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10 Steps to a Calmer, More Christ-Focused Advent

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600700Image: What Wondrous Love “Festival of Lights”
by John August Swanson. Used with permission.

The word “advent” comes from “ad” meaning “to” as well as from “vent,” a form of a Latin word meaning “coming.” Think of the first word in: veni vidi vici—I came, I saw, I conquered. So: to come. For many Christians, the first Sunday in Advent—November 29 in 2020—marks the beginning of the Christian new year. Advent is the season when Christians look back and look forward; we look back on the first advent, or coming, of Messiah, and we look forward to the second advent—his return. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, many believers observe Advent as a season of expectant waiting, during which we prepare our hearts. 

Two millennia ago as Israel awaited their Messiah, Herod—the kind of guy who ordered the killing of his own son—sat on …

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Urban Legends of Church History

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In their new book (launching today!), Urban Legends of Church History: 40 Common Misconceptions, my colleagues Drs. John Adair and Michael Svigel dispel dozens of oft-repeated myths related to the history of the church. These friends take on important issues like the canonization of the Bible, the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, and salvation by grace through faith—important fallacies, exaggerations, or misunderstandings from the early church, the medieval period, the Protestant era, and the modern age. Each chapter both corrects the urban legend and includes an application section highlighting implications for us today.

Besides the forty major myths, Adair and Svigel also include brief “Mini Myths,” features addressing common legends floating around in popular culture. One of these counters the legend that the Roman Catholic Church once had a female Pope; another corrects the popular Christmastime claim that St. Nicholas punched Arius in the face at the Council …

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Thinking about Singles

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According to the North Carolina Family Council, among 30- to 64-year-old Christians, close to 40 percent are single—with that number rising as people age beyond 65. Yet single people often feel invisible within their church communities, which tend to emphasize family life. So how can we be more inclusive?

Mention positive single people as role models. If you’re a speaker or small group leader, include examples of single people. They might be from Bible stories such as Jesus, Daniel and Paul or Mary and Martha. Or they might be from history, such as Fanny Crosby or George Frideric Handel. And while you’re at it, broaden references to men and women’s vocations beyond breadwinning and parenting.

Include single people. Mention them in prayer. Invite them to join you for small-group gatherings such as movie nights, dinner parties and your kids’ soccer games, even when all other adults present are married. Single …

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