Connections 05.26.2024: One Step Forward

There are a lot of ways we can end up doing a job, whether in our secular work or in our faith life.

Formations 05.26.2024: The Prayer of a Friend

Scripture is full of prayers. The apostle Paul is one of the most fervent in offering prayer for other believers.

Connections 05.19.2024: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

In this passage from the beginning of the Christian church, one of Jesus’s kindest promises is gloriously fulfilled.

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.

Connections 05.12.2024: Out of the Crowd

This story of the calling of a new twelfth disciple may be familiar to modern readers of Acts, mostly for the manner in which the disciples decide between the two candidates, Justus and Matthias.

Formations 05.05.2024: Be Still and Know!

This psalm contains the favorite, often quoted verse, “Be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10).

Connections 05.05.2024: We Are Witnesses

I knew a woman who had been a dancer. Later in life, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and as the disease took its physical toll.

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.

Connections 04.28.2024: Fruitfulness and Friendship

Twenty-four years ago this October, I got engaged to my beloved boyfriend. We married nine months later on a hot July day.

Connections 04.21.2024: I Shall Not… What?

The twenty-third psalm is a challenging Scripture. Well, maybe not the parts where God “makes me lie down” and “leads me beside still waters.”

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 04.14.2024: That One Meal

I’ve participated in the Lord’s Supper dozens of times since I became a Christian at age ten.

Connections 04.14.2024: Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, the resurrected Jesus appears to his disciples and tells them to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt 28:19).

Formations 04.07.2024: Joyful, Joyful

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

Connections 04.07.2024: Doubt and Trust

A friend’s twelve-year-old son, raised in kind and caring church families, tearfully told his parents that he didn’t believe in God.

Formations 03.31.2024: Risen in Radiant Victory

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

Formations 03.24.2024: Anticipation versus Reality

In my childhood, my best friend Jill and I spent many weekends together. One of our favorite ways to play involved imagining our adult lives.

Connections 03.24.2024: Hot Takes and Humility

Social media loves a hot take—an idea that seems to go against the conventional wisdom or is a surprising point of view about some current event.

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.

Connections 03.17.2024: Cleansed in Heart

Are you wearing green today? This Saint Patrick’s Day tradition in the South that saved me from getting pinched during my school years.

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.

Connections 03.10.2024: If You Think This is Bad…

Sometimes in the Bible, God’s people seem all too human. We can easily relate to their frustrations and their failures, their reactivity and their resistance.

Formations 03.03.2024: The Purpose of Fasting

Our lesson contains three very different passages about fasting. In Mark, John’s disciples and some Pharisees are fasting, but Jesus’s disciples aren’t.

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.

Connections 02.25.2024: Hoping against Hope

Just as pastors and Bible teachers do today, Paul used stories from the past to explain faith and salvation to the early Roman believers.

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.

Connections 02.18.2024: Adjusting Expectations

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t tend to read the New Testament epistles as sources of wonder. The Old Testament, yes!

Formations 02.11.2024: Jonah’s Prayer

While none of us have been swallowed by an enormous sea creature (at least I hope not!), most of us have been through experiences where we felt stuck in darkness.

Connections 02.11.2024: What’s the Big Secret?

On the Sunday before Lent—the season when, with Jesus, we will turn our attention to the coming crucifixion and resurrection—we pause with the disciples and pay attention.

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.

Connections 02.04.2024: True Healing

The issue of healing may be one of the biggest hindrances to faith. I know it’s been a struggle for me over the years.

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.”

Connections 01.28.2024: Stumbling Blocks and Building Blocks

Sometimes I forget how unusual churches are. We have people of all ages and abilities.

Formations 01.21.2024: The Gospel of Faithful Reliance

According to Harvard Divinity School, the prosperity gospel “emphasizes believers’ abilities to transcend poverty and/or illness through devotion and positive confession.”

Connections 01.21.2024: The Time is Short

This holiday season was a first in my family: this is my older son’s first year at college, so this was the first Christmas when we’ve had a child come home for a little while and then go away again.

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.

Connections 01.14.2024: The Magnificence of Humanity

Wherever you happen to go—church, the store, a neighborhood walk, or even just your home—notice other people.

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.

Connections 01.07.2024: What Have You Heard?

When I was in high school it was normal for churches to send teams out “on visitation”—dropping in unannounced on new folks.

Formations 12.31.2023: Entering the New Year

Tonight, people all over the world will gather for New Year’s Eve. Traditions of welcoming the new year vary, but they usually involve eager anticipation.

Connections 12.31.2023: Not “The End”

The post-Christmas letdown can be a relief or a disappointment—or both.

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.

Connections 12.17.2023: A Blessing from the Lord

Recently our teenaged son experienced a rite of passage: we introduced him to one of our generation’s cultural icons, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Connections 12.10.2023: Who Needs Good News?

Advent catches me off-guard every year with the reminder that God may be “in his heaven” but all is not, in fact, right with the world.

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.

Connections 11.26.2023: Grace and Goodness

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means many of us will gather with some of the people we love best in the world, and we’ll eat amazing favorite foods, and we’ll share the things we’re grateful for, and we’ll celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season.