friends. When the world comes crashing in what you really need is a not a Ferrari. You need a friend. True friends fill your bucket with affirmation and love. True friends tell you the truth about yourself in a way that you can stand to hear it. This past weekend Joni and I were incredibly blessed to spend the weekend with friends like that. We go back a long way with Ed
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Weekend Wildcard – We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are

I miss Rich Mullins. Hard to believe that it is approaching twenty years ago that Mullins was killed in a car accident in Illinois. His music is still all over my iPod and one of his songs is the subject of the Weekend Wildcard. The song is called “We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are” and it 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. Yet pride tells me that I am able to handle the situation. Fear tells me that telling the truth in love will only make it worse. So one little lie or misunderstanding dealt
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Hump Day Hope: Quit Tryin’ So Stinkin’ Hard

One of my favorite speakers/authors is Steve Brown. He speaks from his heart and with an honesty that only comes from a man who knows how desperately he needs Jesus to cover his considerable sins (his words). I recently started his new book “When Being Good Isn’t Good Enough” and I am loving it. He correctly states that all of us on this journey with Jesus desire to be holy and righteous. How to get there is where so many of us get derailed. Steve Brown says that we are killing ourselves to achieve what we already have. That holiness and righteousness have already been achieved for us by Christ at the Cross. Here is a snippet of Steve Brown’s book. “That is a cold hard fact; you don’t have to try so much anymore to be holy and righteous. You are now free to fail and, more importantly, free to allow Him to love you and to love Him
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Done

One of my favorite songs from Tenth Avenue North popped up in the rotation recently. The song “You Are More” talks about a young woman lost in fear and shame. She says, “How did I get here? I’m not who I once was. And I’m crippled by the fear That I’ve fallen too far to love” That is a lie from the very pit of hell. The lyrics beautifully convey that no one has gone too far to experience God’s amazing Grace. But don’t you know who you are, What’s been done for you? Yeah don’t you know who you are? You are more than the choices that you’ve made, You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, You are more than the problems you create, You’ve been remade. Most of us have heard the passage from 2nd Corinthians preached over and over. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time
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God’s Weight Loss Plan for 2015

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 2015. 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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Avoiding 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 football coach proud. The build up to Christmas goes on for weeks and then, almost before you can file a Nativity lawsuit, it is over. I felt a little melancholy. Somehow I managed to let another Christmas sneak up on me and pass me by while I was busy getting “ready” for the day. I have a calendar. I know from the Beach Boys helpful lyrics that Christmas comes this time each year. How does this happen? Maybe the idea of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a good one if we can pare down the odd and sometimes messy gift
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My Grown-up Christmas List

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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Need Another Gift Idea For Jesus?

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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Gift Ideas For 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 Horror of War Paused by a Silent Night

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

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

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

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

(Today I am re-posting one of my favorite Christmas articles. Consider it “regifting” and feel free to regift to others!) Recently I poured over the new titles at the local Christian bookstore. The usual suspects dominated most of the shelf space. One of the most important books in my Christian journey was not displayed. And that is a shame. Because this book has a message that needs to be heard. The original version of the book was entitled TrueFaced and the newest revision is called The Cure.  I don’t think I have ever had a book (excluding the inspired one) impact me as much as this one. I am borrowing one little bit of content that is very timely during this month. John Lynch is one of the authors of the book and in this section he addresses how we are programmed from childhood to default to performance theology. He calls it the “Santa Claus is Coming to Town theology”.
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Weekend Wildcard: What I Need for Christmas…

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

Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. I love the music, the memories, the traditions and the chance to annually think about Burl Ives. His memory will come back again with the 50th annual airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Ives is the voice of Sam the Snowman who narrates the “enhanced” story of Rudolph. Rudolph and his elf buddy Hermey don’t fit in with the others. Rudolph looks different than the others. Hermey is not interested in making toys. In an odd plot twist, Hermey wants to be a dentist. Not surprisingly, his elf supervisor is upset with the unproductive Hermey. So the two outcasts set off to find their fame and fortune.                                                       The part of the story that resonates with me these days is when Hermey and Rudolph find their way to the Island of Misfit Toys. All of the toys on this island are castoffs because they are flawed or deemed as worthless. There is
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Monday Musing: A Truly Black Friday

