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God Is Never Distant

The pastor steps up to the pulpit. He lays before him the outline of his sermon. There are some correction marks throughout the pages, but he is ready to preach. He lifts up his head, peers out into the sanctuary space, and notices a striking difference. This year, the pews are empty. His audience cannot be seen behind his smartphone as he broadcasts his sermon on social media. This year is different; from the pulpit, he feels alone.

January 2021 Everyday Faith Calendar

In our house, we have two little people, and they seem to be constantly going through growth spurts. Lately, my four-year-old has started using his growing as an opportunity to always have an “out” when he doesn’t want to do something. When it’s time to clean up toys or help with a small task, he likes to respond: “I am too tired to do that.” And sometimes he probably is actually tired, but we have started to talk through the difference between being tired and just not wanting to help out, even if they go hand in hand. When he declares he is too tired to do something, we have started asking him about the root of that statement. “Are you really too tired, or is helping your sister just something you don’t want to do right now?”

How to Crowdfund Your Next Ministry Project

Generosity comes up a lot this time of year. It’s part of the fabric of the traditions of this season. You give gifts as you learn about the baby in the manger who grew up to willingly give His life for our salvation. And from the love you’ve been shown, you think of others before yourself. We know that many churches struggle financially and that many pastors wish they had the funds to purchase helpful items. Congregation members are likely thinking about what they plan to give at the end of this year as well as in the upcoming year.

Christmas Service Projects for Families

It’s no surprise that Christmas is going to look different this year. Many of us won’t be having our usual big family celebrations or attending our typically packed Christmas services. Our ways of serving at Christmas, like doing food drives or giving trees, are likely impacted as well.

This year, we’ll all have to get a little creative, because people need assistance now more than ever! The pandemic has impacted many families’ incomes, so clothing, food, and gifts will likely be in short supply.

December 2020 Everyday Faith Calendar

Over the course of this year, I have had countless conversations that ended with lamenting the difficulties this year has held. When something difficult happens, it has been easy to respond to the situation by adding it to the list of wrongs 2020 has dealt out:

“2020 just won’t quit.”

 “Man, this year!”

 “Ugh, 2020!”

“Of course that happened—it’s 2020!”

“2020 is the worst!”

Gratitude When Gratefulness Won't Come

This time of year, you don’t have to walk too far into a store to find a plaque or pillow for sale with one of these words on it:

grateful

thankful

thanksgiving

gratitude.

Simple Ways to Give Thanks with Your Family

’Tis the season to give thanks! As Thanksgiving approaches, many people are considering how they can inspire and teach their families to give thanks! Of course, it’s important to give thanks year-round, not just in November, but hopefully this season can inspire a life of thanksgiving!

Here are some simple ways to show your family how to give thanks all year round!

Praying with a Thankful Spirit

In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom relates an incident that taught her always to be thankful. She and her sister, Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst Nazi prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. On entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and flea infested.

The Lord Is at Hand

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4–7

There are some days when I hear this Scripture passage and I’m ready to jump right in with the classic Sunday School children’s song: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” (Clap! Clap!)

November 2020 Everyday Faith Calendar

“How are you?”

I rarely ask that question in a conversation without receiving a response along the lines of “fine” or “doing good” or “so busy these days.” Rarely does someone respond by saying, “I am so well rested” or “My schedule is so balanced these days.” 

If we were tired before 2020 brought with it a pandemic and many other difficult national crises, we are certainly tired now. If we were feeling a strain on our schedules before 2020 brought with it endless meetings over video conferencing and virtual environments for school, worship, and everything in between, we are certainly feeling that strain now.