The Need to Be Grateful

Did you know that our brains have a negativity bias? According to recent neuroscience research, the human brain gathers strength around fearful, negative, or problematic situations. This tendency means that we must intentionally savor any loving, positive, or unproblematic event for at least 15 seconds to offset the negative.

Crossroads: Thanksgiving

This is a time when families gather together around a table filled with food, and remember all of the things for which they are thankful. Some years it’s easy to remember the blessings you’ve been given. But other years, it seems as if nothing has gone right.

Shaking Free from Indifference

Indifference is a tricky feeling. Sure, one can be indifferent about milk chocolate vs. dark chocolate (though clearly, dark chocolate is better). We can even be indifferent about slightly more important things like who to pick in a Yankees vs. Red Sox matchup (though clearly, the Yankees are preferable).

Crossroads: Tell Me the Story

I grew up in church. For as far back as I can remember, I had Sunday school teachers telling me about Jesus and how much God loves us. My preacher knew who I was and he told me about Jesus too. My mom told me about Jesus and my grandparents told me about Jesus. I knew that I was surrounded by God’s love.

Crossroads: Signs and Wonders

A friend of mine is a Kindergarten teacher. And she became a Kindergarten teacher after God spoke to her. She saw the word “Kindergarten” in big, bold letters in her Bible one day. Afterward, she tried to find it again and couldn’t. One day, though, she was reading something in her Bible and there she saw it.

Crossroads: All Saints’ Day

It’s hard for me to believe that Sunday, October 29, makes two and a half years since my granddad died. Over the past two years, I’ve found myself remembering a lot of things about him: the way he smiled, how he smelled, and all of the memories of the things we did together.

Crossroads: God Is Our Refuge

Last week our devotion was on times when it seems like God isn’t there. This week’s psalm is a reminder to us that God is always there and that God is our refuge.

Meditations on Luke: The Last Laugh

The ministry of Jesus is such a ridiculous thing that it draws laughter. Everywhere he goes, he says and does things that are so out of step with what seems to be obvious reality that people think he is crazy. Imagine what the neighbors said when Jesus, somewhere around the age of thirty, walked away from his father’s vocation as a carpenter.

Crossroads: Small

Has nature ever just wowed you? Have you ever felt small when looking at the ocean or the stars? Talk about a time when you felt awed by something in nature.

Crossroads: Our Attitude

I loved school. When I was a kid, I loved everything about school. And I loved good grades. I wanted to be the best. But here’s the thing: there was always someone better than me. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, there was always that one person who was smarter.

Crossroads: That’s Not Fair!

“That’s not fair!” Growing up with a younger sister sometimes meant that I said “that’s not fair” a good bit. There were times when she got to do things much earlier than I had gotten to do them, or she got her way when I really wanted mine.

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.

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.”

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.

Crossroads: Paying Attention

Moses could’ve easily walked on by. After all, a burning bush probably wasn’t that unusual. But when Moses looked at it, he noticed something. The bush was burning but it wasn’t burning up. So he went over and the Lord spoke to him. Moses was paying attention.

Crossroads: God’s Love Is Eternal

David’s psalm is a great reminder that God’s love never fails. God never quits on us. God sees and knows everything about us and still loves us. And when people hear what God has to say, they will sing about the glory of God. Their response will be one full of thanks.

Crossroads: Standing Up for Others

Joseph was the favorite son and it seems like he liked to tell on his brothers. So Joseph was a tattletale and the favorite, and his brothers hated him for it. They hated him so much that they plotted to kill him. But Reuben knew how much Joseph meant to his father, and so he stood up for him. Kind of.

Crossroads: Don’t Give Up

I love learning different languages. I took French for 7 years in high school and college and I absolutely loved it. I knew what I was doing and I was good at it. When I got to seminary, though, I had to take a semester each of Hebrew and Greek. I loved Hebrew and I was good at it.

Quiet Miracles

You haven’t truly seen the night sky until you see it from the middle of Peru’s remote jungles, hundreds of miles away from any electricity and several days’ drive from the nearest city. Imagine a sky of black felt, covered in the glitter blown from a child’s hands.

Meditations on Luke: Forcing Our Way In

It would be hard to count the gallons of ink that have been spilled over the years trying to interpret verse 16. For one thing, the wording in the original Greek is terse and difficult to translate into an English equivalent. Beyond that, the phrase deals in imagery that is awkward and feels out of place.

Crossroads: What Do You Want?

As a child, I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to be famous. I can carry a tune, but I’m not a great singer. But I loved to write songs. A lot of the songs I wrote were about God. I loved to dress up and sing my songs. As I grew up, I stopped writing songs and started grading papers.

Crossroads: God Sees It All

As a child, my mom always knew everything I did. (At least it felt that way!) I talked during a fire drill when I was in the first grade, which was a big no-no. I got in trouble at school, and when I got home that day, my mom asked me about school. She asked me if anything had happened and I said no.

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.

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.

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.

Crossroads: The Love of God

When I was a child, I loved singing the hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story.” I loved telling people about God and this hymn reflects that. As an adult, it is sometimes harder to tell others about God. I am more worried about what they will think of me or how they will react than I was when I was a child.

