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.

Crossroads: Giving Generously

Has there been a time when you didn’t have much, but you still gave to the church or to someone else? Talk about that sacrifice: how it felt, how you had to step out on faith, etc.

Different Drummer

Years ago, I was sharing with a very dear friend some issue with which I had been dealing. Very much like my mother, my friend always laughs at my stories, even the ones in which I’m complaining or seeking her advice.

Crossroads: All Saints’ Day

It’s hard for me to believe that Sunday, October 29, makes two and a half years since my granddad died. Over the past two years, I’ve found myself remembering a lot of things about him: the way he smiled, how he smelled, and all of the memories of the things we did together.

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: Don’t Stop Believing

When my mom was a teenager, she really wanted to be a youth minister. She felt God’s call and she knew that she should be a youth minister. But in that time, women weren’t really ministers. And people discouraged her, saying that surely God wasn’t calling her to ministry.

Crossroads: God Is Our Refuge

Last week our devotion was on times when it seems like God isn’t there. This week’s psalm is a reminder to us that God is always there and that God is our refuge.

Crossroads: Small

Has nature ever just wowed you? Have you ever felt small when looking at the ocean or the stars? Talk about a time when you felt awed by something in nature.

Crossroads: The Answer Is Prayer

I’m a worrier. It’s who I am. I worry about test results, about family members and close friends, about the future, etc. Sometimes my worry feels overwhelming. And so I pray.

Crossroads: Children

“Children should be seen and not heard.” “Go sit at the kid’s table.” Did you hear things like this when you were a child? Maybe you were taught that you should sit quietly and not interrupt the grownups who were talking.

Life on the Ark

We can only imagine how messy and confusing the ark must have been. There were people there—Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives. There were animals there—two of every kind. And there was food there—every kind of food eaten in that day.

Crossroads: Which Way Should I Go?

Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been at a crossroads where everything looked the same? Talk about a time when you were lost. How did you find your way?

Crossroads: Mountains

Have you ever tried to move a mountain? That sounds silly, right? I love the mountains. There’s something about them that just seems peaceful. I think part of it is that you know the mountains aren’t going anywhere.

Crossroads: Do Something

Theory and practice are two very different things. I may believe that I can do something, but until I actually do it, who knows whether or not I can?

Crossroads: Praise the Lord!

Have you ever sung a song as loud as you could? Have you ever sung a song at the top of your lungs to the radio? When you sing a song like that, you let go of everything else. Your only focus is that song. And it makes you feel great.

Choose Discipline, Not Disease

The people of Judah were in the grips of a great enemy. King Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon had conquered their land, taken away the sacred items from their temple, and carried many of the people far from home. The people needed wise political and religious leadership to know how to live in such difficult times.

Crossroads: Watch What God Does

Have you ever been in a foreign place where you didn’t know what to do and how to act? Most of the time, when we are in places like these, we watch others to see what they do and how they act.

Crossroads: The Body of Christ

God has given each of us different gifts. Some are called to preach, others to teach, others to make snacks for Vacation Bible School, still others to fix the air conditioner when it breaks.

Crossroads: Roots

Today’s Scripture is all about our roots growing in God’s love. How do you feel about your life’s roots? Have they grown deep in God’s love?

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.

Praying Across Enemy Lines

The times, they are divisive. It is hard to know where to stand as it seems that our society is on shifting sand. With politics finding its way into every corner of our lives and kicking up dust, it is time-consuming to keep the conversation clear, the issues distinct from the arguments for and against them.

Crossroads: King of Glory

The LORD Almighty is the King of glory. The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it. Praise the LORD! Sometimes we forget that everything is God’s and that God created everyone.

Hardwired to Sin

As future adoptive parents, my wife and I just completed a two-day course about the ways that neurochemistry determines the behaviors of children and parents. We learned that neuropathways form in an infant’s brain on the basis of a caregiver’s abuse or neglect.

Crossroads: Our Guide

We recently finished Everest VBS. As the leader of Base Camp Sing and Play as well as Summit Celebration, I was known as a Sherpa. A Sherpa is an expert guide on Mount Everest whose job it is to guide climbers safely up and back down Everest.

Crossroads: Giving

One of my favorite stories of giving comes from one of the children at church. At six years old, she received a dollar from the tooth fairy for losing a tooth. But she didn’t use that money to buy something for herself.

Crossroads: The Storms of Life

I was always terrified of storms as a child. The thunder scared me the most, and my mom could never convince me that the thunder couldn’t hurt me.

Crossroads: The Parable of the Mustard Seed

If you have ever planted a flower, you know that it starts from a tiny seed. That seed doesn’t look like much; in fact, you might lose it if you drop it. But when you put that seed in soil, cover it up, and water it, something amazing starts to happen. Pretty soon, you start to see green sprouts.

Crossroads: God Knows

Talk about a time in your life when you felt invisible, when you felt like no one else knew your pain and it seemed like you were on your own. Did you turn to God?

Verbal Blessings

This year I’ve often found myself thinking about blessings. Not material blessings or even the blessings of relationships. What I’ve been pondering is the practice of giving someone a verbal blessing. I suppose that offering another person a blessing is considered weird, or at best something that only ministers do.

Crossroads: Holy, Holy, Holy

God is different from everything else in our universe. He is the Creator, and the only One who is holy. I am most reminded of God’s holiness during communion and during Holy week.

Crossroads: Pentecost

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the French language. And as soon as I got to high school, I started taking French. Because I went to a private, Catholic school, one of the first things I learned was the Lord’s Prayer in French.

Crossroads: Waiting

Have you ever had to wait for something that you were sure was going to happen? You wait with nervous anticipation, excited and scared at the same time. I went to Paris when I was 16. My mom and I traveled with my French teacher and other students and parents from my school.