• Loaves, Fishes, and Brisket at Flipside: Fear doesn’t have to drive our friendships or our economics.

    In the story of the loaves and fishes, Jesus takes the little bit of food offered to him from a small boy and breaks it, blesses it and gives it to those who had been following him for days who had become hungry.   That small gift ends up feeding several thousand people to the point where there are several baskets full after everyone has eaten.   It is  another one of the miracles a lot of people love to reference to show Jesus’ supernatural powers.   But I spent some time with some friends this weekend that reminded me of another reading of that story.   It is one…

  • When the Bough Breaks: A fallen limb in a friendship is not a dead tree.

    Its is the second worst storm I endured since I moved to Texas, making it the second worst storm of my life.  I had been praying, trying to center, and needing to be present.  The storm hit my house exactly within the first five minutes of sitting down with someone for spiritual direction.  The wind was rattling the windows and tossing bits of the back yard around.  The whole house chilled.    I considered ending our time together because I was able to give the moment only 99% of my attention.  I was being tugged away by one haunting thought.  Will the tree hold?

  • End of the Story: Most of the truths we live by are things we cannot prove. Beauty is just one of them. (Faith for Reasons)

    We live in a moment in history in which truth is only found in this fairly new thing we reinvented called a ‘fact.’    “This is a table,” we say.  It is a fact that the thing I just set my cup on is a “table.”   Ta-da!  End of story…    It is an idea that seems pretty hard to argue with until all of a sudden I take that same table  apart and plan to build a flower bed out of it.   Fairly quickly it becomes lumber.  So it is now not a table after all.   Er… right?  That is the case until I decide without making any changes to the pile,…

  • How my relationship with Jesus is, and is not, personal.

    When I was young I would go to camp or a youth service where I was told that what I needed was a personal relationship with Jesus.  It made a kind of sense as a lot of things do for children because I was still relying on other people to teach me how to make sense of things. So I agreed, with no regrets. However, I happen to be the kind of person, and have been since childhood, to throw myself headlong into the task at hand whatever it may be.   So I was bound and determined to have the most personal relationship with Jesus a person could have. This is…

  • “No Wonder the Door Won’t Open, Silly. I am Already Inside.” -Three things about being a misfit in communities of grace that I keep having to re-learn.

    Clearly I write from a position of someone who sits near the exit.  I love church, but sometimes I find it exhausting. I love my weirdo burner friends, and sometimes they can be a little harsh on my faith.   I long to be in Christian community, yet, depending on the community, I find myself itching to get out. I am finding that there are hidden moments of grace ready for the taking in all kinds of communities. And when I am willing to exercise a little humility and receive it, I find that that grace goes further than the edges of my life, and often finds its way into…

  • Five Un-truths of Easter

    There are somethings we can mistakenly embrace about Easter that distract us from the real hope that can help shape our lives.  These things are worth evaluating, not to deflate us, but to focus us on where the real hope lies.

  • The Impossible Will Take A Little While.

    It is harder than it looks to know how to take Easter. On the one hand it feels like an easy home run, a touchdown, a triumphal entry.   But those were the kinds of thing we were celebrating last week. How then is this week different?   For one thing it amazes how few people  to whom Jesus appeared after the resurrection. One would think he would be taking out billboards all over town that said, “I told you so!”  but he doesn’t.    The first to see Jesus would be the last we would expect.   It was not the disciples, not even his family, but one of the…

  • Help Me Get This Sadness Out My House. A Story About Rubber Gloves and Grace.

    Years ago I got caught in a pretty debilitating depression.  I let things snowball to a point I felt I had little or no refuge left. Every part of life looked bleak including my own bedroom.     On weekends I would lie in bed all day and look at piles of laundry, fast food wrappers, stacks of unopened bills and just junk.   Blech.  It literally made it hard to get out of bed in the morning (or sometimes in the afternoon). One could sprain an ankle on the way to the bathroom.  At one point it became difficult for me to imagine that the room would ever be…

  • Taking Candy From Strangers: grace and the everyday gift economy pt. 1

    “Don’t take candy from strangers,” is one of the first proverbial lessons we try to teach our children.   Its up there with looking both ways before you cross the street. It is even higher than, “stop, drop and roll.”    Its an important  precursor to, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  But it is also why my friend Rich thinks that Halloween (not all saints day,  not all souls day, not a ‘harvest festival,” but Halloween) is one of the best holidays for Christians and Burners to celebrate, precisely because it is so much about candy and strangers…

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