Celebrating the Found

Pacifier, binky, baby-plug. Whatever name you choose, there is no more desperate scene than a mother searching for this source of soothing as naptime approaches. A frazzled mom will turn the house upside down, frantically looking for this small, magical plug to stifle the shrill screams of her overly tired one-year-old.

Asking Good Questions in Bible Study

Asking good questions communicates at least two things to learners. First, it says they are valued, that each person has valuable contributions to the group. Second, asking good questions says that the leader wants to hear what the learners think.

A Spirit Prayer

O God, Thank you for your Spirit that is with us, within us, and among us.
Thank you for the spirit that we are.
Thank you for the spirit of your creation.

Homeward Bound

“I want to go home” is not just the plaintive cry of kindergarten students on the first day of school; it is the longing of every person who pays attention to his or her heart. For some, nothing is better than going home.

Seeking True Hope and Happiness

About this time each year, I start to feel a bit sorry for myself. The weather is usually dreary and cold. The excitement of the holidays and the promise of a new year have passed. I have not made any progress on my resolutions since the first week of January.

“Be Not Afraid”

A popular quote being passed around the internet says that no phrase appears in the Bible more times than “Be not afraid.” One version of the quote claims this phrase occurs 365 times, one for each day of the year. That’s a beautiful idea. Unfortunately, it’s not accurate.

Be a Poet for the New Year

Earlier this month many of us joined a gym, bought exercise clothes, and stocked the pantry with quinoa. We decided to de-clutter our lives once and for all. We planned to try Marie Kondo’s method of picking up every object we own and giving away whatever does not bring us joy.

Making Room

There was no room for Jesus in crowded Bethlehem, but that did not stop him, and it did not stop God. God became flesh, regardless of the space limitations. Christmas this year comes at a time when millions of people have no room, no home, no space to live in safety, without fear.

The Gracefulness of Hope

For many, 2016 is coming to a close with anger, fear and brokenness. How can we move forward? Some of my friends are writing, protesting, wearing a safety pin, donating money or praying. A public school teacher I know has hung signs on her classroom door indicating that every child is welcome and safe in that space.

An Advent Prayer

O God,
As you come to us, please come bearing faith, hope, and love.
We need to trust, hope, and love more.

What Does it Really Mean to Support our Troops?

Another Veterans Day is upon us. If you’re like me, this is one holiday that doesn’t conjure up nostalgic childhood memories or necessitate family get-togethers. In fact, this will only be my 10th Veterans Day that I remember ever caring about.

After Election Day

Anyone ready to flee to the hills today? Do you feel the wicked have bent their bows, strung their arrows, and are ready to shoot those whose heart is right (v. 2)? Do you feel like the very bottom has fallen out and that a righteous person like yourself can do very little about it?

On Election Day

We read the end of Jonah’s story on Election Day for the United States. In less than twenty-four hours our fears will be relieved or realized.

The Great Cloud

I have been thinking a lot about my spiritual journey recently. The truth of the matter is that whatever has been done to get me to the nebulous “here” of being ordained is not solely my doing. Not even close.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Community

We see many of the needs of our returning service members and their families by also looking at Psalm 69 and the life of David, a warrior himself. This week, for our final devotion in this series, I want to focus on verses 12-13.

The Church and Refugees: Better Together

The waiting room of the Health Department is crowded as Rajaa, Sarah, and I make our way to the back of the building. We’re lucky we have an appointment today. Mondays are always busy.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Guilt

We’ve been focusing on some of the struggles that veterans face after coming home from war and how we might help them. But we’re looking at those needs through a unique perspective: the eyes of biblical hero King David, who was also a warrior for most of his life.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Enemies and Family

Pretty much all of us here have enemies, but I doubt any of us have the kind of enemies that David had. David had been facing enemies since he fought Goliath as a young man. His own mentor Saul repeatedly tried to kill him. The Philistines tried to kill him. In fact, while king, all the surrounding nations were trying to kill him and destroy Israel.

A Prayer about War

O God,
Of the 162 nations in the world, 152 are currently at war or involved in armed conflict. Only ten nations are completely free of conflict.

This I Believe

Every Sunday while growing up, I ran down the aisle at my church and slid in the pew beside Mrs. Rose. Mrs. Rose was the church lady who children regarded with wonder, trying to figure out if she was related to Mary Poppins and borrowed her famous bag every Sunday morning.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Depressed?

David is in a bad place. He has been sinking in the miry depths, the floodwaters are rising over his head, and he can no longer get a foothold. He’s in trouble so he is calling out to God for help. In fact he has already been calling out to God. He says he’s been calling for God’s help so much that his throat is parched.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Drowning

I’m excited to begin with you a five-part series looking at the life of David through the lens of Psalm 69. We will discuss this psalm from the perspective of David, not just as a king but as a warrior.

Welcoming the Blue-haired Home

When I first shared my experience with a blue-haired girl and her friends, I noted the deep hurt I was hearing. But I also noticed the beautiful community created at this two-week teen writing workshop.

She has Blue Hair. Would She Be Welcomed?

