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Does Your Faith Feel Like Groundhog Day?

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-five 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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ethan grip

The Power of a Father’s Touch

It is hard to believe it has been seven years since I posted this article. Our first foray into the amazing world of grand parenting came with the birth of Ethan Paul Burchett in Waco, Texas. Since Ethan was a bit early the doctors were cautious about some fluid building up in his lungs. To be sure that all was well they scheduled an x-ray on his second day. New dad Matt went along with Ethan for the procedure. Unswaddling made the little guy unhappy and scared. As he grew more anxious his dad did what every loving father does for their child. He touched him to let Ethan know he was there.. Our friend Jana happened to be at the nursery and captured the candid moment. I keep thinking about that moment. How Matt instinctively knew that Ethan needed that touch and how Ethan wrapped his little fingers around dad’s big finger. Instinctively, Ethan calmed down when he felt the touch of his
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Wounded Souls Often Drift Away

An old favorite, Drift Away by Dobie Gray, cycled up on the iPod today. Day after day I’m more confused So I look for the light in the pouring rain You know that’s a game that I hate to lose I’m feelin’ the strain, ain’t it a shame Those lyrics cause me to reflect on the millions of emotionally lonely and hurting people in a country of ridiculous wealth. I have a heart for wounded people and especially those wounded by the church. I regularly receive notes from people who have left the church because of ugly experiences with people who claim the title of Christian. I can’t dispute those folks’ claim to a relationship with Jesus. But they surely are not acting like Jesus taught His followers to act. Only when we love others sacrificially can our message be received. Paul described how that looks. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly
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Politics and Jesus

Nothing like starting out the week by discussing two of the three forbidden topics: politics and Jesus. I used to be a rabid political guy. I once believed we could change the culture with the right political leaders. I was right to have the dream but wrong about the method. Even if I could get my “dream team” elected we would still have a problem in our culture. Sin. Politics and law don’t change that inconvenient truth (apologies to Al Gore) that we have an inherent human heart problem. Jesus gave us a perfect example of what it looks like to be a good citizen while recognizing what really changes the heart of man. The religious legalists (the Pharisees) were trying to trick Jesus to get Him in trouble with the Roman government. Nice try. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell
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mirror

How Does God See Me?

Philip Yancey wrote this insightful paragraph in his book “What’s So Amazing about Grace?”. “Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?” Indeed. One of my biggest struggles has been trusting that what God says is true about me is actually true. That is not a very flattering admission on my part. I have read this verse from Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth dozens of times: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Because of Christ I have a new identity. I am righteous because of Him and not because of trying
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Don’t Store Your 2018 Hope in the Attic

Last week I finished one of my least favorite tasks of the year. Taking down the Christmas decorations always makes me melancholy. I love Christmas and the message of hope it brings. That God entered human form and gave us hope in a Savior who understands our struggle. We packed up a treasured Nativity creche that has been a part of our family tradition for decades. That miracle in Bethlehem is where I place my joy as I head into a very unstable New Year. I find my joy in the Messiah, the Lord – who was born in the city of David. It is so easy to remember the reason for hope during Christmas. But now that we are past this wonderful season it is very easy to pack my hope away and unpack lots of worry. The twenty-four news cycle feeds on negativity. Hearing the message of gloom and doom over and over has it’s effect on even the most steadfast
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There are NO Misfits 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 returns with the 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 a “Charlie in the
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