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.

Formations 05.12.2024: Praying When We Don’t Know How

As a pastor, I’ve ministered with more than one deacon who preferred not to pray in front of the church.

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).

Formations 04.28.2024: Wow

Author Anne Lamott wrote a book about what she considered the “three essential prayers.” And what are these prayers? She says they are Help, Thanks, and Wow.

Formations 04.21.2024: Discerning the Body

Today’s passage provides the earliest known account of Jesus’s institution of the Lord’s Supper.

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.

Formations 04.07.2024: Joyful, Joyful

What are your earliest memories of the Lord’s Supper or Communion?

Formations 03.31.2024: Risen in Radiant Victory

Matthew’s account of the first Easter follows the same outline as the other Gospels.

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.

Formations 03.17.2024: Wash Me, and I Will Be Clean

Psalm 51, attributed to David, expresses profound sorrow for sin and longing for God’s grace. In other words, the psalmist is seeking atonement.

Formations 03.10.2024: Places to Be

Psalm 95 invites us to imagine a grand pilgrimage, with throngs of worshipers coming to kneel before God.

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.

Formations 02.25.2024: A Little Bit Too Amazing

It can be hard to get past the idea that people must pay for what they’ve done. I’m not thinking about the legal system.

Formations 02.18.2024: The Miracle of Repentance

The last time Formations ran a unit on the book of Jonah, the lesson writer received two letters in the same week.

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.

Formations 02.04.2024: Worth the Effort

In the past few years, I’ve heard more and more about families split apart because some family members see the world differently from other family members.

Formations 01.28.2024: Yes, You

Jesus set apart the Twelve to be his messengers, sent with a message. Matthew and Luke call the Twelve “apostles.”

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.”

Formations 01.14.2024: The Year of the Lord’s Favor

Last week we looked at the first words that Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Mark. This week, we turn to the Gospel of Luke.

Formations 01.07.2024: The Gospel in One Sentence

I have a minister friend who likes to ask thought-provoking questions on social media. A while back, he asked a question that all Christians ought to ponder.

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.

Formations 12.24.2023: The Problem with Mighty Kings

I’m afraid I’m going to have to offend some of you with what I’m about to share, but it can’t be helped. Are you ready?

Formations 12.17.2023: Leading the Flock

The little that I know about shepherds came from reading books. I’m a city kid, through and through.

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!

Formations 12.03.2023: A Kingdom of Peace and Justice

Isaiah 9 expresses a great sigh of relief on the part of the beleaguered people of Judah.

Formations 11.26.2023: Mountaintop Experiences

The Bible never uses the exact wording of a “mountaintop experience,” but it is certainly the origin of that expression.

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.

Formations 11.12.2023: Bigger than Us

In the Middle Ages, the building of cathedrals represented both a profound expression of faith and a channel for the creative energies of countless artisans.

Formations 11.05.2023: Lavish Symbols

Robert Webber was a minister and academic who often led seminars for churches navigating the landmines of worship renewal.

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.

Formations 10.22.2023: Seeing Each Other

How do you react when you encounter someone on the street asking for money? What if that person is a “regular.”

Formations 10.15.2023: “The Lord Indeed Is God”

In the fourth century, the Arian bishop Ulfilas translated the Bible into the Gothic language.

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.

Formations 10.01.2023: Speak of the Devil

First Peter ends with a series of parting instructions regarding mutual love, hospitality, humility, stewardship of spiritual gifts, and accepting the authority of church elders.

Formations 09.24.2023: Your Life Speaks

A high school marketing program in Liberty Hill, Texas is working with local businesses for mutual benefit.

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.

Formations 09.10.2023: Public Opinion

It’s amazing how much our self-perception depends on what other people say about us. People who’ve been told they don’t have what it takes to succeed often don’t.

Formations 09.03.2023: Saved

A. T. Robertson is one of my heroes. “Dr. Bob,” as his students called him, was perhaps the greatest Greek scholar Southern Baptists have ever produced.

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.

Formations 08.20.2023: Serving Together

My wife and I wrote our own wedding vows. We weren’t interested in doing anything strange or cute or avant-garde.

Formations 08.13.2023: Space to Grow

“May I offer you a little fatherly advice?” I asked. “You need spend Mother’s Day with your family.”

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.

Formations 07.30.2023: The Desert Will Bloom

I heard someone make a troubling observation a while ago about the record-setting temperatures that are currently besetting not only parts of the United States but also parts of Europe and Asia.

Formations 07.23.2023: Coming Home

My dad spent almost his entire adult life as a high school basketball coach. While I was still a little kid, I was the team mascot.

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.

Formations 07.09.2023: God Persists

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” In other words, no matter how carefully a project is planned, accidents or misfortune can still happen.

Formations 07.02.2023: Rock Bottom

Rock bottom is when it is no longer possible to pretend things are better than they are, or that they won’t keep getting worse if left to themselves.

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.