Unselfish Love: A Real Gift That Matters

Posted Feb 14th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Unselfish Love: A Real Gift That Matters
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Uh oh. It seems that the date for this column should probably indicate its content. Rats! If the whole thing reads like it was written by a Valentine’s Day grinch, I should just plead guilty.
It’s almost certainly good for husbands like me to have a deadline that calls for something on the order of flowers, gifts, candy, seriously over-priced cards, etc. I have difficulty appreciating the Madison Avenue manipulation, but I...

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Irreplaceable: When a Mary, a Martha, or a Dorcas Goes Home

Posted Feb 7th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Irreplaceable: When a Mary, a Martha, or a Dorcas Goes Home
By Curtis K. Shelburne
You probably didn’t notice a wobble in the earth’s rotation, a split-second tilt in its axis, a brief cosmic stutter last Wednesday. Neither did I.
But when I learned later that a sweet lady in Amarillo named Melba Joy had passed away suddenly that day, I immediately felt an emptiness in my soul, a pain in my heart, and a deep sense of loss. And I confess to...

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Even for Night Owls, God's Mercies Are "New Every Morning"

Posted Jan 31st, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Even for Night Owls, God’s Mercies Are “New Every Morning”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
What a sweet morning I’ve just experienced! And this from a person not in the habit of gushing about mornings. A “morning person,” I am not.
The preceding sentence is just a fact. No moral ramifications are attached. Not by me. I have actually even met a few humble morning folks who seem to harbor no self-righteous “early to rise” prejudices. I refer the others to mounting research and...

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Mature "Little Children" Could Solve the Government Shutdown

Posted Jan 24th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Mature “Little Children” Could Solve the Government Shutdown
By Curtis K. Shelburne
As I write, it is Day 31 of the longest government shutdown in the history of our nation.
I tend to think that a much longer, much more permanent, shutdown of a good many regulation-spawning government bureaucracies would be about as detrimental to our nation as a cure for cancer would be to our health.
But life (and government) is neither that simple nor that fair. We actually need many of the...

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Reverse Snobbery and "All Things New"

Posted Jan 17th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Reverse Snobbery and “All Things New”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
A big part of this is reverse snobbery, I know, but I love my old pickup truck.
That faithful machine already had 90,000 miles on it when I flew down to Houston a bunch of years ago, laid eyes on it, and fell in love. The original owner must have loved that truck, too, because he took great care of it.
I probably haven’t been quite as faithful in that department. I try to...

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January Is a Good Time for Looking in Both Directions

Posted Jan 10th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


January Is a Good Time for Looking in Both Directions
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Well, here we find ourselves again in January, and maybe some reflection is in order.
On the one hand, author Thomas Mann is right: “Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.”...

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In God We Trust--Not in Us

Posted Dec 31st 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


In God We Trust—Not in Us
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I am writing this column on December 26. Christmas is not even close to being over. This is only the second of the “twelve days of Christmas,” which was a season a very long time before it was a song.
I’m whistling in the wind, I know, but I prefer to stand with the wisdom of the centuries on this one and not with Western marketing. My little $5 tree and the lights...

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Christmas Is Only as Strong as Its Weakest Link

Posted Dec 24th 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Christmas Is Only as Strong as Its Weakest Link
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I don’t usually think of Christmas and chains as going together, unless I’m reading about the ponderously-chained Ghost of Christmas Past who so terrorized old Ebenezer Scrooge! But I believe this to be true: Christmas is a “chain” which is only as strong as its weakest link.
If Christmas deals only with lights and tinsel, egg nog and poinsettias (all of which I enjoy very much, I hope you understand),...

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The Song of Christmas Is a Song of Hope

Posted Dec 20th 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


The Song of Christmas Is a Song of Hope
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Hope. One of the most beautiful of words, hope is very near the heart of this season. 
For me, the Christmas-singing season usually starts in earnest about the second week in December. I start listening to Christmas music sooner than that, and I’ll usually sing one or two Christmas programs earlier, but the sleigh really gets moving in that second week. And whenever I sing those songs, at the center...

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Only One Child Really Is Wisdom's Child

Posted Dec 13th 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Only One Child Really Is Wisdom’s Child
By Curtis K. Shelburne
If extraterrestrials were to land in our part of the world seeking intelligent life, I often think they’d return to their mother ship reporting that none exists. I do not believe extraterrestrials exist, but on this point, I tend to agree with their nonexistent little selves.  
We pay for little plastic bottles filled up with water most often from municipal water supplies exotic because they are not ours. Refilling a bottle...

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Christmas Trees Don't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful

Posted Dec 6th 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Christmas Trees Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful
By Curtis K. Shelburne
My earliest Christmas memories are mostly wrapped around our family’s Christmas trees.
I remember Mom making creamy hot chocolate and my sister stacking the spindle of the old record player with an inch-high pile of vintage vinyl Christmas music by Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and the Norman Luboff Choir.
Most years the tree had already been bought at (where else?) Amarillo’s Boy Scout Troop 80 Christmas...

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Why Does God Attend Worship?

Posted Nov 29th 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Why Does God Attend Worship?
By Curtis K. Shelburne
A number of years ago now, I took some of our family 70 miles down the road looking for a little dose of culture. We went to hear the symphony, and, with them, the man who’s arguably the best classical guitarist in the world. Christopher Parkening’s performance that evening reminded me of one of my own. No kidding.
The orchestra with which I performed was conducted by Mrs. Stevens, who was not only the...

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Father Tim Kavanagh and Thanksgiving

Posted Nov 22nd 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Father Tim Kavanagh and Thanksgiving
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I’ve been enjoying re-reading Jan Karon’s books set in Mitford, North Carolina, centering on the life and ministry of the community’s Episcopal priest, Father Tim Kavanagh.
I like Father Tim. My wife goes farther: she says I am Father Tim. My wife is usually right, but she’s wrong on this one. Father Tim is a much better pastor and a much nicer fellow than the preacher my wife lives with. But nonetheless it does...

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Epitaph: Love Is Always Greater Than Power

Posted Nov 15th 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Epitaph: Love Is Always Greater Than Power
By Curtis K. Shelburne
This morning in The Wall Street Journal I read a well-written obituary by James R. Hagerty focusing on a woman who so loved to be in the spotlight that her former husband—she had four and divorced four—simply said, “To say that [she] loved publicity would be a massive understatement. She lived for publicity.”
Hagerty wrote, “More than 30 years before she died, she had her own tombstone engraved,” noting on it that...

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A Life or Death Fight in the Backyard Bird House

Posted Nov 8th 2018, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


A Life or Death Fight in the Backyard Bird House
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I like to think of our back yard as a mostly safe, peaceful, and appealing place. Until recently, it was.
Oh, there were years when a good-natured Great Dane lived there. It was safe. He was peaceful. But “nice yard” and “Great Dane” do not coexist in the same universe. He was a good dog, but his relocation was an incredible blessing for that piece of real estate. When...

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