What do I really believe happens when we die


I was invited to contribute to a feature at Patheos.com called  “What do I really believe…”  The subject in this first feature is the question, “What do I really believe happens when we die?” It isn’t a trivial question, nor is it purely academic.  The way any story ends decisively shapes what we make of everything that led up to the end; and the same is true of life.  And, while we don’t know in one sense what will happen, nor does anyone know in detail (how could you?), like any other set of ch … [Read more...]

The One


Someone once said, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” Both the former and the latter are inevitably true. Even people who enjoy considerable fame mean very little to most of us.  They may represent or embody some measure of shared longing or common commitments, but as individuals they are strangers; and the attention that their lives receive often deludes us into thinking we know them better than we do.  What we know about them is, in fact, what we are t … [Read more...]

Tom and Brandon

Bioethics image

This morning’s New York Times features a frontpage article that tells the story of Tom and Brandon.  They are cousins who shared in life’s adventures and, in recent months, battled advanced, aggressive forms of melanoma. The standard of care doesn’t work, but a trial drug does — or at a minimum, has promising results.  And in the case of patients with aggressive cancers, a bit of relief or some measure of progress is the most that you can hope to achieve. Tom and Brandon entered a drug tria … [Read more...]

The Teflon Directee


Surprisingly — or perhaps not so surprisingly — some people seek spiritual direction without ever intending to follow it.  Like some who seek therapy, they prefer to discuss the challenges they face, rather than transcend them.  They seem to be made of Teflon.  Nothing you tell them seems to stick. Behavior of this kind can be willful — the refusal to respond to respond to God’s prompting — but more often than not there are deeper issues: In some cases, the directee has ye … [Read more...]

The truth about truth i

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal observes that it took the radio 38 years to reach 50 million people.  The television took 16 years; the internet took 4; and Facebook reached the same size audience in only 2 years.  Those numbers illustrate the speed with which networking and communication is changing; but it also says something about our notions of truth. For twenty-first century Americans, truth is data.  It can be assembled, elaborated, and disseminated.  Put it another way, we equ … [Read more...]

The truth about truth ii: Truth lives

Dead data. That is the dominant, contemporary, sterile notion of truth.  The notion that truth can be accumulated and stock-piled.  You don’t even need to decide which parts of it are important, never mind act on it.  Think Wikipedia. But in Scripture truth is actualized and lived.  And if it isn’t, then it isn’t truth yet —- not in a sense that matters. Deuteronomy, for example, urges the children of Israel, “Teach your children the Law and to do it.” The last phrase is added over and over … [Read more...]

The truth about truth iii: Truth loves


It is common to hear people play truth and love off against one another.  Some argue that truth is all that matters.  Others argue that love is the only thing that counts. In the early Christian tradition, however, truth and love are described as necessary and complementary.  The reason is clear: Truth without love can be cruel, overbearing, and judgmental.  Love in the absence of truth is flaccid and degenerates all to easily into condescension and pity.  Without truth, we run the risk of lovi … [Read more...]

The truth about truth iv: Truth frees


Truth also frees.  And here, as with love, there is a good deal of confusion.For many God’s truth is considered limiting.  Tell me the truth about God and God’s desire for my life and all that will happen is that God will take things away from me.We have an inner city ministry here in Dallas called Austin Street Shelter.  The leaders there have a reputation for insisting that their drug addicted and alcohol dependent clients face their demons.  But when you refer someone to them, you will oft … [Read more...]

The truth about truth v: Three prayers

prayer tree

So, what are my prayers for you?Three things.I pray that you don’t let the breadth of what you don’t know or what you don’t understand keep you from living out of what you know.I pray that you will find the balance in your life that comes from truth that loves and love that speaks the truth.And, I pray that you won’t let a misplaced fear of the truth keep you from drawing close to God… who loves you better than you love yourself. … [Read more...]


I don’t pay much attention to most of my dreams. For one thing, I very rarely remember much about them.  For another, the vast majority of my dreams are like a combination of a train wreck and an attic and when they do make sense they probably have a lot to do with first-child syndrome: that burdened business not of feeling like God, but of having been deputized. But tonight I awoke from a dream that left an impression. I was sitting with my younger brother in a hospital waiting room.  To und … [Read more...]