Pray Tell

American philosopher William James said of prayer, “Many reasons have been given why we should not pray, whilst others are given why we should. But in all this very little is said of the reason why we do pray.

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: Recognizing Jesus

Jesus tends to break into our lives in unexpected ways. Maybe for you, it’s the bully of the school doing something nice for someone else. Maybe it’s the popular kid sitting with an outcast at lunch. However it is, Jesus usually works through surprising people.

Crossroads: Seeing Is Believing

Has something ever seemed too good to be true? Was it? Talk about a time when you didn’t believe something someone said until they showed you proof. Why didn’t you believe? Did the proof change your thinking?

Praise, a Lenten Devotion

I recently attended a session of my son’s Science Explorers club. The children were learning about rocks. Who knew there were so many different kinds of rocks?

Crossroads: Palm Sunday

I wonder if Jesus felt that odd mixture of anticipation and disappointment when he entered Jerusalem. He enters Jerusalem triumphantly, riding on a donkey, with people spreading out their cloaks on the road and others waving branches in the air, shouting, “Hosanna!”

The Praying Type

“I’m not the praying type.” This is what it boils down to when I ask some people about talking to God. These persons talk about prayer as if it is not for them.

The Bell Lap, a Lenten Devotion

In long-distance swimming, the last two lengths of the pool are called “the bell lap.” When swimmers reach the final 2 lengths of the pool in competitions, an official rings a bell.

Crossroads: The Lord Has Done Great Things

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” There are many times I can name when God has done great things for me. When I was in the sixth grade and I didn’t have any friends, God sent me a friend named Jessica.

Restorative Forgiveness, a Lenten Devotion

The second grade Sunday school class was visiting in the home of the pastor and his wife. The teacher had issued a strong warning to be careful in Reverend and Mrs. Cline’s home.

Crossroads: Guilt and Forgiveness

When you do something wrong, the first thing you do is to try to cover it up. Maybe it’s breaking something you weren’t supposed to play with. You hide it under a sofa cushion and try to act like nothing ever happened.

Bear Fruit, a Lenten Devotion

“This is your last chance—1, 2, 3!” How many times have I shouted those words in order to correct my disobedient children?

Crossroads: Thirst

We went to camp one summer in the middle of July in the middle of Alabama. And man was it hot! The heat index was about 100 degrees every day.

God’s Grace in Change

We just finished cleaning out my grandmother’s house. Granny is 82 years old and has moved to my aunt’s house, ten hours away, because she can’t live by herself anymore.

A Fox and a Hen, a Lenten Devotion

Spending time on my grandparents’ farm in the summer was the highlight of my young life. My Granny and I would rise each morning and head to the chicken house to gather fresh eggs for breakfast. I learned to reach under the hens and remove 2 or 3 eggs, with great excitement!

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.

Pray Like God Is Listening

“I don’t know what to say or where to begin.” This is a frequent response when I ask persons about their prayer life. This seems to settle the matter for them. They figure, “I can’t pray so I won’t.”

Turning Evil Away, a Lenten Devotion

The first time I remember being faced with temptation, I was 4 years old. I was in the checkout line at the drug store with my mom and sister.

Crossroads: Everyone

My granddad loved to fish. And I wasn’t a fan of fishing. In fact, I thought fishing was pretty boring. But one day he talked me into going fishing with him for a tournament. We have pictures to prove that I caught a fish that day (that I wouldn’t touch).

“Influencer,” a Lenten Devotion

“Influencer.” The bright yellow sweatshirt with blue font immediately grabbed my attention from it’s place on the sales rack. Before I could process the implications of being an “influencer,” an excited mother hastened to the garment

Crossroads: Jesus Is Transformed

I became a Christian when I was seven years old. For as long as I can remember, church has been an important part of my life. I loved going to church as a kid and I loved Jesus (and I still do!).

Crossroads: God Can Use Anything

My parents got a divorce when I was really young. And it was tough growing up without my dad close by. I was jealous of other kids who lived with both parents.

Crossroads: Blessed Are You

We all have times in our lives in things are just tough. Your parents seem to fight a lot. You’re having a hard time in school. There’s a bully who keeps picking on you.

Speak Up

No, I am not losing my hearing. This is not about my hearing at all. But, often times, we talk about prayer as if we are talking to each other. We think our prayers are bouncing off the walls, that the words just bounce around in our heads, that they have no place to land.

Crossroads: When God Asks

During my freshman year of college, my campus minister told me about a summer job he thought I was perfect for. It was being the children’s intern at a church in Macon. I laughed and told him I didn’t really work with children.

Healing

Sometimes it’s not just lemons life throws our way. Sometimes life comes at us with a Medieval flail. So, what do we do? Life is certainly no respecter of persons when it comes to trials and tribulations.

Crossroads: God’s Great Plan for You

As a child, I never liked to see people unhappy. I always wanted to do what I could to help. When I was about five, we went to a local nursing home to sing for the residents. While we were there, we met a lady in a wheelchair who really wanted to go home.

