Formations 06.02.2024: A Journey to Jesus

Some people come to Jesus in a heartbeat. Other people come to Jesus only after they’re given time to mull it over.

Formations 05.19.2024: How Much More

This week’s text is one of those where an understanding of ancient culture sheds great light—while at the same time destroying a mountain of good, traditional preaching!

Formations 05.12.2024: Praying When We Don’t Know How

As a pastor, I’ve ministered with more than one deacon who preferred not to pray in front of the church.

Formations 04.28.2024: Wow

Author Anne Lamott wrote a book about what she considered the “three essential prayers.” And what are these prayers? She says they are Help, Thanks, and Wow.

Formations 04.21.2024: Discerning the Body

Today’s passage provides the earliest known account of Jesus’s institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Formations 04.07.2024: Joyful, Joyful

What are your earliest memories of the Lord’s Supper or Communion?

Formations 03.31.2024: Risen in Radiant Victory

Matthew’s account of the first Easter follows the same outline as the other Gospels.

Formations 03.17.2024: Wash Me, and I Will Be Clean

Psalm 51, attributed to David, expresses profound sorrow for sin and longing for God’s grace. In other words, the psalmist is seeking atonement.

Formations 03.10.2024: Places to Be

Psalm 95 invites us to imagine a grand pilgrimage, with throngs of worshipers coming to kneel before God.

Formations 02.25.2024: A Little Bit Too Amazing

It can be hard to get past the idea that people must pay for what they’ve done. I’m not thinking about the legal system.

Formations 02.18.2024: The Miracle of Repentance

The last time Formations ran a unit on the book of Jonah, the lesson writer received two letters in the same week.

Formations 02.04.2024: Worth the Effort

In the past few years, I’ve heard more and more about families split apart because some family members see the world differently from other family members.

Formations 01.28.2024: Yes, You

Jesus set apart the Twelve to be his messengers, sent with a message. Matthew and Luke call the Twelve “apostles.”

Formations 01.14.2024: The Year of the Lord’s Favor

Last week we looked at the first words that Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Mark. This week, we turn to the Gospel of Luke.

Formations 01.07.2024: The Gospel in One Sentence

I have a minister friend who likes to ask thought-provoking questions on social media. A while back, he asked a question that all Christians ought to ponder.

Formations 12.24.2023: The Problem with Mighty Kings

I’m afraid I’m going to have to offend some of you with what I’m about to share, but it can’t be helped. Are you ready?

Formations 12.17.2023: Leading the Flock

The little that I know about shepherds came from reading books. I’m a city kid, through and through.

Formations 12.03.2023: A Kingdom of Peace and Justice

Isaiah 9 expresses a great sigh of relief on the part of the beleaguered people of Judah.

Formations 11.26.2023: Mountaintop Experiences

The Bible never uses the exact wording of a “mountaintop experience,” but it is certainly the origin of that expression.

Formations 11.12.2023: Bigger than Us

In the Middle Ages, the building of cathedrals represented both a profound expression of faith and a channel for the creative energies of countless artisans.

Formations 11.05.2023: Lavish Symbols

Robert Webber was a minister and academic who often led seminars for churches navigating the landmines of worship renewal.

Formations 10.22.2023: Seeing Each Other

How do you react when you encounter someone on the street asking for money? What if that person is a “regular.”

Formations 10.15.2023: “The Lord Indeed Is God”

In the fourth century, the Arian bishop Ulfilas translated the Bible into the Gothic language.

Formations 10.01.2023: Speak of the Devil

First Peter ends with a series of parting instructions regarding mutual love, hospitality, humility, stewardship of spiritual gifts, and accepting the authority of church elders.

Formations 09.24.2023: Your Life Speaks

A high school marketing program in Liberty Hill, Texas is working with local businesses for mutual benefit.

Formations 09.10.2023: Public Opinion

It’s amazing how much our self-perception depends on what other people say about us. People who’ve been told they don’t have what it takes to succeed often don’t.

