Connections 10.11.2020: The Song of the Ruthless

The prophet has in mind a mighty city that God has brought down because of its oppressive practices. The ruthless oppressors had been making a lot of noise and doing a lot of damage, but God silenced and stopped them.

Connections 09.27.2020: What’s In a Name?

An etiology is a story that explains the origin of a name or a custom. The writers of the Pentateuch skillfully wove etiologies into their narratives.

Connections 09.20.2020: What Is It?

God had brought the people out of Egypt and across the sea. They had begun their journey toward Mount Sinai. Now they needed food.

Connections 09.06.2020: This Day. This Night.

This week’s lesson text contains the Passover instructions that God gave Moses and Aaron to share with the Hebrews who were enslaved in Egypt.

Connections 08.30.2020: Hindsight Assurance, Foresight Faith

We can imagine how awe-inspiring God’s revelation at the burning bush must have been for Moses. We might also be fascinated at the way Moses falls into a conversation with God during this awe-inspiring experience.

Connections 08.16.2020: Powerful People

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So said Lord Acton in an 1887 letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton.

Connections 08.09.2020: Caution: Pit Ahead

An interesting convergence of events lands Joseph in a pit. First, Joseph has dreams of grandeur. As you will see if you read the entire Joseph story, dreams play a large role in it.

Connections 07.26.2020: Yes, But…

The short parables in this week’s lesson are fascinating, and they give us much to think and talk about. They also give us much to do something about.

What Makes You Cry

It was summertime, sometime in the late 1960s. I was, as many children did (and I hope still do), participating in the public library’s summer reading program. I was reading Fred Gipson’s 1942 novel Old Yeller.

Connections 07.19.2020: The Waiting

The waiting is the hardest part. In the parable found in this week’s lesson text, Jesus tells the story of a farmer who sowed good seed in a field, only to have an enemy sow weeds in the same field.

Connections 07.05.2020: Yokes

Merriam-Webster offers several definitions of “yoke.” First, a yoke is “a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals (such as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together.”

Connections 06.28.2020: Have To and Want To

Paul uses the word “slaves” a lot in this week’s lesson text. This should make us uncomfortable. I hope it does. If it hasn’t before, I hope it will from now on.

Connections 06.14.2020: Hope for Tomorrow, Love for Today

The entire New Testament is about living in the in-between. It’s about more than that, but it’s definitely about that.

Connections 06.07.2020: Self-Examination

This week’s lesson text places quite a challenge before us: “Examine yourself to see whether you are living in the faith” (v. 5a). We have many options as to how we will deal with it.

Connections 05.24.2020: Let Us Pray

Jesus’ followers had watched him ascend to heaven. Before he ascended, he told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. As they gathered to wait, they “were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…” (v. 14a).

Connections 05.17.2020: Proclamation

This Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Easter. Observing Eastertide, the fifty-day period that begins on Easter Sunday and ends on Pentecost Sunday, is a good way to remind ourselves of the ongoing reality, power, and effect of Jesus’ resurrection.

Connections 05.03.2020: Community from a Distance

We’ve been doing something counter-intuitive during these days of the COVID-19 pandemic: building community by staying apart. In our current situation, we love our neighbors by staying away from them.

Connections 04.26.2020: What Things?

Cleopas and his companion know what has happened. They know the facts. They are talking about those facts as they trudge the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

Connections 04.05.2020: The Cross and COVID-19

When the devil tested Jesus in the wilderness, he introduced two of his three challenges with, “If you are the Son of God” (Mt 4:3, 6). In refusing the devil’s challenges, Jesus declined to prove his identity on the devil’s terms.

Connections 03.15.2020: Rebellious Creatures

Machines with artificial intelligence turning against the people who made them is a recurring theme in works of science fiction. One example is the 2004-08 Battlestar Galactica television series.

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.

Connections 02.23.2020: Holy Imagination

Our high school English teacher Mrs. Powers was teaching us about similes and metaphors. “’The baby is like a rose,’” she said, “is a simile.”

Connections 02.09.2020: Light in the Darkness

Most contemporary biblical scholars believe that Isaiah 56–66 contain the words of a prophet who preached in the tradition of the eighth-century prophet Isaiah of Jerusalem to the Jewish people after their return from exile in Babylon.

Connections 02.02.2020: Abiding Principles

A long time ago, in a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary far, far away, I heard a chapel speaker say something like this: “We don’t read a manual on how to operate a vacuum cleaner as poetry, so why would we read Genesis 1 as a manual on how God created the universe?”

Connections 01.19.2020: Team Players

Another college football season is behind us. I hope your team had a good year. I watch a lot of college football.

