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.

Crossroads: The Wonders of Winter

Winter can be a dark, dreary time. But it can also be filled with wonders. I absolutely love snow. As soon as it starts falling, I want to go out in it and take pictures. And if it sticks, I wait impatiently until there’s enough to build a snowman.

Crossroads: Thanksgiving

This is a time when families gather together around a table filled with food, and remember all of the things for which they are thankful. Some years it’s easy to remember the blessings you’ve been given. But other years, it seems as if nothing has gone right.

Crossroads: Tell Me the Story

I grew up in church. For as far back as I can remember, I had Sunday school teachers telling me about Jesus and how much God loves us. My preacher knew who I was and he told me about Jesus too. My mom told me about Jesus and my grandparents told me about Jesus. I knew that I was surrounded by God’s love.

Crossroads: God Is Our Refuge

Last week our devotion was on times when it seems like God isn’t there. This week’s psalm is a reminder to us that God is always there and that God is our refuge.

Crossroads: Where is God?

When I was a child, bad thunderstorms used to terrify me. The rain was okay, but I was very afraid of the thunder and the lightning. Thunderstorms that happened at night were always the worst. There was no way I could sleep during them.

Crossroads: Small

Has nature ever just wowed you? Have you ever felt small when looking at the ocean or the stars? Talk about a time when you felt awed by something in nature.

Connections 09.24.2017: Somewhere between Heaven and Earth

David is feeling pretty good about God in Psalm 145. Unlike in other psalms, there’s no word about vengeance or swords or wrath. David spends the entire psalm, even through verse 21, proclaiming God’s wonder and nearness and faithfulness. What led him to write this psalm amid all the others so full of lament, fear, anger, and revenge?

Crossroads: Following God

I loved to talk when I was a kid. I talked all the time. And at school, there are times when you’re supposed to be quiet. But sometimes I couldn’t help myself and I talked to the people around me. And of course, I got in trouble. I got I’s (needs Improvement) and sometimes U’s (for Unsatisfactory) on my report card for talking.

Connections 09.17.2017: The View from Below

God is with us. Christ is present in us. These are, the Bible assures us, facts. But such talk can go to our heads. After all, if God is with us, shouldn’t we be able to look down on other people? And if Christ is present in us, shouldn’t we be able to pass judgment on folks?

Connections 09.10.2017: Praise…and Vengeance

Psalm 149 begins with joy, exuberance, music, praise. It sounds like the best kind of worship service, when everyone’s singing in unison—or glorious harmony—and all are feeling good and right before God. It’s how we want things to be when we go to church with our fellow believers.

Crossroads: God’s Love Is Eternal

David’s psalm is a great reminder that God’s love never fails. God never quits on us. God sees and knows everything about us and still loves us. And when people hear what God has to say, they will sing about the glory of God. Their response will be one full of thanks.

Connections 09.03.2017: Participation Trophies

Sometimes kids get participation trophies. You know—if you’re on the team, you get a trophy. If you come in last, you still get a trophy. Why? Because you participated. The practice is controversial among some adults who argue that we shouldn’t teach our children that they’ll be rewarded for “only” participating.

Crossroads: Don’t Give Up

I love learning different languages. I took French for 7 years in high school and college and I absolutely loved it. I knew what I was doing and I was good at it. When I got to seminary, though, I had to take a semester each of Hebrew and Greek. I loved Hebrew and I was good at it.

Crossroads: God Sees It All

As a child, my mom always knew everything I did. (At least it felt that way!) I talked during a fire drill when I was in the first grade, which was a big no-no. I got in trouble at school, and when I got home that day, my mom asked me about school. She asked me if anything had happened and I said no.

God Deems Them Righteous

“God does not hear the prayers of Jews,” a prominent pastor proclaimed in 1980. His words created division among Christians and Jews alike. Who had the audacity to determine whom God hears? Psalm 34 tells us exactly whom God hears…

Crossroads: God Is Our Fortress

There have been many times in my life when it seemed like a storm was raging around me. Sometimes it was because there were actual storms happening that came with tornadoes. In those times, I prayed for God to protect me and keep me safe. I prayed for God to calm my fears and remind me that God is always there with me.

Crossroads: Waiting

The Israelites were waiting and watching for God. They were waiting for the Messiah to come, and with him, redemption. They waited for thousands of years, waiting and watching for God to arrive. And then, all of sudden, God was among them, in the form of Jesus.

Crossroads: Awestruck

Have you ever been awestruck by something? Perhaps a sight that took your breath away? For me, those times come most often when I am standing on top of a mountain, gazing out into the distance at the creation God has formed. Depending on the season, creation is either lush and green, or alive with color, or waiting in the darkness to spring back to life.

Crossroads: Guilty

When I was in the first grade, I couldn’t seem to keep my mouth shut. I wanted to tell everyone everything all of the time. So being asked to be quiet wasn’t easy for me. One day we had a fire drill at school and our teacher instructed us to walk quietly outside. Honestly, I tried.

