Crossroads: Friends

I was at school when I got the call that she was gone, and a friend of mine found me crying in the hallway. He comforted me and then we went our separate ways.

Crossroads: Staying Connected

I have always loved wisteria. I know that it’s a parasite, but it has always been beautiful to me. One of my favorite parts of driving to my grandparents’ house as a kid was driving past the beautiful wisteria growing in a patch of trees.

The Good News Really Is Good News

Sharing faith, in Christian terms, is known as “evangelism.” This is the English rendering of a Greek word meaning “to proclaim the good news.” That’s a problem, because the news isn’t always good.

Crossroads: I Doubt It

When I was a child, we always played a game called “I doubt it” when we went on vacation. It was a card game and the point was to be the person who got rid of all of their cards first.

Crossroads: Good Friday, A World in Ruins

Have you ever had a week start off well, but by the end of it all hope seems lost? Terrible things happen all at once, and you just aren’t sure how you’re going to make it another hour, let alone another day.

That Dark Thursday Night: A Maundy Thursday Reading

“Go into the city,” he said. “A friend of mine will show you a large, upper room, furnished and ready.” Strange. Peter and I rounded a corner and there, coming out of a narrow alley was a man we didn’t know, but he looked at us as if we were expected.

Thrive: Pay Attention to the Questions – Pam Durso

I love Jeopardy. I am sure I would score in the negative numbers if I were a contestant. I don’t have that much Shakespeare or potent potables trivia floating in my head, and I have pretty slow thumb reflexes. Plus I am pretty sure I would never remember to give my answer in the form of a question.

Getting It All Together

Jesus’ boat lands on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee—no longer in Jewish territory. This is like landing in Cuba. Along the edge of the lake, tombs are cut into the mountain. The village graveyard is this land’s version of a mental institution.

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 Shepherd

“Don’t talk to strangers.” It’s what my mother told me all the time growing up, and I’m sure it’s what you tell your own children. Strangers aren’t safe because you don’t know them.

Presenting Portraits of Jesus

When Mark sketched out our first Gospel account of Jesus, he was not simply writing a direct history or creating a photo account about Jesus. He was doing something far more significant than recording a Vine. He was providing a testimony about the figure he believed was the most important person who ever lived.

Catching a Glimpse

The first Christmas comes and goes, and most people don’t notice. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and a few others catch a glimpse of what is happening, but they’re just a handful.

Death and Life

We lose so many good people. When Jesus finally arrives at his friends’ home, Lazarus has been dead for four days.

The Social Implications of Salvation

The Christian’s aim, Rauschenbusch believed, was not to pass through an evil world in safety, leaving the world’s evil unshaken; rather, it was to seek a moral and religious transformation of humanity in all of its social relations.

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?

“Come and See”

After witnessing the weeping of Mary and her surrounding community, Jesus is greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved (v. 33). But he does not weep himself until the people entreat him to “come and see” where Lazarus’s body has been laid (v. 34).

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.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Nine

From the time I was a child all I wanted was some peace. I swore to myself all through my childhood and teen years that my relationship with my future wife and children would be centered in peace. No fighting! Blessed are the peacemakers. I was down with that.

The Gospel According to the Enneagram Eight

I am an Eight. At my best, I stand up to bullies. At my worst, I become a bully. I am strong. At my best I protect the weak and vulnerable. At my worst, I’m paranoid about my own vulnerability and weaknesses. I am heroic. At my best, I seek justice, bringing down systems of oppression. At my worst, I push boundaries too far and destroy lives.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Seven

In the deepest motivations of my heart, I am struck by how similar I am to the disciple Peter. I’m quick to come to the fight and chop somebody’s ear off all for a good cause (John 18:10). I am so energized by an exciting moment and eager to work that I miss the point (Matthew 17:1-8).

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Six

As a child, after lights out, I would use a flashlight to illuminate my journal as I wrote list after list of the things I was worried about. First on that list was always gym class. Also making frequent appearances: tests, friends, and anything out of the ordinary.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Five

When Drew asked me to consider adding to a blog series of all nine Enneagram types, I was intrigued by the challenge, honored to serve, and immediately overwhelmed by the pressure and world-wide-webyness of whatever I would submit. Welcome to the world of the Five (The Thinker).

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Four

As an Enneagram Four, I tend to want the world to be ideal. I’m caught in a constant internal struggle of how my actions can create a more authentic experience for myself and how I can feel more connected to the world around me. As a Four, I’m all about the ideals and feels.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Three

Enneagram Threes find their value in how others perceive them, especially in regard to what they do and accomplish. For this reason, we Threes are very goal-oriented. We tend to be the people you call to get something done. We adapt to situations so that you will still think we are great even when we aren’t.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Two

I love when science and religion so perfectly come together to enhance our overall health. Healthy Twos are compassionate, unselfish, and generous. Sincere in their love for others, they focus on a life of service and encouragement. In truth, however, most helpers have ulterior motives.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram One

It’s a familiar story. The Pharisees, concerned that Jesus cares nothing for the law, test him with a real life case study: a woman caught in adultery. Jesus, instead of answering, stoops in the dirt to write with a stick.

