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Prayer

Unfailing Prayer to St. Anthony

Prayers to Saint Anthony

On this page you will find a collection of classic prayers addressed to Saint Anthony. These prayers are a very helpful aid handed down to us by the tradition so that we may encounter the presence of our beloved Saint Anthony in our daily life, and in particular invoke his aid in helping us re-establish a friendly relationship with God.

Anthony is like an older brother, always by our side, ready to help us find the right answer and the true path. He was given a gift by Jesus Christ to intercede with the Father so that He may listen to our needs and prayers.

Tredicina (Thirteen-Day Novena)

1. O Lord, you have made Saint Anthony an apostle of the Gospel. Grant us, through his intercession, a strong and humble faith and make our lives coherent with the creed that we profess.

Glory be to the Father….

2.O God Almighty, you have made Saint Anthony a constructor of peace and fraternal charity. Look upon the victims of violence and war. Grant that in this confused world full of tensions, we may become courageous witnesses of non-violence, promoting human life and peace.

Glory be to the Father…

3. O God, you have granted Saint Anthony the gift of healing and performing miracles. Grant us health of soul and body. Grant serenity and solace to those who have asked for our prayers and make us always ready to serve the sick, the elderly and the distressed.

Glory be to the Father…

4. O Lord, you made Saint Anthony an untiring preacher of the Gospels along mankind’s many paths. In your Fatherly mercy protect the homeless, refugees and migrants; keep them safe from every danger and guide their steps along the path of peace.

Glory be to the Father

5. O God Almighty, you granted Saint Anthony the power to reunite severed limbs. Reunite all Christians in your One and Holy Church, and grant that we may all live the mystery of unity, thus becoming one heart and one soul.

Glory be to the Father…

6. O Lord Jesus, you made Saint Anthony a great master of spiritual life. Grant us the ability to renew our lives according to the teachings of the Gospel and the beatitudes, and make us promoters of spiritual life for our brothers and sisters.

Glory be to the Father…

7. O Jesus, you granted Saint Anthony the incomparable grace of holding you as a child in his arms. Bless our children, and grant that they may grow in goodness and in health and that they may live their lives in the fear of God.

Glory be to the Father…

8. O Merciful Jesus, you granted Saint Anthony the wisdom and gifts necessary to guide souls to holiness through his preaching and priestly ministry. Grant that we may approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the great gift of your love, with humility and faith.

Glory be to the Father…

9. O Holy Spirit, in Saint Anthony you gave the Church and the world a great master of holy doctrine. Grant that all those who work in the media may feel the great responsibility they have to serve truth in charity and with respect for others.

Glory be to the Father…

10. O Lord, you are the Lord of the harvest. Through the intercession of Saint Anthony send many worthy religious and priests into your field, fill them with zeal, generosity and your love.

Glory be to the Father…

11. O Jesus, you called the pope to be a universal pastor, high priest and messenger of truth and peace. Through the intercession of Saint Anthony sustain and console him in his mission.

Glory be to the Father…

12. O Holy Trinity, you granted Saint Anthony the grace to know, to love and to glorify the Virgin Mary, your Blessed Mother, and our Heavenly Mother, grant that we may grow ever closer to her motherly heart, to better serve, love and glorify you, who are love itself.

Glory be to the Father…

13. O Lord, you allowed Saint Anthony to meet sister death with a serene soul. Direct our lives towards you, assist the dying and grant eternal peace to the souls of our departed brothers and sisters.

Glory be to the Father…

Si quaeris

This prayer of praise, or responsorial, in honour of Saint Anthony was composed by friar Julian of Speyer. The responsorial is part of the Officium rhythmicum S. Antonii, which dates back to 1233, two years after Saint Anthony’s death. It is sung at Saint Anthony’s Basilica and many other churches every Tuesday.

If then you ask for miracles,
death, error, all calamities,
leprosy and demons fly,
and health succeeds infirmities.

The sea obeys and fetters break,
and lifeless limbs you do restore;
while treasures lost are found again,
men young and old your aid implore.


All dangers vanish at your prayer,
and direst need does quickly flee;
Let those who know your power proclaim,
Let Paduans say: these are yours.

To Father, Son may glory be
And Holy Spirit, eternally.

Pilgrim’s Prayer on the Tomb of Saint Anthony

Oh dear Saint Anthony, I am close to your blessed tomb.

I came to pray driven by my need and my confidence in your compassionate goodness which consoles everyone. Please  become my intercessor before God; speak in my name to the merciful Father, and obtain for me the grace I particularly need.

I know that my faith is weak; but you, who had this admirable virtue and inflamed it by preaching to the crowds, enliven it inside my heart and make me stronger and pure. You who led an evangelical life, help me to render mine a more Christian one, so that I may become a worthy son of our Heavenly Father.

