• anthropology as a guide to faith

    anthropology as a guide to faith

    In my spiritual background there was little room for creativity, understanding, or messaging outside of a straight and narrow understanding of faith. Christian worldview embodies a clear message, points us to God, is based in the Bible, is mostly black and white, and contains the “truth” of our beliefs, actions, and ways of being in… Continue reading

  • experiencing the other

    experiencing the other

    I’m going to begin touching on topics (or beliefs or doctrines) I have personally wrestled with, or am still wrestling through. This is not a theological examination; I am not a trained theologian or pastor or biblical scholar. Nor are solutions and answers presented. My aim is to stir questions, propel reflection, and honor experience.… Continue reading

  • forgiving is remembering

    forgiving is remembering

    We are what we come from but not only that. Forging ahead we bridge the divide between who were—the parts that fit and the pieces that don’t—and who we are becoming. Not who we are, mind you, for we are always the becoming, not a static arrival.  Think back to your father and mother, your… Continue reading

  • back there and right here

    back there and right here

    I was searching for something, once. When did I stop? The one looking to follow footsteps that never fit his stride, set too close or far apart, or going a direction he was never meant to go. I wore what was ill-fitting for the sake of fulfilling roles and fitting molds. I tried to be… Continue reading

  • a meditation for the weary

    a meditation for the weary

    It was from Matthew 11. “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” This struck me. “You don’t have to go back to what is heavy and ill-fitting.” Why do so many of us assume God’s way or will is always something heavy and hard, even ill-fitting, that God wants to make martyrs of… Continue reading

  • try

    try

    Try. Just try. Let the world see your light. Don’t hide it under a cupped hand, afraid of what attention it might bring or what it might cost you. Give yourself the chance to shine and bring light to dark places and broken hearts. Try. Shine. Share your light with one or with the world.… Continue reading

  • the idol & the God-shaped hole

    the idol & the God-shaped hole

    Some of us have heard it. “There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us that only God can fill.” Have you ever asked yourself: “Am I missing something? What need, want, desire, desperation, obsession, is being triggered, revealed?”  We are unsettled by what is not even real. An idol isn’t real; it’s a false image… Continue reading

  • everywhere or nowhere

    everywhere or nowhere

    “If You are not everywhere, You are nowhere.” It is a sense both of deeper loss and even deeper homecoming—no matter what we leave or lose or walk away from, no matter how far we go, the belonging is always deeper, always further, always ahead of us.  I recently told a friend, “I’m not a… Continue reading

  • natural & miraculous (part 2)

    natural & miraculous (part 2)

    On many occasions God has already given us what we need in how he’s made us and who he’s brought into our lives. I do believe there are moments when the out-of-the-ordinary (the supernatural) breaks through, something inexplicable beyond our ability or effort. But much of the time we’re living very ordinary, natural lives (which… Continue reading

  • natural & miraculous (part 1)

    natural & miraculous (part 1)

    When faced with life decisions or everyday choices there are many simple spiritual answers: “Just pray about it. Just wait on God. Just have faith. Just trust God.” As if we have no responsibility or hard work of our own, or freedom to choose our own path. The way I see it now is that… Continue reading

  • when God descends

    when God descends

    Some summer weekend mornings I like to write a few pages with coffee in my room then move to the deck that faces the sunlight with a book of poetry hearing the birds in the background (this morning mostly sparrows and juncos dancing around in the dirt) then set down the book to watch the… Continue reading

  • survival and sustenance

    survival and sustenance

    There’s this ethereal place I’ve always wanted to reach but never can. Never will. A place I want to reach but cannot find. Where everything and everyone will be okay. Whole. All things and persons as they should be. All things and persons made new. For as long as I can remember I’ve longed for… Continue reading

  • the lack

    the lack

    Though we search we’re never whole. There is always something missing. And somehow, someway, God is near in this. Christians may call it “the fall,” a product of original sin, some catastrophe unintended but fixable. If it’s this, it’s also much more than this. They say God will make it all okay, now or then,… Continue reading

