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.

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 01.10.2021: 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.