A few days ago, I got home from a summer camp for middle and high school writers. It’s more than just a writing program, though—for many of the campers, it’s the only opportunity they have to be themselves.

She has Blue Hair. She is Not Your Grandma.

Getting to the auditorium late was bad enough. Then I had to find a seat. After several “oh, it’s saved” interactions I finally found seating next to a 14-year-old girl with electric blue hair.

The Sower…and His Sons

Listen, my friends and you will hear,
Some stories that will not be new to your ears.
For today’s translation is sure to surprise,
So pay attention, and open your spiritual eyes…

A Prayer about the Genome

O God, We praise you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
We praise you for the human genome.

A Prayer for Discourse

O God,
We are in the midst of a presidential election season.
It’s been ugly. We expect it to get uglier.

A Prayer about Violence

O God,
Our society is so violent. Why are people so afraid? Why do they assume the worst of others and see them as threats?

Flame: Memory Verses with Duplo Blocks

As part of our lesson looking at endurance (a link to athletes preparing for the Olympics), we used Duplo blocks and labels to put together the memory verse we were looking at.

Game of Thrones & Christians: What’s a Christ-Follower to Do?

A family member of mine recently sent me this article (“Can a Christian Watch Game of Thrones?”) and asked me to respond. The author argues that the show contains sex, violence and power struggles without the obvious good versus evil struggle contained in works like the blatantly Christian Lord of the Rings where the reader knows who will win.

“Thank You, Jesus”

For years a friend of mine faithfully visited his mother in a nursing home. On each visit, en route to her room he passed a thin Alzheimer’s-ridden woman in the hallway. Red-faced and wheelchair-bound, she repeated, “I want a good deal.”

Hallmark Just Doesn’t Get It

I don’t hate Father’s Day; it’s the Tuesday beforehand that I can’t stand. I drag myself to the grocery store, trudge to the card aisle, and stare at the never-ending wall of cards. There are dozens, hundreds of cards to sift through and I know that I will not find what I need the first few tries.

His Heart Went Out to Her

There is this simple moment that is essential to my understanding of Jesus. Sometimes I think we see him as almost a miracle-working robot, the unstoppable antithesis of the Terminator. He was sent to our Earth to save, heal, and point others towards God.

Keep Moving Forward

A friend once told me that her favorite season was fall because winter was too cold, summer was too hot, and spring felt like too much pressure. All those blooming flowers and sprouting leaves.

An Open Letter to My Mental Illness

I suffer from a mental illness. At times, it can be crippling and debilitating. I just spent some time in the hospital dealing with my illness. One of the doctors knew I was a divinity student and Christian minister and asked me, “Have you lost your faith?”

More Beautiful for the Brokenness

Art and repair merged in 15th-century Japan when a shogun sent a prized tea bowl to be repaired. When it came back mended with ugly metal staples, the shogun was so displeased that craftspeople jumped at the chance to find a better way to repair it and other broken ceramics.

The Church’s Insufficient Response to Mental Illness

My church knew some of the problems my mother and our family dealt with as she battled mental illness, but they didn’t really know how to react when I muttered the words, “It was suicide.”

The Blessing of Changed Plans

I like plans. That’s no secret; my closest friends and family always rely on me to be the first to ask, “what are we doing next?” I plan and revise plans and talk about plans and write them on calendars.

Nicodemusly

So in Zimglish, “nicodemusly” means “to do something secretly, under cover of darkness.” This, of course, got me to thinking about other possibilities. Allow me to share some I came up with.

Cookies for Communion

The best gift I have ever been given was a half-eaten, double stuffed Oreo cookie with all the double stuffing licked out. The giver was a four-year-old Guatemalan girl named Marisa.

It’s a Cruel, Cruel World

You just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You’re not superior to people who were cruel to you. You’re just a whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole bunch of new cruel people, being cruel to some other people, who’ll end up being cruel to you. —The Doctor

Gotta Catch ‘em All

A major event came and went on February 27th on which the church as a whole was, as far as I could tell, troublingly silent on. Yes, I understand the issues inherent to suggesting some form of deep homogeneity to our religion.

Experiencing Cotton Patch Moments

Although long a fan of Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch Gospel translation that recasts Jesus in the southern part of the United States in the middle of the 20th Century, it still took some time to develop even a hint of Jordan’s prophetic vision.

You Need Only Be Still (And Then Get Moving!)

I’m not very good at being still. I fidget. I pace. I drum my fingers on counters and chew pencils into nubs. There may be some deeper issues at play, but I have always struggled with being still.

Poor Happens

Poverty is not (proof of) sin.
Poverty is not a character flaw.
Poverty happens to people.

Rejoicing in Heaven?

I had a really neat—and that’s not a term I use very often—experience a few Sundays ago. I’ve been the fill-in preacher at The Rock Baptist Church in The Rock, Georgia for a few months.

Lost But Not Alone

My three-year-old is starting to understand and verbalize more about God than he ever has before, and it’s encouraging and overwhelming all at once. The other night after prayers were said and stories were told, there was a period of silence.