A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 2:1-10

Lord God Almighty, my Heavenly Father, when you made this world, You created it to be full of light and life. Yet through willful rebellion and disdain for Your perfect gifts, men chose darkness instead of light and death instead of life. 

Tragically, to my own hurt, I have continued in this pattern. Apart from Christ, I was dead in my trespasses and sins in which I once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. 

I once lived in the passions of my flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. Because of my sinful and subsequent choices, I was a child of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But You, God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved me, even when I was dead in my trespasses, made me alive together with Christ! It is by grace that I have been saved. 

You, Lord, raised me up with Jesus and seated me with Him in the heavenly places. This has happened not because You have seen anything in me. It has happened because I am now in Christ Jesus. You did this so that in the coming ages, You will show the immeasurable riches of Your grace in kindness toward me in Christ Jesus.

It is by Your unfathomable grace that I have been saved through faith. This is not of my own doing; it is the gift of God. It is not a result of my works, so that I may never boast about anything I have done. 

You have made me Your workmanship, Your masterpiece, Your poem. I have been created anew in Christ Jesus for good works, things You have prepared in eternity past for me to do for You. 

Now, please help me today to demonstrate this new life that I have in Christ. Give me eyes to see the needs of others. Give me A heart that is burdened for others. And give me hands to serve my fellow man by walking boldly and joyfully with You to bless their lives with the good works You have created me to do. Amen. 

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 1:15-23

Dear Lord God, my heavenly Father,

I praise You for being the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. You have revealed Yourself as the Father through the Son by the Spirit. You have also revealed Your will through Your written Word. You have not hidden Yourself. You desire to be truly known.

Yet I did not know You as You really are. My eyes were blind. I was without hope. I had no inheritance. I was spiritually anemic. I had no personal, intimate insight into Your will, Your works, or Your ways. I did not choose to pursue You. In my willful spiritual ignorance, I was dead in my trespasses and sins. 

But You pursued me. You sent Christ to die on the cross. You raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in the heavenly places. There, He rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers. Jesus is now in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments. Nothing is exempt from His rule – and not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all. He has the final word on everything. His name is above every name. Jesus is the supreme and authoritative Lord of all. 

Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart and giving me faith in the Lord Jesus. May the very core of my being be flooded with the light of Your truth by the Holy Spirit. O God, keep my eyes focused and clear, so that I can see exactly what it is You are calling me to do. Help me to grow in my knowledge of who You are and cherish the sure hope that I have – the riches of Your glorious, guaranteed inheritance.

Help me to access the immeasurable, the unlimited, and the surpassing greatness of Your dynamic power in me and in all who believe. I do not want to live in my own energy. Help me, instead to live according to the power You displayed when Jesus was raised from the dead. I proclaim that the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is the same power at work in me.  When I feel like I’m in a power struggle, remind me that I do not fight for power, but fight against fear, anxiety, discouragement, frustration and pride with power you have given me through Christ.

Lord, enable me to grasp the immensity of the glorious way of life You have for all who follow Jesus. Produce more and more love in me for all God’s people. Help me to live in such a way that my unwavering faith in the Lord Jesus and my outpouring of love to all God’s people will be seen and known by others. When others think of me, I want them to thank You.

Now, I ask You to empower the work of Your church. You have made Jesus the head of the church. And You have placed me in Your church as part of His body. May Jesus so speak and act through His church and through my life that He fills everything in the world with His presence.

Amen. 

***

This prayer is based on the truths found in Ephesians 1:15-23. Some of the words and phrases are taken directly from the English Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, the Contemporary English Version, the PHILLIPS translation, The Message, and the New Living Translation.

How do I pray on this Presidential Inauguration Day?

by Lead Pastor Chad Allen

Today is our nation’s presidential inauguration day, and thousands of Christians will affirm the need to lift up our nation in prayer in this significant moment, especially in the midst of such a disheartening and volatile political environment.  But how should we pray?  Themes will revolve around peace for our nation, wisdom for our leaders, trust in God, healing for our land, and many other good and needed themes.  But today, I found myself also thinking of the moment when a disciple of Jesus asked Him to teach them how to pray. 

