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    Better Than Before

    The past few week have changed us. No person, community, or country remains untouched. We’ve stayed inside our home day after day. We’ve grieved over loss—personally and corporately. We’ve feared for our livelihood and wondered how long we can make ends meet. Life won’t be the same following COVID-19. But as we slowly emerge from national and international shutdown, I want to leave better than before, lessons learned, life lived differently. Here are a few things I’m trying to take hold of in this season:   Life’s fragility. If there’s anything COVID-19 has confronted and disbanded within us, it’s our sense of invincibility. As we stare at daily rising death…

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    The Gift of “God With Us”

    A wailing scream pierces the air. The new mother cries tears of sheer exhaustion and joy. The father stands speechless, astounded, holding a wriggly bundle in his arms. Mom and dad lock eyes and they silently ask each other, “What should we name him?” (Para español, lea abajo.) A name means something. Depending on the culture, a name implies family respect, honor, and tradition. In the Latino culture, for example, parents typically name their firstborn child after the father or mother. If the father is Luis, the baby boy is Luis. If the mother is Elizabeth, the baby girl is Elizabeth. In doing so, the parents preserve their family legacy.…

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    In the Shadow of Christmas is a Cross

      Christmas, for many, is colored with twinkling lights, the sound of singing, bright colored packages topped with elegant bows, cookies, candy, parties and laughter. But for others, Christmas is colored with the stark reality of roaring fires that ravage neighborhoods, hospital rooms, funeral homes, broken relationships, drunken relatives, and memories of those whose faces are missing from thier lives. As we teach our children about Jesus, God’s greatest gift to the world, we must not forget to teach them that the manger was shadowed by a cross. The Messiah in the manger was destined to be a man of sorrows acquainted with all our grief, bearing all our sin…

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    The Gift of “God With Us”

    (Para español, lea abajo.) A wailing scream pierces the air. The new mother cries tears of sheer exhaustion and joy. The father stands speechless, astounded, holding a wriggly bundle in his arms. Mom and dad lock eyes and they silently ask each other, “What should we name him?” A name means something. Depending on the culture, a name implies family respect, honor, and tradition. In the Latino culture, for example, parents typically name their firstborn child after the father or mother. If the father is Luis, the baby boy is Luis. If the mother is Elizabeth, the baby girl is Elizabeth. In doing so, the parents preserve their family legacy.…

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    Christmas Eve Waiting

    Your house bustles with activity. Christmas Eve services—everyone “get into the car.” Family gatherings and gift exchanges. Last minute baking.  Today busyness abounds in most of our homes. But infused into all the hustle and bustle is a sense of expectation—of waiting.  Tomorrow we will rise to celebrate our Savior. We will give gifts because He gave us the greatest gift. We will sing and laugh and feast together because ultimately He came near. But today, we wait.  I like what C.S. Lewis said about waiting: . . . I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you…

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    Give Thanks for a Little

    "Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot." — West African Proverb I tore those simple words out of a health and wellness magazine a year or two ago and hung them on the fridge. After a while they started to blend in, feeling ordinary just like the other papers and cards and magnets cluttered around them. I'd glance at them occasionally, but their poignancy seldom stuck with me.  The page hung that way for weeks, and even months, until I started reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts Devotional. The book’s challenge to count my blessings and daily write them down—until I reach one thousand of them in…

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    Spiritual Plagiarism: How We Steal God’s Glory

    I never cheated in school. I was always too afraid. Afraid of a big scarlet "F" on top my paper. Afraid of an ominous visit to the principal’s office. Afraid of the terrible consequences listed in the class syllabus. But lately I'm learning that plagiarism isn't confined to the English classroom or the inventor’s office—it threatens our spiritual life too. In his book Prayer, Tim Keller summarizes the essence of sin as failing to glorify and thank God (Romans 1:18-21). He explains: Think about plagiarism for a moment. Why is plagiarism taken so seriously? It is claiming that you came up with an idea yourself when you did not. It…

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    The Polarities of Advent

    The polarities of good and evil erupt in the larger metanarrative of salvation history – creation, fall, redemption, new creation. The birth of Christ, a hugely joyous occasion to celebrate, is followed by His death and suffering – the whole reason the baby is born. Other polarities surface: the cost of leaving heaven and entering fallen earth; Mary’s delight of being chosen by God to carry His Son and a tarnished reputation; the worship of the Christ Child by the humble shepherds and wise men from the East and the wailing of the murder of all baby boys under 2 years old as ordered by the paranoid and evil king…