Connections 03.07.2021: Foolish Wisdom

I admit to being a little troubled by what Paul says in this passage. Or it might be more accurate to say that I’m a little troubled by ways people might use—misuse, really—what Paul says.

Connections 02.28.2021: Blessings

In recent years, the word “Blessed” has become a common hashtag in social media—a trendy way to signal to others the pleasant state of one’s life.

Connections 02.21.2021: Looking at Rainbows

Ever since I took my first Old Testament course in college—and that was a long time ago—I’ve heard that the rainbow in the Noah story represents God’s unstrung war bow.

Connections 02.14.2021: Stubborn Faithfulness

The prophet Elijah was on the final journey of his life. You’d think he’d be grateful to have his fellow prophet and disciple Elisha accompany him. But Elijah kept trying to stop Elisha from going with him.

Connections 02.07.2021: Hidden from the LORD

On January 1, many of us felt excited about leaving 2020 behind. A new year usually brings feelings of hope, fresh possibilities, and chances to start over.

Connections 01.31.2021: Not Taking Evil for Granted

Jesus’ miracles had a purpose: they announced that God’s reign in the world had arrived in Jesus. So when Jesus cast evil spirits out of people, it was an announcement that God’s power to defeat evil was with Jesus.

Connections 01.24.2021: To Us

Jesus came to reveal God to us. This doesn’t mean that God hadn’t revealed God’s self to people before Jesus came.

Connections 01.17.2021: Leaving It All Behind

Have you ever left it all behind? I’ve come close a few times. The last few weeks of summer after senior year had me itching to go away. I was eighteen years old, a high school graduate, and accepted to my preferred university.

Connections 01.10.2020: The Most Wonderful Times of the Year

Mark tells us right up front what his story is about: “the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (v. 1). And just in case we missed Mark’s statement of who Jesus is, God reminds us of Jesus’ identity when Jesus emerges from the Jordan.

Connections 01.03.21: Light in the Darkness

This week’s lesson falls on the second Sunday of Christmas. That is also the Sunday before the Epiphany, which occurs on January 6. Both Christmas and Epiphany are about God’s revealing God’s self to the world in Jesus Christ.

Connections 12.27.2020: The Blessings of the Old

My grandparents have played an enormous role in my life. My mother’s parents worked side by side for years in the tiny town of Woodland, Georgia.

Connections 12.20.2020: Faithful to Send Jesus

I thought about opening with these words: “Put yourself in Mary’s place.” But then I realized that we can’t do that.

Connections 12.13.2020: God Will Do This

By my count, Paul offers a list of fourteen instructions to the Christians in Thessalonica in verses 12-21 of this week’s lesson text.

Connections 12.06.2020: The Waiting Time

Do you like roller coasters? I confess that I liked them better when I was a younger woman. After the most recent time I rode one, it took me a couple of hours to recover from motion sickness.

Connections 11.29.2020: Christian Holism

I recall a day when I was in fifth grade and it occurred to me that I had to go to school for seven more years before I could graduate from high school.

Connections 11.22.2020: What You Don’t (and Do) Know

We have a saying: “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” As with many sayings, that one expresses only a partial truth. On one hand, it’s true that not knowing someone’s negative opinion of me can’t hurt me.

Connections 11.15.2020: Using Our Gifts

Jesus’ parable about the talents inspires us to use our gifts from God to serve the Christian cause and help others. And that’s important.

Connections 11.08.2020: Joyful Readiness

Our current unit of lessons is entitled “The Disciple’s Life” and is subtitled “Motives and Actions.” The title and subtitle assume that we should undertake certain actions as disciples of Jesus.

Connections 11.01.2020: Seating Arrangements

I have had a recurring—well, I don’t know what you’d call it. I’m pretty sure it’s not a vision (I know I don’t go into a trance). Maybe it’s just a fantasy.

Connections 10.25.2020: The Lord’s Requirements

Whenever I think about the Lord’s requirements, Micah 6:8 comes to mind: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Connections 10.18.2020: Electoral Humility

Almost sixty years had passed since Nebuchadrezzar’s Babylonian forces sent the first group of exiles from Judah to Babylon. Almost fifty years had passed since his armies had destroyed Jerusalem…

Connections 10.11.2020: The Song of the Ruthless

The prophet has in mind a mighty city that God has brought down because of its oppressive practices. The ruthless oppressors had been making a lot of noise and doing a lot of damage, but God silenced and stopped them.

Connections 10.04.2020: Grace Leads to Works

Church people talk a lot about grace versus works. In the church where I grew up, and in subsequent years at other churches, we often studied the difference between these two terms.

Connections 09.27.2020: What’s In a Name?