The prayer life of Jesus fascinated His followers.  Jesus prayed with precision, intimacy, power and insight like no other.  Of course He did, He is God in the flesh.  But we too have the ability to pray like Jesus did, because if we are in Christ, we are God’s children with an intimate relationship with God the Father, through His Son and in the power of His Spirit. SO, we too can pray with precision, intimacy, power and insight as well.  So how do we harness that kind of prayers for our nation?  Well, let’s go to the pace where Jesus responded to the request on how to pray and then apply them to our prayers for the United States.

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” Luke 11:1–4 (ESV)

This, as well as the other example of prayer gave us in Matthew 6:9-13 often called, “The Lord’s Prayer”, is not intended to be a collection of words and phrases that we memorize and then repetitiously and religious recite.  It was a template that Jesus gave as an example on how to approach God the Father and what type of themes we can pray around.  So, let’s look at how we can apply these verses to praying for our nation.

“Father, Hallowed be your name” –

Father, Your name alone is holy.  There is no other name that deserves the honor and reverence that Yours does.  We do not lift up any name above Yours.  We do not put our hope and trust in the name of any person in governmental authority.  No man or woman is like you are – holy, righteous, sovereign, just, loving, merciful and gracious.  So today Father, even though we pray for the hearts, minds and wills of our leaders, we do so with the complete belief and awareness that Your name is supreme, and that Jesus Christ is the name above all names on heaven and on earth.  No matter what names are in the headlines or what faces dominate our screens, may You find our faith, hope, trust, adoration and reverence for Your name without comparison or rival.

“Your kingdom come” –

Hundreds if not thousands of human kingdoms and empires have risen and fallen over humanity’s history.  Looking back, we see how foolish it is to wrap our identity, worth, value or hope in our nation.  We even admit that we can’t remember many of the issues that we seemed so passionate about just a few years ago, let alone decades.  What a reminder that it is Your kingdom that is active now, that is coming fully and finally in the near future and that it is Your kingdom that will stand forever.  Our heart’s greatest desire is for Your rule over the hearts and lives of people everywhere to continue to advance until Jesus returns and establishes the kingdom in complete perfection.  Father, please daily remind us that we are citizens of your kingdom first.  May we be found exceedingly guilty of putting You and Your kingdom above all other interests in our lives.  May Your kingdom, and that which reflects and advances Your kingdom be the first priority of our hearts.

“Give us each day our daily bread” –

It is Your hand oh Father that provides.  All our needs are met in You alone.  You use education, employment, government and the generosity of others to provide our most essential needs and resources.  Help us never to confuse who’s in charge and from Whom all resources flow.  We are grateful to live in a country that has the means to help those who need it, but we acknowledge that even that ability originates from Your hand.  So, Father help us not to fear, and not to stress about the One who provides our daily needs. Find us grateful and thankful each day for what You allow us to have and how you creatively provide it.

“and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us”” –

We are grateful that we are forgiven in Christ, and we acknowledge the value in continuing to agree with You, through confession to You, that when we drift into sinful attitudes and behaviors, it displeases You, hurts others, erodes our intimacy with You, and negatively impacts our credibility with those who do not Know You.  We confess that we have failed You in the areas above:

  • We confess that we have had moments where we put more trust in an incoming our outgoing President’s name above Yours. We confess that we have been guilty of speaking confidently about a man or woman in authority in a way we should have been speaking about Your name. Please forgive us
  • We confess that we have been found guilty of investing more words, energy, conversations and passion into a fading earthly kingdom rather than your now present and ever-coming eternal kingdom. We confess that thoughts we have thought, words we have said, and posts we have written have made us more of an evangelist for a human leader and for our country than and evangelist for the One who gave up His life for our sins and has secured a place for us in His kingdom.  Please forgive us
  • We confess that we are quick to be discontent, greedy, consumeristic, and worldly.  We confess how quickly we forget how even in our most impoverished state as an American, we are among the wealthiest in the world. We confess that our understanding between a “need” and a “want” has been blurred. Please forgive us
  • Father, we confess that we have hurt others with our words and opinions, both our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and those who need You.  We have been guilty of division, disunity, and earthly mindedness.  We are so grateful for the forgiveness of Christ and His blood that covers these sins.  Help us to repent, apologize and initiate and purse healing and reconciliation where needed because you have called us to a ministry that reconciles not injures.

