Nicodemusly

So in Zimglish, “nicodemusly” means “to do something secretly, under cover of darkness.” This, of course, got me to thinking about other possibilities. Allow me to share some I came up with.

Connections 04.17.2016: Coming and Going

There’s a lot of coming and going in this story. Jesus comes by boat to the land of the Gerasenes. As soon as he steps ashore, a demon-afflicted man comes to him.

Connections 04.03.2016: Free Indeed

Something about this story bothers me. Now, I know that slavery was an accepted part of first century Roman culture. But I also know that for a human being to own a human being violates the humanity of both.

Connections 03.20.2016: Good Intentions

I believe Peter, who could be the patron saint of those who mean it until it matters, was serious when he told Jesus he’d never desert him and wouldn’t deny him even if it cost him his life….I have a theory about what happened.

Rejoicing in Heaven?

I had a really neat—and that’s not a term I use very often—experience a few Sundays ago. I’ve been the fill-in preacher at The Rock Baptist Church in The Rock, Georgia for a few months.

Connections 03.06.2016: Powerful Faith

I’ve kept a prayer journal for years. Somewhere along the way, I started writing down the Jesus Prayer as the first line of my daily entry: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

A Prayer for Freedom

O God,
We thank you that in Christ, we are free under grace.

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?

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.

Live Forever

Glenn Frey will live for as long as the world continues. That’s because he will live on in his songs. Now, before some of y’all get your halos twisted in a knot, let me say that I do believe in everlasting life.

Connections 01.24.2016: A Wedding in Cana

Jesus didn’t make it a regular practice, so far as we know, to protect people from party disasters. Still, John viewed this miracle as so important that he put it right up front in his story of Jesus and went out of his way to point out that it was Jesus’ first miracle.

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.

Telling the Truth

I’ve been thinking about truth telling. Our son is a writer. He’s also a cicerone. A cicerone is to beer as a sommelier is to wine. So Joshua is a certified, card-carrying beer expert. When it comes to beer, he really knows his stuff.

Uniform 12.27.2015: A Generous Gift

I have a confession to make. There was a time when I thought Christmas was about me. Now, don’t think I was worse than I was. I knew that Christmas was really about the birth of Jesus.

Christmas Time

When I was a child, I was very confused by the tense of the verb “to be” used in the Christmas hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful.” We’d sing, “With angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

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.”

Uniform 11.29.2015: Teaching God’s Word

When Paul’s missionary partners Timothy and Silas arrived in Corinth, they found him “occupied with the word” (v. 5; NRSV supplies “proclaiming,” which is not in the Greek text). What was he doing with the word with which he was occupied?

A Prayer for the Gullible

O God, Sometimes I am going to be gullible. Sometimes I am going to be too trusting so that I too easily believe what someone tells me. I suppose I should ask you to keep me from being gullible. But something else seems more important.

Uniform 11.15.2015: From Derbe to Philippi

The late comedian Mitch Hedberg talked about people who helped their friends move. “I like to help my friends stay,” he deadpanned. I think that one of the basic questions of the Christian life, not to mention of human existence, is whether we should go or stay.

A Prayer for Adversaries

O God, Thank you for the relationships we have with some and for the connections we have with all. Thank you for the people who are our adversaries.

Uniform 11.01.16: God Releases the Captive

Peter was in jail, bound by chains, surrounded by guards, and in danger of being executed. He was in those dire circumstances because of his faithfulness to Christ. Many Christians around the world experience persecution because of their faith.

Reading through the Lens of Jesus

Jesus opens up the depth of meaning in the Scriptures so that we can find depth of meaning in our lives and in our discipleship. In relationship with Jesus we become participants in the kingdom of God.

Uniform 10.18.15: Peter Takes a Risk

Sometime back in the mid-1960s, a friend of mine invited me to accompany his mother and him on a trip to one of the beautiful state parks in our state. The main event on our itinerary was swimming in the park’s lake.

Uniform 10.04.2015: The Spirit Is Not for Sale

“Simony” isn’t a word that we hear every day. As a matter of fact, I might never have heard it had I not taken Church History in seminary—or if I didn’t watch “Jeopardy.” Simony is the buying and selling of church offices.

Uniform 09.20.2015: Witnessing to the Truth

As you read this week’s text, you may think, as I did, that it offers an opportunity to talk about the jailing of Rowan County (Kentucky) clerk Kim Davis, who was found to be in contempt of court for refusing to issue any marriage licenses because of her opposition to same-sex marriage.

A Prayer for Refugees

O God, It must break your heart to see so many of your children so desperate to flee their homeland that they put their lives and the lives of their children at such risk.