Crossroads: I Am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I didn’t always feel pretty as a teenager. I went through the usual gawky teen phase, with braces and acne and glasses. There were times when I wished that I looked like someone else.

Crossroads: God Hears Us

I had a tough year when I was in the sixth grade. One of the hardest parts, though, was not having any close friends at school. I prayed and I prayed for God to help me. And God heard my prayers.

After Election Day

Anyone ready to flee to the hills today? Do you feel the wicked have bent their bows, strung their arrows, and are ready to shoot those whose heart is right (v. 2)? Do you feel like the very bottom has fallen out and that a righteous person like yourself can do very little about it?

Crossroads: Music and Control

The election is this week, and for the past several months, life has felt out of control…. And in the midst of all of this name calling, mudslinging, and other awfulness, the world is at war.

Crossroads: The Lord Watches Over You

It’s almost Halloween, and this time of year tends to be a bit scarier than normal. People decorate their houses to look scarier, scary movies come on TV, and some people wear scary costumes on Halloween.

Crossroads: The Lord is Faithful

When I was a kid, my stepdad promised he would take us to Europe. Years went by and eventually he and my mom got a divorce. And in that whole time, he never took us to Europe. He didn’t keep his promise. He meant well when he promised to take us, but he couldn’t make it happen.

Crossroads: Do Not Fear

It has been fifteen years since September 11, 2001. For many of us, that was the day that the world changed. It seems like we lost something that day: a feeling of safety and that everything would be fine.

Crossroads: Wonderfully Made

As a teenager, I didn’t always feel pretty or worthwhile. There were many times when I doubted myself, particularly as a middle schooler. I had braces and I had to get glasses in middle school, and it was an awkward time.

Bringing Our Pain to God

Think about the people you know who are in terrible pain right now. Violence, death, loss, trauma, or physical or mental illness has touched them, even destroyed them. If they should come to worship, is there an appropriate context for them to acknowledge their pain before God?

Crossroads: Our Guide

We recently finished Everest VBS. As the leader of Base Camp Sing and Play as well as Summit Celebration, I was known as a Sherpa. A Sherpa is an expert guide on Mount Everest whose job it is to guide climbers safely up and back down Everest.

Crossroads: Celebrate!

I love birthdays. I love celebrating my birthday and celebrating other people’s as well. There’s something about a birthday. One of my favorite birthday celebrations actually took place at camp.

Crossroads: My Shepherd

Most of the time, I associate this Psalm with funerals. I don’t like to read this Psalm because it brings to mind sadness and pain. And yet, this Psalm is all about peace. It is also about being treasured.

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 school in Middle School that I began participating in Ash Wednesday services.

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.

Crossroads: Praise the Lord!

Our youth group had a saying that we used to end our meetings each week: “God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!” Good is good all of the time.

Jesus’ Use of the Psalms

For ordinary Christians who experience opposition and negative feelings, we are invited to bring the full breadth of these experiences into the realm of God.

Crossroads: My Shepherd

Most of the time, I associate this Psalm with funerals. I don’t like to read this Psalm because it brings to mind sadness and pain. And yet, this Psalm is all about peace.

Crossroads: King of Glory

The LORD Almighty is the King of glory. The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it. Praise the LORD! Sometimes we forget that everything is God’s and that God created everyone.

Crossroads: Train Up a Child

I loved going to church as a child. I loved Sunday school, VBS, choir, worship, and everything else I went to. I wanted to be there every time the doors were open.

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).

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 school in middle school that I began participating in Ash Wednesday services.

Crossroads: Praise the Lord!

As I write this, my family is getting ready to remember several losses in our family. On January 25th, we lost my great-grandmother (my mom’s grandmother) and my aunt (my dad’s sister), two years apart.

Crossroads: Majesty

When’s the last time you stopped and looked at the wonders of creation? Things like waterfalls, caves, canyons, mountains, and more. One of my favorite parts of creation is the waterfall.

Formations 01.25.2015: Writers Decry Removal of Nature Words from Dictionary

More than two dozen prominent writers, including Margaret Atwood and Andrew Motion, have written an open letter to Oxford University Press expressing alarm with the publisher’s decision to drop a number of words associated with the countryside from its children’s dictionary.

Uniform 12.14.2014: Communal Noise

Advent is perhaps the most audibly rich time on the Christian calendar. Bells ringing, fires crackling, people singing—the sounds of the season prepare us for Christmas in a way that sights alone cannot.

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.

Crossroads: Waiting

When I was a kid, I loved playing baseball. We had several practices each week, but even when the team didn’t have a scheduled practice, I liked to go to the ball field by myself and practice hitting, catching, and running the bases.

Crossroads: The Lord is My Shepherd

Many years ago I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Israel for several weeks. This trip was an incredible spiritual high point in my life filled with many wonderful and memorable experiences.