“and lead us not into temptation” –

Father, You take no delight in our sins, or in the temptations that lead us to sin.  We know that today we will be tempted to sin in word and in deed, in thoughts and in actions.  We know that today there are unique landmines of temptation that await us, and which will detonate into hate, discouragement, fear or other sinful attitudes and behaviors.  Father, let us see the way out that you provide with each temptation as You have promised. Help us to not yield to the sinful invitations of today.  May the peace, hope, rest, joy and confidence that we have I Christ rule our hearts and minds this day.

I pray in the mightiest name, Jesus Christ, Amen!

I encourage you to take five to ten minutes and read the Luke 11:1-4 passage and pray through this prayer, not necessarily word for word, but theme by theme, thought by thought.  Make it your own.  Personalize it. Lean into it.  And on this day, when we hope and pray for a peaceful day for our nation, may your prayer time alone, or with others, refresh and fix your hope and trust in Christ no matter the highs and lows our nation goes through.

live new,

Chad Allen

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 1:11-14

Dear Lord God, 

You are worthy of all my praise. You have a purpose and a plan for everything, including me. You are always at work to accomplish Your perfect will. I have always been part of the overall purpose You are working out in everything and in everyone. It is Your purpose that will stand. You have always known the plans that You have had for me, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give me a future and a hope. 

You long to lavish me with an undeserved inheritance! You have united me with Christ when I heard the word of truth and believed that Jesus died to pay for my sins and rose for my justification. You have enabled and empowered me to place my hope in Christ alone. In Christ, I have died to sin and I now live to righteousness so that I might bring praise and glory to Your name. 

You have put Your stamp of ownership on me by giving to me the Holy Spirit You promised to all who trust Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a down payment from You – the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that I’ll get everything else You have planned for me. He gave me Your Spirit so I could praise and glorify You.

Now, help me not quench or grieve Your Spirit. It’s not by my might or by my power that I seek to live this day, but by Your Spirit. Teach me to walk in the Spirit so that I will not carry out the desires of my flesh. Fill me with Your Spirit so I can bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in all my relationships. 

And as I live this way, in submission and obedience to Your indwelling Spirit, allow me to bring praise and glory to Your name. 

Amen.

***

This prayer is based on the truths found in Ephesians 1:11-14. Some of the words and phrases are taken directly from the English Standard Version, The Message, the New Life Version, and the New Living Translation.

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 1:3-14

All praise, blessing, and honor belong to You, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are prepared to bless all who come to You through Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. 

But rather than come to You, like a sheep that has gone astray, I have often chosen to go my own way. I have not been holy as You are holy. I am not blameless in Your sight. All of my righteousness is filthy rags.

Yet long before You laid down earth’s foundations, You had me in mind, had settled on me as the focus of Your love, to be made holy and to be seen as without fault through Christ.

In love You predestined me to be adopted to be Your child through Jesus Christ. You took pleasure in doing this, fulfilling Your plan for me, to the praise of Your glorious grace. You have blessed me immeasurably through Your Beloved Son. 

In Christ, I have been redeemed through His shed blood. I have been forgiven of my trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He has lavished upon me. 

Your plan to save me is a display of Your wisdom and understanding. You have made known to me the mystery You took such delight in unfolding. You revealed Your long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Christ, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

Because I am united with Christ, I have received an inheritance from You, for You chose me in advance, and You made everything work out according to Your plan so that I might live to the praise of Your glory.

