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.

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.”

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.

Waiting for You – Addie Davis

Your achievements represent hard work and dedication—a milestone—but you will discover that there are no resting places, just breathers along the way, for you must get on with the tasks of missions, education, and employment. You must certainly get on with the business of living.

Flame: Creation Story Circles

I get really excited by visual ways of telling stories, so I thought I’d make some for us to use. I chose to use cork and paper as we are trying to get away from plastic, if possible!

Crossroads: I Am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I didn’t always feel pretty as a teenager. I went through the usual gawky teen phase, with braces and acne and glasses. There were times when I wished that I looked like someone else.

Formations 07.17.2016: Deborah the Judge

We traditionally call the biblical heroes who flourished from the settlement of Canaan to the rise of the monarchy “judges,” but that doesn’t quite capture their role.

Crossroads: Our Guide

We recently finished Everest VBS. As the leader of Base Camp Sing and Play as well as Summit Celebration, I was known as a Sherpa. A Sherpa is an expert guide on Mount Everest whose job it is to guide climbers safely up and back down Everest.

Formations 07.03.2016: Breaking the Cycle of Failure

She’lah Shreve is a graduate of George W. Carver High School in Birmingham, Alabama and is soon to begin his studies at Lawson State Community College. There was a time, though, when it looked like he would never graduate at all. Tenth-grade chemistry threatened to be She’lah’s downfall.

Connections 06.12.2016: Them and Us

Judgment is real and necessary, but it’s nothing to be happy about.
God’s not happy about it. We shouldn’t be happy about it.

Crossroads: Holy, Holy, Holy

God is different from everything else in our universe. He is the Creator, and the only One who is holy. I am most reminded of God’s holiness during communion and during Holy week.

Connections 06.05.2016: Perhaps…

I read the Scripture passage for today’s lesson and thought, “Well, that’s cheerful.” Of all passages in the Bible, the hardest ones for me are those that speak of God’s laying waste to lands and people and animals—sometimes, it seems, indiscriminately.

Crossroads: Celebrate!

I love birthdays. I love celebrating my birthday and celebrating other people’s as well. There’s something about a birthday. One of my favorite birthday celebrations actually took place at camp.

Formations 04.17.2016: What a Kingdom Looks Like

Jeff Bezos is a technology entrepreneur and investor. He is the reason you can get almost anything shipped to your door—dog food, a soldering gun, a flat screen TV—within two days of clicking a button.

Formations 04.10.2016: Places of Worship

Do you have fond memories of a particular place of worship? Maybe it’s the sanctuary were you were baptized, where you were married, or where your parents or grandparents were bid farewell.

Formations 04.03.2016: Questions that Make a Difference

Growing up, Lisa Gross was fed traditional Korean food cooked by her grandmother, who came to America from Korea with Gross’s mother in the 1970s. Every time Gross would come into the kitchen while her grandmother cooked, she was sent back out to do her homework and study.

Crossroads: Waiting on the Lord

I find myself anxious a good bit of the time. I worry about what will happen, whether or not something will actually occur, and if things will turn out okay. It seems like Psalm 27 was written for worriers.

Formations 02.28.2016: Renewing Our Vows

Two weeks ago, hundreds of married couples gathered at Fountain Hills Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona to renew their wedding vows. The fourth-annual event was one of the world’s largest vow renewal ceremonies.

Connections 02.28.2016: The Feast of Booths

I am not a camper. I like the idea of communing with nature, gazing at the stars, sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows, and falling asleep to the sounds of the night.

Formations 02.21.2016: The Ten Excuses

A few months ago, an employment website called Career Builder polled users to see how many employees had come up with an excuse to avoid going in to work in 2015.

Connections 02.21.2016: Day of Atonement

We all know what a “cover-up” is. We also know it’s not a good thing. How many times have we learned of a crime only after the cover-up falls apart?

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 school in Middle School that I began participating in Ash Wednesday services.

Formations 02.14.2016: The Lenten Fast

The message that church conveyed—sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly—was that Lent and many other traditions of the wider church were nothing but empty ceremonialism that “real” Christians were better off avoiding.

Connections 02.14.2016: The Feast of Weeks

Have you ever planted a seed and watched it grow into food? Sadly, I haven’t yet undertaken that experience—hindered by fear of failure and, to be honest, resistance to such a level of responsibility.

