Flame: Advent Wreath Craft

We’ve now entered Advent and I was thinking of how families could use the tradition of the Advent wreath at home in a craft and prayer activity. Of course it’s great to have the real candles to light, but here’s an alternative to make and do.

Connections 05.06.2018: Love One Another

“Love one another” (Jn 15:17b). Is there a greater calling in Scripture than this? Is there a harder one? It is often paired with what Jesus called the Greatest Commandment, “Love God with all your being.”

Connections 04.15.2018: The Source

The Flint River flows not far from where I live in Central Georgia. Its headwaters are in Hapeville, Georgia. The river begins as groundwater seepage that goes into a concrete culvert and then under the runways at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Fifty miles or so later the water from several creeks has joined with that seepage to form the beautiful Flint.

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.

Crossroads: The Angel Candle/Candle of Love

Today we light the last purple candle. This candle is the angel candle, or the candle of love. This candle reminds us of the love God has shown us through Jesus.

God Only Makes What God Loves

Most of us struggle to believe that God fully loves us (and others) since we do not measure up to God’s law. We hear the constant refrain of “I am not good enough.” Or we wrestle with the “woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’s” of our lives. “God loves us, warts and all,” we say, but that theology falls short.

Crossroads: The Love of God

When I was a child, I loved singing the hymn, “I Love to Tell the Story.” I loved telling people about God and this hymn reflects that. As an adult, it is sometimes harder to tell others about God. I am more worried about what they will think of me or how they will react than I was when I was a child.

Surrender to Love

My will to live has been stuttering like a rusty old engine. Not because I’ve failed to be Christian enough, prayerful enough, or hopeful enough. Not because I haven’t done the prayer and praise and people and potluck dinners. Not because of anything. My motor just hiccups and stalls; reminding me that in the great spectrum of mental health, I am no Olympian.

Flame: Sharing God’s Love

The rainbow is a great symbol for Christians of God’s love and promise to us. It’s also the symbol of new beginnings, a key message of Christianity. This activity helps children to think about their own ability to share God’s love with others and to pray for those who don’t yet know that love.

Crossroads: Love Your Enemy

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth” (Matthew 5:38). Many of us live our lives in this way. All you have to do is watch the news to see people responding in this way. For example, someone is attacked and their country responds with war.

Love as a Way of Living

Without question the word “love” sums up and depicts the essence of our Christian faith. Nonetheless, most Christians struggle in a world often filled with problems, difficulties, suffering, pain.

An Advent Prayer

O God,
As you come to us, please come bearing faith, hope, and love.
We need to trust, hope, and love more.

Formations 10.16.2016: Eager Giving

McCoy Tyner was excited to go to work each night in December 1964. He and the rest of John Coltrane’s quartet were recording A Love Supreme, a musical prayer that became one of jazz’s greatest albums.

10.02.2016: Thank God for Jesus

I think I’d believe in God even if Jesus hadn’t come. I seem to assume that God exists. That assumption appears to be a vital part of who I am, but I can’t tell if it’s the product of nature or nurture.

Connections 08.28.2016: The Command to Love

My daughters are eleven and nine. From the time they were old enough to understand, my husband and I have established rules for them. These parameters help them learn everything from necessary safety precautions to appropriate social behaviors.

Connections 08.07.2016: Safe in God’s Love

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor recessions, nor politics, nor presidential elections, nor terrorism, nor racism, nor sexism, nor homophobia, nor the internet, nor arrogance, nor ignorance…

Connections 07.24.2016: Hope Called and Love Answered

I remember an old Gospel song: “Justice Called and Mercy Answered.” Were I to write a song based on Romans 5:1-11, I’d call it “Hope Called and Love Answered.”

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: Everyone

My granddad loved to fish. And I wasn’t a fan of fishing. In fact, I thought fishing was pretty boring. But one day he talked me into going fishing with him for a tournament. We have pictures to prove that I caught a fish that day (that I wouldn’t touch).

Crossroads: How Big Is God’s Love?

I can remember saying “I love you this much!” as a child, with my arms open wide. I’m sure you’ve seen children do this before: they open their arms as wide as they can and say “I love you this much!” Or they give you a bear hug and squeeze and say the same thing.

Connections 01.17.2016: The Story of Forgiveness

I’ll be honest. I was kind of hoping this was Mike Ruffin’s week to write. A bride worth waiting for and the most beautiful bride were surely easier topics than this week’s unfaithful bride.

Connections 01.10.2016: The Most Beautiful Bride

I imagine you’ve heard of a hopeless romantic. I’m not one of those. I’m a hopeful romantic. I believe that hope leads to love and that love leads to hope. I believe that love changes the way we see those we love.

Crossroads: The Bethlehem Candle or Candle of Love

Mary and Joseph waited for a miracle to happen for nine months. They knew that Jesus, the Son of God, would change their whole lives. And so they waited with anticipation for Jesus’ birth.

Can’t Help Falling in Love

If you’re like me, you’ve been in church a long time. You’ve seen the good and bad, the highs and lows, and in many ways, your church experience might best compare to a long marriage.

Love Does

My book club recently read the book Love Does by Bob Goff. Recognizing that the focus on love is typically what it is, this book centers itself instead around what love does.

Formations 08.09.2015: Who Is My Neighbor?

Before joining the Smyth & Helwys Publishing team last month, I was an elementary teacher and Teach for America corps member in the Mississippi Delta for two years.

Uniform 07.19.2015: What God Requires

Over my years as an assistant editor for Smyth & Helwys, I have read countless Scripture verses, dozens of Bible commentaries, and thousands of words by people like you and me who are doing their best to follow God’s way.

Uniform 05.31.2015: The Greatest Gift Is Love

The church can and should be a community in which its members experience a taste of heaven right here on Earth. That is so because God is present in the church and where God is, God’s love is.

Uniform 05.17.2015: The Spirit Creates One Body

J. R. Ewing was shot in his office at Ewing Oil on March 21, 1980 by an unseen and thus unknown assailant. Millions of Americans would spend the next eight months pondering and debating the question “Who shot J. R.?”

Uniform 04.19.2015: Recognizing Our Lies

In 1 John 3, John encourages us to remember that we show our love through our actions. Our faith requires us to act in love, he says. In chapter 4, John raises the stakes.

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.

Crossroads: Love That Endures

We hear stories of senior adults who have been married for 70+ years. For these their love has endured. It seems like in each instance it wasn’t because they always felt like they were in love.

Spiritual Growth: Polishing the Cup or Growing in Love?

People enter into the process of spiritual direction for many reasons, and sometimes it takes time and deep listening for me to discern the motivation. “Remember,” a mentor once cautioned, “the real director is the Holy Spirit. Our job is to discern the direction the Holy Spirit is wanting to guide the directee and cooperate with that.”

A Prayer for Ferguson

O God, We don’t have to tell you that the city of Ferguson, Missouri is coming apart at the seams. Please give the people there peace with justice and justice with peace.

Like a Good Neighbor

A man was going from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Louisville, Kentucky, when along the way he had a flat tire. Stranded on the side of the road, he was robbed, his car was stripped, he was shot, and left for dead.

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.