And now that I have heard the truth, the Good News, You saved me and enabled me to believe in Christ. You have identified me as Your own by giving me the Holy Spirit, whom You promised long ago. Your Spirit is Your guarantee, the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that I will inherit everything You have planned for me. 

So, today, help me to live a life to the praise of Your glorious grace. Give the a passion to show and share Your gracious gospel to a world so desperately in need of You.

Amen

***

This prayer is based on the truths found in Ephesians 1:3-14. Some of the words and phrases are taken directly from the English Standard Version, The Message, and the New Living Translation.

Be a Daniel 

by Chad Allen, Lead Pastor

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;  – Daniel 2:20-21

These words were written, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, by a young man who was forcefully removed from his homeland, taken by his captors to a foreign land and then stripped of everything that would tie him to his home, his country, his faith, and his identity as a Jew.  

It was the prophet Daniel who spoke these words around 600 BC as an exile in Babylon,  a powerful, beautiful, pagan, arrogant, polytheistic and wicked city under the reign of an evil king named  Nebuchadnezzar, who just sentenced Daniel and his friends to die (read Daniel 1-2 for more insight).

Daniel was in a culture that was hostile to his faith, under the reign of a cruel and ungodly king. And in this environment, when his very life was threatened, what was his response?  Prayer and trust in God. He did not place his hope in the nation’s leaders, he did not lead an uprise, he didn’t gloat when things went his way, he wasn’t divisive or combative, and he definitely did not attack those who shared his faith in God.  Instead we see him trusting God, leading others to pray and trust God, living faithfully and peaceably in a place he didn’t want to be, ruled by a leader he did not choose to be under.  Daniel is a great example for us, especially in the era we find ourselves in nowadays.

The above verses speak to God’s sovereignty and power. He is in charge of all seasons, and He installs and uninstalls leaders. If the people of God truly believe God and His Word, then our behavior, words and attitudes will demonstrate that belief.

What should be true of believers in Christ is that we are not shaken when things don’t go the way we want. Our world is not turned upside down, our joy is not stolen, our hope and trust in God is not diminished , and our mission to live for Christ, share the Gospel and love others well, is not aborted when we find ourselves in a season of hardship or disappointment.

Simply said, if you find yourself living in a Babylon, then be a Daniel.   If you think you are under the reign of a  Nebuchadnezzar, then be a Daniel. 

Our hope and trust are in the Lord not in a person, policies, or a political party. As I have said before, our hope and trust are not in the one sitting in the oval office, but in the One who sits upon the throne of heaven.

So let’s live like it. 

Chad Allen

Lead Pastor Cuyahoga Valley Church

Vaccines and the Christian Worldview

by Chad Allen, Lead Pastor

With the COVID vaccines beginning to roll out, there are both questions and concerns that have been emerging among the body of Christ. Like masks, there are a variety of different views that people are expressing.  Ultimately our stance as a church is that people will make decisions based on personal convictions since the Bible is silent on vaccines.

The way we interact with others on this topic is another opportunity for us to show Christian maturity and charity in how we express our personal opinions, especially when we disagree.  We have a range of people in our church from those who can’t wait to get the vaccine to those who are convinced it may be the mark of the beast written of in Revelation.

I recommend this article and podcast from Albert Mohler. As a historian, analyst, and theologian, he masterfully lays out thoughtful points from a Christian worldview on the the topic of vaccines.  

I hope this helps as you navigate your personal choices and interact with others on the topic.  Feel free to pass on as well!

Praying for New Life in Christ

by Rick Duncan, CVC Founding Pastor

This prayer may be particularly helpful in those seasons when one is being assaulted with death, suffering, or affliction. It’s a Scripture-led prayer for someone who longs for more New Life in Christ.

***

O God, You are my life. You have breathed into me the breath of life, and I have become a living being (Genesis 2:7). My very existence and my being flow from You. In You I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28). But I have more than just physical life. Father, You have made me spiritually and eternally alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Dear Father, I give my life to You to be filled with Your life. As much as is possible in this fallen world, I return to You — body, soul, and spirit; heart, mind, and will. As best I can, I return to You as the Source of Life. May I be one with You even as Jesus was one with You (John 10:30, 17:21). Let Your life flow through me throughout this day.

