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.

Faith Postures: Noticing When We Obstruct Christ

I did something one weekend of which I am ashamed. I did something I can never take back and something for which I can never be sure of the ramifications.

Formations 08.06.2023: When We Suffer

Naomi has lost everything: her husband, her sons, her security, her support, and—she is certain—her two daughters-in-law.

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.

How Will They Remember You When You’re Gone?

This past week, I conducted a celebration of life service at a beloved church I serve. The packed sanctuary was a reminder to all who were present of this church member’s caring spirit.

When Acts Just Ends

The book of Acts, which concerns the early church, seems like this, especially as it nears its strange conclusion. Leaving Athens, fortunately, Paul was able to start churches in Corinth and Ephesus.

Crossroads: When God Asks

During my freshman year of college, my campus minister told me about a summer job he thought I was perfect for. It was being the children’s intern at a church in Macon. I laughed and told him I didn’t really work with children.

Connections 04.25.2021: When A Plan Comes Together

There was a time in my life when I was a regular viewer of the television program The A-Team. On one hand, I am not proud of that fact. On the other hand, everybody needs a little mindless distraction every now and then.

Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, my grandmother, and bad theology

My favorite grandmother took her own life in 1950—eleven years before I was born. My other grandmothers were fine (my father’s father provided me with four grandmothers), but my father’s mother is my favorite.

A View from the Pew: When is it Okay to Go Back to Church?

You may already be back in your traditional place at church on Sundays, or you may be wringing your hands and wondering when it is safe to rejoin your church family in person.

What to Say When You Don’t Want to Open Your Mouth

At one time or another, I’ve said all of these things or some naïve but well-meaning version of them to family members and friends, church members and complete strangers. Forgive me.

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.

A View from the Pew: When Your Kids Don’t Like Church

We make our children do lots of things they don’t want to do. Homework. Brush their teeth. Go to school. Take a bath. Go to bed. Eat their vegetables. Share their toys. The list goes on and on. And many of these activities are non-negotiable for our children.

When Words Catch Fire

When I remember the Saturday that my seven-year-old self spent in the church library while her father worked on his sermon down the hall, details are missing. I don’t know how long I was there, the name of the book that moved my imagination, or who its author was.

Connections 12.24.2017: When the Lord Is With You

If you ever hear an angel say, “The Lord is with you,” how should you respond? Let me suggest, “Uh oh!” In Mary’s case, the angel’s statement “The Lord is with you” meant “The Lord has a really difficult task for you.”

Where Prayer Meets the Road

We talk about prayer as if it is always easy, like it presents no complications. No experience required. Anyone can do it. Our prayer directions read: bow head, close eyes, fold hands, and add words. “It’s a conversation.” “Relax, you’re just talking to God.”

Writing When It Hurts

Writer and activist James Baldwin concluded, “The price for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” When I answered the call to preach the gospel, the invitation was delivered by one of Gabriel’s mail-angels.

Connections 06.18.2017: When God Comes to Visit…

Sometimes our questions don’t have clear answers, and for me, that is especially true of questions about the Bible. Some questions matter a great deal, and many more are merely the result of curiosity. The challenge is to figure out which questions matter and try to find the best answers to those.

Praying When You Cannot Find the Words

“Prayer is a conversation, a ‘little talk with Jesus.’ Anyone can pray and everyone should pray.” While no relationship can survive without communication, we talk about prayer as if it is always simple and easy. We suggest that anyone can do it and at any time.

Formations 07.10.2016: When Laughing Is Scary

May I begin by apologizing for what is to come? I was taught to do my best not to offend people, but this text makes it hard. In fact, I’m convinced that Judges 3:12-30 offends nearly everybody’s sensibilities in some way.