Month: December 2014

A Christmas Eve Prayer

Gracious, loving, and merciful God. Those lyrics from “O Little Town of Bethlehem hold so much meaning…The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Just as it was at the first Christmas, this is a time for many filled with heartache. We have seen division, hatred, darkness this year globally and for many, personally. And so, Christmas is marked by pain, loneliness, fear, and confusion. But, you are familiar with this sorrow. At the time of your arrival as a baby, the world was full of these things. Parents were losing children because of a government that was threatened by the promise of you. A young girl was facing rejection because of her choice to be obedient. Her family was turned away because their presence made people uncomfortable. Your people, The Israelites, had been waiting for a word from you for 400 years.

And your answer to their heartache was for The Word they waited on to be wrapped up in flesh. The one who had been the agent of creation, who had been and still holds all things together, left his throne to become man. We are grateful that you never gave up being God, but that you did see fit to also become like us, to step into skin, into the mess we made of your perfect creation…and by being both God and man, you created the possibility for us to be reconciled with our Creator.

This is the beauty of Christmas. That, at just the right time, according to Your plan, Father, you sent your Son, to become like us. To walk among us. To feel pain, loneliness, fear, confusion. Not to fix our mess from afar but to walk with us in it. The story of Christmas without the context of Easter is lacking. We have hope not only because you put on flesh and came as a little baby, but because you lived a life we had no hope of living, you chose to face death on our behalf, and you conquered death when you rose again. Your birth, life, death, and resurrection, gave us hope and it continues to give us hope.

We pause now and ask that you would breath hope into the hurting places we carry with us tonight and pour your light into the darkness that seems so heavy in our world right now.

Thank you that joy is possible even in sorrow because we have a high priest who knows what it is like to walk this road. Thank you that joy is possible because you have defeated the power of sin and are still offering new life to those who believe. Thank you that there is reason to celebrate now and every day because you came to reconcile, you came that we might have life to the fullest. And that life is only found in you.

Just as you, Christ, came to dwell among men, all those years ago, You, Holy Spirit, dwell among us now. So when we seek satisfaction in things that will not satisfy, when we search for solutions that will not bring peace, remind us, that our satisfaction, and the ultimate solution invaded this world as a baby…and all authority rests on HIS shoulders. We can cease striving because He is sovereign. And while our God is not tame, He is good.

And Lord, we confess that all too often we find ourselves wrapped up in defending your character rather than reflecting your character. You have asked us to live out the beauty of Christmas in our lives, to follow your lead as we step into the hurting world around us. To love others, not because they value the things we value, but because we find common ground in our inability to rescue ourselves. We find common ground in our need for a Creator who became the creature so that we might find a place in the family of God. Help us, as your people, as a church, as individuals, to echo the beauty of Christmas all year long. The hopes and fears of all the years are still met only in you.



Student Ministry. It’s a funny world. Constantly changing. We have just a few years to help students understand The Gospel and help them find their place in the family of God. But in a culture that is getting busier and busier and defining success by fatigue, in a culture that no longer values attending church as a family, how do you help students understand?

In praying and prepping for our Spring teaching series for Wednesday night student services, my heart kept returning to the lack of connection our students have with the whole of the church. Our students show up and press in on Wednesdays, surrounded by peers, but on Sunday mornings, the pews are empty save a handful who come because “that is what my family does”.  Our church notices the absence and everyone has ideas about how to get students there. But often times, we are wanting the old methods to work in today’s context, and that just doesn’t cut it.

I think a big reason we aren’t seeing students in church is because they don’t see the value of the church and they don’t feel valued by the church. We have failed to communicate…and to live in the benefit of the family of God.

Sponsoring a child and adopting a child are two very different things*. I sponsor a little girl in El Salvador. Once a month, some money goes out of my account to provide for some basic needs she has. On occasion, I write her a letter telling her about my family or my job or my favorite color. It’s great. I love that I get to support her in a small way. I hope to meet her one day and hug her neck. But, the “requirement” of our relationship is minimal as is the benefit. Were I to adopt this little one, things would look very different. There would be a language gap we would have to learn to navigate. There would be tears that I would have to wipe away and tantrums I’d have to learn to react to appropriately. She would have to deal with an impatient mama. She would have to wait for me to fix her meals. She would hate me for not being gentle enough when combing out her tangled hair. I would have to discipline and she would hate to be disciplined. But, I would know what it is like to love someone as a mother. I would know the joy of seeing her grow and overcome challenges. I would be able to hold her and comfort her. She would teach me about having the trust of a child. She would make me laugh in ways only a mother does. She would twirl and spin and let me delight in her. These are difficulties and benefits that don’t come with a distant, minimal relationship. I am not void of responsibility for her, but I can only do so much from here. She has a place in my heart but due to the nature of our relationship, she does not always have a place in my awareness.

