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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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