Formations 05.26.2024: The Prayer of a Friend

Scripture is full of prayers. The apostle Paul is one of the most fervent in offering prayer for other believers.

Connections 05.19.2024: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

In this passage from the beginning of the Christian church, one of Jesus’s kindest promises is gloriously fulfilled.

Formations 05.05.2024: Be Still and Know!

This psalm contains the favorite, often quoted verse, “Be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10).

Connections 04.28.2024: Fruitfulness and Friendship

Twenty-four years ago this October, I got engaged to my beloved boyfriend. We married nine months later on a hot July day.

Formations 04.14.2024: That One Meal

I’ve participated in the Lord’s Supper dozens of times since I became a Christian at age ten.

Connections 04.07.2024: Doubt and Trust

A friend’s twelve-year-old son, raised in kind and caring church families, tearfully told his parents that he didn’t believe in God.

Formations 03.24.2024: Anticipation versus Reality

In my childhood, my best friend Jill and I spent many weekends together. One of our favorite ways to play involved imagining our adult lives.

Connections 03.17.2024: Cleansed in Heart

Are you wearing green today? This Saint Patrick’s Day tradition in the South that saved me from getting pinched during my school years.

Formations 03.03.2024: The Purpose of Fasting

Our lesson contains three very different passages about fasting. In Mark, John’s disciples and some Pharisees are fasting, but Jesus’s disciples aren’t.

Connections 02.25.2024: Hoping against Hope

Just as pastors and Bible teachers do today, Paul used stories from the past to explain faith and salvation to the early Roman believers.

Formations 02.11.2024: Jonah’s Prayer

While none of us have been swallowed by an enormous sea creature (at least I hope not!), most of us have been through experiences where we felt stuck in darkness.

Connections 02.04.2024: True Healing

The issue of healing may be one of the biggest hindrances to faith. I know it’s been a struggle for me over the years.

Formations 01.21.2024: The Gospel of Faithful Reliance

According to Harvard Divinity School, the prosperity gospel “emphasizes believers’ abilities to transcend poverty and/or illness through devotion and positive confession.”

Connections 01.14.2024: The Magnificence of Humanity

Wherever you happen to go—church, the store, a neighborhood walk, or even just your home—notice other people.

Formations 12.31.2023: Entering the New Year

Tonight, people all over the world will gather for New Year’s Eve. Traditions of welcoming the new year vary, but they usually involve eager anticipation.

Connections 12.24.2023: The Light of Christ

On Christmas Eve, many churches hold candlelight services to help people claim the promise of the Christ child amid the busy holiday rush.

Formations 12.10.2023: A More Intentional Advent

When my daughters were small, the Advent season carried a spirit of gleeful anticipation. They couldn’t wait for Christmas!

Connections 12.03.2023: Mental Health

I had a phone call with my cousin and lifelong best friend last night. We discussed personal struggles and mental health issues.

Formations 11.19.2023: Completing the Work

I’ve never been a member of a church that built a new facility. But I have been a member of a church that renovated older buildings.

Connections 11.12.2023: Just Be Nice

Anyone who has been around small children probably speaks a familiar refrain: “Be nice.”

Formations 10.29.2023: Our True Sacrifice

Some of today’s lesson text deals with animal sacrifices to God, a practice we (hopefully) no longer do.

Connections 10.22.2023: What We Owe

My husband and I have decided to buy a used car from a friend for our daughter to use. The friend is offering us a deal we can’t refuse for a vehicle that should last at least a couple of years.

Formations 10.08.2023: Offering the Tithe

The Ten Commandments tell us not to covet or steal or murder and so on, and we could probably think of many actions and behaviors that fall under those ten laws.

Connections 10.01.2023: The Guest List

Verse 31 of our passage, which is the “Verse to Remember” for today’s study, is one of those difficult sayings of Jesus that bewilder us: “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

Formations 09.17.2023: Subject to Every Human Authority

Verses 18-25 of today’s text are often discussed in conflicts over how to interpret the words about slaves being subject to their masters.

