Some Things Jesus Didn’t Say

I received a lot of feedback from a post suggesting that we make faith entirely too complicated. Jesus didn’t say figure out every theological jot and tittle. (Note to spiritual hall monitors: there is an important place for that discipline. No all caps comments please) Jesus didn’t say, “Go and clean up your act, and I will deem you a worthy follower.” He didn’t say, “Browbeat yourself and others into behaving better in order to earn the badge of righteousness.” Jesus didn’t say,  “Try harder, be more disciplined, and I will be pleased with you.” He simply said, “Follow me.” Not once. Pretty regularly. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Jesus told him, “Follow me.” (Matthew 8:22) [Jesus said,] “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) [Jesus answered,] “Come, follow me.”  (Matthew 19:21) Finding Philip, he said to him,
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Faith Over Fear

Recently our family was rocked to hear that my wonderful, kind, beautiful niece Debbie would be fighting a difficult battle in the months to come. When she heard the words bladder cancer she had the predictable responses of shock, fear, and sadness. Here is what I love about this woman. She took in the news, processed it, determined that she would fight with every ounce of strength she possessed and made it known that she was trusting God. Deb adopted a verse from Isaiah for the difficult road ahead. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NIV) This past week Debbie enjoyed a family beach getaway as she prepared for battle. Debbie knelt down and wrote this in the sand.   I loved the imagery of writing these words of trust
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Recovering From Legalism

I was introduced to Christianity in a church that put a legalistic leash on my behavior. By strict rules they believed they could force me to live a holy life. You can imagine how that worked out for a teenager in the sixties. Our denomination reminded me of characters from the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We did not have the dreaded knights who said, “Ni” but we definitely had the dreaded pastors who said, “No.” I’m certain there were several volumes filled with things that were forbidden and, not surprisingly, most of them were man-made rules. Here is a sample platter of no-no’s I was asked to follow. NO movies. (Might have been in violation) NO drinking. (Too young so I got holiness points for this one) NO mixed swimming. (I kid you not) NO television. (The temptation of Mr Ed, The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction was too strong) NO cards. (More holiness points) NO rock-and-roll
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Putting On This Lens Changes Everything!

The grand kids love the spectacular optical effects of 3D movies. They feel like they can reach out and touch the images floating right in front of them. It takes sophisticated film techniques and amazing creative talent to produce these stunning results. But there is one component that is essential to seeing all of the beauty, magic and wonder of a 3D film. A special pair of glasses that cost a few pennies make the millions of dollars of 3D production come to life. During one spectacular nature scene we were surrounded by a flock of birds. We fought the instinct to duck as they came flying right at us. Then I took off the glasses and the magic was gone. The image was blurry and flat. There was nothing special about the images without the 3D lens. There is another lens we can put on that changes everything. It is the lens of grace. The lens of grace doesn’t
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Watch for Postcards from God

What if we are stubbing our toes on the sacred every day and not realizing it? That is one of the taglines promoting my book Waking Up Slowly. The book suggests that we are the most connected culture in history but arguably the most disconnected from the awareness of God’s presence. I examine twenty-one different attitudes and actions that cause me to miss the sacred moments that I believe can be found in every day. But like the believers of the early church at Galatia I have an amazing ability to forget what I have learned (and written). Paul could have addressed this to me in recent weeks. You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for He is the one who called you to freedom. (Galatians 5:7-8, NLT) I run along smoothly for a day. Sometimes two. Then I forget who I am. Not my actual name.
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Jesus Message about Children was Revolutionary

(This is an excerpt from my book Waking Up Slowly. I don’t care how pundits, politicians, and propagandists cherry pick the words of Jesus to support their side. I do care about how the radical rabbi viewed these precious children. His teachings rocked the culture. They still should.) Jesus had some subversive teachings about children and women. We forget how revolutionary His message was in that culture. Children were viewed as expendable. In his book When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity, historian O. M. Bakke details Jesus’ radical teaching among the people of His day. An infant boy was not named until the eighth day, and an infant girl was not named until the ninth day, enough time for parents to decide if they wanted to keep their child. Those less fortunate infants, ones who were deformed or just happened to be girls, would often be killed or left to die of exposure. Bakke makes
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A Tribute to My Leader of the Band

Dan Fogelberg was a gifted songwriter who wrote “Leader of the Band”.  Fogelberg’s father was a musician and he passed that talent down to Dan. Parts of the lyric made me think of my own dad in his final years.. The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough And, papa, I don’t think I said ‘I love you’ near enough My dad knew how much I loved him. Still I wish I had told him more. But this is the portion of the song that continues to impact me as his son. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band Paul Burchett was a wonderful, kind, loving, and flawed man. I have the flawed part down. I
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