Formations 04.14.2024: That One Meal

I’ve participated in the Lord’s Supper dozens of times since I became a Christian at age ten.

Formations 02.11.2024: Jonah’s Prayer

While none of us have been swallowed by an enormous sea creature (at least I hope not!), most of us have been through experiences where we felt stuck in darkness.

Connections 02.04.2024: True Healing

The issue of healing may be one of the biggest hindrances to faith. I know it’s been a struggle for me over the years.

Formations 01.21.2024: The Gospel of Faithful Reliance

According to Harvard Divinity School, the prosperity gospel “emphasizes believers’ abilities to transcend poverty and/or illness through devotion and positive confession.”

Connections 01.14.2024: The Magnificence of Humanity

Wherever you happen to go—church, the store, a neighborhood walk, or even just your home—notice other people.

Connections 12.24.2023: The Light of Christ

On Christmas Eve, many churches hold candlelight services to help people claim the promise of the Christ child amid the busy holiday rush.

Connections 12.03.2023: Mental Health

I had a phone call with my cousin and lifelong best friend last night. We discussed personal struggles and mental health issues.

Connections 10.22.2023: What We Owe

My husband and I have decided to buy a used car from a friend for our daughter to use. The friend is offering us a deal we can’t refuse for a vehicle that should last at least a couple of years.

Formations 10.08.2023: Offering the Tithe

The Ten Commandments tell us not to covet or steal or murder and so on, and we could probably think of many actions and behaviors that fall under those ten laws.

Connections 10.01.2023: The Guest List

Verse 31 of our passage, which is the “Verse to Remember” for today’s study, is one of those difficult sayings of Jesus that bewilder us: “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

Formations 09.17.2023: Subject to Every Human Authority

Verses 18-25 of today’s text are often discussed in conflicts over how to interpret the words about slaves being subject to their masters.

Connections 09.10.2023: God’s Justice and God’s Love

Today’s lesson text highlights the responsibility of the prophet Ezekiel: he must preach repentance to the people.

Formations 08.27.2023: Legacy

“Legacy” is a hefty word. We connect it with death, since many people’s life goal is to leave a legacy behind when they die.

Connections 08.20.2023: Salvation

People from certain Christian traditions may remember sermons and lessons about “being saved,” “asking Jesus into your heart,” or “walking the aisle” to make a public profession of faith before the church.

Formations 08.06.2023: When We Suffer

Naomi has lost everything: her husband, her sons, her security, her support, and—she is certain—her two daughters-in-law.

Connections 07.23.2023: Jacob and the Lord

Esau was angry enough to kill Jacob, and when their mother Rebekah heard about that, she told her beloved son to leave home.

Formations 07.16.2023: Isaiah’s Impossible Mission

In Isaiah’s version of “mission: impossible,” there are no car chases, gunfights, or threats of nuclear war. There is no handsome movie star to save the day.

Connections 07.09.2023: Isaac and Rebekah

In today’s lesson text, a servant of Abraham does the patriarch’s bidding. He goes to Abraham’s people to “get a wife” for Isaac, the beloved miracle son (v. 38).

Connections 06.18.2023: Bodies and Souls

In our lesson text, we read about Jesus fulfilling his mission of bringing God’s kingdom to earth. How does he do this?

Formations 06.04.2023: The Samaritan Woman

We don’t have to be biblical scholars or master interpreters to understand what’s going on in today’s lesson text. John tells us everything we need to know.

Connections 05.28.2023: Receive the Holy Spirit

Our lesson title, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” comes from John 20:22, when Jesus breathes on his frightened disciples and blesses them with a new power that will remain even after he is no longer physically present.

Formations 05.14.2023: Body vs. Spirit

Sometimes passages like this one from Paul encourage unhealthy perspectives. If we read this text at face value, we might develop mistrust of our bodies.

Connections 05.07.2023: “Believe in Me”

Our lesson text encapsulates what, for me, are the two sides of the coin of faith: hope and doubt.

Formations 04.23.2023: The Power of Belief

There is really no way to win an argument against someone’s faith. Atheists and agnostics and others have tried for centuries to discount the beliefs of those who follow Jesus.

Connections 04.16.2023: The Hope of Christ in Grief

What’s the most powerful sermon you can remember? I remember one in particular. I was still in high school and had slept over at a friend’s house on New Year’s Eve.

