The Strains of Sermon Preparation

In my thirty-five years of preaching, I’ve notice a constant occurrence: Sunday comes every seven days. It’s relentless. The sermon, therefore, can’t be delayed to Monday or another day next week. Sunday comes whether I’ve had two funerals, a wedding, twelve hospital visits, a holiday, or a sick child.

Flame: The Calling of Levi with Colored Cards

We’re always trying different ways to tell stories in visual ways, so here is what we tried in our scaled-down summer group (3-11 years old). We told the story of Jesus calling Levi (Luke 5:27-32) using colored pieces of paper to represent the characters.

Crossroads: God Always Finds a Way

Looking back and seeing God’s fingerprints in your life is a lot easier than seeing them in the moment. There are times in my life when things seemed impossible. When I was upset and hurting in the 6th grade when our church fell apart, it seemed impossible that I would ever be happy again.

Formations 09.24.2017: Japanese General’s Gift Launches a Career in Science

John S. Blunt was a U.S. Navy Seabee during World War II. Serving in both the European and Pacific theaters, he acquired a number of trophies. Among them was a high-quality Japanese microscope. He had saved a Japanese general’s life by providing him with antibiotics from the American base’s medical dispensary.

Connections 09.24.2017: Somewhere between Heaven and Earth

David is feeling pretty good about God in Psalm 145. Unlike in other psalms, there’s no word about vengeance or swords or wrath. David spends the entire psalm, even through verse 21, proclaiming God’s wonder and nearness and faithfulness. What led him to write this psalm amid all the others so full of lament, fear, anger, and revenge?

The Miracle of Creating

Though eager to put her vision into words, she found doubt and anxiety hovering over her. Soon she heard the cursor say, “Stop. This is too messy. Let someone more qualified, more talented, more educated do what you could never possibly do.”

Writing When It Hurts

Writer and activist James Baldwin concluded, “The price for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” When I answered the call to preach the gospel, the invitation was delivered by one of Gabriel’s mail-angels.

Crossroads: Following God

I loved to talk when I was a kid. I talked all the time. And at school, there are times when you’re supposed to be quiet. But sometimes I couldn’t help myself and I talked to the people around me. And of course, I got in trouble. I got I’s (needs Improvement) and sometimes U’s (for Unsatisfactory) on my report card for talking.

Formations 09.17.2017: Sowing and Reaping

Responding to an agricultural crisis, Paul uses an agricultural image to show how the Corinthians might respond to the famine in Jerusalem. He says those who sow little will reap little while those who sow generously will reap generously (v. 6).

Connections 09.17.2017: The View from Below

God is with us. Christ is present in us. These are, the Bible assures us, facts. But such talk can go to our heads. After all, if God is with us, shouldn’t we be able to look down on other people? And if Christ is present in us, shouldn’t we be able to pass judgment on folks?

Write Something Meaningful

I love writing. It’s rewarding to transform an idea into words that offer inspiration or clarity, or both. Certainly, no one’s writings will be the bee’s knees to one and all, but they might empower two or three. I think the odds of making a difference are in my favor when I collect the gifts given to me by Jesus and faithfully steward them.

My Will be Done

In my family of origin and true of others in the South, children are seen and not heard. To be sure, it was more instruction in role expectation than reality. The adults didn’t want to hear the children. Their voices, our voices were devalued, prejudged as needy, juvenile, playful.