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.

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.

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.

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!).

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

Silent Saturday

God is dead. He left us to pray and they found him in the garden and God is dead. They dragged him before the High Priests and then they took him to Pilate and God is dead. They didn’t care about how many people he had helped or about the lives he had changed. They didn’t care about our lives. They didn’t care about the good things he had devoted his life to and God is dead.

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.

The Walking Dead

Let me start off by just laying it out there. The title of this sermon is “The Walking Dead.” I do not like scary movies or TV shows. At all. “Well, Chris, that’s silly. Scary movies aren’t real.” I know that. I know that the odds of being chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac are infinitesimally small.

Formations 04.16.2017: In Graves and Gardens

As I’ve been asking who needs to hear my story of Easter joy, I’ve come up against another question—what story of Easter joy do I need to hear? And what I hear reminds me of a ghost story I first heard as a seventh grader.

Formations 04.09.2017: Jesus’ Death Foreshadowed

Jesus enters Jerusalem amid cheering crowds inspired by hope in “the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (v. 13). They came out to meet Jesus because they had heard about the raising of Lazarus (vv. 17-18). Ironically, it was this same sign that led to Jesus’ death.

Crappy First Drafts

Crappy first drafts. Anne Lamott phrases it slightly more colorfully, but that’s the gist. Can’t write? Don’t wait for the Almighty to hand you a perfectly formed manuscript from the sky. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and just write. Will what you write fall somewhere beneath the quality of a hundred grand emoji? Often yes. Often much less.

A Spirit Prayer

O God, Thank you for your Spirit that is with us, within us, and among us.
Thank you for the spirit that we are.
Thank you for the spirit of your creation.

Crossroads: Ash Wednesday

I always feel the weight of the ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday. It wasn’t until I went to a Catholic middle school that I began participating in Ash Wednesday services. From that first Ash Wednesday service until now, it never ceases to amaze me how much I feel those ashes.

Crossroads: He Is Risen!

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Easter is such a wonderful time. The dark, somber mourning of Good Friday has passed and in its place is new life, lots of color, and thankful spirits.

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.

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.

A View from the Pew: Ready for Easter

Nothing throws off our seasonal awareness like an early Easter. It’s a seasonal version of what we experience with daylight savings. We’re not quite sure how to feel and everything about our celebration can seem just a little off.

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 it’s always a little odd to me.

Formations 03.27.2016: Risen Offers a Unique Perspective on Easter

Easter is a story Christians tell year after year—whether or not Hollywood finds the story marketable, and whether or not Hollywood retellings of the story are “rotten” or “certified fresh.”

Connections 03.27.2016: The First to Know

When I was seventeen, my church put on an Easter play that one of our members wrote, paraphrasing directly from various Scripture accounts of Jesus’ last week, his death, and his resurrection.

Connections 03.20.2016: Good Intentions

I believe Peter, who could be the patron saint of those who mean it until it matters, was serious when he told Jesus he’d never desert him and wouldn’t deny him even if it cost him his life….I have a theory about what happened.

Formations 03.13.2016: Learning from Failure

Is our success-oriented, results-driven culture setting us up for a life of disappointment? In a recent column in the Independent, Gerard Gilbert wonders if this might be the case.

Crossroads: Rules vs. Grace

I love lists. I make to-do lists, grocery lists, lists of things to clean, etc. Whatever it is, if I can make it into a list, I probably have.

Formations 02.14.2016: The Lenten Fast

The message that church conveyed—sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly—was that Lent and many other traditions of the wider church were nothing but empty ceremonialism that “real” Christians were better off avoiding.

Connections 02.14.2016: The Feast of Weeks

Have you ever planted a seed and watched it grow into food? Sadly, I haven’t yet undertaken that experience—hindered by fear of failure and, to be honest, resistance to such a level of responsibility.