Uniform 09.06.2015: Praying for One Another

In a song of my generation, the singer pleads, “Tell me what you want and I’ll give you what you need.” I’ve learned over the years that my prayers often go like that—I ask God for what I want and God gives me what I need.

You Are Where You Are

In last month’s Kaleidoscope post, I listed several presuppositions for approaching our study of the Bible as if we are looking through a kaleidoscope. This month I’d like to think about the first presupposition: each one of us stands in a unique place.

Uniform 08.23.2015: God Demands Justice

For centuries they preached that worship rituals were invalid unless accompanied by proper concern for other people, and especially for the most vulnerable in the society.

Uniform 08.09.2015: A Choice to Be Just

In the 1984 film Mass Appeal, the older priest is a “Don’t rock the boat” sort while the younger man fervently believes that the boat really needs to be rocked–if not sunk.

Connections is Coming!

Beginning with the January–April 2016 trimester, the Uniform Bible Study series will become Connections. You may wonder what will change besides the name. Well, not much—at least not right away.

Kaleidoscope

Most of us probably had at least one kaleidoscope during our childhood and so we know what one looks like and what it does. It’s a tube with a lens at one end through which someone looks, telescope-style.

Uniform 07.26.2015: The Last Word is “Grace”

Most of Micah’s message is about justice and judgment; as God’s prophet, he hammers away at the need for the people of eighth century Israel to acknowledge and repent of their sins.

Uniform 07.12.2015: No Tolerance for Corrupt Leaders and Prophets

In a 1963 episode of The Andy Griffith Show entitled “Opie and the Spoiled Kid,” Opie’s friend Arnold kept getting into trouble. Andy finally confiscated the boy’s bicycle due to violations of Mayberry’s no riding bikes on the sidewalk ordinance.

Uniform 06.28.2015: No Rest for the Greedy or the Needy

One reason that Israel was commanded to keep the Sabbath was out of a sense of empathy for those who were most tied to their labor, who were most dependent on those who were wealthier than they were.

Ecumenical PB&J

I have often joked that I was Baptist before I was Christian—but it’s not entirely a joke. To me, it all comes down to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Uniform 06.14.2015: God Is Not Fooled

It occurred to me that we may never make much progress toward effectively addressing our social problems until we are interested in the causes as much as or more than we are in the results.

Uniform 05.31.2015: The Greatest Gift Is Love

The church can and should be a community in which its members experience a taste of heaven right here on Earth. That is so because God is present in the church and where God is, God’s love is.

Context and Community

It was the summer of 1976; I had just finished my freshman year at Mercer University. I was serving as the Associate Pastor for a small Baptist church way out in the Georgia countryside.

Uniform 05.17.2015: The Spirit Creates One Body

J. R. Ewing was shot in his office at Ewing Oil on March 21, 1980 by an unseen and thus unknown assailant. Millions of Americans would spend the next eight months pondering and debating the question “Who shot J. R.?”

It’s Mrs. Key’s Fault

I took a lot of classes at Lamar County High School during my years there (1972-75). While I benefited from several I was most influenced by two: Creative Writing I and Creative Writing II, both taught by Mrs. Vivian (JoJo) Key.

Full Circle

My Good Wife and I have been discussing what to call our spread in Yatesville; it just seems like it needs to have a name. I tried to think of something biblical.

About Those Sins

At the end of his song “These Days” the prophet Jackson Browne sings, “Don’t confront me with my failures; I had not forgotten them.” Preach it, Brother Jackson! I haven’t forgotten mine, either.

Of Scripts and Improvisation

If you have ever watched a Christopher Guest-directed film you know what a treat the experience is. Waiting for Guffman is about a small-town community theater troupe the members of which think that a Broadway producer is going to attend their production.

As Slow as Christmas

It was late on Christmas Day; the sun had set and my parents and I were somewhere between Yatesville and Barnesville on our way back home after the day-long celebration of Christ’s birth through the eating of food and the exchanging of gifts.

Breaking Things

I am not terribly clumsy and yet I have a way of breaking things. Now, I am not the artist that my cousin Stan was. When we were boys, I dreaded when Stan, who was a few years younger than I, came to our house because he would want to play with my toys and any toy that Stan touched broke.

Banana Pudding Discipleship

Occasionally I am brought up short by the realization that some people have never had real banana pudding. If you are wondering what I’m talking about, you are one of those people.

Stop Making Sense

When I was a child, little made sense to me. I did not understand the purpose of life….Sometimes I would ask a grown-up person to explain something to me and those I asked generally obliged. Their explanations made no sense to me but they seemed to make sense to them.