  • indoor/outdoor faith

    indoor/outdoor faith

    For the last two years I’ve taken a month-long road trip in the autumn, living out of my truck, sleeping in the bed on a wood platform under a topper, changing in parking lots, setting up and tearing down, cooking outdoors (weather permitting), staying the night in gorgeous isolated forests or in not so beautiful… Continue reading

  • other voices

    other voices

    Why are we so often afraid of other voices? Do they shake our own fallible security in certain beliefs? Do they threaten an errant assurance of our own subjective truth and relative experience? Why are we so afraid of different views and opinions and interpretations? Why do we feel the need to fight tooth and… Continue reading

  • person over power

    person over power

    I see the Ravi Zachariases and Mark Driscolls and John MacArthurs of the world and know if these men were the summation of what I believed about the church, Christians, God, I would run as far as I can and never look back, except to glare. But then I avert my gaze and there’s another… Continue reading

  • 34

    34

    The sky is blue on my birthday morning. White still clings to trees and layers the earth. The sun will melt it off. What a beautiful day to be alive. It’s not about my birthday. It’s about being alive today. Recently I heard this phrase and I can’t stop thinking about it. “I don’t want… Continue reading

  • it is good (2)

    it is good (2)

    It’s both/and, not either/or. Both the spiritual and physical, wrapped into one, as God intended. In the beginning, why did God place us in a garden (whether it’s a literal story or not is irrelevant) instead of a detached “heavenly” or “spiritual” space if the physical is less significant? Apparently, the physical matters to God,… Continue reading

  • it is good (1)

    it is good (1)

    Sometimes I find myself feeling a little guilty for enjoying my life and loving my humanity. Do you ever feel this way? I love living in the mountains. This lifestyle isn’t about winning or being better or the best or constantly pushing boundaries. It’s about appreciation and enjoyment, reflection and sustainability, gratitude. And just as… Continue reading

  • grace (3)

    grace (3)

    One evening this winter I sat in the hot tub and watched the darkening evergreens and the winter evening’s cotton candy sky above the dimming landscape. I looked up at the clouds and picked out their morphing shapes. I kept watching that sky of subtle reds and pinks and purples, quiet oranges and yellows, above… Continue reading

  • grace (2)

    grace (2)

    Grace was mentioned in my Christian upbringing. Mentioned as just one word among many. “We are saved by grace, through faith…” It was one theological term describing God’s action and attitude towards humankind. “Receiving more than we deserve.” Such an understated, simplistic explanation. Grace was simply a word without much meaning, even with knowledge of… Continue reading

  • grace (1)

    grace (1)

    Grace. This word sometimes overused and often misused and cheapened and ill-defined. Not only that, but a word frightening for what it implies, uncomfortable in its extravagance, easier kept at arm’s length since it’s beyond our control. When something undeserved is given freely, unconditionally, without merit, we hesitate. What’s the catch? Nothing in life is… Continue reading

  • deconstruction

    deconstruction

    Listen to your brothers and sisters in deconstruction. Some have had a friend or family member struggling with faith tell them, “I don’t know if I can call myself a Christian anymore.” They don’t need us to evangelize, answer, or save them. They need empathy and compassion, not judgment and rebuke. They need ears, not… Continue reading

  • leaving (part 3)

    leaving (part 3)

    Enough about me. I won’t speak for God. But maybe he’s waiting for you to let go, give up, surrender. To own up to your true self and season. Honesty and openness (with a large dose of humility) is something he can work with. Performance and striving (especially without humility), less so. This doesn’t mean… Continue reading

  • leaving (part 2)

    leaving (part 2)

    I have stopped trying to be good and right, to fall in line and follow the rules. I have thrown away my former identities and associations in search of myself, my path, and God. Yes, from the outside it might look like leaving. Period. (To some, perhaps without redemption.) But so far in my experience,… Continue reading