The Gospel According to the Enneagram

Whenever I read these words from Jesus to Nicodemus, I think of the messages I heard as a teenager about what it meant to be a Christian. I was told that there was supposed to be a separation in my life between who I was before and after I “accepted Jesus into my heart.”

Flame: The Calling of Levi with Colored Cards

We’re always trying different ways to tell stories in visual ways, so here is what we tried in our scaled-down summer group (3-11 years old). We told the story of Jesus calling Levi (Luke 5:27-32) using colored pieces of paper to represent the characters.

His Heart Went Out to Her

There is this simple moment that is essential to my understanding of Jesus. Sometimes I think we see him as almost a miracle-working robot, the unstoppable antithesis of the Terminator. He was sent to our Earth to save, heal, and point others towards God.

Experiencing Cotton Patch Moments

Although long a fan of Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch Gospel translation that recasts Jesus in the southern part of the United States in the middle of the 20th Century, it still took some time to develop even a hint of Jordan’s prophetic vision.

Reading through the Lens of Jesus

Jesus opens up the depth of meaning in the Scriptures so that we can find depth of meaning in our lives and in our discipleship. In relationship with Jesus we become participants in the kingdom of God.

Flame: The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

This week I’m going to be talking about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. When I’ve taught this before, I’ve focused on how we come to God in prayer, but this time I’m looking at the idea of grace.

Flame: Doubting Thomas, Recognizing Jesus

This Sunday we’re telling the story of Thomas. A lot of the time when we cover this story with children, we focus of the idea of faith and being able to believe even though we don’t see.

Thrive: Words of Promise – Amy Shorner-Johnson

As you look forward toward a new year, what are your hopes and dreams? While I am not a person who typically makes resolutions, I am always grateful for some time to reflect on the year.

Thrive: The Depths and Mysteries of Life – Amy Shorner-Johnson

I am always grateful for the testimony of the women who came to the tomb. This story is a powerful witness and an affirmation of the women’s part in the sharing of the good news that God gives us.

Thrive: The Gift of Acknowledgement – Amy Shorner-Johnson

During the Christmas season, we often talk about loneliness and remembering those who are marginalized, those who might also feel abandoned as they get lost or overlooked.

Flame: Loom Band Advent Stars

Here’s a way to use up some loom bands in a reflective Advent activity. After sharing the story of the WIse Men, make 5 popsicle sticks into a star shape and secure each point of the star with a loom band.

Thrive: Vulnerability and Risk – Amy Shorner-Johnson

Who among us hasn’t tried to push the attention away from ourselves when we are afraid? When the teacher starts calling names and the answer seems evasive? When the boss looks for someone to hold accountable?

In Pursuit of the Spirit: Picking Our Way Through Advent

Our son, Caleb, will turn three a few days after Christmas this year. For the first two years of his life, we didn’t worry too much about holiday traditions, recognizing that he was too little to understand or remember much.

Thrive: Love is Stronger – Amy Shorner-Johnson

Cyber Monday. Some of us have already spent some time trying to get the best deal online. Whether or not you participated in the last few days of shopping, it can be hard to avoid the hype that begins as we countdown toward what is supposed to be one of the most “wonderful times of the year.”

Thrive: Couldn’t You Stay Awake with Me? – Cynthia Insko

I love the beach. I don’t go often, but when I do, I pay close attention. Engaging my senses, I take it all in. I smell the musty, fishy breeze, taste the salty air, feel the sand between my toes.

Thrive: When Did We See You? – Cynthia Insko

Back in 1994, I received an invitation that changed my life. I was serving as campus minister in a city that housed a cutting-edge research clinic for the treatment of AIDS.

Thrive: Is it Fair? – Cynthia Insko

I have three children. It’s very important to me to avoid favoritism and treat each fairly. For example, when the last brownie is left in the pan, I meticulously cut it in three equal parts.

Thrive: Are You Ready? – Cynthia Insko

Each Sunday at the threshold of our Godly Play children’s worship classroom our doorkeeper bends down, looks each child in the eye, calls her by name and asks, “Are you ready?” Answering “Yes,” one by one the children enter our sacred space.

Thrive: Insisting on Titles – Katie McKown

Most of us understand it’s impolite to blatantly brag. We might want to do it, but we know culture frowns upon it; however if we’re keen enough we’ll find a way.

Thrive: We Work – Katie McKown

It is a famed pastime to predict when Jesus will return. Who knows when Jesus will return? Scripture tells us “only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) Perhaps then we should shift attention from when Jesus will return to how to live while we wait “for [we] do not know on what day [our] Lord is coming.”

Thrive: A Gathering God – Katie McKown

I pastor a congregation of farmers and gardeners, and as a result, I have corralled cows on a four-wheeler. A calf has borne my name. I have learned about turkeys, chickens, goats, horses, and cows.

Thrive: KEEP OUT – Katie McKown

As a girl I posted a friendly little sign on my door: “This is Katie’s Room. KEEP OUT!” On occasion I deigned to let my brother in to play with me, but whenever we had a spat, I would lock the door to underline the point: KEEP OUT.