Formations 10.24.2021: The Church

When we imagine our ideal church, maybe we think of the utopian dream church that Luke describes in Acts 4:32-37. Wouldn’t this be church at its best?

Connections 10.17.2021: Christ’s Submission

The word “submission” has negative connotations in American English. We tend to envision something like slavery, where one person is oppressed and controlled by a person in power.

Formations 10.03.2021: Good Trees and Bad Trees

Many of Jesus’ teachings use common imagery from nature or daily life. That makes them easy to picture and remember. He said that if we have even the smallest amount of faith—small as a mustard seed—we can do great things for God (Mt 17:20).

Connections 09.26.2021: Esther’s Courage

As a little girl in Sunday school, I learned story after story about the male heroes of the Bible. Although the women who populate these stories were mentioned, it was years before I recognized the significance of their contributions.

Formations 09.12.2021: Deeper than the Surface

Jesus was a rebel. A radical. A revolutionary. Sometimes it’s hard to think of him that way, considering our artistic depictions of him as calm, glowing, and holy.

Connections 09.05.2021: Fairness

“It’s not fair.” From an early age, most of us understand what injustice feels like. My sibling got more presents than I did on my birthday. The referee favored the other team.

Formations 08.22.2021: God’s Perspective

If you’re like me, some days streak by, and before you know it, a week, a month, even a year has passed. Other days, though, are slow and plodding as you struggle to fill the boring minutes with something productive.

Connections 08.15.2021: Pursuing Wisdom

In today’s passage, we have an earnest king. Solomon loves God and is trying hard to live like he should, “walking in the statues of his father David” (v. 3).

Formations 08.01.2021: A Time to Belong

We all want to feel that we belong. From those first moments of playground choices to school lunchroom seats to office conversations over the tops of cubicles, we are often afraid of being excluded.

Connections 07.25.2021: Needing Jesus

When my children were small, they wanted to be near me constantly. I work from home, so this meant that almost as soon as I grabbed a few quiet minutes to edit a Bible study lesson or book chapter, a little girl’s voice would call out to me, wanting one thing or another.

Formations 07.11.2021: A Fierce Love

Before my children’s births, people told me about the fierce love of a parent. “There’s nothing like the love you’ll have for your kids.” “It’s like watching your heart walk around outside your body.” “You’ll be like a Mama Bear when it comes to your children.”

Connections 07.04.2021: Finding Home

For many of us, “home” feels like the safest, most comfortable place. It’s our favorite place to be, and that’s mostly because of the people who are there with us.

Connections 06.13.2021: God’s Unexpected Kingdom

I grew up in church, which means I heard loads of Scripture-based catchphrases over the years: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” “Jesus died to save us from our sins.” Maybe you can think of some.

Formations 05.30.2021: Using Our Gifts

Every single person—created by God in the image of God—is exceptionally unique. There is no other creature who is uniquely me or uniquely you.

Connections 05.23.2021: The Power of Hope

Hope. What does the word “hope” mean? Is it wishful thinking? Daydreaming? Longing? Desiring? Or is it something more certain and true?

Formations 05.09.2021: Compassionate Healing

If you or a loved one has suffered in any way—due to illness, disease, accident, job loss, failure, etc.—you have longed for compassionate healing.

Connections 05.02.2021: Knowing God Loves Us

When I attended Mercer University, the Baptist Student Union (now Baptist Collegiate Ministries) had three student-led ministry groups that involved performing arts.

Formations 04.18.2021: The Breaking of the Bread

Gatherings with friends and family vary widely depending on who shows up. But they all have one thing in common: food.

Connections 04.11.2021: Walk in the Light

When my daughter Samantha was in fifth grade, I accompanied her on a school field trip to Dahlonega, Georgia. One of the activities was touring the Consolidated Gold Mine.

Formations 03.28.2021: God’s Son Is Revealed

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. Have you ever experienced devastating disappointment—a letdown so overwhelming that your sadness felt insurmountable?

Connections 03.21.2021: The Suffering Savior

I knew a small girl, barely six years old, with long scars on her back from lung surgery in an attempt to remove the tumors that were killing her.

Formations 03.07.2021: The Kingdom Grows

My daughter Samantha is sixteen, and my daughter Natalie is nearly fourteen. Looking at them now as they threaten to overtake my height by a couple of inches, it’s hard to picture them being small enough to carry around—much less being embryos growing inside my body.

Connections 02.28.2021: Blessings

In recent years, the word “Blessed” has become a common hashtag in social media—a trendy way to signal to others the pleasant state of one’s life.

Formations 02.14.2021: Temptations

When I was a teenager, my church youth group leaders spent a lot of time talking to us about temptation. Specifically, they warned us not to get ourselves into situations that would tempt us.