  • leaving (part 1)

    leaving (part 1)

    I’ve been asking the question: “Who am I when I leave?” Who are we when we leave? Who are you when you leave? — Who we once were has bearing on who we are now. We cannot entirely disentangle from our past; it is intrinsically linked to our present. Who we are now is continually… Continue reading

  • silence (part 3)

    silence (part 3)

    We are not comfortable with silence. It’s the first thing to go when we have a to-do list, the easiest practice to neglect. There is the fear that if we don’t hear anything, it’s because we’re not listening. It’s our fault. How often have we heard it? “God’s always speaking; we’re the ones not listening.”… Continue reading

  • the gift of silence (part 2)

    the gift of silence (part 2)

    We are weak flames barely burning. Our voices can say no more. Our ears can hear no more. With God, there’s no need. He lets us walk ahead, fall behind. He does not lead with pressure. He does not wait with impatience. He is not fickle or demanding. He does not hold our weaknesses, failures,… Continue reading

  • the gift of God’s silence (part 1)

    the gift of God’s silence (part 1)

    “I won’t let you burn out. I won’t let you lose your light.” Some of us are weak flames barely burning. God will not extinguish us. Even a whisper could turn us pitch black. We are not a shimmering coal to be blown upon, igniting a new fire; just a weak flame barely burning. And… Continue reading

  • further still

    further still

    Have you ever entered a cave and gone deep enough to lose all light to pitch black when you turn off the headlamp, where the air is utterly still, sound ceases, the only way forward is on hands and knees, the only guidance is by tentative touch? I have. It’s perhaps the closest one can… Continue reading

  • here not there

    here not there

    “I’ve come to think sometimes that maybe I’m running a race I wasn’t asked to run.”  A friend of mine said this to me recently, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s a phrase that hits me right between the eyes. It hurts my heart to say it. When the words… Continue reading

  • in the wild (part 2)

    in the wild (part 2)

    In a damp cathedral of towering firs in Oregon, I bend down, close my eyes, then raise them upward, my eyes and heart open. I pray. “You are my hunger and my food. My thirst and my water. My wound and my healing.” I was brought here for this holy moment in the light rain,… Continue reading

  • in the wild

    in the wild

    I sat in my truck watching the furious surf, as if seeking revenge; the gray-white sea bled into the gray-white sky. I thought, “Sometimes you have to walk headlong into the wind and rain. Don’t run from it; run into it.” So I got out of my truck and walked down onto the beach, heading… Continue reading

  • which God is it? (part 2)

    which God is it? (part 2)

    The denial of contradictions (within our experience, the Bible, spiritual community, etc) can produce hesitant, fearful, uncertain, even spiritually neurotic Christians. We hear opposing stories of the same God and are expected to embrace them without doubt or trepidation. “Just believe” is the catch all phrase, the simple answer to complicated questions. The story of… Continue reading

  • which God is it? (part 1)

    which God is it? (part 1)

    I remember moments of ceaseless activity, at other times waning. Morning Bible reading and prayer, church services and Bible studies, leading and attending this and that group. Was the fire true? Now it seems like struck matches that never stayed alight; flint without enough energy for the weak kindling. My activities and readings and prayers… Continue reading

  • birds in the gaps

    birds in the gaps

    Just a glimpse, Moses: a clift in the rock here, a mountaintop there, and the rest is denial and longing. You have to stalk everything…And then occasionally the mountains part…Now we rejoice…“Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” The fleeing shreds I see, the back parts, are a gift, an… Continue reading

  • guilt

    guilt

    Ever since childhood, there’s often been a subtly pervasive voice in the background saying, “You’re not good enough, you’re not doing enough, you’re not enough as you are.” Have you heard it? This was not stated by anyone explicitly, but was sometimes implied within spiritual environments I participated in and observed. Guilt. As easy as… Continue reading

