Formations 10.06.2019: Everyone Plays a Part

In the most recent chapter of the continuing saga of the Pursiful family, I’m proud to announce that my daughter is gainfully employed—at least for certain definitions of “gainfully.”

Crossroads: My Shepherd

Most of the time, I associate this well-known psalm with funerals. I don’t like to read it because it brings to mind sadness and pain. And yet, this psalm is all about peace. It is also about being treasured.

Crossroads: Waiting on the Lord

I find myself anxious a good bit of the time. I worry about what will happen, whether or not something will actually occur, and if things will turn out okay. It seems like Psalm 27 was written for worriers.

Learning from Others’ Lenses

My seventh grade Sunday school class was studying King David using student workbooks and homework assignments. During the week that we studied today’s passage, our leader explained that these verses were proof that David cared for Bathsheba more than he cared for his other wives.

Crossroads: Where is God?

When I was a child, bad thunderstorms used to terrify me. The rain was okay, but I was very afraid of the thunder and the lightning. Thunderstorms that happened at night were always the worst. There was no way I could sleep during them.

Connections 07.29.2018: Will this Be on the Test?

We can’t help being fascinated by stories like David’s. A handsome, admired man with a bright future, beloved of God, giant slayer, powerful leader, conqueror of Saul, adored friend of Jonathan.

Connections 07.22.2018: Preachers in High Places

King David wanted to build a house for the Lord, which means he wanted to build a temple. What could be wrong with that? After all, as David observed as he discussed the idea with the prophet Nathan, it hardly seemed right that David had a fine house to live in while the Lord had only a tent (fine tent though it was).

Connections 07.15.2018: Containing Your Excitement

I grew up in the so-called Bible Belt, that strip of the South where church is king and good religious folks are expected to adhere to a certain set of standards. In many churches, dancing was (and in some places still is) forbidden.

Connections 07.01.2018: Journeying through Grief

“Grief Is Complicated.” My first thought when I read the title for this lesson was Well, that’s an understatement! Anyone who has experienced grief—no matter the cause—knows that it is more than complicated.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Community

We see many of the needs of our returning service members and their families by also looking at Psalm 69 and the life of David, a warrior himself. This week, for our final devotion in this series, I want to focus on verses 12-13.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Guilt

We’ve been focusing on some of the struggles that veterans face after coming home from war and how we might help them. But we’re looking at those needs through a unique perspective: the eyes of biblical hero King David, who was also a warrior for most of his life.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Enemies and Family

Pretty much all of us here have enemies, but I doubt any of us have the kind of enemies that David had. David had been facing enemies since he fought Goliath as a young man. His own mentor Saul repeatedly tried to kill him. The Philistines tried to kill him. In fact, while king, all the surrounding nations were trying to kill him and destroy Israel.

Formations 06.03.2018: Overcoming Defensiveness

We all know what it’s like to see someone behaving defensively. Something has challenged a person’s values, perceptions, or belief system, and he or she responds by giving off a defensive vibe. They aren’t interested in dialogue.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Depressed?

David is in a bad place. He has been sinking in the miry depths, the floodwaters are rising over his head, and he can no longer get a foothold. He’s in trouble so he is calling out to God for help. In fact he has already been calling out to God. He says he’s been calling for God’s help so much that his throat is parched.

David, a Warrior after God’s Own Heart: Drowning

I’m excited to begin with you a five-part series looking at the life of David through the lens of Psalm 69. We will discuss this psalm from the perspective of David, not just as a king but as a warrior.

Formations 02.19.2017: Tension and Resolution

In the first few months of my freshman year, the university orchestra played a concert at the opera house downtown. I went and somewhere between Brazilian samba, Argentinian tango, and Aaron Copeland, they played Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.”

Nine Helps for Teaching

It’s summer. Families are traveling and the youth you do have are drowsy, but the following nine guidelines will help you build toward meaningful teaching and learning in the classroom.

Formations 04.03.2016: Questions that Make a Difference

Growing up, Lisa Gross was fed traditional Korean food cooked by her grandmother, who came to America from Korea with Gross’s mother in the 1970s. Every time Gross would come into the kitchen while her grandmother cooked, she was sent back out to do her homework and study.

Something to Talk About (As if They Need It)

One gift that many young people possess is the ability to talk. Some teens seem to talk all the time: in the halls at school, during class (even when they are not supposed to), during the sermon, and on Gchat, Snapchat, Insta, and so on.

Crossroads: Praise the Lord!

Our youth group had a saying that we used to end our meetings each week: “God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!” Good is good all of the time.

Formations 08.23.2015: Leaving Isn’t Easy

About a year ago, author Beverly Gooden started a movement that went viral. She was frustrated and saddened by a popular argument that criticized victims of domestic violence, and she wanted to help the world understand.

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.

Formations 03.08.2015: “The LORD Has Anointed Me”

“Messiah” comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “anointed one.” We get the word “Christ” from a Greek word with the same meaning. To say that Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah is therefore to say that he is the Anointed One.

Crossroads: Dependability

When things get super busy, I tend to feel stressed and overwhelmed. This was especially true in college, when it sometimes seemed as if there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Crossroads: Guilty

Have you ever done something wrong and felt very guilty afterwards? We all have. It could be something as simple as ignoring a rule, telling a secret you were supposed to keep, or saying something mean about someone else, or something much more serious for which you were unable to undo the damage.

Flame: David and Goliath Balloon Inflation Trick

We acted out the story of David and Goliath, focusing on the fact that, though others thought that David had no chance against Goliath, David trusted God and God was able to use him and the skills he had.

Formations 06.15.2014: Sin and Forgiveness

My Sunday school class was recently discussing sin. (Most of us were against it.) In particular, a comment was made about the fact that we don’t seem to hear as much preaching about sin as was perhaps the norm when most of us were growing up.

Formations 06.08.2014: We Will Always Remember

Three years ago, the deadliest U.S. tornado since 1947 slammed into Joplin, Missouri, killing 161 and injuring 1,100. It destroyed or damaged 7,500 homes and displaced 9,200 people. Last month, on the third anniversary of this devastating tragedy, the people of Joplin said “thank you.”