Formations 03.05.2017: Taking Off Our Masks

It’s that time of year when cheap plastic purple and green and gold masks are sold at the front of party stores. This means that it’s almost that time of year when we follow Jesus and those early Israelites before him out into the wilderness. Jesus goes out there, whether he knows it or not, to be tempted by the devil (4:1).

Connections 03.05.2017: So Much More

Back when the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was all the rage, Saturday Night Live presented a parody of it (of course they did). Darrell Hammond portrayed host Regis Philbin, and Will Farrell played a contestant named Rich Preylant.

The Beauty and Challenge of Baby Dedications

Whether they are innocently sleeping or desperately screaming, we can’t take our eyes off babies. This is especially true during baby dedications at church. Spend any amount of time in church, and you’re likely to be a part of such a service, especially in Baptist churches with young families.

Flame: Sharing God’s Love

The rainbow is a great symbol for Christians of God’s love and promise to us. It’s also the symbol of new beginnings, a key message of Christianity. This activity helps children to think about their own ability to share God’s love with others and to pray for those who don’t yet know that love.

Crossroads: Love Your Enemy

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth” (Matthew 5:38). Many of us live our lives in this way. All you have to do is watch the news to see people responding in this way. For example, someone is attacked and their country responds with war.

Formations 02.26.2017: Meeting the Author

Once in a great while, you hear or read a simple sentence that changes everything. For me, one of those sentences came long ago in a sermon preached by my college pastor. “There is a difference,” he said, “between reading the Bible and meeting the Author.”

Connections 02.26.2017: Jesus Is Lord

Sometimes I need to read about Jesus’ transfiguration. Instead of walking by his side down the dusty roads, listening to his stories about how to live in God’s present kingdom, eating the food from one of his miraculous multiplying meals, watching him heal the sick and bless the kids and care for the poor.

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.

Love as a Way of Living

Without question the word “love” sums up and depicts the essence of our Christian faith. Nonetheless, most Christians struggle in a world often filled with problems, difficulties, suffering, pain.

Crossroads: Anger and Words

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” How many times did we say this to someone growing up? How many times have you heard it before? When I said this as a kid, it was because someone had said something hurtful and mean to me, and I said it to cover up the fact that those words did hurt.

Formations 02.19.2017: Tension and Resolution

In the first few months of my freshman year, the university orchestra played a concert at the opera house downtown. I went and somewhere between Brazilian samba, Argentinian tango, and Aaron Copeland, they played Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.”

Connections 02.19.2017: Getting Past the Great Filter

It was 1950, and some scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico were walking to lunch. Along the way, they talked about some recent reports of UFOs and a New Yorker cartoon that attributed the recent disappearances of New York City trash canisters to alien activity.