Formations 04.02.2023: Welcome

I have always loved the images describing Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. It truly is triumphal. Crowds of excited people lined the street.

Connections 03.26.2023: Restoration

As I grew up, skeletons always made me think of Halloween. Whether it was a homemade costume, flexible paper decorations hanging on school walls, or plastic bones sticking out of the yard.

Formations 03.12.2023: Consider the Cost

Jesus says some difficult words to the “large crowds” in our lesson text. We may wonder if Jesus was really as callous as he sounds.

Connections 03.05.2023: Movement

When we feel comfortable somewhere—we know the layout of the place, the character of the people, the dependency of the routines—it’s hard to think about leaving.

Formations 02.19.2023: Solomon’s Charge

In today’s text, a father’s death approaches, and he thinks of the legacy he will leave to his son. Has he taught his son enough?

Connections 02.12.2023: Partners with God

I grew up in First Baptist Church of Warm Springs, Georgia, a very small town with a huge amount of history.

Formations 01.29.2023: Israel’s King

In this passage, we see the regal David coming into his reign as Israel’s king. He is a strong, popular, comforting leader who makes his people feel safe.

Connections 01.22.2023: Jesus’s Ministry Begins

It must be a sobering moment for Jesus. He has just spent time on his own in the wilderness, enduring and overcoming the devil’s temptations. Now he comes back to civilization to learn that his cousin John has been arrested.

Formations 01.08.2023: Jesus’s Humility

Many leaders in our world, past and present, have come with fanfare and promises, conceit and power, riches and tailored suits. They’re surrounded by bodyguards who will protect them at all costs.

Connections 01.01.2023: Beginning a New Year

Jesus’s life began in great drama. His earthly parents rushed to be counted for the census only to get stuck in Bethlehem as Mary started having labor pains.

Formations 12.18.2022: The Blame Game

David used Bathsheba for his own gain, and Scripture doesn’t mince words about this. Most of the action verbs in 2 Samuel 11:1-4 are attributed to David: “David rose,” “sent,” and “lay.”

Connections 12.11.2022: Having Patience

We are often a backward-looking or forward-looking society. It’s hard to stay in the present. Many of us spend lots of time thinking about past decisions, memories, or events that we wish we could do over.

Formations 11.27.2022: Tamar, Seeker of Justice

While the past few decades have brought revolutions in the treatment and perception of women—especially in industrialized nations—there is still so far to go.

Connections 11.20.2022: A Promise of Home

Imagine being exiled away from your homeland—from all you know, all that feels familiar, all that makes you comfortable.

Formations 11.06.2022: Rebuilding

It’s easy to put off the things of God. Many of us struggle to make it through each work week, longing for the weekend only to watch it fly by once it arrives.

Connections 10.30.2022: So Stay Faithful

If we think about just the past decade in our world, we might feel inclined to say with Habakkuk, “Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.”

Formations 10.16.2022: Giving for a Cause

In our household, I usually take care of the monthly bills and budget. Our regular payments include mortgage, vehicle, cell phone service, Internet, streaming services, water and sewage, and electricity.

Connections 10.09.2022: Practical Steps in Tough Times

This passage from Jeremiah contains some of the most quoted and most hopeful verses in the Bible. If you ever feel discouraged about where you are in life, just read Jeremiah 29:11-14a.

Formations 09.25.2022: Faith’s Foundation

I grew up in a small Southern Baptist church that felt like a safe place to ask questions, express doubts, and wonder about the Christian faith. Even so, our leaders encouraged a firm foundation.

Connections 09.18.2022: Financial Shrewdness

Last year, my husband and I decided to take on the expensive project of replacing the siding and windows of our home. We were unable to pay the company the entire amount upfront, and we didn’t want to take out a loan and pay interest to a bank.

Formations 09.04.2022: Spiritual Gifts

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory? Some churches or ministry events offer these to help people determine the ways God has gifted them.

Connections 08.28.2022: Advice for the Ages

The writer of Hebrews knew what tempts, troubles, and tantalizes human beings. And those things haven’t changed much over the centuries since these words were recorded.

Formations 08.14.2022: A Humble Witness

Over the years, I’ve encountered many different types of witnesses for Christ. There was the screaming street preacher who promised eternal torment if we didn’t repent.