  • (re)movement

    (re)movement

    As I have pulled back on my participation in familiar spiritual environments, as I have ceased the once familiar spirituality of my history and context, I find that I still encounter God in the midst of (re)movement. I do not speak, but stay silent; I do not move, but am still; I do not ask,… Continue reading

  • movement

    movement

    I sometimes feel a sense of guilt at re/moving myself from familiar spirituality, from my roots, from certain religious practices, from pieces of my history and context, from unquestioning Christianity. I “should” on myself—I should be involved, I should serve, I should attend, I should do this and that spiritual discipline whether I feel like… Continue reading

  • when it’s over

    when it’s over

    It’s easy to experience God in the beautiful. I went truck camping this past weekend and found a peaceful, quiet spot by running water. I’d been waiting for a night or two to drive new dirt roads. To find something new, somewhere quiet. I drove miles into the wild, kicking up clouds of dust, thick… Continue reading

  • it matters

    it matters

    It’s okay to say, “It hurts.” Don’t belittle your pain; don’t compare or relativize it. Own it. Hold it. Say out loud, “It hurts and it matters.” Someone else always has it worse off. But no one else suffers quite like you—whether it was today, yesterday, or 10 or 50 years ago. It matters. Don’t… Continue reading

  • nomadism

    nomadism

    Nothing is concrete. I’m not one to build a home on a fundamentalist, literalist, or “rock solid” foundation; I am nomadic in what and where I plant myself. Not the “sinking sand” the Bible speaks of, just finding a place in the dirt to set up a tent, then moving on to the next location… Continue reading

  • possibilities

    possibilities

    I followed the snaking Gallatin River on 191, driving beside the water, on either side of me tree covered mountains and cliff faces, the sporadic homes and all the vehicles going somewhere. I played a song and prayed. It was a real prayer. Honest. Broken. Those kinds of prayers are rare, hard to come by… Continue reading

  • the blue chair

    the blue chair

    The last glow of the day above the pine trees across the quiet residential street. I sit on the driveway on this northerly side of the house facing the setting sun in my cheap blue camping chair lined with bright green. I’m catching the remaining light. If I lift my head I feel the last… Continue reading

  • choices

    choices

    A year ago I made the difficult decision to change jobs. I had worked for my church for a year and a half as a next generation pastor—mostly with youth and young adults, among other things. I felt almost guilty for leaving. I had an enviable ministry job in a beautiful ski town. I left… Continue reading

  • belonging

    belonging

    “…The event contained in the affirmation of God is more important than the belief in God…Belonging first, followed by behavior, followed last and least, by belief.” – Peter Rollins We belong before we believe. The experience of belonging leads to behavior and belief if we’ve experienced the real thing. We may arrive at the right… Continue reading

  • room (2)

    room (2)

    This is what we have with God—room and space rarely (if ever) experienced before. I understand how valuable this is, and how needed. Some of us were not given room to question or doubt or form our own opinions and beliefs and there was little or no place to disagree so we never knew how,… Continue reading

  • room

    room

    You invite me to your table but “I’m not hungry I’m not thirsty” I tell you. I have had everything here before. I am no longer hungry or thirsty for what I have long had my fill of. “But there is still room for you” I hear and I know it is true. But is… Continue reading

  • context

    context

    The indecision of childhood remembered. Do I create myself or am I created? Am I made in the image of what I desire or am I formed from the pieces of past and context and circumstance, family history religion. Environment. Culture. The myth of the self made wo/man for no one makes themselves only we… Continue reading

  • gods

    gods

    gods— Flittering through memories, seen but unseen. Saving us. Or betraying us. Do they save us from or betray us to suffering? We are all damaged. All of us. Even by those closest to perfection, or at least goodness. Our worlds built by those who could not fail but did. And do. And always will. … Continue reading

“When we pray to love God perfectly,
surely we do not mean only.”

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