Crossroads: The Candle of Bethlehem/Peace

Welcome to the second week of Advent! This week, our focus lies on Mary and Joseph, a couple who were waiting for the changes that come with a big transition: a new baby.

Crossroads: The Candle of Prophecy/Hope

Welcome to the first week of Advent! Advent is a time of preparation, when we wait and prepare for the Christ child. Each week you will light a new candle as we recognize the things that Christ brings to this world: hope, peace, joy, and love.

Crossroads: The Armor of God

Have you ever seen some of the equipment that comes with playing sports? Football players put on helmets, chin guards, mouth guards, cleats, and shoulder pads in order to protect themselves when they play.

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.

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.

A View from the Pew: Constant Non-Contact

One of the most visible and important ways laity serve in Baptist churches is through the role of deacon. Though it varies in form and function from church to church, one essential task as outlined in Scripture is taking care of people in the congregation as an extension of the ministry of the staff.

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.

Crossroads: Where is God?

When I was a child, bad thunderstorms used to terrify me. The rain was okay, but I was very afraid of the thunder and the lightning. Thunderstorms that happened at night were always the worst. There was no way I could sleep during them.

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.

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.

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.

Formations 08.20.2017: Return Blessing for Evil

I have my parents’ bibles from when they were children, and they are more or less what you would expect—King James, leather bound, once gilded, and marked with standard features of childhood bibles. A blue sticker in the front flap of my mother’s bible shows Jesus’ name written in green block letters and arranged as a fish.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!”

Flame: Palm Sunday Spinner

We are getting into Easter planning mode at the moment and needed something a bit different for Palm Sunday. This is a great activity because somehow the hosanna appears on the palm leaf. The children love watching the trick of the eye happen!

Crossroads: Waiting

The Israelites were waiting and watching for God. They were waiting for the Messiah to come, and with him, redemption. They waited for thousands of years, waiting and watching for God to arrive. And then, all of sudden, God was among them, in the form of Jesus.

Crossroads: My Shepherd

Most of the time, I associate this well-known psalm with funerals. I don’t like to read it because it brings to mind sadness and pain. And yet, this psalm is all about peace. It is also about being treasured.

Crossroads: Awestruck

Have you ever been awestruck by something? Perhaps a sight that took your breath away? For me, those times come most often when I am standing on top of a mountain, gazing out into the distance at the creation God has formed. Depending on the season, creation is either lush and green, or alive with color, or waiting in the darkness to spring back to life.

Flame: Pipe Cleaner Intercessions

I love the versatility of pipe cleaners and children seem to feel the same! They are great for playing with and they are also great for praying with.

Crossroads: My Hope is in the Lord

I am a worrier by nature. When things go wrong, I get anxious. When things have the possibility of going wrong, I get anxious then too. So it is comforting to know that the Lord who watches over us doesn’t sleep. God doesn’t get tired. God doesn’t get anxious.

Crossroads: Guilty

When I was in the first grade, I couldn’t seem to keep my mouth shut. I wanted to tell everyone everything all of the time. So being asked to be quiet wasn’t easy for me. One day we had a fire drill at school and our teacher instructed us to walk quietly outside. Honestly, I tried.

Crossroads: Ash Wednesday

I always feel the weight of the ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday. It wasn’t until I went to a Catholic middle school that I began participating in Ash Wednesday services. From that first Ash Wednesday service until now, it never ceases to amaze me how much I feel those ashes.

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.