You, Jesus, came that I might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). You are the Vine and I am a true branch of Yours (John 15:5). I admit that am merely a frail branch. But You have made it possible for me to have full union with You, the True Vine. So, I now have You, Jesus, and that means that I have Your life (1 John 5:12). Yes, Christ Jesus, You indeed are now my life (Colossians 3:4).

O Holy Spirit, let the rivers of living water flow through my heart, soul, mind, and strength (John 7:38). You are the God who gives life to the dead (Romans 4:17). And if You, the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in me, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to my mortal body through His Spirit, who lives in me (Romans 8:11). I believe that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

Christ in me is my hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). May the triumphant life Jesus be evident in my life. Help me reign in life through the life of Christ in me. For if, when I was Your enemy, I was reconciled to You through the death of Your Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall I be saved through His life (Romans 5:10)? So, I consecrate my life fully to the Lord Jesus Christ, to be a vessel of His triumphant life. O God, fill me with the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in my body, soul, and spirit.

Lord, I now claim the resurrection triumph of Jesus Christ and the power of His empty tomb against all forms of death and destruction that have come against me. Jesus, through Your great work, help me to cut off every attempt of my enemies to steal, kill, or destroy the abundant life. As death has no mastery over Jesus now (Romans 6:9), may death have no mastery over me for I am united with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17).

I am in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30) and Christ is in me (Colossians 1:27). In the name of Jesus, I claim authority over all forms of bondage and death that may arise against me. Jesus has triumphed over all my enemies (Colossians 2:13-15). Therefore, I claim the shed blood and the resurrection power of Christ against my enemies and against their devices in the mighty name of Jesus Christ and to His everlasting glory.

I have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life. I present my life to You, Jesus, to be filled with Your life. I choose to live in Your strength, Lord, and by Your mighty life.

Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired and influenced by The “Life” Prayer found at the Wild at Heart ministry. Many of the words in this prayer have been taken directly from the website.

December 2020

Dear CVC Family,

We have some important updates for you as we begin the month of December.  Please read the info below!  

VIRTUAL ADVENT TREE

We still have plenty of giving opportunities available for CVC Families and CVC Missions.  Please note: we’re asking that you turn in the CVC Family gift cards by this Sunday, December 6.  Gift cards can be dropped in the offering boxes throughout the church.  Don’t forget to write your name and the gift code on the envelope! 

We will continue collecting donations for CVC Missions through December 31.  Check out http://www.cvconline.org/advent to find the list of giving opportunities.  Need help?  Feel free to call our front desk at 440.746.0404. 

CVC KIDS AND CVC YOUTH MINISTRY UPDATES

I’m sure you know that COVID cases have continued to increase across Northeast Ohio.  Several of our staff members have dealt with COVID in their homes and some of our volunteers have begun to deal with it as well.  Due to the ongoing concern for everyone’s safety, we are temporarily changing our CVC Kids and CVC Youth offerings. 

CVC Kids is encouraging families to worship together for this month.  We will not be offering Sunday School classes or childcare in December.  We will instead be providing online opportunities for CVC Kids like the Advent Challenge!  Find out more about it at www.cvconline.org/cvckids.  

CVC Youth will offer Collide one final time this Sunday, December 6, and then Collide will not meet for the remainder of December.  Impact LifeGroups will not meet for the remainder of December either.  For more information about the online opportunities that will be available, head to http://www.cvcyouth.org.

FACEBOOK LIVE PANEL: PARENTING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC

Join us on our CVC Facebook page this Sunday night at 6:30 PM as we host a panel called “Parenting through the Pandemic.”  Josh Stone, Denise Petek, and Joe Valenti will share their hearts on this topic and also take questions.  I hope you’ll take advantage of this unique opportunity!

