Priest doing a sermon

Following Jesus in an Angry World

I have been thinking and praying a lot about following Jesus in the current climate. How can I represent the grace and love of Jesus in a culture that is angry and divided? I read pundits and commentators saying terrible things about the motives of Evangelicals as if all people of faith act in lockstep. To be fair, some of their accusations are valid. I wrote a book called “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People Happen to Good People” so I would suggest I have no problem owning the shortcomings of Christians. In some circles you bring up Evangelical Christians at the risk of getting your hair parted. Too often the church has made what we stand against the message of our faith instead of the wonderful and liberating Good News of the Gospel. The word Evangelical literally means “Good News”. Is that the connotation the word has in our culture today? Do we share in the degeneration of
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The Most Important Thing in the Church

This week the Most Valuable Players in Major League Baseball were announced and it reminded me of a former baseball MVP. I have written a lot about how people in the church do considerable damage with actions and words that do not reflect Jesus. I have been frustrated by Christians who receive grace willingly and deny it to others. I see division in the body of Christ where we should see unity. It occurred to me that the church does not understand a few key principles that winning baseball teams understand. The first thing that winning teams understand is that every teammate brings strengths and weaknesses to the team. A great team celebrates the strengths of each player and works together to offset the weaknesses. I pondered this as I was reading about the career of Joe Gordon. In 1942 Gordon led the American League in strikeouts. He made more errors that year than any other second baseman. He hit into more double plays
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The Beauty of Refining Trials

My lovely wife loves pottery, so one of my “sacrificial” ways to love Joni is to accompany her to pottery shops. Guys refer to that as “hitting behind the runner” or “taking the charge.” Once we visited a shop where the artisans were making vases and pots right before our eyes, surrounded by shelves of the colorful, beautiful, and functional finished products. While Joni looked around, I watched a potter take a nondescript lump of clay and skillfully make a unique creation. This verse from Isaiah came to mind. O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.  (Isaiah 64:8) I was fascinated by the complexity of the process. The potter must make sure that no dirt or impurities are in the clay. These unwanted materials will make the pot weak and unusable for its intended purpose. God desires to do the same with us. Impurities (sin) weaken us and
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We All Serve Something

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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Don’t Know Much About…

I used to get nervous around Biblical scholars. They would start talking about the text in the original languages and I realized the only Greek I understood was yogurt. To be honest, some of the theologians I encountered did not seem like anyone I would want to be around on purpose. It seemed like some theologians were to joy in Christ what nutritionists were to enjoying cheesecake. They both took something full of delight and made you feel mostly bad about it. Yet something has changed in my life. I saw the need for a solid theological basis for what I believe. All of this came to mind when Sam Cooke’s classic Wonderful World popped up in my iTunes. You know the one where Sam builds a strong case for academic slacking actually being a strength. Don’t know much about history Don’t know much biology Don’t know much about a science book Don’t know much about the french I took But
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As I was finishing my first book the editor at Waterbrook Publishing asked me to submit some potential titles. I sent ten suggestions but, in keeping with my character, three of them were jokes. Imagine my surprise when one of my “smart aleck” ideas was chosen as the official title. That is how the book became “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People”. I had no idea how much that book would resonate with people who had been wounded by the church. I started the book with a rather unusual disclaimer. I must begin with some words of disclosure. I am a hypocrite. I can be arrogant and selfish. I have been known to stretch, conceal, or slightly massage the truth. I am sometimes inconsiderate and insecure. I struggle with lust and impure thoughts. My ego often rages out of control, and I battle foolish pride. I can be lazy and foolhardy with my time. I get angry, petty, and
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My Response to Circumstances is a Choice

This was an interesting week. The lovely Mrs. Burchett acquired a brand new knee on Monday (so I was nursing and not musing last week). She is doing great and will be chasing grand kids in short order. The day before surgery a brief but violent storm took down multiple power poles in our neighborhood leaving us without power. We hoped it would be quickly resolved but the reports said we would likely be without power until Friday. Now I had a conundrum dealing with a convalescing wife in a home without power. Do I curse the darkness (literally) or do I address the problem with determination and good cheer? That is a choice. I would venture that any energy wasted on complaining and assigning blame is wasted energy. I put out a call to friends and family for a generator. We found one and had the generator up and running by Monday night. We were able to power the
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