Connections 01.12.2020: Too Small for Walls

The Newseum in Washington, D.C. closed its doors on December 31, 2019 after eleven years of operation. I hated to see this happen.

Connections 12.29.2019: Infant Jesus vs. the Empire

This week’s lesson text makes at least three main points. First, God guides Joseph to protect the Christ child. Second, what happens to and around Jesus fulfills Scripture. Third, Jesus’ experience reflects Moses’ experience.

Connections 12.22.2019: A Righteous Man

Our lesson text says that Joseph was “a righteous man” (v. 19). We could use more righteous men these days. I say that as a man. I’m allowed to talk about my own kind.

Connections 12.08.2019: Privilege

Advent is a good time to consider our privilege and what we need to do about it. This week’s lesson text features John the Baptist.

Connections 12.01.2019: Being Alert

This week we begin a unit called “Advent and Christmas Goals.” Our lesson text calls us to be ready for Jesus to come again.

Connections 11.17.2019: Keep On Keeping On

I was born and raised in Barnesville, Georgia, which was (and is) about forty miles from the Smyth & Helwys and NextSunday Resources world headquarters here in Macon.

Connections 11.10.2019: Getting and Being Ready

I try not to think too much about “the real meaning of Christmas”—the incarnation event, the Word made flesh, the baby in the manger—until just after the fourth Sunday of Advent. Don’t freak out on me.

Connections 10.20.2019: Prayed Up

Have you heard the one about the church member who prayed such long prayers that his fellow members cringed when the pastor called on him to pray? They dreaded hearing his prayers drag on for five minutes or longer, which they always did.

Connections 10.06.2019: The Least We Can Do

My Good Wife likes yellow roses, so every now and then I buy some for her. One time, I posted a picture on Facebook of some roses I had given her.

Dead Skunk (Possum, Squirrel, Armadillo) in the Middle of the Road

I tend not to notice roadkill until it’s too late. I’ll be driving merrily along, and I’ll feel that little bump from running over something that’s already dead. If my Good Wife is a passenger in the car I’m driving, she’ll cringe when I run over a dead animal.

Connections 09.29.2019: Seeing the Big Picture

Jeremiah’s cousin Hanamel offered to sell the prophet a piece of family land out around Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth, which was just a few miles from Jerusalem. It was a bad deal.

Connections 09.08.2019: Grace Greater than our Self-Evaluation

God goes to a lot of trouble to make sure we know about God’s grace and mercy. In this week’s lesson text, God sends the prophet Jeremiah to watch a potter at work.

Connections 08.25.2019: From Looking Down to Looking Out

Because of a back problem, the woman had been bent over for eighteen years. She had spent almost two decades looking at the ground and at people’s feet.

Connections 08.18.2019: Division

Jesus says that his coming causes division. He highlights the divisions that occur in families. By the time Luke’s Gospel was written, such division over Jesus was certainly happening in families.

Connections 07.21.2019: Starving for the Word of the Lord

Vacation Bible School (VBS) season is winding down. I grew up in the era when VBS food consisted of cookies and Kool-Aid.

Connections 07.07.2019: Our Faith, Their Health

Naaman was the general in charge of Syria’s army. He was important and powerful. He also had a disease. Because Naaman was important and powerful, he had servants.

Connections 06.23.2019: Christian Clothes

Some people try to express their convictions and commitments through their clothing.

Connections 06.09.2019: All Flesh

When the Holy Spirit fell on the gathered believers on the day of Pentecost, they began to speak in the languages of the people who had come to Jerusalem from many other countries for the festival.

Connections 05.26.2019: Seeing and Being Seen

Darkness can be frightening because it can keep us from seeing things that are there. That’s why if we get up in the middle of the night and don’t turn on a light, we might stub a toe on a piece of furniture.

Connections 05.12.2019: There’s Someplace Like Home

I was sitting at a table with other ministers. We were at a workshop, and the leader had asked us to discuss issues we were struggling to come to terms with.

Connections 04.28.2019: Living in the Center

This Sunday we’ll study the final lesson in a unit entitled “Easter at the Center.” The unit title reflects two truths, one simple and one profound.

Connections 04.14.2019: From the Colt’s Journal

Nobody asked me if I wanted to participate. But I was used to such treatment. I was hanging out, munching some grain, minding my own business, when two fellows came along and took me.

Connections 03.31.2019: Gratitude Plus Responsibility

We have a five-week-old granddaughter. She gets fed every few hours. She doesn’t have to do anything for her food. It just shows up. She partakes, burps, and goes back to sleep.