CHRISTMAS SERIES BEGINS DECEMBER 6

Usually when we hear the phrase, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” it brings to mind nostalgic imagery of spending time with those we love.  Twinkling lights, cozy fireplaces, hot chocolate, and Christmas movies might be among those memories for you. 

Well, with the year we have all had in 2020 and specifically the impact of the Coronavirus, many of us have experienced loss and limitations to some degree.  There’s no doubt that some of our Christmas traditions have a “COVID shadow” hanging over them this year.  But the good news is that you can still experience a meaningful Christmas no matter what limitations you are navigating.  You can even tap into a deeper meaning of what it means to be “Home for Christmas.” 

Christmas is a time when we celebrate the arrival of our Savior–the birth of the King of Kings.  He was born to make His home in our hearts.  The next few weeks we are embracing the fact that while we will be home for Christmas whether we want to be or not, we can focus our attention on the light, life, and love that Jesus has brought us and that now live at home within us.  

CHRISTMAS EVE ONLINE!

Christmas Eve is one of our most-attended services throughout the year.  We decided that the best way to accommodate as many people as possible is to bring everyone together online!  In other words, there will be no in-person services on Christmas Eve.  Instead, we’re inviting all of you to join us online or on our CVC Facebook page at 4:00 PM on Christmas Eve.  The service will be available to watch on demand any time after 4:00 PM if you’re unable to join us at that time. 

We’re also encouraging you to invite your family and friends to watch with us!  Here’s a short video from Pastor Chad that you can forward to those you’d like to invite to join you: https://vimeo.com/487299135/aeafe0fba5

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27

We’re going to keep services online only for Sunday, December 27.  We’ll be hosting a panel of pastors and other leaders who will be sharing about the power of preaching the Gospel to yourself.  Join us online at 9:30 or 11:00 AM on our website or our CVC Facebook page.  No in-person services will take place that day.  

We’re planning to resume in-person services on Sunday, January 3.  We hope you’ll join us for a special time of prayer and worship at all of our regular service times. 

SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE OPTIONS

We are continuing to hold indoor worship services on Sunday mornings at 8, 9:30, & 11 AM and 6:30 PM with the exception of Christmas Eve and December 27).  We need you to register because space is limited and we want to keep a safe number of people in the building during each service time.  We also want to leave some room for new guests. 

You can register on our Regathering page and on our CVC app under “Sign Up.”  Registration closes at midnight on Saturday.  If you need help registering, feel free to call our front desk at 440.746.0404.   

You can also join us online at 9:30 AM and 11 AM on our website, on our CVC Facebook page, or using the Boxcast app on your smart TV.    

SAFETY PROCEDURES FOR INDOOR SERVICES

We are continuing to work hard to make sure CVC is a safe and clean environment.  

  • Sanitizing-We are sanitizing the facility between each service, so there might be a little wait before you can enter the worship center. Thanks for your patience while this is occurring.
  • Spacing-Please make sure to maintain the 6’ distancing at all times, and please keep 3 empty seats between your household and the people sitting next to you.
  • Masks-We are still requiring masks for anyone age 3 and up at all times while inside the building.  The mask should not be removed and should cover both your nose and mouth at all times.  We’re counting on you to do your part because we care for one another.

STAY CONNECTED WITH US!

Please let us know if you need help staying connected with us.  We’re here for you!  You can email us at connect@cvconline.org or call our office at 440.746.0404.  

Live New,
The CVC Team

Preparing for Advent

by Lead Pastor Chad Allen

With 2020 being such a challenging year, many of us know it’s going to be an uphill battle to try and be in the “Christmas spirit” and to feel emotionally engaged with the birth of Christ. Here’s my encouragement to you: Go on the offensive and be proactive by getting an Advent devotional or guide to begin after Thanksgiving.  You may have one already, or you can pick from among the many good ones out there.  

I just ordered this one (see below) for my family because it sounds like it will be a fitting guide for this year.  This is just one more way we can try to abide in Christ during a difficult year, and assertively pursue Joy as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

The Christmas We Didn’t Expect