“Jot and Tittle”

Since 2004 I’ve practiced yoga off and on with a video instructor. My first yogi blew my mind. “Let go of all sense of effort, and rest,” she said. That notion had never occurred to me. It was certainly not something I’d heard at school, church, or home.

A View from the Pew: Resources for Daily Devotions

If you are doing your best to start 2019 with a renewed focus on your spiritual disciplines, then I would encourage you to consider what resources you use to facilitate a meaningful daily time with God.

Crossroads: The Body of Christ

Talk about a time in your life when you had to work as a team with others. Talk about what your role was and how each person had a different role. What were you trying to accomplish?

Crossroads: How Big Is God’s Love?

I can remember saying “I love you this much!” as a child, with my arms open wide. I’m sure you’ve seen children do this before: they open their arms as wide as they can and say “I love you this much!” Or they give you a bear hug and squeeze and say the same thing.

Have a Little Talk with Jesus

Talking to God can seem like a daunting task. Our prayer list can become a mounting to-do list as we try to write down everything we need to say to God. It can become a shopping list as we look around for the right words to make this a good prayer meal.

Crossroads: Why We Baptize

I have loved Jesus for practically my whole life. I grew up in church, and we were there pretty much every time the church was open. At seven years old, I told Jesus that I wanted him to be my Savior and I was baptized.

In Silence

That Matthew includes five women on his list is remarkable. Jewish genealogies usually list men only, but Matthew mentions Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary by name. He doesn’t name the fifth woman, Bathsheba. He references her using her first husband’s name, the wife of Uriah (v. 6).

Crossroads: Jesus as a Boy

I love the Eiffel Tower. I always have. I’m not sure what it is about that Tower, but it has always fascinated me. And when I went to Paris for the first time as a teenager, I was determined to see it. In fact, I told the tour guide that if we didn’t go see it, that I would stay behind until I did!

Advent Devotions: Joy

Merry Christmas! Technically, Advent is over, but as I’ve said before, even though the Christ child has come, in a way, we are still waiting. We wait with hope. We wait with peace. We wait with love. And today, we wait with joy.

Crossroads: Mary’s Song

I loved talking about Jesus as a child and teenager. I tried to share Jesus with my friends. There was a time when a good friend of mine was having a hard time. Her parents were fighting a lot, and their family was struggling. So I shared God’s peace with her. I told her about difficult times that I had been through.

Advent Devotions: Love

When I was in junior high school I began going on mission trips each summer to New Orleans. Our youth group would break up into teams and lead backyard Bible clubs in neighborhood parks. We always carried Evangecubes—an interactive tract—with us. One day I was sitting at the bottom of a slide with a little boy who was around 8 years old.

Crossroads: Rejoice!

I love singing praises to God. And when I was a kid, I used to make up songs to sing in praise. And wherever I went, I was singing to God. God’s joy was in my heart and it overflowed into singing.

A Silent Treatment

This post is not a call to punish anyone, to withhold communication for the purpose of driving home the message. No one messed up. No one needs to come to their senses and apologize. I am not asking you to take my side and refuse to speak to him or her. I won’t ask you to swear to a code of silence.

Advent Devotions: Peace

Isaiah tells us of a promise that will be fulfilled. Though he expects to see the promise fulfilled in his lifetime, he is left waiting and faithfully pointing toward the truth. This is the same promise that we are waiting for as we move toward celebrating the birth of the Christ child.

Crossroads: Peace

Peace is a funny thing. We pray for peace in a world full of violence. We pray for peace in times of trouble. We pray for peace in times of stress. We pray for peace in times of worry. And at first glance, we think that peace means that our situation changes. The world puts down its weapons. Trouble ceases. Stress disappears.

The Rhythm of a Faith-Filled Life

The faith-filled life has a rhythm to it. We ask, seek, proclaim what we learn, and then learn to ask anew. When I worked at an agency for youth in the state foster care system, this rhythm became our familiar soundtrack.

Crossroads: My Hope is in the Lord

I am a worrier by nature. When things go wrong, I get anxious. When things have the possibility of going wrong, I get anxious then too. So it is comforting to know that the Lord who watches over us doesn’t sleep. God doesn’t get tired. God doesn’t get anxious.

Advent Devotions: Introduction

On Sunday we will begin a journey through the season of Advent. During Advent, the start of the church year or liturgical calendar, we wait expectantly for the coming Christ child. I’ve never been a huge fan of waiting…is anybody a fan of waiting?

Honest Hallelujahs

I was too young. Youth and vitamins fortified my body; a promising future fortified my mind. But something else threatened all that, something that made me hold my breath for several months. On the day of my final checkup, after the surgery that removed what wasn’t supposed to be there, the office receptionist was infuriatingly chipper.

Crossroads: Thanksgiving

This is a time when families gather together around a table filled with food, and remember all of the things for which they are thankful. Some years it’s easy to remember the blessings you’ve been given. But other years, it seems as if nothing has gone right.

Crossroads: You’re Not Perfect

As a first grader, I was a pretty big talker. I loved to talk to everyone about everything. And one day we had a fire drill at school. You were not supposed to talk during the fire drill, but I did.