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Friends Who Are Good For Your Soul

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

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

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

Stopping the Slow Rot of Sin

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

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

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

Groundhog Day Faith?

Every year they rudely awaken Punxsutawney Phil long enough for the prognosticating rodent to let us know whether six more weeks of winter awaits. Phil always looks about as happy as I do when when I am disturbed in the morning. Twenty-six years ago a funny and underappreciated movie came on the scene. Groundhog Day told the story of a self-absorbed news reporter (redundancy alert?) that finds himself stuck in an endless repeat of the same day. Bill Murray is perfect in the role of reporter Phil Connors. Reporter Phil is less than thrilled that he has been assigned to cover Punxsutawney Phil’s annual peek outside to predict winter’s duration. He feels he is “above” such an inane assignment. Connor’s looks into the camera and cynically reports: “This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.” The premise of the movie is that Phil Connors realizes he is doomed to live
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