W.T. Johnston: A Life Well Lived

Over my forty-year sports broadcasting career I have met a lot of coaches. Some are famous. Some are infamous. Rarely does an interaction with a coach impact my life in a truly significant way. That happened to me when I became friends with a Newton, Texas high school football coach named W.T. Johnston. One of my assignments in 2017 was directing a number of Texas high school championship games for Fox Sports. Our preparation included a conference call with each coach. Most of the time the coaches simply tell us about their season and their players. W.T. Johnston did that in December of 2017. When a question was asked about his health challenges I was captivated by his story. Johnston had been diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 1998. That was the lung disease that ultimate took the lives of Hall of Fame football player Reggie White and comedian Bernie Mac. Johnston eventually needed a double lung transplant and at first it
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Life’s Tapestry

Years ago in a college dorm room far, far away I would drift off to sleep listening to Carole King’s Tapestry in spectacular portable cassette quality. Tapestry was the title cut of an album that Rolling Stone placed in their Top 50 all-time album list. Tapestry talks about how seemingly unrelated threads can be woven into something beautiful and even royal. I suspect that my life experience makes this a much more meaningful song than it was when we played it in a now demolished dorm room. My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue An everlasting vision of the ever changing view A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold So many threads of life that seem completely unrelated have come together to weave the tapestry of my life. My life tapestry sometimes feels tattered and ugly and ill-fitting. But as a follower of Jesus I
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A Timely Lesson from Ephesus

A favorite song from MercyMe cycled up at a good time. The lyrics from the song Greater perfectly describe my need to trust who God says I am. Bring your doubts And bring your fears Bring your hurt And bring your tears There’ll be no condemnation here You are holy, righteous and redeemed. That is the truth I have to remind myself just about every day. There is no condemnation in Christ. Yet I too often default to shame and self-effort. I have to daily remember that the grace of God is already mine. I need to remind myself everyday that I am redeemed. Paul spent a little over two years teaching and discipling the new believers in Ephesus. Just a few short years after he left Paul received reports that those new hearts had reverted to old habits. Things were a bit of a mess and the word came back that the old behaviors of rage, immorality, lying, stealing and
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Dealing With My Doubt

I am amazed by people who are so brazenly sure they are right about what they believe. I have friends who are completely sure there is no God and there is no logical need for such beliefs. They believe science is the ultimate answer for everything and they view my faith as a naive weakness and crutch. Sometimes I long to be as sure of anything as they are of everything. So I will be honest. I have wrestled with doubt in my faith journey. I am not convinced that I know everything. Here is a bit of what I wrote about that journey in Waking Up Slowly. The story line of the movie Risen was intriguing to me. Historically, there was a Nazarene who was crucified, and two groups had a tremendous interest in making sure that his death was the end of the story. The Romans wanted no movement to grow so large that it would cause political
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What was Good about Good Friday?

I often wonder what it was like for followers of Jesus on the day he was killed. They saw nothing good about that Friday. They went from great hope to complete despair. To their eyes everything they had put their faith in died on a cruel Cross. No doubt they were scared, confused, and hopeless. They did not know on that dark day that the hope of this season was all about Sunday. Tony Campolo writes about a life changing sermon he heard in his book It’s Friday but Sunday’s Comin’. (Note to spiritual cyber hall monitors…I know Mr.Campolo is controversial. Just enjoy this illustration, take a deep breath, and move away from the keyboard). Campolo writes about hearing a wise African-American pastor preach about the events of Easter week. For an hour and a half he preached one line over and over again…”It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’!” He started his sermon real softly by saying, “It was Friday; it was Friday and my
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One Word I Hate

I am trying to limit my use of the word hate. I don’t say that I hate those who oppose my faith. I don’t hate those who have opposite political views. I don’t even hate the Pittsburgh Steelers even though that will get my Browns Backers pass revoked. I do, however, have a few things for which I will use the word hate. One thing I hate is legalism in Christianity. Legalism is answering to the wrong source of authority. My faith journey began in a legalistic church and I will probably always walk with a bit of a spiritual limp. Legalism takes the sweet Gospel of Jesus Christ and mixes in some “churchified” version of the law. Church by-laws often occupy equal footing with God’s Word. Righteousness is no longer about Christ but about right behavior as only they define it. Legalism cherry picks verses that support behavioral control while conveniently ignoring dozens of verses about grace, forgiveness, kindness, love, gentleness and forbearance. Focusing on
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Life Happens

The goal of my book Waking Up Slowly was to examine actions and attitudes that cause us to be less connected to God and one another. One of the things you can be sure of when you write or teach about your faith is that you will get a pop quiz on your own material. John Lennon famously wrote that “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”. I think we can all relate to that. You have expectations for a day or project that are derailed by unseen events. Schedules don’t line up. People let you down. The daily rhythms of life can be frustrating. At times if feels like the universe is conspiring against you. But I believe there is joy to be found and sacred moments to discover in the most frustrating situations. My lovely wife calls these moments “postcards from God”. Satan relentlessly reminds us of how bad our situation is and that we
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