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

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

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

I love watching the giant balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade floating through New York as wide-eyed children watch. I love the traditional football games. The official start of the Christmas season. The post feast nap. I love Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter captures the intimacy of this wonderful holiday. Grateful for each hand we hold Gathered round this table. From far and near we travel home, Blessed that we are able. I have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for another year with my best friend and bride Joni. I am grateful for three wonderful sons, two amazing daughter-in-laws, and three heart stealing grandchildren. I am blessed that our family will be able to be together this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for good friends. I am grateful for the abundant blessings of this country. Grateful for this sheltered place With light in every window, Saying “welcome, welcome, share this feast Come
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Weekend Wildcard: Blessings Are Not Always Obvious

A very dear friend is going through a deep trial. This faithful follower prays for wisdom, guidence, assurance and peace. The result so far is confusing. When they pray to hear the voice of God they hear spiritual crickets. Nothing. The frustration is real. I want to do something to help and all I can offer is prayer and presence. But when we study how God works in our lives should we be surprised with the process? A song by Laura Story resonated with my soul on a recent walk. The song is called “Blessings” and the words are profound. We pray for blessings We pray for peace Comfort for family, protection while we sleep We pray for healing, for prosperity There is nothing inherently wrong with praying for those things. But my attempt to maneuver God to grant my wishes is wrong. Laying out my will and praying for God’s notary seal is not what He desires. Blessings are
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Hump Day Hope: Welcome to Stupid Week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing like starting out the week by discussing two of the three forbidden topics: politics and religion. In just a few days far too few of us will cast a vote to elect representatives and pass or discard new laws and initiatives. The ramp up to election day is predictable. Nasty television spots with ominous music and apocalyptic announcers dominate the TV lineup. Tasteless mailers full of half-truths and hysterical predictions of doom arrive in our mailbox. What should a Christian make of all of this? I used to be a rabid political guy. I once believed that with the right political leaders we could change the culture. I was wrong. Getting certain political leaders in place might help with some issues that matter to me. But even if I get my “dream team” elected we will still have a problem in our culture. Sin. Politics and law don’t change that inconvenient truth (apologies to Al Gore) that we have
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Weekend Wildcard…Big Announcement!

I guess you run a risk when you title something a big announcement. I hope you are not disappointed when you hear the news. Those who have followed my humble ramblings over the years know that I love dogs, grace, my family, baseball and Jesus. Probably not the best ordering of those but you get my point. The big announcement is a new book that combines all of those loves. The title might explain why I slipped “dogs” in first on my list above. Next February Tyndale House Publishing will release Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace. When my best canine friend Hannah was diagnosed with cancer I decided to start writing about the lessons I had learned and was learning from her. When I shared those journals with friends they insisted I put them into a book. To be honest, I resisted. When we rescued a second Labrador I continued to write about lessons
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Hump Day Hope – Religion vs Relationship

The Hump Day Hope comes from two of my favorite grace rabble-rousers. My friend Ed Underwood wrote an excellent piece about our innate mistrust of grace. The title alone was enough to generate deep thought. Before You Decide that Grace is Too Radical: Who Thought of Grace? Religion is about control and performance. Jesus changed the dynamic completely and made it about relationship. Ed’s writes that the idea of grace does not come from the heart or mind of man. If you leave human beings to themselves and ask them, “If there’s a God, what do you think He’d demand from people if they wanted to have a relationship with Him?” the answer is always the same, “Be good enough for Him to accept you!” Grace says you can’t be good enough to earn it. Grace says you can’t be too bad to receive it. Grace gives up the need to control. Grace gives up the requirement to perform for
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Monday Musing: Second Chances

Joni and I took a field trip this weekend with our grandson to the Gentle Zoo in Forney, Texas. It is a fun and kid friendly place where you can feed animals by hand. Our grandson’s favorite animals to feed were the goats. They were sweet and gentle as they took the food out of your hand. Not so nice was an overbearing Llama that forced his way into every feeding opportunity. We were warned that this critter would spit in your face if you made eye contact with him. That sounded too much like a couple of people I have encountered recently so we avoided him. What caught my eye was a sign posted around the grounds. That made the trip more special to know that many of the animals had been rescued from abusive or neglectful situations. It even allowed me to give a bit of grace to the spittin’ Llama (but I still kept a wary distance).
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