O Saint Anthony, come to the rescue of my weakness, taking away the diseases and dangers of soul and body; help me to always put my trust in God, especially in times of trial and suffering. Bless my work, my family, your devotees around the world or spiritually present here: obtain for all benevolence of heart towards the poor and the suffering.

Oh my protector, respond to the confidence I always put in your intercession to the Lord

Invocation to Saint Anthony

Dear Saint Anthony, I extend my prayer to you, confident in your compassionate goodness, which can listen and console everyone: be my intercessor before the Lord.

You who led an evangelical life, help me to live mine with faith and Christian hope; you who preached the message of charity, inspire the whole of humanity to search for  peace and brotherhood; you who supported, even through miracles, the suffering and  all those who were facing injustice, please sustain the poor and the forsaken of this world.

Bless especially my work and my family, taking away illnesses of body and soul; make me capable of always remaining close to God, both in times of joy or sorrow, with the faith and the love of a son.

Amen!

Help me find

Anthony is famous throughout the world as the saint who helps to find lost objects:  everyday items, important documents, even the faith itself. The prayer that follows invokes the aid of Saint Anthony in search for what has been lost.

Glorious Saint Anthony, you have exercised the divine power to find what was lost. Help me to recover the grace of God, and make me zealous in the service of God and in the practice of living the virtues. Let me find what I have lost, thus showing me the presence of your goodness.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be)

Let us pray

Anthony, glorious servant of God, famous for your merits and powerful miracles, help us to find what was lost. Give us your help in times of temptation; and enlighten our minds in searching the will of God. Help us to find again the life of grace, which our sin destroyed, and lead us to the possession of the glory promised us by the Savior. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Spouses

Dear Saint Anthony, bless and protect my family; keep it united in love, sustain it in its everyday needs, and keep it safe from evil.
Bless me and my husband (my wife): help us to live with dignity through the fruits of our work so that we may have the opportunity to raise and educate the children that the Lord has given us. Bless our children: keep them healthy and eager for goodness, help them to study and do not allow them to lose their faith and their purity in the midst of the many occasions of evil in everyday life.
Help us to understand our children and to guide them through our words and our example so that they may always aspire to the most noble ideals of life and be able to implement their human and Christian vocation. Amen

For Parents

Thank you Lord for the great gift of my own parents. I pray for them, through the intercession of Saint Anthony of Padua, so that they may always be up to their mission and may always be assisted by divine help so as to provide for my spiritual and corporeal well being. Anthony, help and protect my parents,  bring down on them the most amazing graces through the Baby Jesus, whom you lovingly kept in your arms; help them to lead a holy life, and after their earthly labors may they enjoy the glory in union with the Most Holy Trinity.

Prayer of the Family through the Intercession of Saint Anthony

O God, good and merciful Father, you who chose Anthony as a witness of the Gospel and messenger of peace in the midst of your people, hear the prayer we address to you through his intercession.
Sanctify every family, help them grow in faith; preserve them in unity, peace and serenity. Bless our children, protect our young people. Support those who are being tried by illness, suffering and loneliness.
Support us in life’s every day hardships, and giving us your love.

Amen

For a sick person

Dear Anthony, you have always helped those who invoked you. I fervently pray for a sick  person so dear to me. I beg you to obtain for him/her the gift of healing, or at least to ease his/her pain and find inside him/her the strength to offer those tribulations to the Lord in union with the Passion of Christ. You, who in your earthly life were a friend of the suffering and supported them with your deep charity and your gift of miracles, be close to us through your protection, console our hearts and turn our physical and mental suffering into  a source of merit for the eternal life.

Amen

To obtain a special grace

Request:

Admirable Anthony, so glorious for your miracles and for the favor that Jesus showed on you by coming in the guise of the Divine Child to rest in your arms, obtain from His goodness the grace I long for within my heart. You, so compassionate toward poor sinners, pay no attention to my defects, but to the glory of God which will once again be exalted by you and to my eternal salvation, not separated from the request I am now earnestly making.
(Say the grace that lies in your heart)
Let my love and charity towards the poor be a token of my gratitude. May I be given the grace to enter heaven with them through your intercession by the grace of Jesus the Redeemer.
Amen

Thanksgiving:

Glorious Wonder Worker, father of the poor, you who miraculously discovered the heart of a miser inside a gold coffer, the great gift of your heart always turned to the poor and downtrodden; you who offered to the Lord my pleas which, through your intercession, have always been answered, please accept as a token of my gratitude the offer which I place at your feet.
Help those who are suffering like me; hasten to aid those who need support in their earthly and especially their spiritual needs, now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.


O Blessed Tongue

“Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints”
O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (request). O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.