Crossroads: God’s Great Plan for You

As a child, I never liked to see people unhappy. I always wanted to do what I could to help. When I was about five, we went to a local nursing home to sing for the residents. While we were there, we met a lady in a wheelchair who really wanted to go home.

Formations 02.07.2016: Accepting the Promise of Freedom

For nearly 34 years, Gregory Diatchenko knew that he would die in prison after he was found guilty of committing murder at the age of 17. Sent to serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole, he had to resign himself to the fact that he would never be free.

Connections 02.07.2016: Passover

The story of the institution of Passover is about the present, the future, and the past. The narrative opens with “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt . . .” (v. 1). God then proceeds to give them instructions for the Passover observance.

Formations 01.31.2016: Creation from Catastrophe

This September marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. Among those commemorating the event is the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba), which has already opened an exhibition.

Crossroads: How Big Is God’s Love?

I can remember saying “I love you this much!” as a child, with my arms open wide. I’m sure you’ve seen children do this before: they open their arms as wide as they can and say “I love you this much!” Or they give you a bear hug and squeeze and say the same thing.

Connections 01.17.2016: The Story of Forgiveness

I’ll be honest. I was kind of hoping this was Mike Ruffin’s week to write. A bride worth waiting for and the most beautiful bride were surely easier topics than this week’s unfaithful bride.

Crossroads: The Wonders of Winter

Winter can be a dark, dreary time. But it can also be filled with wonders. I absolutely love snow. As soon as it starts falling, I want to go out in it and take pictures. And if it sticks, I wait impatiently until there’s enough to build a snowman.

Connections 01.10.2016: The Most Beautiful Bride

I imagine you’ve heard of a hopeless romantic. I’m not one of those. I’m a hopeful romantic. I believe that hope leads to love and that love leads to hope. I believe that love changes the way we see those we love.

Connections 01.03.2016: The Story of Love

I grew up on Disney princess movies, many of which had this plot: A girl lives with her father (or horrific stepmother) because her mother suffered some fatal accident or succumbed to sickness.

Uniform 12.20.2015: What Can I Bring?

Our unit title is “What We Bring to God.” Have you ever thought about that? Often, we focus on what God gives to us. The list is both lengthy and weighty: salvation, grace, a Savior who identifies with us, a Scripture text for guidance, the Earth with all its provisions.

Uniform 12.13.2015: Acceptable Offerings

I was the young new pastor at the church. As I walked around the offices, I noticed that every room had a different color carpet, that a lot of it was ugly, and that none of it was what you’d call “nice.”

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.

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.

Formations 11.29.2015: Only Light

On November 12, a crowded marketplace in the Bourg al-Baragneh neighborhood in Beirut was bombed, leaving hundreds dead and injured in the worst attack Beirut has seen in years.

Crossroads: God Knows

Talk about a time in your life when you felt invisible, when you felt like no one else knew your pain and it seemed like you were on your own. Did you turn to God?

Formations 11.08.2015: “My Feet Are a Big Fabric”

The Universal Translator is a staple of the Star Trek science fiction franchise. It is a device that instantly translates speech from one language to another, allowing Captain Kirk and his crew to communicate easily.

Crossroads: Praise the Lord!

Our youth group had a saying that we used to end our meetings each week: “God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!” Good is good all of the time.

Formations 11.01.2015: Fragile Things

Think about strong, permanent things. What are they made of? How big are they? I think of stone structures that stand for centuries. When we want to build something that lasts forever, we consider materials even stronger than stone and wood.

Formations 10.11.2015: Finding Joy

Where do you find joy in life? It’s easy to find joy while watching a sunrise or baking cookies or watching a favorite movie, but how about at work? Where can we find joy in the midst of our humdrum daily existence?

Uniform 08.30.2015: Because I Have Been Given Much

“Humans of New York” is a popular photoblog with more than 14,500,000 followers on Facebook. The author, photographer Brandon Stanton, “decided to move to New York City and take portraits of strangers on the street” (Humans of New York, “Photographer”).

Crossroads: What Should I Ask For?

As a child of the 90s, I cannot tell you how many times I watched Aladdin. It was one of my favorite movies.

Formations 08.23.2015: Leaving Isn’t Easy

About a year ago, author Beverly Gooden started a movement that went viral. She was frustrated and saddened by a popular argument that criticized victims of domestic violence, and she wanted to help the world understand.