"Well, You Got Old, Too! I Give Up!"

Posted Yesterday, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


“Well, You Got Old, Too! I Give Up!”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
“Well, you got old, too! I give up!”
That was the greeting offered to me recently by a cherished (and dare I say?) old friend who is one of my respected predecessors in my present (for almost 35 years) pulpit.
In his Gospel, St. Luke tells us that when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and “greeted” her, Mary was “deeply troubled and wondered what manner of greeting this might be” (1:29).
The...

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"How Are Your New Year's Resolutions Going?"

Posted Jan 16th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


“How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Going?”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Well, how are your New Year’s resolutions coming along?
Oh? Sorry. I didn’t mean to touch a sore spot. I suppose nothing is a much sorer spot for humans than having to face the fact that we don’t measure up even to our own standards, much less to God’s. The spirit indeed is willing. We want to do better. Be better. But the flesh is ever so weak. Which is why I’m...

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"I Know These Things About the New Year"

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


“I Know These Things About the New Year”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
As I write this week’s column, can I just admit from the outset that I’m not sure I should be writing this week’s column? At least, not on this topic. I could easily come off as grouchy and pessimistic, depressed and depressing. Better to keep my mouth shut.
But I’ll give it a shot. Writing, that is. I’m not disciplined enough to shut up.
You see, just a few days ago we...

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A Look Inside the Mangers of Our Minds

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


A Look Inside the Mangers of Our Minds
By Curtis K. Shelburne
“There is holiness to memory,” Philip Gulley writes in his Christmas in Harmony, and “a sense of God’s presence” in what Gulley calls the “mangers of the mind.”
Perhaps the memories in the manger center on wonderful moments in a decades-long line of Christmas Eve services or the particular way your family lit the Advent candles each year. Other memories in the manger almost certainly focus on Christmas joys, as commonplace...

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"The Red Hat in a Gray-suit World"

Posted Dec 23rd 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


“The Red Hat in a Gray-suit World”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
“By the way, I’m not doing Christmas cards. If you want them sent, you’ll have to do it.”
According to Sam Gardner in Philip Gulley’s delightful “Harmony” series, it was the same “fight” every year. Sam, pastor of the Harmony Friends’ Meeting (Quaker church) would buy four boxes of Christmas cards at Kivett’s Five and Dime and lay them on the dining room table with the address book nearby.
On this particular year,...

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Thank God for Shepherds and Stargazers!

Posted Dec 19th 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Thank God for Shepherds and Stargazers!
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Thank the Lord for shepherds and stargazers!
While muckety-mucks in Rome were trying to figure out new and improved ways to shake even more shekels from the pockets of the subjugated populace and further filch the meager bread of the common man, the Highest of Kings was pretty much ignoring Rome. The true King was dispatching a troop of angelic hosts, any one of whom would be stronger than an assembly of all...

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"Will We Be Ready for the Real Joy of His Coming?"

Posted Dec 12th 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


“Will We Be Ready for the Real Joy of His Coming?”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Zero to sixty. That’s how fast this year we revved up the Thanksgiving sleigh, slid “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house,” slammed down the turkey and dressing, and, before the tasty bird was even digested, hitched up the red-nosed reindeer, jingling all the way.
My head’s spinning, and my feet are having a very hard time catching up with the calendar. Christmas will be...

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"Merry Thanksgiving!"

Posted Dec 4th 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


“Merry Thanksgiving!”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
For just a moment, ponder this year’s calendar. You’ve already noticed, I’m sure, that it is playing tricks on us this time around.
Thanksgiving and the turkey, dragging their heels, showed up way late, which means that Advent (and thus Christmas) are upon us way early. I’ve often complained that the most difficult Sunday of the year to plan and “to preach on” is the usual “dead” Sunday, falling between Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of...

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Sherlock Holmes and Thanksgiving

Posted Nov 27th 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Sherlock Holmes and Thanksgiving
By Curtis K. Shelburne
In an old issue of Leadership Journal, Chris T. Zwingelberg observed that though everyone is familiar with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and his amazingly keen powers of observation, few of us are aware of Holmes’ belief that deduction and observation are even more necessary in faith and religion than they are in detective work.
In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Naval Treaty, Doyle pictures his famous sleuth studying a simple...

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Writing on Monday Mornings Is a Challenge

Posted Nov 21st 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Writing on Monday Mornings Is a Challenge
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Here we go again. It’s Monday morning. Mondays come after Sundays, and, like most pastors, I tend to be toast on Monday mornings. Brain dead but breathing.
It’s not the best day to write, but the deadline for this column is noon on Mondays. Someday, when pigs fly and twits quit tweeting, I’ll embrace some discipline and manage to write days before the deadline. But I like to think that I write...

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Grief: It Is a Very Large Word Indeed

Posted Nov 14th 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Grief: It Is a Very Large Word Indeed
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Grief. It’s a far bigger word than we usually think.
Oh, we all know that it applies to the loss wrought by death as we’ve stood at the graveside of a loved one, smelled the flowers, felt the emptiness, and wondered how to face a world so suddenly changed.
And every day changes. We may think we’re doing, well, some better. At least, maybe making small steps in the right direction. And...

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This Alligator Bites Your Wallet and Won't Stop Chewing

Posted Nov 7th 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


This Alligator Bites Your Wallet and Won’t Stop Chewing
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Warning: This column might be called a rant. You might be wise to wave off now.
I cannot imagine why we put up with it. I’m thinking about the sick state of healthcare in America.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been to Third World countries and seen misery and need. I’m genuinely thankful for what we have. I have good friends in all sectors—physicians/providers, hospital administrators, insurance folks, attorneys, etc. I’m...

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Cemeteries Help Keep Life in Perspective

Posted Oct 31st 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Cemeteries Help Keep Life in Perspective
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I’m weird, and I know it. But I sort of enjoy spending some time in cemeteries. I’m talking, of course, about the times when I want to be there, not the times when I have to be. Big difference. There’s been way too much of the latter recently, it seems to me.
But I find cemeteries peaceful and interesting. Strolling among the tombstones (since I don’t have to mow around them, I much...

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God Writes His Love in One Word

Posted Oct 24th 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


God Writes His Love in One Word
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I love words. Perhaps I’ve not fallen into epeolatry yet, but it’s always fun and interesting to meet a new word. (Like “epeolatry,” which is “the worship of words.”)
One of the best places I’ve found to discover new words and interesting things about words of all sorts is through the free e-mail publication “A.Word.A.Day” offered at www.wordsmith.org (since 1994). Last time I checked (which was years ago), their daily subscriber list...

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Grace Is Amazingly Hard--and Amazingly Wonderful

Posted Oct 22nd 2019, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Grace Is Amazingly Hard—and Amazingly Wonderful
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Grace is hard. It is almost incomprehensibly wonderful. It seems almost too good to be true because it actually is almost too good to be true. It is amazing! But it is hard.
Grace is hard because accepting it means nothing less than death to our pride.
If the sacrifice of Christ really is, as the New Testament claims, all-sufficient to save me, that not only means that I am powerless to save myself...

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