Connections 12.11.2022: Having Patience

We are often a backward-looking or forward-looking society. It’s hard to stay in the present. Many of us spend lots of time thinking about past decisions, memories, or events that we wish we could do over.

Connections 12.04.2022: Seeking Peace

There are several different ways to “name” the four traditional weeks of Advent as we move closer to the celebration of Jesus’s birth. The most familiar is probably the quartet of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Connections 11.27.2022: Counting Down

When I was growing up in the Olden Days (you know, the 1980s), my family didn’t celebrate the church season of Advent. Once Thanksgiving was over and December 1 came, we went straight into red and green overload.

Connections 11.20.2022: A Promise of Home

Imagine being exiled away from your homeland—from all you know, all that feels familiar, all that makes you comfortable.

Connections 11.13.2022: Remembering to Forget

Where I live, the autumn trees have been spectacular this year and every time the wind blows a flurry of red and gold leaves spill to the ground. The trees are letting go until next spring.

Connections 11.06.2022: Looking Back and Working Toward

For the past several Sundays, the church my family attends has been gearing up for a time of visioning: where are we being called in the months and years ahead?

Connections 10.30.2022: So Stay Faithful

If we think about just the past decade in our world, we might feel inclined to say with Habakkuk, “Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.”

Connections 10.23.2022: God in the Midst

The “end times” are big business. When I was in youth group in the 1980s, we had a leader who was really into end-times stuff. At lock-ins we watched ‘70s-era apocalypse movies, and for many years I carried a bookmark in my Bible describing all the possible tribulation timelines.

Connections 10.16.2022: The (Im)possible Dream

The books of the Old Testament prophets are sprinkled with visions through which God communicates to these dedicated messengers. We may be so familiar with the stories of prophetic visions that we are no longer impressed or amazed by them.

Connections 10.09.2022: Practical Steps in Tough Times

This passage from Jeremiah contains some of the most quoted and most hopeful verses in the Bible. If you ever feel discouraged about where you are in life, just read Jeremiah 29:11-14a.

Connections 10.02.2022: One Quiet Hope

The book of Lamentations is a book for the people. Five long poems of lament put a whole community’s grief into words as the people of Israel come to terms with their exile from their home in God’s holy land.

Connections 09.25.2022: Entitlement into Eternity

If I use enough imagination, do a bit of mental gymnastics, I can always find myself in the “good guy” in Jesus’ parables.

Connections 09.18.2022: Financial Shrewdness

Last year, my husband and I decided to take on the expensive project of replacing the siding and windows of our home. We were unable to pay the company the entire amount upfront, and we didn’t want to take out a loan and pay interest to a bank.

Connections 09.11.2022: About Us, or For Us?

One of the wonderful things about Jesus’ parables is the way we can find ourselves in them. When Jesus tells a story about a prodigal child, or a faithful servant, or a lost sheep, we can take encouragement from the ways Jesus shows his real-life love.

Connections 09.04.2022: Sound Bites and “Supposes”

I suspect most of us, at times, have encountered the Bible with a “sound bite” approach, our attention grabbed by a select handful of Jesus’ sayings.

Connections 08.28.2022: Advice for the Ages

The writer of Hebrews knew what tempts, troubles, and tantalizes human beings. And those things haven’t changed much over the centuries since these words were recorded.

Connections 08.14.2022: The Shaking and Unshakable

Six years ago, I wrote about this text for the Baptist Women in Ministry blog. We were in an election year, our national life seemed more fraught than ever before, and it felt appropriate to reflect on our human-made structures being shaken by God.

Connections 08.14.2022: Under a Cloud

The “cloud of witnesses” described in Hebrews 12:1 is one of the most beautiful, most encouraging images of our faith. It helps us imagine the way we are connected to all who came before us.

Connections 08.07.2022: By Faith

How many times in your life have you taken on a new venture, stepped into an unfamiliar experience, or made a decision that seemed like a choice between two undesirable paths?

Connections 07.31.2022: All Kinds of Greed

Twenty-one years ago this spring, I wrote a sermon about this text. It was my final year of seminary and I got the best grade in my seminary career on it.

Connections 07.24.2022: What God Gives

They say, “God only gives you what you can handle.” “They” like to say this when people around them are struggling.

Connections 07.17.2022: Preparing and Learning

The second part of our lesson text tells the familiar story of sisters Martha and Mary—one focused on working and one focused on listening (vv. 38-42). Martha often gets shamed for her bustling busyness.

Connections 07.10.2022: Being Good

There are times when reading, reflecting on, and writing about Scripture is a relatively easy, fun endeavor. (Admittedly, I may have an unusual definition of “fun.”)

Connections 07.03.2022: Who Do We Welcome?

Author and creative coach Jennifer Louden talks about “signature themes,” that is, images and ideas that seem to come up again and again in our lives. One of my “signature themes” is moving.

Connections 06.26.2022: In Darkness and Despair

For people like me who cope with anxiety or other mental health issues, nighttime is often more of an obstacle to overcome than a respite to enjoy. The sun sets and we climb into bed, weary from the day and ready for sleep to come.

