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On Farming and Churching

In his book Remembering, Wendell Berry tells the story of two farmers. The first has acquired 2,000 acres through a patient buying out of his neighbors’ farms. He converted all 2,000 acres to corn fields, because corn produces the most cash. In order to farm all of those acres, he went into debt so as to […]

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Rock Star Pastors: A How-Not-To Guide

Last summer, I saw the Flaming Lips for the first time. Actually, I’d never heard of them before, much to the chagrin of the middle-aged woman standing in front of my buddies and me at the outdoor festival concert in Salida, Colorado. She’d apparently seen the FL’s on multiple occasions all around the country. We, […]

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Three Essentials of Marriage: # 3–Bless Others

This is the last in a three-part series on marriage, inspired by the three wedding dishes that have survived 16.5 years of marriage. Essential # 1, I suggested, is praying out loud, and essential # 2 is telling your story. I hate it when cheesy phrases, especially cheesy Christian phrases, are true. I suppose that […]

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Three Essentials of Marriage: # 2–Tell Your Story

In honor of the three wedding dishes that have survived 16.5 years of marriage, I am writing about the three things that I have found to be essential to married life. Number One, I said, is Praying Out Loud. The second essential is about truth. I suppose it goes without saying that truth is important […]

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Three Essentials of Marriage: # 1–Praying Out Loud

We are down to three wedding dishes: one salad plate and two (chipped) cereal bowls. If I’m remembering correctly, that’s reduced from 40 original pieces, 8 each of the aforementioned dishes plus 8 dinner plates (all gone) and eight goblet drinking glasses (alas, all long gone). I vaguely remember when the first dish broke, probably sometime […]

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A Short Guide to Listening Prayer

Central to the practice of being a Christian is the discipline of listening to God in prayer. Jesus often withdrew to listen to the Father, and his followers are to do the same. What follows is a simple (and not at all complete) guide to this practice. 1. Set a Time to Listen. Listening to […]

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Hand Over the Beer Koozie

So, last weekend was awesome. On Friday night we threw a big party to celebrate my successful completion of a Ph.D. in theology. There were some sweet cocktails, a bartender (my brother), and lots of good friends, including two who flew out from California for the event. These friends are two of the most generous […]

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Prayer: A Slow Conversation

Of all the beings in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the Ents are my favorite. They’re trees–trees that move, and who have lived for thousands of years, trees that shepherd and protect other trees. They’re trees, trees that talk–v e r r y   s l o w l y. Entish, the language of Ents, […]

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God Emptied? Why the Manger Matters

I think it’s perhaps the cuteness of Jesus that people walk away from. This is understandable, particularly at Christmas. The baby Jesus in the manger with all the animals–it’s all so adorable, and gets lumped in with the rest of the cuteness of the season. What, though, is the substance of the birth of Jesus? […]

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Christmas by the Graves

Strangely, one of my favorite moments of the Christmas season occurs in a cemetery. My wife’s name is Heather, and her family gathers every year to cover two graves with blankets of pine boughs adorned with Christmas decorations. Prior to going to the graveside, there is a decorating party where the blankets are prepared. The role […]