Flame: Esther’s Strengthened Heart

Esther showed great love for her people and for her uncle Mordecai, but she also showed that she had a great deal of courage in her heart. Ask the children to think about times when they have needed to show love to others or needed to be brave so they could help others.

Honesty: Believing There Are No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

This verse is about a merchant weighing out a customer’s goods. When the customer pays for a gallon or for a pound, the Lord demands a gallon delivered, or a pound, and not a drop or a hair less. Don’t even begin to walk down a dishonest path. But the command is about much more than buying and selling; it’s about honesty and truthfulness.

Crossroads: The Friend in the Night

My favorite word as a child was “why”. I know my mother got tired of me asking “Why?” all the time. I was a very curious child. In fact, as a small child, my mother had a hard time getting me to sleep. She said it seemed as if I always wanted to observe the world, to know what was going on.

Formations 07.23.2017: Looking at the Valley

In November 2015, at the Old Salem Cemetery near Uvalda, Georgia, Emory students uncovered a grave that had been lost for nearly 67 years. These students were in Montgomery County as part of Emory University’s Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project. This project seeks to use journalistic and historical methods to investigate and understand either unpunished or unsolved murders that were racially motivated.

Connections 07.23.2017: This Place

I saw the sign in a restaurant in a small Kentucky town: “There’s no place near this place like this place, so this must be the place.” If you wanted a decent meal in that area, it was indeed the place. Most of the time when I was in that town (and in that restaurant), I really didn’t want to be there.

Hard Grace

It was extremely important for the church of my youth to prove that every single miracle in the Bible be proven as an historical and scientific fact. A literal seven day creation, the parting of the Red Sea, Joshua making the sun stand still, and of course, there was the story of “Jonah and the Whale.”

Praying in a Non-praying World

Be “in the world but not of it” is often expressed to help believers understand their place in the world, how not to be affected by its trials or inspired by its temptations. It addresses the tension of being in one place but living for another, namely heaven.

Crossroads: Forgiving Others

When I was a teenager, my youth group planned a summer mission trip to Myrtle Beach. One of my best friends, John, was in our youth group, and we were both excited about the upcoming mission trip. John and I had roomed together on every church trip. We were great friends and enjoyed spending time together. As I arrived at the church to leave for the mission trip, I learned that John had decided to room with someone else.

Formations 07.16.2017: Jerusalem’s Collapse

Jared Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He first gained fame for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997), in which he traced the geographic, environmental, and biological factors that led to the rise of Western civilization.

Connections 07.16.2017: God Answers

The dysfunction in some biblical families can be comical. It’s almost like the characters are actually caricatures, drawn larger than life to evoke humor and even a little ridicule. But while these caricatures can make us laugh, more often than not they also make us uncomfortable.

Meditations on Mark: The Transfiguration

It is an obvious fact that you cannot look directly at the sun. Expose your eyes to that much intense light for more than a fraction of a second, and you can do permanent damage. And yet it is also an obvious fact that were it not for the sun’s intensity, life on Earth wouldn’t be possible.

God Only Makes What God Loves

Most of us struggle to believe that God fully loves us (and others) since we do not measure up to God’s law. We hear the constant refrain of “I am not good enough.” Or we wrestle with the “woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’s” of our lives. “God loves us, warts and all,” we say, but that theology falls short.