Twas the Long, Dark Night Before Christmas // A Devotional for the Fourth Week of Advent, 2016

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“Because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

— Luke 1:78-79

Mary and Joseph walked for days and miles from their home in Nazareth to the town of Bethlehem.

They walked for 70-90 miles and for 4-7 days depending on who you ask.

Why?  Well, Luke tells us it was because the Emperor told them to.

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One of our favorite traditions is to put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It’s a tree that has been in my family for THIRTY YEARS and the ornaments span from the childhoods of my wife’s and mine all the way up to our own children’s ornaments.  All that to say that putting the tree up means something to us.  It’s an event chocked full of tradition and memories and each year we attempt to create an experience worthy of such an occasion! Continue reading

How (Will This Be)? // A Devotional for the Third Week of Advent, 2016

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I love Christmas!

I love the trees, the lights, the presents.  I love the all the variety of nativity scenes, carols about the coming of Christ, and the profound attempts to discover joy this time of year.

I need you to know that before you read what comes next.

But (you knew it was coming didn’t you?) I’m afraid we’re missing quite a bit of what’s going on this time of year in the original Christmas Story.

One of the things our modern version of the “Christmas Story” misses out on is the uncertainty of the whole enterprise. Continue reading

An Unexpected Gift // A Devotional for the 1st week of Advent, 2016

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Have you ever gotten a Christmas gift that you didn’t necessarily expect? Or maybe one you didn’t even appreciate?

Socks & Underwear, anyone?

I could tell you about the times this has happened to me, but my family might be reading this!  So, instead I’ll tell you about a time it happened to one of my family member! Continue reading

A Love Song // Soundtrack Part 2

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This is part of a series where I hope to join two of my life long loves together: the music I listen to, and the Scriptures I read – in a series I’m calling Soundtrack. Why? Well, because each piece will explore the music that has often marked the various chapters in my life with the soundtrack of Scripture, the Psalms.
You can read Part 1 in the series HERE.

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In 1956, a young man, who tried to make a career out of recording gospel music with Sam Phillips, was put on tour with a then 20 year old and very charismatic Elvis Presley.

He was only 23 himself and newly married, but following Elvis around on tour introduced him to a whole lot of girls who wanted to follow Elvis and anyone else who resembled a Rock and Roll star.

In an interview he later recounts the incredible temptation he faced every night – Continue reading

An Open Letter to Ms. Ferguson from a Church of Christ Minister

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Ms. Ferguson,

Thank you for your recent words in, “The Ugly in Christianity.”

Those like me in the Church of Christ need those like you to keep writing such stories, and we need to read them, hear them, and accept them as true no matter how much it may hurt to do so, because they serve as an ongoing reminder of the need to practice humility and graciousness. Stories like yours bear witness to our sins of prejudice, sectarianism, pride, and exclusivity, much less our innumerable lesser sins.  Continue reading

Jesus, Caitlyn Jenner, and The Way of Kindness

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I typically don’t follow celebrity news closely, and this is true of Caitlyn Jenner as well.  What I do follow rather acutely are the responses by people on my Facebook feed.  I can gauge the climate of an issue typically within seconds.  I am sure I am not alone in having a diverse “friend list”, but my time growing up in rural Alabama and and my ongoing work among a relatively conservative group of Christians, coupled with my time at one of the South’s most liberal seminaries usually engenders me to a wide sampling of opinions on any given issue.

Last week as news broke of Josh Duggar, a conservative Christian reality TV star who inappropriately touched girls as a young teenager – some of whom were his sisters – I saw many socially conservative Christians taking up for him, asking for others to be gracious and forgiving of his criminal activity, and essentially asking everyone to just leave him alone.

This week, as news broke of Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn Jenner,  many in the conservative Christian community not only posted their disapproval, but have resorted to outright inappropriate speech, and at times genuinely hateful discourse about another human being whose greatest “crime” is being confused about one’s own gender and the efforts taken to figure things out. Continue reading