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The Most Important Parable for Times Like These?

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

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

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

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

We All Serve Something or Somebody

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

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

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