12 Advent Devotionals

Advent Series

Are you feeling unsettled by the expectations and urgency of the season?

Let’s challenge each other to not detach this Christmas, but rather, go deeper.

I dug into the archives and will be posting 12 devotionals I wrote a couple years ago to help you navigate the contrast of your heart’s longing with the whirling of culture right now. Be watching your inbox daily through December 23.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. xo

Choosing Substance: The Whole Story (Day 12)

A person of substance understands the whole story:

From the beginning of time…
     I make known the end from the beginning,
          from ancient times what is still to come.
     MY PURPOSE WILL STAND.   Isaiah 46:9-10

To the unraveling of relationship…
     For our offenses are many in your sight,
          and our sins testify against us. Isaiah 59:12-13

To the pursuit…
And she gave birth to a firstborn, a son.
     She wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger. Luke 2:7

To the sacrifice that brought restoration and redemption…
     Darkness fell over the whole region. The darkness persisted until about three in the
and at some point during this darkness, the curtain in the temple was torn in
two. Luke 23:44-45

And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne.
     See, the home of God is with His people.
     He will live among them.
     They will be His people.
     And God Himself will be with them. Revelation 21:3

To the longing…
     Amen. Come Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20  

Yes, here we are back at the longing, the forever Advent.

I imagine we’ll be here in this ache until we meet Him face to face. For Advent is not about just waiting for the baby in a manger. Advent is waiting again for the One who pursues when we rebel, for the One who heals when we sin against those we love, for the One who makes us brave when forgiveness is the only way.

As more hurts unfold year after year, He becomes all the more beautiful.

Are you longing for Him, too? Yes, “come, Lord Jesus.” 

Thank you for being part of these Advent devotionals over the past 12 days. What acts, what traits, do you think are important for one who desires to push against culture and choose substance instead?

On the twelfth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me a perspective bigger than my own story.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

…*Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Photo by ANIMESH MANDAL on Unsplash

*song excerpt | Joy to the World

Choosing Substance: Going Global (Day 11)


After I heard about these who would be sealed, I looked and saw a huge crowd of people, which no one could even begin to count, representing every nation and tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Revelation 7:9

A person of substance is a global citizen. She knows there’s a world beyond her own backyard.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in my own story that I forget I’m a mere line in a novel that’s much, much bigger. Have you been there?

I mean, trust me, you have significance. You are known, and cherished, and loved, but you are one of billions. And with over 7 billion people come a myriad of cultures and worldviews and perspectives.

There’s comfort in knowing how big the world is. Last summer I drove through beauty and stood at the edge of greatness and remembered how small I was. In a good way. It’s freeing to know how teeny tiny your drama is… you don’t feel quite as captive to it.

If you’re reading this today, and you’re of the dominant race represented in your community, you understand how easy it is to forget this. Until we believe we’re looking at society and headlines and relationships and our faith and even God through cultural lenses, our world stays very, very small. Even our view of the Gospel is impacted by our cultural perspective. How easy it is to intertwine our cultural norms and Christianity, weaving together our comforts and our faith.

But God is bigger than culture and customs. He’s more significant than what our corner of the world values. He’s larger than our way of doing church. Thank goodness.

He descended into the mess to reconcile us to Himself… He came for those who are bound by oppression and poverty and those enslaved to consumerism. He came for those who can’t find food for today and for those who are on another diet. He came for beggars and workaholics. He came for those who don’t have shoes and for fashionistas. He really did. He came for us all.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to me an awareness of how big His world is… how big He is… and how worthy He is of worship.

I know you’re busy. I know you’re doing last-minute Christmas preparations — there’s shopping, cooking, cleaning, and wrapping (and more wrapping!). But give yourself just a couple of minutes of solitude and reminded yourself how small you are. And how big He is.

…*That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with his blood mankind hath bought…

photo source | Avel Chuklanov

*song excerpt | The First Noel

Choosing Substance: Fear (Day 8)


As for me, I will wait for the Eternal, even though He feels absent, even though He has hidden His face from the family of Jacob. I will put all hope in Him. Isaiah 8:17

A Person of Substance knows who her real enemy is.

Oh, the irony.

When I’m scared, I withdraw deeper into myself, farther away from the mystery. My heart can’t bear the heaviness of the unknown or the weight of the worst-imagined brought to fruition.

I may be smiling if you see me out and about. Or, I may become more controlling with my kids and look anything other than fearful. But the smile and the ugly garb of bullying power — those are really just masks disguising my fear. I may look engaged, but I’m really hiding. Reality is just a little too scary, a little too unknown, so I hesitate to “go there” and put more distance between myself and the Prince of Peace.

And Satan is laughing and celebrating. It’s exactly what he wants.

Are you my companion in this? I see you and your scared eyes buried under smiles. I see you trying to control those around you.

And as I attempt to ignore reality, or control it a little too much, I wrap the chains of fear around me and my precious gift of life. I chain worry and anxiety around my friends and loved ones, too, for rarely does my sin only affect me. The enslavement to fear — oh, the bondage can last a lifetime. Fear of never rising from the past into a new identity. Fear of the spinning present that taunts with confusion.  Fear of what is not yet seen but distorted in our imaginations.

Since we, the children, are all creatures of flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood, so that by dying He could destroy the one who held power over death—the devil— and destroy the fear of death that has always held people captive.  Heb 2:14-16

And Christ descended into this mess with the plan of destroying not only our biggest fear – death – but the very source of this fear – Satan himself. Satan, the owner of doubt. Satan, the originator of confusion. Satan, the distorter of what’s real. Are you letting him have mini-victories in your life? His very purpose is to destroy you, but he’s oh, so very subtle.

My Redeemer, though, He comes and speaks truth louder than the lies that try to paralyze. He became flesh centuries ago to battle my fear in 2015. His Forever Story more powerful than the finite is my gift this Christmas. It’s your gift, too.

A person of substance knows who her enemy is. She knows who her Rescuer from fear is, too.

On the eighth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me deliverance from my chains of fear. He gave me truth that speaks louder than lies.

…*Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb…
…Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice…

Choosing Substance

  • How do you respond when you’re scared? Do you withdraw? Fight to control? A little of both?
  • When has your fear and sin hurt those around you?
  • Read Hebrews 2:7-17.
  • What fears are you needing to be released from this Christmas?

photo source | Andrew Pons

*song excerpt | We Three Kings