Reviving the Original Advent Message

Well, it’s December again, and most churches are looking different by now. Christmas trees have started popping up in sanctuaries, foyers, classrooms, and hallways. Greenery woven into wreaths and strands of garland is being hung inside and out, and multitudes of lights ensure that no one fails to notice the church’s holiday attire. In many, perhaps most, of them, a specially colored grouping of candles has been added to the display of seasonal trappings and given a prominent place in the main worship room. They are the “Advent candles,” and for millions of church-goers around the world, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the systematic lighting of these candles.

The ritualistic lighting of Advent candles is intended to Continue reading

Posted in Christmas, Faith, Family, and Culture, Forgiveness, Holidays, Insights | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Spiritual Identity Thieves ~ Protection Where It Matters Most

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be one of those “A-list” celebrities whose every personal preference seems to be cataloged and marketed? Cameras capture every aspect of their lives, and it seems like everybody wants to be them. In case you tend to worry whether you’d be able to handle all that, let me put your mind at ease. Very few people in the world will ever know or care how you and I were Continue reading

Posted in Devotional, Faith, Family, and Culture, In the News, Insights, Right Side Up, Wake Up Calls | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Resurrecting Gratitude in a Narcissistic Nation

Sometimes a simple facial expression can be like applying a giant, luminescent highlighter to a simple comment. I saw that illustrated by one of our grandchildren one Halloween evening years ago. For some reason, the start of his own Halloween trick-or-treating adventure was delayed that year, giving him a chance to help answer the door and hand out candy to a few other kids before leaving. After watching some of them rudely grabbing the goodies from the bowl before it could be offered to them, his little four-year-old face expressed something between shocked disbelief and profound incredulity as he Continue reading

Posted in Faith, Family, and Culture, Insights, Right Side Up, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Living the Dream ~ Or Something Better?

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a confession to make. I bought a lottery ticket once. And in case you’re thinking about hitting me up for a loan, you should also know that I didn’t win anything. The whole endeavor turned out to be a total loss, but that was precisely the outcome I expected from the beginning, so at least I was never in danger of slipping into a major depressive episode. I should mention, too, that Continue reading

Posted in Faith, Family, and Culture, Insights, Right Side Up | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Heaven’s Wounded Warrior ~ A Veterans’ Day Reminder

Living in a country where memorials of one kind or another dot the landscape can make dealing with a holiday like Veterans’ Day a bit challenging. Reminders of sacrifices made and the cost of victories won are everywhere, but this Veterans’ Day, my thoughts are captivated by monuments that aren’t carved out of granite and marble or engraved on brass plaques. I think there is no more fitting memorial to be considered or basis for honor to be bestowed than the scars borne by those who engaged enemies in our place, fought battles on our behalf, and whose torn, broken, burned, Continue reading

Posted in Faith, Family, and Culture, Insights, Veterans Day | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sometimes There’s Simply No Middle Ground

Sometimes we hear a lot of hoopla about decisions that don’t really matter and we Christians can feel comfortable in just standing aside and ignoring it all. This is not one of those times. In a few days, every seat in Virginia’s General Assembly will be up for grabs, and every one of us has a decision to make. Tuesday, November 5th, will be a significant day for those of us who live here, but every American will face similar challenges in the year ahead. The issues confronting us here, like those we face nationally, affect the basic Continue reading

Posted in Faith and Politics, In the News, Insights, Right Side Up, Wake Up Calls | 8 Comments