Advent: Hope

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The season of Advent has begun; it’s the official new year of the church calendar. This year I’m honestly filled with anticipation and hope.

Last night in our home, we set up an Advent wreath of sorts. We shared with our boys the story behind the colorful setting. There are a few different ways people approach the meaning of the colored candles surrounding the central, white Advent candle. This year, I chose for them to represent four words of life: hope, love, peace, joy. Continue reading

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An Advent Study: Underdogs and Outsiders

underdogs-and-outsidersI recently finished a new book that hit the shelves a few weeks back. It’s entitled Underdogs and Outsiders, written by my good friend, Tom Fuerst. Though the main title may catch one off guard – noting it’s a study particularly written for the Advent season – it actually highlights the exact thrust of the book.

This new work from Fuerst is an Advent study in how God used five unexpected women – underdogs and outsiders, to be exact – to accomplish his redemptive purposes. In particular, these five women are found in Matthew’s genealogy – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and, or course, Mary. Continue reading

Christmas: Why It Should Wait

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I have never been shy about my love for Christmas; not just the day, but the whole season. It’s a magical, beautiful, stirring time given to draw us into the story of Christ’s coming.

In the past, I’ve been known to launch into Christmas music on November 1st. I once pondered if it was ok to start the tradition on October 25th, since it was an even 2 months prior to Christmas.

But over the past few years, I’ve had a change of heart. I now look to wait for the Christmas season a bit longer, at least until the season of Advent begins.

Why the change of heart?

There are a few reasons. Continue reading

Advent 4: The Christmas Story Connected to the Past Story

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When we turn to the pages of Matthew’s gospel account, we see a story transpiring right from the beginning. It’s a story that’s been going on for quite some time.

We know this because that’s how ch.1 begins. It’s another stressful genealogy recounting name after name, many of which we are unsure of how to pronounce. But the genealogy is a clue that a story has been unfolding, a very ancient story that harkens back to the Jewish father, Abraham (and Luke takes us back even further). Continue reading

Advent 3: The Ordinary in Extraordinary Redemption

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The Christmas story in Scripture is embedded with some extraordinary stuff. Angels announcing salvation, visionary dreams, prophetic songs, mouths being struck silent. This is no ordinary moment in time!

Yet, in my recent reading of the first chapters of Luke’s gospel, I’ve been struck by something quite the opposite. I’ve been noticing God’s redemptive work within the ordinary. Continue reading