Crossroads: Our Bighearted God

When I was in preschool, I had a teacher named Miss June. I loved Miss June. She had a really big heart. She was very sweet. But the thing I loved most about her was that she kept me company when everyone else was taking a nap. I had to do a breathing treatment for my asthma every day after lunch.

God Deems Them Righteous

“God does not hear the prayers of Jews,” a prominent pastor proclaimed in 1980. His words created division among Christians and Jews alike. Who had the audacity to determine whom God hears? Psalm 34 tells us exactly whom God hears…

Crossroads: Roots

Today’s Scripture is all about our roots growing in God’s love. How do you feel about your life’s roots? Have they grown deep in God’s love?

Crossroads: Sharing Jesus with Others

As a young teenager, I remember telling one of my best friends about Jesus while we were at a slumber party. She was having a hard time and she was crying. Her parents argued a lot and she was worried about what was going to happen. Everyone else was already asleep, and I was doing my best to make her feel better.

Crossroads: The Presence of the Holy Spirit

Several years ago on a weekend retreat, I gathered with a group of teenagers in a dimly lit room to share an Agape Love Feast. Earlier, we had set up the room with candles, a plate of bread, and a large cup of grape juice. Before we entered the room, all of us took off our shoes and made a commitment to be silent as we entered.

Crossroads: Ascension

When I went away to college, I only moved to the other side of town. But even though I was still in the same town, my mother still had to leave me at Mercer. After we finished getting my stuff unpacked, there came a time when she had to go and I had to stay. She gave me a big hug and left me.

Crossroads: Never Alone

When I was in the sixth grade, I felt like I didn’t have any friends. Our church was going through a tough time and I didn’t have any friends there. And my best friends at school no longer wanted to be friends with me. I felt very alone.

Meanwhile…

All Philip knows as he starts walking is what the angel said: At noon, take the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza (v. 26). Most of us get a gentle nudging, an inkling of what God wants us to do. Philip got a timetable and directions.

Crossroads: God Is Our Fortress

There have been many times in my life when it seemed like a storm was raging around me. Sometimes it was because there were actual storms happening that came with tornadoes. In those times, I prayed for God to protect me and keep me safe. I prayed for God to calm my fears and remind me that God is always there with me.

Praying Between the Lines

Most of us are familiar with the expression, “Read between the lines.” It is an idiom used to capture the practice of inferring. Not stated explicitly or openly, it invites persons to find the hidden meaning behind a text or conversation. “She didn’t say she was frustrated. But, if you read between the lines, you could hear that she is disappointed.”

Crossroads: Staying Connected

I have always loved wisteria. I know that it’s a parasite, but it has always been beautiful to me. One of my favorite parts of driving to my grandparents’ house as a kid was driving past the beautiful wisteria growing in a patch of trees.

Meditations on Mark: Family in the Kingdom of God

Few wounds cut deeper than those inflicted on us by our families. I have known plenty of otherwise strong and accomplished adults who still carry in their spirits the pain of broken relationships with parents, siblings, or children. This is an indication of the family’s importance in God’s plan for humanity.

Crossroads: Recognizing Jesus

Jesus tends to break into our lives in unexpected ways. Maybe for you, it’s the bully of the school doing something nice for someone else. Maybe it’s the popular kid sitting with an outcast at lunch. However it is, Jesus usually works through surprising people.

On the Emmaus Road

What courage this pair of disciples shows on the way to Emmaus. When so many others have denied Jesus, fled, or locked themselves away, these two meet a stranger on the road outside of Jerusalem and freely declare themselves to be disciples of Jesus. Maybe it was the grief talking.

Help During Times of Darkness

A few years ago, I was driving home from church on a Wednesday night when the greatest number of emergency vehicles that I had ever seen whizzed past me on the other side of the highway, their bright lights flickering and sirens blaring. I soon discovered that a fertilizer plant in the neighboring town of West, Texas had exploded.

Crossroads: Don’t Be Afraid

The disciples were afraid. Jesus had been arrested and killed because of who he was. And the disciples were afraid that they, too, would be arrested and killed because they followed Jesus. So they hid, locking the doors and hoping people would forget about them.

Crossroads: He Is Risen!

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Easter is such a wonderful time. The dark, somber mourning of Good Friday has passed and in its place is new life, lots of color, and thankful spirits. The best part of our story as Christians is that we are not grave people—we are resurrection people.

Silent Saturday

God is dead. He left us to pray and they found him in the garden and God is dead. They dragged him before the High Priests and then they took him to Pilate and God is dead. They didn’t care about how many people he had helped or about the lives he had changed. They didn’t care about our lives. They didn’t care about the good things he had devoted his life to and God is dead.

Crossroads: Good Friday

Have you ever had a week start off well, but by the end of it all hope seems lost? Terrible things happen all at once, and you just aren’t sure how you’re going to make it another hour, let alone another day? We’ve all had bad weeks, and perhaps you have had a week so terrible that you just couldn’t go another step.

Crossroads: Palm Sunday

I wonder if Jesus felt that odd mixture of anticipation and disappointment when he entered Jerusalem. He enters Jerusalem triumphantly, riding on a donkey, with people spreading out their cloaks on the road and others waving branches in the air, shouting, “Hosanna!”

A Prayer Meeting

When I was a youth, our church had prayer meetings. There was no sermon, no special guest preacher, not even a well-trained musician. But, this was not what drew us. We did not receive text message or email reminders. But, there was no need.