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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Priest doing a sermon


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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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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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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Young lamb on the road after escaping the fences

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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steps of change to spiritual growth

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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American football balland de-focused players

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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