Connections 01.030.2022: God Is Still Calling Us

Have you ever heard God speak to you? I have. In forty-four years of life, I’ve felt the nudging of God in many small moments. That voice hasn’t come to me out loud, through fire, or in any other spectacular way.

Connections 01.23.2022: Homecoming and Holy Tears

My 13-year-old son hates it when I cry. When he was little he would automatically fetch a box of Kleenex for me whenever we watched a movie with sad parts (looking at you, Moana and Coco).

Connections 01.16.2022: The Near Future

Sometimes when we Christians think about the future, we think primarily about what we presume to be the distant future. We think about going to heaven or about Jesus coming back. We think in terms of everything being all right one of these days.

Connections 01.09.2022: God Is Still Delivering Us

I volunteer for the Jay’s HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit based in Macon, Georgia, that serves families battling childhood cancer. Through free family events, care packages, gift cards for meals and gas, and much more, Jay’s HOPE offers support to families.

Connections 01.02.2022: Exiles

The prophet Jeremiah preached in the last quarter of the seventh century and the first quarter of the sixth century. About a hundred years before Jeremiah, the Assyrians had destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel.

Connections 12.26.2021: Christmas Clothes

When I was a boy, my parents had a Christmas routine. My father would go to one of the department stores in our small town, where he would engage the help of the wife of the couple that owned the store in selecting a dress as a Christmas gift for my mother.

Connections 12.19.2021: A Friend in Pregnancy

Soon after I became pregnant with our first daughter in 2004, I learned that my best friend—already the mother of two—was pregnant as well.

Connections 12.12.2021: How to Live

Who knows what people expect to hear when they go out to listen to John the Baptist preach. We do know what they hear.

Connections 12.05.2021: Completed Love

Wouldn’t you have liked to be there on that long ago day when the Christians of Philippi gathered to hear the letter from Paul that they had just received?

Connections 11.28.2021: Ready and Alert

Here at the beginning of Advent season, we’re getting excited about Christmas. The Thanksgiving festivities are over, the family’s gone back home, and we’ll be eating leftover turkey for a week.

Connections 11.21.2021: The Truth

Try to see things from Pilate’s perspective. The local religious authorities have brought a man before you. They accuse the man of being a criminal.

Connections 11.14.2021: Misunderstandings and Understandings

Hannah’s story is filled with misunderstandings. First, Peninnah thinks that Hannah’s inability to have children grants her license to torment Hannah for her childlessness.

Connections 11.07.2021: Ruth and Boaz

Most of us enjoy love stories. Some of my favorite television shows have the best love stories I’ve ever experienced: Pam and Jim on The Office, Ben and Leslie on Parks and Recreation, and David and Patrick on Schitt’s Creek.

Connections 10.31.2021: Make a Move

My friend Maren used to live by what we kids called a “hanging tree” or “screaming tree.” There are a few of these around my hometown of Beaufort, SC, all large oaks with a sturdy branch growing horizontally over the road.

Connections 10.24.2021: Reassuring Permanence

One day during lockdown last year, while I was on the phone with my mother, she asked me an unexpected question: Did you watch the queen’s speech?

Connections 10.17.2021: Christ’s Submission

The word “submission” has negative connotations in American English. We tend to envision something like slavery, where one person is oppressed and controlled by a person in power.

Connections 10.10.2021: Sympathizing with Our Weaknesses

When I was in middle school, I came across Psalm 127:2 for the first time. Amongst other things, the verse says that God “grants sleep to those he loves” (NIV). I didn’t take that well.

Connections 10.03.21: A Theory of Everything

I readily admit that I don’t understand what most of that means. But I appreciate and admire the goal. It would be great to have a theory that explains everything that exists—from the tiniest to the largest—in the created world.

Connections 09.26.2021: Esther’s Courage

As a little girl in Sunday school, I learned story after story about the male heroes of the Bible. Although the women who populate these stories were mentioned, it was years before I recognized the significance of their contributions.

Connections 09.19.2021: High Standards

This week’s lesson text praises women who are wise, righteous, industrious, and productive. Those are good ways to be. It also instructs husbands and children to praise such women.

Connections 09.12.21: Embracing Wisdom

We hear a lot of debates these days about what constitutes knowledge and what characterizes wisdom. Some of us may even engage in such debates.

Connections 09.05.2021: Fairness

“It’s not fair.” From an early age, most of us understand what injustice feels like. My sibling got more presents than I did on my birthday. The referee favored the other team.

Connections 08.29.2021: Pressing On

I wonder if any of you ever find yourselves running into the same kind of barrier that I find myself running into. It’s the barrier that stands between me and the goals that I have set for myself.

