Crossroads: The Storms of Life

I was always terrified of storms as a child. The thunder scared me the most, and my mom could never convince me that the thunder couldn’t hurt me.

Connections 02.25.2018: The Most Important Question

Growing up in a Baptist church in the South, I frequently heard three questions throughout my childhood and adolescent years. Most of my church-related activities during these years centered on the theme of salvation.

Connections 02.18.2018: Making His Paths Crooked

I have a thirty-minute drive from Yatesville to Macon every morning and a thirty-minute drive from Macon to Yatesville every afternoon. My route takes me through the countryside, so it’s a pleasant journey. The only problem is that I travel east in the morning and west in the afternoon, so I’m always driving toward the sun.

Holy Hilarity: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

The conclusion to the flood story addresses a variety of topics, including what we eat and how we eat it, capital punishment, and the connection of all life on earth. It does not specifically address Big Macs, whether to execute by firing squad or electric chair, or the importance of talking to your plants.

Connections 12.10.2017: What Would John the Baptist Say?

The other morning I got out of bed before my wife did. When she came into the den a few minutes later, she found me eating my oatmeal and watching the CBS Morning News. The first thing she said was, “Good morning!” The second thing she said was, “Has there been another one yet today?”

Connections 12.03.2017: Wake Up!

In the Gospels, I identify much more with the disciples than with the people who are in awe of Jesus, scared of him, or threatened by him. The disciples, like me, are comfortable with Jesus. They feel secure enough in him to question his ideas, criticize his actions, and even fall asleep when he wants them to stay alert.

Meditations on Mark: The Transfiguration

It is an obvious fact that you cannot look directly at the sun. Expose your eyes to that much intense light for more than a fraction of a second, and you can do permanent damage. And yet it is also an obvious fact that were it not for the sun’s intensity, life on Earth wouldn’t be possible.

The Fourfold Pattern for Common Worship

When the people of God gather then for Sunday worship, the “order of service” is not accidental or simply because “we’ve always done it that way.” The structure of common worship should be determined by our very best understanding of who God is, what God is about, what God expects and wants, and who we are in relationship to God.

Meditations on Mark: Family in the Kingdom of God

Few wounds cut deeper than those inflicted on us by our families. I have known plenty of otherwise strong and accomplished adults who still carry in their spirits the pain of broken relationships with parents, siblings, or children. This is an indication of the family’s importance in God’s plan for humanity.

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.

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!”

Meditations on Mark: Permanence

Scientists in Britain recently made a fascinating discovery. After centuries of mystery and debate, they finally located the body of King Richard III, who was killed in battle in 1485. The location of his grave was lost to history until February 2013, when DNA tests confirmed that they had indeed found the late king.

Meditations on Mark: Prepare the Way

This is the promise John the Baptist makes in the opening chapter of Mark’s Gospel. Mark doesn’t begin with the story of Jesus’ birth. Rather, he jumps into the middle of the story with Jesus already as an adult, ready to begin his ministry. This is the urgency in Mark: The Messiah has come.

Evangelical Common Worship on National Holidays

In general, we come to common worship from a week in which a secular society has tried to shape our identity as something radically different than what Scripture says it is.

Connections 05.22.2016: Like a Child

My older daughter, Samantha, is eleven years old. Though reserved and quiet around new people, she is at least polite, and she becomes more animated when she gets to know them better. As a baby, though, her encounters with new people went a little differently.

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.

Meditations on Mark: The Soldiers’ Cynicism

One wonders what prompted the soldiers in this passage to act like they did. Why are they so mean and hateful towards Jesus? This is their first interaction with him.

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.

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.

Poor Happens

Poverty is not (proof of) sin.
Poverty is not a character flaw.
Poverty happens to people.

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.

Connections 03.13.2016: Safety versus Sacrifice

We draw ever closer to Good Friday—the day when we honor the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, who gave up everything for all the people of the world.

Connections 03.06.2016: Powerful Faith

I’ve kept a prayer journal for years. Somewhere along the way, I started writing down the Jesus Prayer as the first line of my daily entry: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Uniform 12.27.2015: A Generous Gift

I have a confession to make. There was a time when I thought Christmas was about me. Now, don’t think I was worse than I was. I knew that Christmas was really about the birth of Jesus.

An Invitation to Joy

If we relied on Mark, we would have to stretch to get a story worth a Christmas carol. Mark has no shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, no Mary, no Joseph, no manger, no wise men, no Herod.

Crossroads: Children

“Children should be seen and not heard.” “Go sit at the kid’s table.” Did you hear things like this when you were a child? Maybe you were taught that you should sit quietly and not interrupt the grownups who were talking.

Uniform 03.29.2015: Whom Do We Celebrate?

A couple of weeks ago, cities all over the nation celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with parades. People wore varying shades of green, and some dressed like leprechauns. Four-leaf clovers were everywhere.

Formations 03.22.2015: In the Garden

In “a place called Gethsemane” (v. 32), Jesus prayed to be spared the agonizing death he knew was coming to him. In his prayer, he confessed faith in a God who could do anything: “for you all things are possible” (v. 36).

Formations 03.15.2015: Soul Food

Last month, Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois hosted its annual soul food dinner honoring the accomplishments of black people both living and dead. More than 150 people attended the event.

Formations 03.08.2015: “The LORD Has Anointed Me”

“Messiah” comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “anointed one.” We get the word “Christ” from a Greek word with the same meaning. To say that Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah is therefore to say that he is the Anointed One.

Formations 03.01.2015: Prepare for the Worst

It may be tempting to get lost in the maze of end-times teachings that often accompany a text like this. For you and your class, it may be just as easy to dismiss the entire thing as irrelevant speculations with no clear application to the world in which Christians live.

Formations 02.22.2015: Firefighter/Paramedics Hampered by Skewed Training Priorities

David Givot is an attorney and a former paramedic. In a recent article, he raised the question of whether the ongoing training offered to firefighter/paramedics is suitable to the nature of the job they actually perform.

A Guide to Four Types of Bible Study Learners – Mark Wingfield

Have you heard the story about a time long, long ago, in a faraway place, when adults gathered for Bible study and everyone in the class studied the same thing at the same time and learned the same way? Yeah, that day is gone—if it ever really existed.

Uniform 05.25.2014: Boiling It Down

I’ve been told that the entire Christian faith boils down to two instructions: “Love God, and love people.” That sounds so simple—too simple. And I’m not the first person to think that.

Crossroads: Parades

Parades can be fun. As I child, I remember watching parades on television. There was always a great sense of anticipation: “What will be the next float? Who will be on it? Will it be bigger or brighter or better than the last float?” I also remember going to parades in my younger years.

Uniform 04.06.2014: Caring for Sacred Space

Like many people, I can get pretty sentimental about buildings. When an old, unused gym on my college campus was torn down to make way for green space, I was saddened that people would no longer get to see the tiny gym where the Mercer Bears played basketball for many years.

Crossroads: Feeding the Five Thousand

Growing up Baptist, I went to many potluck dinners. Whether it was Homecoming, two services meeting together, or just a random Sunday after church, we had a lot of potluck dinners. Chances are you know how these work—every one brings a dish (so you end up with 20 desserts and not much meat) and no matter how many people you have, there always seems to be enough food.

Formations 02.16.2014: Our Deepest Need

I was struck by the subtitle of an article I recently encountered on psychosomatic illnesses. The article, by Roanne FitzGibbon, is titled “Psychosomatic Symptoms: You May Be Healthier than You Think.” The point of the article is that psychosomatic symptoms are a real thing. It isn’t just “in your head.”