Formations 09.03.2023: Saved

A. T. Robertson is one of my heroes. “Dr. Bob,” as his students called him, was perhaps the greatest Greek scholar Southern Baptists have ever produced.

Formations 08.20.2023: Serving Together

My wife and I wrote our own wedding vows. We weren’t interested in doing anything strange or cute or avant-garde.

Formations 08.13.2023: Space to Grow

“May I offer you a little fatherly advice?” I asked. “You need spend Mother’s Day with your family.”

Formations 07.30.2023: The Desert Will Bloom

I heard someone make a troubling observation a while ago about the record-setting temperatures that are currently besetting not only parts of the United States but also parts of Europe and Asia.

Formations 07.23.2023: Coming Home

My dad spent almost his entire adult life as a high school basketball coach. While I was still a little kid, I was the team mascot.

Formations 07.09.2023: God Persists

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” In other words, no matter how carefully a project is planned, accidents or misfortune can still happen.

Formations 07.02.2023: Rock Bottom

Rock bottom is when it is no longer possible to pretend things are better than they are, or that they won’t keep getting worse if left to themselves.

Formations 06.18.2023: Sharing What We Can

To the best of my recollection, there are only two Christians in the New Testaments whose deaths are explicitly mourned.

Formations 06.11.2023: Permission to Grieve

Everybody grieves in their own way. Among the many lessons that we can learn from John 11, let’s not neglect that one.

Formations 05.28.2023: Unexpected Joy

My church has a tradition that everyone wears bright colors on Pentecost Sunday. The people who know about liturgical traditions tell us that red is the preferred color for Pentecost.

Formations 05.21.2023: Be Good

Two thousand years of preaching and teaching have provided ample—though sometimes contradictory—guidance on what “good” looks like.

Formations 05.07.2023: The Breath of God

In most Old Testament passages, references to “the spirit” (Hebrew, ruach) describe a force or emanation from God, a powerful yet impersonal presence through which God works in the world.

Formations 04.30.2023: When Our Work Is Done

This week’s lesson shows us the church from a different angle. Revelation 7 gives us a vision of the “church triumphant,” worshiping God in heaven once their earthly work is done.

Formations 04.16.2023: Where to Begin?

The title of this unit is “Easter and Onward.” For the last two weeks, we’ve approached and finally arrived at “Easter.” This week we get to the “Onward.”

Formations 04.09.2023: God Isn’t Finished Yet

We can debate why some in the Corinthian church denied the resurrection of the dead. We can be confident, however, that no one took this stance because they had a scientific worldview.

Formations 03.26.2023: Sticking Points

This week’s passage tells the story of a character conventionally called “the rich, young ruler.” You might be surprised to learn that this is a designation we never actually read in Scripture.

Formations 03.19.2023: The Prodigal’s Brother

“Joseph,” I asked, addressing the Nigerian seminarian in the Parables of Jesus class I was teaching, “how would someone in your culture react to this parable?”

Formations 03.05.2023: Come to the Party

As Tony Campolo described it in the title of his 1992 book, The Kingdom of God Is a Party. Do we really grasp what that means?

Formations 02.26.2023: The Road to Jerusalem

This section, often called the Lukan Travel Narrative, begins in chapter 9, when Jesus first “sets his face” to go to Jerusalem for the Passover and ends when he finally arrives in chapter 18.

Formations 02.12.2023: An Imperfect King

In 1 Samuel, one of the first warning signs readers are given of King David’s eventual downfall is his sin with Bathsheba.

Formations 02.05.2023: Unfinished Business

Why do we have two different versions of Israel’s history in the Old Testament? The short answer is because humans always rewrite their history from time to time.

Formations 01.22.2023: An Unexpected Guest

Can we just take a moment to appreciate how unlikely it is for the centurion in Matthew 8 to have received a warm welcome in Galilee?