Connections 06.19.2022: Things I Remember

Some biblical passages are so familiar they are almost hard to read; we’ve heard their phrases so often they practically stand up on their own. Chunks of them have become praise choruses so overplayed that the earworms have taken up permanent residence in our heads.

Connections 06.12.2022: The Spirit of Unfinished Business

There are times in our lives when we feel the despair of the psalmist crying “How long, O Lord?” (Ps 13:1) and the urgency of the visionary praying “Come quickly, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).

Connections 06.05.2022: The Holy Spirit

As a young child in church, I heard a lot of talk about the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this mysterious figure was called the “Holy Ghost,” making it more mysterious and even a little scary.

Connections 05.29.2022: What We Mean by Freedom

It’s hard to write on days (weeks, months, years) like this, when the heaviness of current events makes any attempt at meaningful words feel futile. I know it’s hard to teach and to preach at times like this, to offer both condolence and challenge where each is needed.

Connections 05.22.2022: Embracing the Moment

Quite a while ago I saved a quotation from Thomas Merton and added it to the slideshow of photos that make up the screensaver on my laptop. It is a reminder that proves helpful again and again in my military family’s life.

Connections 05.15.2022: Open Doors

Over my four decades of involvement in church life, I have heard all kind of arguments against letting certain kinds of people into the group. There have been a lot of closed doors.

Connections 05.08.2022: Show and Tell

Between Saul’s conversion in the first part of Acts 9 and Peter’s inclusive dream in Acts 10, two healings take place. Peter was going “here and there” among believers and made visits to the “saints” in Lydda and then in Joppa.

Connections 05.01.2022: The Unsaid and the Unseen

Between Saul’s dramatic conversion and the beginning of Paul’s ministry, the storyteller of Acts records four chapters in which Saul is “radio silent.” We don’t hear the voice of the typically talkative Apostle between Acts 9:20 and 13:10.

Connections 04.24.2022: Taking a Stand

Imagine taking a stand for something, being arrested for it, getting out of jail, and going right back out to take another stand, knowing you might be arrested again…or worse.

Connections 04.17.2022: The Mystery of Faith

As we edge toward Easter, the coming springtime and the celebration of new life seems almost absurd alongside the constant barrage of disruption, distraction, and disunity in the world around us.

Connections 04.10.2022: Course Correcting and Re-Commissioning

I grew up in churches where the Roman Road and the Great Commission were foundational stepping stones lifted from Paul’s teachings and laid end-to-end in a clear path for understanding the way to salvation.

Connections 04.03.2022: Knowing Christ

One of the questions evangelists and ministers often ask is, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” I heard this question numerous times as a young child.

Connections 03.27.2022: Going Home Again

In the mid-1980s the movie Peggy Sue Got Married was one of several Hollywood-ized versions of “the good old days.” In it, Peggy Sue mysteriously time-slips from her 25th high school reunion back to senior year.

Connections 03.20.2022: For the Hope of Figs

Cliffhangers are great plot devices; they keep you turning the page, or seeking out the sequel, or coming back for the next episode. “Same bat time, same bat channel.”

Connections 03.13.2022: The Last Will Be First

A consistent theme of Jesus’ earthly ministry was inverting cultural expectations and standards. Think of how many times he met with the lowest classes of his society.

Connections 03.06.2022: Into the Wilderness

Before the season of abstinence and introspection begins on Ash Wednesday, people are anxious to enjoy extravagance and excess.

Connections 02.27.2022: The Weight of Sleep

When I read Luke 9 in preparation for writing this post, I expected to be amazed again by the dazzling transfiguration of Jesus and surprised again by the appearance of Moses and Elijah.

Connections 02.20.2022: Mercy and Justice

In this passage from Luke, Jesus urges us to display humility and mercy in our interactions with other people, seemingly turning justice upside down.

Connections 2.13.2022: Following the Money

In our world, money is power. Modern culture is consumerist and competitive, and in polite society we’re not supposed to talk numbers, even while we hustle to climb every available ladder.

Connections 2.06.2022: The Fear of Fish

Frustrated and exhausted fishermen ended their long workday—their long worknight—cleaning their nets. They shook out the catch: nothing salable or edible, just a few minnows.

Connections 01.30.2022: God Is Still Calling Us

Have you ever heard God speak to you? I have. In forty-four years of life, I’ve felt the nudging of God in many small moments. That voice hasn’t come to me out loud, through fire, or in any other spectacular way.

Connections 01.23.2022: Homecoming and Holy Tears

My 13-year-old son hates it when I cry. When he was little he would automatically fetch a box of Kleenex for me whenever we watched a movie with sad parts (looking at you, Moana and Coco).

Connections 01.16.2022: The Near Future

Sometimes when we Christians think about the future, we think primarily about what we presume to be the distant future. We think about going to heaven or about Jesus coming back. We think in terms of everything being all right one of these days.