Connections 08.22.2021: A Broad Focus

The construction of the Jerusalem temple had been completed. King Solomon was presiding over a dedication ceremony. He addressed the people of Israel who had gathered for the occasion.

Connections 08.15.2021: Pursuing Wisdom

In today’s passage, we have an earnest king. Solomon loves God and is trying hard to live like he should, “walking in the statues of his father David” (v. 3).

Connections 08.08.2021: Complications

I’ve recently read a novel and watched a television series that each featured a similar subplot. The main character in the novel and one of the lead characters in the series each had a mother whose choices and resulting circumstances.

Connections 08.01.2021: Self-Awareness

At the end of our Scripture passage, David says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” But that is only after he hears Nathan’s story and absorbs the prophet’s accusation.

Connections 07.25.2021: Needing Jesus

When my children were small, they wanted to be near me constantly. I work from home, so this meant that almost as soon as I grabbed a few quiet minutes to edit a Bible study lesson or book chapter, a little girl’s voice would call out to me, wanting one thing or another.

Connections 07.18.2021: On the Fringes

We sometimes hear of or talk about people living on the fringes. We usually use the phrase to refer to those who live on the fringes or edges of society economically, socially, culturally, or politically.

Connections 07.11.2021: By Association

We tend to avoid guilt by association, but being linked to someone else’s reputation isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Take for example Herod Antipas’s association of Jesus with John the Baptizer.

Connections 07.04.2021: Finding Home

For many of us, “home” feels like the safest, most comfortable place. It’s our favorite place to be, and that’s mostly because of the people who are there with us.

Connections 06.27.2021: Into, Out of, and Back Into the Chaos

The two stories in this week’s lesson text come right after two stories in which Jesus overcomes the chaos.

Connections 06.20.2021: Just As He Was (and As We Are)

Most modern scholars think that Mark’s Gospel was the first Gospel to be written. They furthermore think that both Matthew and Luke used Mark’s Gospel as a source in composing their Gospels.

Connections 06.13.2021: God’s Unexpected Kingdom

I grew up in church, which means I heard loads of Scripture-based catchphrases over the years: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” “Jesus died to save us from our sins.” Maybe you can think of some.

Connections 06.06.2012: Doing God’s Will

We have probably heard people say, after they have decided upon a particular course of action, that they are going to do what they have decided to do because they believe it is God’s will.

Connections 05.30.2021: Family Resemblances

Family resemblances can be strong. My father died four decades ago, so it has been a long time since I witnessed any of his mannerisms.

Connections 05.23.2021: The Power of Hope

Hope. What does the word “hope” mean? Is it wishful thinking? Daydreaming? Longing? Desiring? Or is it something more certain and true?

Connections 05.16.2021: Learning from Experience

The writer of 1 John talks a lot about what we know. For example, he says, “By this we know that we abide in [God] and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit” (4:13).

Connections 05.09.2021: All We Need

One of my generation’s anthems proclaimed, “All you need is love!” In case we didn’t get it the first time, it repeated the message in a slightly different order: “Love is all you need!”

Connections 05.02.2021: Knowing God Loves Us

When I attended Mercer University, the Baptist Student Union (now Baptist Collegiate Ministries) had three student-led ministry groups that involved performing arts.

Connections 04.25.2021: When A Plan Comes Together

There was a time in my life when I was a regular viewer of the television program The A-Team. On one hand, I am not proud of that fact. On the other hand, everybody needs a little mindless distraction every now and then.

Connections 04.18.21: Realistic Idealism (or Idealistic Realism)

First John was written to a Christian community that was dealing with dissension and schism. The division in the community was prompted by people who claimed that Jesus only appeared to be human.

Connections 04.11.2021: Walk in the Light

When my daughter Samantha was in fifth grade, I accompanied her on a school field trip to Dahlonega, Georgia. One of the activities was touring the Consolidated Gold Mine.

Connections 04.04.2021: Here, There, and Wherever

Look at Mary. She is right here. She is standing outside the tomb, weeping. She has already discovered the empty tomb.

Connections 03.28.2021: The Humble King

Jesus’ words imply an invitation to his disciples: “So come along with me!” Jesus’ words also imply an invitation to those of us who are also his disciples: “Come along with me!”

Connections 03.21.2021: The Suffering Savior

I knew a small girl, barely six years old, with long scars on her back from lung surgery in an attempt to remove the tumors that were killing her.

Connections 03.14.2021: Amazement

I am constantly amazed at the things human beings are capable of accomplishing.

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.