Connections 09.10.2023: God’s Justice and God’s Love

Today’s lesson text highlights the responsibility of the prophet Ezekiel: he must preach repentance to the people.

Formations 08.27.2023: Legacy

“Legacy” is a hefty word. We connect it with death, since many people’s life goal is to leave a legacy behind when they die.

Connections 08.20.2023: Salvation

People from certain Christian traditions may remember sermons and lessons about “being saved,” “asking Jesus into your heart,” or “walking the aisle” to make a public profession of faith before the church.

Formations 08.06.2023: When We Suffer

Naomi has lost everything: her husband, her sons, her security, her support, and—she is certain—her two daughters-in-law.

Connections 07.30.2023: Jacob and Laban

As we modern readers study Genesis 29, we might be struck by the way Laban uses his daughters, Leah and Rachel, to bait and trap Jacob.

Connections 07.23.2023: Jacob and the Lord

Esau was angry enough to kill Jacob, and when their mother Rebekah heard about that, she told her beloved son to leave home.

Formations 07.16.2023: Isaiah’s Impossible Mission

In Isaiah’s version of “mission: impossible,” there are no car chases, gunfights, or threats of nuclear war. There is no handsome movie star to save the day.

Connections 07.09.2023: Isaac and Rebekah

In today’s lesson text, a servant of Abraham does the patriarch’s bidding. He goes to Abraham’s people to “get a wife” for Isaac, the beloved miracle son (v. 38).

Formations 06.25.2023: Lydia

Lydia is not described as having a husband, though she does have a “household” (v. 15). She is a “dealer in purple cloth” (v. 14), which means she has an income.

Connections 06.18.2023: Bodies and Souls

In our lesson text, we read about Jesus fulfilling his mission of bringing God’s kingdom to earth. How does he do this?

Formations 06.04.2023: The Samaritan Woman

We don’t have to be biblical scholars or master interpreters to understand what’s going on in today’s lesson text. John tells us everything we need to know.

Connections 05.28.2023: Receive the Holy Spirit

Our lesson title, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” comes from John 20:22, when Jesus breathes on his frightened disciples and blesses them with a new power that will remain even after he is no longer physically present.

Formations 05.14.2023: Body vs. Spirit

Sometimes passages like this one from Paul encourage unhealthy perspectives. If we read this text at face value, we might develop mistrust of our bodies.

Connections 05.07.2023: “Believe in Me”

Our lesson text encapsulates what, for me, are the two sides of the coin of faith: hope and doubt.

Formations 04.23.2023: The Power of Belief

There is really no way to win an argument against someone’s faith. Atheists and agnostics and others have tried for centuries to discount the beliefs of those who follow Jesus.

Connections 04.16.2023: The Hope of Christ in Grief

What’s the most powerful sermon you can remember? I remember one in particular. I was still in high school and had slept over at a friend’s house on New Year’s Eve.

Formations 04.02.2023: Welcome

I have always loved the images describing Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. It truly is triumphal. Crowds of excited people lined the street.

Connections 03.26.2023: Restoration

As I grew up, skeletons always made me think of Halloween. Whether it was a homemade costume, flexible paper decorations hanging on school walls, or plastic bones sticking out of the yard.

Formations 03.12.2023: Consider the Cost

Jesus says some difficult words to the “large crowds” in our lesson text. We may wonder if Jesus was really as callous as he sounds.

Connections 03.05.2023: Movement

When we feel comfortable somewhere—we know the layout of the place, the character of the people, the dependency of the routines—it’s hard to think about leaving.

Formations 02.19.2023: Solomon’s Charge

In today’s text, a father’s death approaches, and he thinks of the legacy he will leave to his son. Has he taught his son enough?

Connections 02.12.2023: Partners with God

I grew up in First Baptist Church of Warm Springs, Georgia, a very small town with a huge amount of history.

Formations 01.29.2023: Israel’s King

In this passage, we see the regal David coming into his reign as Israel’s king. He is a strong, popular, comforting leader who makes his people feel safe.