Some of you may know too, the difficulty of loving a family member who has chosen to live apart from the family. She is still your aunt, sister, cousin. He is still your brother, dad, uncle. But they have cut themselves off from the unit. And in this distance, they miss out on the benefit (along with the challenge) of being a part of the family. And, they are not the only ones missing out. The whole family is now different, less than. That family member brings something to the table that no other cousin, sibling, parent can and in their absence, the family is without the benefit of that relationship.

The Church is the same. We can choose to be a part of the family or apart from the family. Choosing to be a part of Her will be harder. There will be fights and wounds. There will be wars of words. There will be, often unwanted, discipline. But there will also be walking through hard days together. There will be encouragement for the weak times and mutual celebration for the victory days. There will be tears shed with the hurting and laughter in the unexpected ridiculous. And the family needs you to be a part of Her. You bring questions that we need to consider. You bring laughter that will make us better. You bring abilities that no one else does. And if you are apart from us, we will be lacking. You and I, if we are in Christ, will always belong to the family of God. We cannot lose our place at the table. However, we have a choice to make. Be a part of or apart from our family.


*Child sponsorship is highly valuable and can change lives. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please check out Compassion International.

Compassion is a holistic child development ministry that focuses on the full development of the child.  Because of that, we release children from poverty, not merely sustain them through it. Many organizations focus on only one aspect of poverty. Compassion also recognizes that the children we serve have unique needs and unique gifts. Therefore, we work at the grassroots level to identify and meet the specific needs of the world’s poorest children through church partnership. In doing so, Compassion addresses the spiritual, economic, social and physical aspects of poverty so that children may become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.

What Makes Adventure?


1) a>an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks

b> the encountering of risks

2) an exciting or remarkable experience

I think I may have mentioned before that a word friends often use to describe me is “brave”.  I have shared with some that I do not understand this assessment of my life, because if I’m being honest, I feel far less than brave. I have not taken risks in my life, at least by my own measure.

I look at the stories others have lived and feel small, afraid, weak. I can hardly get through a chapter of “Kisses from Katie” in one sitting because I long for adventure like the one she is living. I long to adopt, to change lives, to be uncomfortable…but comfortably uncomfortable. Is that a thing?

I meet people who live with passion that could shake the earth and move mountains, and I wonder what I missed.

But, as I’ve been reflecting on all of this the past month or so, I’m discovering something fascinating. Adventure is far less about what and where you do what you do. Being brave is much less about grand gestures.

Confession time. I’ve been an online dater (and for several reasons, I have not found it enjoyable.) I found many profiles stating that they want a woman who is adventurous. I’ve always been baffled by this. Adventure is so broad. Of course, most of the time, this quality requirement is paired with a picture of the guy hanging upside down from a cliff, but nonetheless, I wonder what they really are searching for. After all, there will come a day when your body will no longer allow you to hang from a cliff. Is adventure over at that point?

Some of the bravest people I know would never hang from a cliff or swim with sharks. But, everyday, they wake up and step back into the heartache of foster care and adoption. They step into the mess of helping hospice patients face the end of their days with dignity. They continue to put their hearts to melodies for the world to scrutinize. These brave ones may never have their own reality show or write a novel based on their grand gestures, but they are brave. They are adventurers.

Adventure is not an event. It is an attitude. It is showing up every day, watching for and entering into the risks of relationships, of unknowns. It is giving away your last $20 to someone when you aren’t sure where the next $20 will come from. It is loving your family member that doesn’t know how to receive love. Adventure is asking for help again when the last 10 times you have been burned. Being brave is holding on to the vision that The Holy Spirit has delivered to you even when the voices of logic say it’s crazy…or reckless. Adventure is stepping into difficult things. But, here’s the thing, I want my adventures to be for more than an adrenaline rush.

So yes, maybe my dating profile should also read “searching for an adventurer”. But let me clarify… I want adventures beyond scaling Mt. Everest.  I want adventures that move Mt. Everest. I want adventures that reach eternity.


 “Adventure.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <;.