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.

Formations 04.04.2021: Change of Plans

Have you ever put a lot of effort into a task and then not gotten to do it? Maybe you did a ton of research.

Connections 04.04.2021: Here, There, and Wherever

Look at Mary. She is right here. She is standing outside the tomb, weeping. She has already discovered the empty tomb.

The Wind and the Spirit

What would you do differently if you could start over? What would you change if you could be born again? If I could edit my life, I would skip junior high football, wrecking my father’s car, and the last five minutes of my first date. I would stop my mother throwing away my baseball cards.

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 03.28.2021: The Humble King

Jesus’ words imply an invitation to his disciples: “So come along with me!” Jesus’ words also imply an invitation to those of us who are also his disciples: “Come along with me!”

Lent Is a Time to Adjust

I once heard it said that you can’t have Easter without Lent; how could you know the joy of the mountaintop without the realities of the valley?

Formations 03.21.2021: A Suffering Messiah?

“You keep using that word,” Inigo Montoya tells Vizzini in the 1987 comedy The Princess Bride. “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Formations 03.14.2021: Pressing On

I’ve always imagined Jesus as fairly unflappable. He always seems to know the right thing to say.

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.

The Worship Hour: The Second Sunday of Lent

Giver of all good gifts, we thank you again for the bounty you have allowed us in this privileged land, and for the privilege of distributing your gifts to others—that they also may be blessed!

Truth Beneath the Ashes

Several years ago in Waco, TX, a couple hundred of us gathered for a crack-of-dawn Ash Wednesday service led by a team of seminary students. All kinds of folk—Baylor students, doctors, construction workers, grandparents—gathered at the shoreline of Lent, sleepy-eyed and somber.

Formations 02.21.2021: Not Me!

I admit it: I’m a sucker for Family Circus comic strips. Yes, they’re corny. Yes, they repeat the same gags over and over again.

Connections 02.21.2021: Looking at Rainbows

Ever since I took my first Old Testament course in college—and that was a long time ago—I’ve heard that the rainbow in the Noah story represents God’s unstrung war bow.

Meditations on Luke: The Depth of Darkness

One the greatest measures of human creativity is our ability to rationalize almost anything. No matter how destructive our actions, no matter how foolish our choices, no matter how selfish our behaviors, no matter how dark our impulses, we can always come up with a good excuse or a reasonable explanation for them.

Flame: Palm Sunday Spinner

We are getting into Easter planning mode at the moment and needed something a bit different for Palm Sunday. This is a great activity because somehow the hosanna appears on the palm leaf. The children love watching the trick of the eye happen!

Connections 04.12.2020: The Risen Christ

I listen to a podcast called “Gone.” In each episode, hosts Richard and Molly discuss something or someone that went missing and has never been found. One of the podcast’s taglines is, “Just because something is gone, [it] doesn’t mean it can’t be found.”

Formations 04.12.2020: Giving Things Up for Lent

John places Jesus’ “cleansing of the temple” near the beginning of his Gospel rather than at the end, as the Synoptic Gospels do. In John, this symbolic act foreshadows the many controversies that Jesus will face and that will eventually end with the crucifixion.

Brokenness, a Prayer for Lent

God, it takes courage to be the creatures
you made us to be.
Year after year we add to our experiences of the world,
pushing against our limits
to find out what will budge and what will not.

Mystery, a Prayer for Lent

God, thank you for faithful signs
of spring that tell us you love the world.
Give us glimpses of your creation
that are sights for sore eyes…

Connections 03.22.2020: The Church of the Shepherd

There are local churches called The Church of the Shepherd or The Church of the Good Shepherd. Those are good names. After all, as Psalm 23 affirms, the Lord is our shepherd.

Lent. The Ugly Step-Sister Season.

Lent… It’s not Christmas, that’s for sure. It’s not a season when we’re hanging the holly and lighting the tree, twinkling and throwing gifts around like confetti and singing carols to strangers. It’s not a season that glitters.

Why I Love the Church Most on Ash Wednesday

I was reared as far from the Church as one can imagine. No Easter, Christmas, or Mother’s Day services for me, so this business about ashes seemed strange and at first a bit silly to me upon surrendering to Jesus at age 20.

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!).

Formations 03.01.2020: Keep Still

With the sea in front of them and the Egyptian army at their backs, Moses tell the Israelites, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today….”

Connections 03.01.2020: Replacing the Plug

It’s an image most of us are familiar with: the dropping of a stone into water produces ripples, which represent the ongoing effects of an action.

A View from the Pew: Taking a Personal Spiritual Retreat

I’ve never hiked the Appalachian Trail, but I know people who have. It sounds like something I would want to do, but then again, maybe not.

All Is Joy

My youngest children are just old enough to have developed a growing curiosity about Lent. They are asking more questions about why and how we Christians observe this liturgical season.

Crossroads: Our Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom

There are many instances in my childhood where logic got me into trouble. It usually began with me saying “I told you so” and you can guess that it didn’t end well.

Crossroads: Good Friday

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. We’ve all had bad weeks and perhaps you have had a week so terrible that you just couldn’t go another step.

Easter Sunday Isn’t Like the Others

The long Lenten journey to the cross and ultimately the empty tomb is nearly finished, and Easter is just around the corner.

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 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.

Formations 04.14.2019: The King Is Coming

When early December rolled around with the Christmas parade, it happened that our marching band hung around the Church of the Nazarene.

Death and Life

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

Why I Like Lent

Like many Baptists, I did not grow up following the Christian calendar and observing the seasons of Advent or Lent.

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?

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!

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.

“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

A View from the Pew: Signs of True Repentance

At its heart, preparing for Easter during the season of Lent means repenting of our sin. The problem for many of us in the pews today is that repentance has almost completely vanished from our faith practice.

A View from the Pew: 5 Ways to Make Lent More Meaningful

Whether the season of Lent has been part of your tradition or not, it can be a helpful time of spiritual reflection and growth. I didn’t grow up observing it, but when introduced to Lent about 20 years ago, I enjoyed this annual time of intentional focus on my discipleship.

Crossroads: Palm Sunday

I love celebrations. In particular, I love birthdays. I love finding the perfect present and celebrating who that person is. I love my birthday as well, but I always feel slightly let down on my birthday. It’s not because people forget my birthday; the people who are close to me remember.

When People are like Duct Tape

Duct tape is amazing. You can do so many things with it. Make a dress, reattach a car bumper, do some duct work. Duct tape is decorative and functional, durable yet flexible. It can fix just about anything. Its only problem is that duct tape isn’t a permanent solution.

Meditations on Luke: A Judas Living Inside Each of Us

In his memoir Telling Secrets, writer and preacher Frederick Buechner tells about his childhood after his father committed suicide. In addition to the trauma of losing his dad was the grief of being forbidden to speak of what happened.

Crossroads: Ash Wednesday

This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day. It’s a time when we will put ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross, but it’s also a time when we will exchange Valentines at school, give cards to our families, and give and receive lots of candy. These two events, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, seem very different.

Try Writing with Friends for Lent

Writing in groups creates that kind of wonder. I’ve seen it show up around classrooms tables when people who had spent their lifetimes in the same congregation share their longing for a deeper faith for the first time.