An etiology is a story that explains the origin of a name or a custom. The writers of the Pentateuch skillfully wove etiologies into their narratives.

Connections 09.20.2020: What Is It?

God had brought the people out of Egypt and across the sea. They had begun their journey toward Mount Sinai. Now they needed food.

Connections 09.13.2020: The Cost of Deliverance

Many paintings and films tell the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt, especially their miraculous passage through the sea. As long as we acknowledge that these are artists’ interpretations, I believe they can bring us closer to one of the most powerful events in the history of our faith.

Connections 09.06.2020: This Day. This Night.

This week’s lesson text contains the Passover instructions that God gave Moses and Aaron to share with the Hebrews who were enslaved in Egypt.

Connections 08.30.2020: Hindsight Assurance, Foresight Faith

We can imagine how awe-inspiring God’s revelation at the burning bush must have been for Moses. We might also be fascinated at the way Moses falls into a conversation with God during this awe-inspiring experience.

Connections 08.23.2020: Moses on the Nile

Women dominate this tense, frightening, beautiful, miraculous story in Hebrew history. Let’s imagine each of them…

Connections 08.16.2020: Powerful People

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So said Lord Acton in an 1887 letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton.

Connections 08.09.2020: Caution: Pit Ahead

An interesting convergence of events lands Joseph in a pit. First, Joseph has dreams of grandeur. As you will see if you read the entire Joseph story, dreams play a large role in it.

Formations 08.02.2020: Wrestling with God

Have you ever wrestled with God? I know I have. Lately, the struggle goes something like this: God, please help. I’m overwhelmed. My loved one is hurting, and I don’t know what to do.

Connections 07.26.2020: Yes, But…

The short parables in this week’s lesson are fascinating, and they give us much to think and talk about. They also give us much to do something about.

Connections 07.19.2020: The Waiting

The waiting is the hardest part. In the parable found in this week’s lesson text, Jesus tells the story of a farmer who sowed good seed in a field, only to have an enemy sow weeds in the same field.

Connections 07.12.2020: “Such Great Crowds…”

The parable Jesus tells in today’s text is about soil, but I can’t get past the crowds. Can you picture them? Can you see Jesus surrounded by people who wanted to hear him speak?

Connections 07.05.2020: Yokes

Merriam-Webster offers several definitions of “yoke.” First, a yoke is “a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals (such as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together.”

Connections 06.28.2020: Have To and Want To

Paul uses the word “slaves” a lot in this week’s lesson text. This should make us uncomfortable. I hope it does. If it hasn’t before, I hope it will from now on.

Connections 06.21.2020: Alive

I’ve tried to imagine a world where humans never die. Would the land fill up to the brim? Would we drain the earth’s resources?

Connections 06.14.2020: Hope for Tomorrow, Love for Today

The entire New Testament is about living in the in-between. It’s about more than that, but it’s definitely about that.

Connections 06.07.2020: Self-Examination

This week’s lesson text places quite a challenge before us: “Examine yourself to see whether you are living in the faith” (v. 5a). We have many options as to how we will deal with it.

Connections 05.31.2020: Unity

If you’re on social media, what does your feed look like right now? Do all of your friends and followers post similar sentiments about politics, the pandemic, and matters of faith?

Connections 05.24.2020: Let Us Pray

Jesus’ followers had watched him ascend to heaven. Before he ascended, he told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. As they gathered to wait, they “were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…” (v. 14a).

Connections 05.17.2020: Proclamation

This Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Easter. Observing Eastertide, the fifty-day period that begins on Easter Sunday and ends on Pentecost Sunday, is a good way to remind ourselves of the ongoing reality, power, and effect of Jesus’ resurrection.

Connections 05.10.2020: Faithfulness

The story of Stephen reads like a dramatic action movie. It’s dangerous, frightening, and devastating. It’s also heartening, inspiring, and exciting.

Connections 05.03.2020: Community from a Distance

We’ve been doing something counter-intuitive during these days of the COVID-19 pandemic: building community by staying apart. In our current situation, we love our neighbors by staying away from them.

Connections 04.26.2020: What Things?

Cleopas and his companion know what has happened. They know the facts. They are talking about those facts as they trudge the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

Connections 04.19.2020: The Empowering Christ

Today’s passage contains one of my favorite images in the New Testament. It’s not the appearance of the risen Christ. It’s not him breathing the Holy Spirit upon his disciples.

Connections 04.12.2020: The Risen Christ

I listen to a podcast called “Gone.” In each episode, hosts Richard and Molly discuss something or someone that went missing and has never been found. One of the podcast’s taglines is, “Just because something is gone, [it] doesn’t mean it can’t be found.”