Connections 02.07.2021: Hidden from the LORD

On January 1, many of us felt excited about leaving 2020 behind. A new year usually brings feelings of hope, fresh possibilities, and chances to start over.

Formations 01.24.2021: The Works of God’s Hands

The writer of Revelation, whom we know was a man named John, gives a glorious depiction of heavenly worship in chapter 4. The images are strange to us—jasper and carnelian, an emerald-like rainbow…

Connections 01.17.2021: Leaving It All Behind

Have you ever left it all behind? I’ve come close a few times. The last few weeks of summer after senior year had me itching to go away. I was eighteen years old, a high school graduate, and accepted to my preferred university.

Formations 01.03.2021: The Works of God’s Hands

On December 21, stargazers got a rare treat. For the first time since March 4, 1226, Jupiter and Saturn came close enough to each other at night that they appeared as one giant star.

Connections 12.27.2020: The Blessings of the Old

My grandparents have played an enormous role in my life. My mother’s parents worked side by side for years in the tiny town of Woodland, Georgia.

Formations 12.13.2020: Rejoice!

On January 1, the new year seemed fresh and exciting. Maybe the new decade would even become the twenty-first-century version of the Roaring Twenties! We could only hope. But March came.

Connections 12.06.2020: The Waiting Time

Do you like roller coasters? I confess that I liked them better when I was a younger woman. After the most recent time I rode one, it took me a couple of hours to recover from motion sickness.

Formations 11.22.2020: Be Joyful Always

Sometimes it’s hard to feel joyful about other people’s joy. Even when we’re supposed to let a loved one bask in success and happiness, it can be tough to push down our own envy, bitterness, and exasperation.

Connections 11.15.2020: Using Our Gifts

Jesus’ parable about the talents inspires us to use our gifts from God to serve the Christian cause and help others. And that’s important.

Formations 11.01.2020: “There I Will Meet with You”

My husband John, a mechanical engineer, has taught himself the hobby of woodworking. His natural understanding of dimensions, measurements, and loadbearing lend well to creating shelves and tables and even cornhole boards.

Connections 10.25.2020: The Lord’s Requirements

Whenever I think about the Lord’s requirements, Micah 6:8 comes to mind: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Formations 10.11.2020: The Burden of Temptation

Temptation. It’s woven into the fabric of being human in this world. It’s part of the price we pay for having the knowledge of good and evil. It’s an aspect of free will.

Connections 10.04.2020: Grace Leads to Works

Church people talk a lot about grace versus works. In the church where I grew up, and in subsequent years at other churches, we often studied the difference between these two terms.

Formations 09.20.2020: Stealing the Show

The grumblers threaten to steal the show in this short scene from Jesus’ life. Let’s imagine how it would play out in a community theater production.

Connections 09.13.2020: The Cost of Deliverance

Many paintings and films tell the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt, especially their miraculous passage through the sea. As long as we acknowledge that these are artists’ interpretations, I believe they can bring us closer to one of the most powerful events in the history of our faith.

Formations 08.30.2020: The Gift of Laughter

Infertility is no laughing matter. One of my friends suffered through years of pain, expensive infertility treatments, marital stress, and pregnancy loss before she and her husband finally agreed to take a break from trying to have a child.

Connections 08.23.2020: Moses on the Nile

Women dominate this tense, frightening, beautiful, miraculous story in Hebrew history. Let’s imagine each of them…

Formations 08.09.2020: The Gift of a Cheerful Heart

As a young mother at church when my girls were small, I would watch the older women, hoping for some insight and wisdom. Some days I just needed assurance that my kids would get through early childhood and still leave me a little sanity.

Formations 08.02.2020: Wrestling with God

Have you ever wrestled with God? I know I have. Lately, the struggle goes something like this: God, please help. I’m overwhelmed. My loved one is hurting, and I don’t know what to do.

Formations 07.19.2020: God’s Indictment

As I read the words of God’s indictment in our lesson text, I wondered how many times people have read them over the centuries and thought, “The prophet is talking about our world today.

Connections 07.12.2020: “Such Great Crowds…”

The parable Jesus tells in today’s text is about soil, but I can’t get past the crowds. Can you picture them? Can you see Jesus surrounded by people who wanted to hear him speak?

Formations 02.02.2020: Moses’ Early Life

Ever since I had children, I can’t read this old story without feeling the intense fear of a mother who is terrified for her child. In my mind, I picture her filling his belly with her breastmilk to make sure he won’t cry out in hunger on his journey.

Connections 01.26.2020: Unifying Grace

Division within a church is incredibly painful. I know this from experience. Maybe you do too. I was part of a church fellowship for ten years before deciding to leave because the divisions were so disruptive.

Connections 05.19.2019: “The Second Death”

This passage offers some of the most hopeful promises in the Bible. In the first part, death is overcome! In the second part, God rebuilds Jerusalem as a place of hope and strength and newness.