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

Posted Dec 6th, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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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"A True Friend . . . Continues a Friend Unchangeably"

Posted Nov 1st, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


“A True Friend . . . Continues a Friend Unchangeably”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
If I ever write anything wise—you know, the kind of pithy one-sentence bit of proverb-like wisdom that shows up in quotation books and on Internet “great quotes” sites, I hope I can avoid using any one word in the string that is detrimental to my proverb’s multi-century shelf life.
Sometime over 300 years ago, the Quaker leader and founding father of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, William Penn (1644-1718) wrote...

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Faith Is the Key to Any Enduring Foundation

Posted Oct 25th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Faith Is the Key to Any Enduring Foundation
By Curtis K. Shelburne
If you know me, any of my three brothers, or, heaven help you, all of us, you know that our grandparents’ old place in Robert Lee, Texas, is dear to our hearts. 
Granddaddy Key built the house in 1928, and, long story short, in 1974, after Granddaddy had passed away and, partly to ease our Grandmother’s mind as she made the transition to the nursing home just across the creek, my...

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"It's No Secret: I Love the Church!"

Posted Oct 18th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


“It’s No Secret: I Love the Church!”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I love the church! Not just (just?!) the church universal, that marvelous, amazing, and miraculous Body of Christ composed of all of God’s children, everyone who ever has or ever will wear Christ’s name, all the sons and daughters of God. Oh, I love “that” church, too.
But I also love the smaller local expressions of that Body, the little bands of disciples—all of them small indeed, whatever their size, compared to...

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"You Must Read and Understand These Instructions"

Posted Oct 11th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


“You Must Read and Understand These Instructions”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
I’m considering buying a new weed-eater. It’s an extravagant thought. The old one, older than five of my grandkids, is still working fine but taking longer on first start. My patience is wearing thin, but my memory is still good. I remember when I bought that machine.
It was also an extravagant purchase. Its predecessor was sputtering along just fine in two-cycle engine form, but a couple of my sons had just...

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When God Walks with Us in the Fiery Furnace

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


When God Walks with Us in the Fiery Furnace
By Curtis K. Shelburne
One of the finest of many great gifts my mother gave me when I was just a little guy was reading to me. Most of all, she read me Bible stories.
Since I wasn’t a declared English major in my youngest days (that came later), and since Mom was smart, she didn’t, when I was little, read the stories straight from the King James or any other Bible version; she...

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Trouble Comes with This World, But Drama Is Optional

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


Trouble Comes with This World, But Drama Is Optional
By Curtis K. Shelburne
Some people live life with their sirens running. They are either creating wrecks, running Code 3 toward emergencies, or chasing ambulances to be sure to have a front row seat to view the carnage. Right in your living room. If you allow it.
My question is, why would you? Offhand, can you think of any way that a siren wailing in your home or church or business can be conducive...

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A Rule That Will Bless Us: No Whining Allowed

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


A Rule That Will Bless Us: No Whining Allowed
By Curtis K. Shelburne
[Note: One of the sweetest and best ladies I’ve ever known, Vernell Cotten Nance, my mother-in-law, just passed away. Maybe this is a good time to reprise this column from August 2012.]
My mother-in-law has just moved from her apartment down and around the corner from our house, where she moved around five years ago, to assisted living in a community about 75 miles away.
I don’t like it much. I...

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Amazing Is What Real Grace Always Is

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


Amazing Is Exactly What Real Grace Always Is
By Curtis K. Shelburne
“Amazing grace.” 
Amazing is exactly what real grace always is.
On the other hand, the many counterfeits are pretty much what we should expect—“do-it-yourself” schemes focused on our power to occasionally strike a tiny spark rather than on God’s power to always create a nuclear reaction. Do-it-yourself “grace” is an impostor every bit as dangerous as the real thing is amazing.
The Apostle Paul points to real grace in everything he writes, most...

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God's Grace Is Amazing, But It Is Not "Easy"

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


God’s Grace Is Amazing, But It Is Not “Easy”
By Curtis K. Shelburne
God’s grace is wonderful. But if we think grace is easy, we need to think some more. 
One of Jesus’ most famous stories was told in response to a religious lawyer’s question: “Teacher, who is my neighbor?”
The question was blatantly self-serving. Luke prefaces the lawyer’s question: “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked . . .”
The greatest temptation we all face is to try to “justify” ourselves rather...

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Nearest the Axle, the Spokes of a Wheel Are Nearest to Each Other

Posted Aug 30th, 12:00 by Focus on Faith on Christian Living


Near the Axle, the Spokes of a Wheel Are Nearest to Each Other
By Curtis K. Shelburne
My favorite columnist, Charles Krauthammer, passed away in June. When I (very often) miss his wit, wisdom, common sense, and uncommon command of the English language, I pull out his book Things That Matter, a compilation of some of his best columns.
One of those was written in 1999 shortly after Time magazine had named Albert Einstein as the “Person of the Century.” An “interesting...

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