Laws curbing freedom have disastrous results

Curtis Shelburne G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” It’s no surprise that it’s easier to spend time talking about Christianity than it is to spend time practicing it. The same thing is true regarding freedom: freedom is easier […]

Pastors show God’s works

Curtis Shelburne All honorable work is God’s work, a calling, and anyone serious about doing a good job in his/her work derives priceless benefit from the example of respected mentors. Surely teachers and doctors, business folks and farmers, all need mentors to encourage them to “soldier on.” One of my most influential mentors is a […]

Our character written all over our faces

Curtis Shelburne “At [the age of] 50,” writes George Orwell, “everyone has the face he deserves.” Well, that kinda hurts, largely because I suspect it’s true! Not long ago, I happened to rush past a mirror at church, shot it a quick glance, and then almost broke my neck in the subsequent double-take. Somebody else […]

Those who profess holiness loudly usually not

You already know this, right? But you should never trust the “holiness” of anyone who is loudly “holy.” According to recent news reports, a treasure trove of “intelligence” information is not the only thing Osama bin Laden had locked up in his hideout in Pakistan; he also had stacked up a serious stash of pornography. […]

Easier to put faith in God than in weather predictions

Curtis Shelburne I’m afraid I’ve missed my best chance ever to be a weatherman. Weather-person. Meteorologist. Atmospheric prognosticator. If there ever was a year to break into the business, this was the year. If to be successful at such, all you have to do is aim at a half-way accurate forecast and hit the target […]

Trading places with God is a serious mistake

Curtis Shelburne I rarely write sequels to these columns, but last week I wrote about the trouble with perfectionism, and I can’t quit thinking about it. The best way to unburden myself of such thoughts is to burden you with them, so brace yourself for Round 2. A friend and pastoral colleague reading my column […]

Perfection not a goal

Curtis Shelburne This column is only for perfectionists, recovering perfectionists, or people trying to live with perfectionists. A genuine perfectionist thinks perfectionism is a virtue. He is perfectly wrong, but I wish you luck in convincing him. He is also probably tired and testy. It is exhausting to be the only one really concerned about […]

Resurrection hope in the midst of calamity

Curtis Shelburne As most of our friends and parishioners know, my brothers and I, all four of us preachers, head to Robert Lee, Texas, a couple of times a year to spend some time together at the old homeplace of our maternal grandparents. The other guys usually manage to get there, each alone, from one […]

Communicating God’s truth calls for wisdom

Curtis Shelburne I still remember, and cringe when I remember, the TV interview I saw years ago featuring a Scripture-quoting preacher or church leader trying to defend the well-meaning but largely indefensible actions his church had taken which had landed them in court. I felt bad for the guy. He’d not done anything needlessly provocative […]

Religion should be more about doing good than following rules

“Just try harder!” urged the ladybug. “I am trying,” protested the stressed-out caterpillar. “And I’ve been trying for hours! So far the only thing that’s happened is that I got so dizzy a few minutes ago I almost fell off my leaf. “If I’d fallen, I’d surely agree that some wings would’ve come in handy. […]

Regular church attendance can make you fat

Curtis Shelburne Have you heard the latest “health” news? It seems that going to church—I mean really going, so regularly that folks notice when you’re absent—not just going at Christmas and Easter and whenever completely convenient and the barometric pressure is right and none of the kids are kicking balls and no relatives are visiting […]

Sins of spirit always deadliest

Curtis Shelburne A few years ago, I did something I’d never done before. Along with two writing partners, I tried my hand at penning some short pieces for what we hoped might become a series of gift books. We had in mind some little volumes entitled something like, “Dear Mom,” “Dear Dad,” “Dear Teacher,” etc. […]

What we need is a 24-hour courage cycle

I’m increasingly convinced that the modern 24-hour news cycle blesses almost no one. With nothing really new to report, even in the midst of the kind of crises the talking heads love to talk about, and talk about, and talk about, the never-pausing news organizations become a kind of TV Twitter assailing those of us […]

Metamorphoses seen throughout bible

Curtis K. Shelburne Metamorphosis. It’s a cool-sounding word. I like the way it rolls off the tongue. It’s one of those words that we’ve just trucked in completely “as is” from one language—in this case, Greek—right over into English. You see, “metamorphosis” comes from the Greek word—wait for it!—“metamorphosis.” “Meta” has to do with “change,” […]

Morning ‘blessings’ can easily turn sour

Curtis K. Shelburne One of my favorite bits of wisdom is Proverbs 27:14: “If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” It comes right before another great one: “A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm” (27:15). I take verse […]

How dare you?! Who do you think you are?

How dare you?!” That was the indignant question the pompous religious authorities put to Jesus after he wove his now-famous whip of cords and drove the animal-sellers and money-changers out of the Temple. “Show us a miraculous sign,” they demanded, “to prove that you have the authority to do what you’ve done here today!” When […]

Loving can be costly, but it’s worth the price

Loving can be hard. Just look in John 11. We’re told, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” (11:5). A lot of loving is going on in this chapter! Love is a wonderful thing, but if we think loving is easy, well, that’s rarely true, and it’s certainly not the case here. If […]

Way back to Father through Jesus

Curtis Shelburne We are all on a journey. What is particularly ironic about the journey is that we spend most of our lives trying to get back where we started. We spend most of our lives trying to fulfill our deepest longing, the desire to be home, truly home. If you think about the journey […]

Genuine joy comes from God

Curtis Shelburne It’s snowing outside. That suits me fine. I love snow. (It’s also blowing a gale, and that’s not so lovely, but …) I might be tempted to claim that I brought the snow home with me from an “instead of Christmas gifts” ski trip our family took to the mountains last weekend, but […]

The order of cars on this train matters

Curtis K. Shelburne Samuel Taylor Coleridge uttered profound truth when he warned, “He who begins by loving Christianity more than Truth, will proceed by loving his sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all.” It’s a matter of priority. It’s like the toy train you might set up around […]