THE MIRACLE PRAYER TO SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA

O Holy St Anthony, the gentlest and kindest of Saints, your burning love of God, your exalted virtue, and your great charity towards your fellow creatures, made you worthy, when on earth to possess miraculous powers such as were given to no other saint. Miracle waited on your word, and that word you were ever ready to speak at the request of those in trouble. The anxious prayer of bitter trial was never addressed to you in vain. To the sick you gave back health; you restored what was lost; the sorrow stricken were the objects of your tender compassion; even the dead you raised to life when the wounded heart cried out to you from the depths of its bitter anguish. When on earth nothing was impossible with you, except not to have compassion on those in distress and sorrow. Encouraged by this thought, and convinced of the efficacy of your holy intercession, we kneel before your holy image, and full of confidence, we implore you to obtain for us (here mention your request). The answer to this our prayer may require a miracle. Even so, are you not the Saint of Miracles, who, when on earth, had but to speak the mightiest wonders were wrought! O gentle and loving St Anthony, you whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whispers our prayer into the ears of the Infant Jesus, who loved to linger in your arms. One word from you and our prayer will be granted. O, speak but that word and the gratitude of our heart will ever be yours! Amen. Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be

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Christianity

What Are Fake Christians and How Do We Know When We See One?

When I was in middle school, it was considered one of the biggest offenses to be told that you were a “poser.” This would imply that you’re trying to be someone you weren’t in an effort to impress others. For example—if a guy claimed he was a jock and even dressed one, but he had zero athletic skills, then he was a poser. Perhaps he wanted the attention from girls that being a jock could attract. Sadly, “posers” aren’t just found in middle school; there are some who have crept into today’s church, pretending to be a Christian. So what exactly are fake Christians, and how do we know when we see one?

What Is a Fake Christian?

The term “fake Christian” may bring to your mind an image of someone who is a hypocrite. Although there are plenty of hypocritical Christians, we need to break this term down in order to accurately define what it means.

We know that the word fake suggests inauthenticity. Counterfeits.

A Christian is someone who has accepted Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior. This person is considered saved, or “born again,” because they have applied the principle found in Romans 10:9: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The underlying factor that differentiates believers from nonbelievers is the Holy Spirit that abides within us, according to Ephesians 1:13: And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.”

With these two definitions in mind, we can define a fake Christian as being one who has not genuinely been born again, and yet they put on the persona as though they have.

Perhaps this person chose to wear the Christian title so they could profit off that reputation (similar to those jock posers back in middle school). All of us have likely, at one time or another, attempted to fit in with a certain crowd. If an unbeliever discovered they could gain a certain kind of acceptance through “fitting in” with a church crowd or Christian industry, they may have preferred to wear a church mask rather than actually accepting Christ into their heart.

But if someone wanted the acceptance, or the benefits, that come from being a Christian, why wouldn’t they—you know, actually become a Christian? One reason is that they may not believe in the message of the cross. 1 Corinthians 1:18 reminds us that The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.”

Another reason is that, while they may relish in their false Christian appearance, they are ultimately not willing to dedicate their hearts and lives to God. Being a true Christian would involve sacrificing their ungodly lifestyle—or else they’d continue that lifestyle and live with the guilt. The enemy is a deceiver, and he attempts to make Christianity look like bondage to unbelievers so they will choose to remain “free” to live for him instead.

To summarize, fake Christians are those who have chosen a saved appearance rather than a saved heart. They care more about their status through the eyes of the church, their family, or a Christian industry rather than their status through the eyes of God.

What Is an Authentic Christian?

An authentic Christian, on the other hand, is one who has accepted Christ as his or her Savior. The light of the Holy Spirit abides within this person. Matthew 7:20 provides an indication of how we can identify an authentic Christian: Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”

The speech and actions of these authentic Christians overflow with fruit of the Spirit, because Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

In addition, those whose hearts are abandoned to God have a concern for matters that concern Him and a hatred toward evil. James 1:27 tells us that “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

This doesn’t mean that these authentic Christians do not commit sin; after all, Jesus is the only sinless human who walked the earth (1 Peter 2:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 3:5, Hebrews 4:15). Rather, when true believers commit sin, they are convicted by the Holy Spirit (see John 16:8) and live a life of repentance. They are set free from living in bondage to sin and have been purified by the blood of the Lamb.

Because believers know that we will someday give an account for the way we lived our lives (2 Corinthians 5:10), authentic Christians strive to serve God and obey His Word. They understand that God’s opinion carries more weight than man’s because Galatians 1:10 reminds us, If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

What Is the Difference between a Fake Christian and a Wayward Christian?

Thankfully, our salvation is not determined by works but by faith (Galatians 2:21). Otherwise, no one would be worthy enough to stand before God in eternity!

With this in mind, let’s be careful not to assume someone is a “fake Christian” because of their struggle with sin. As humans, we tend to “look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (see 1 Samuel 16:7). God is the One who will ultimately determine a person’s eternal fate. James 4:12 reminds us, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”

There are those within the church who have genuinely accepted Christ as their Savior and once committed their lives to Him but have since strayed from following His Word. Perhaps this Christian goes to church weekly, prays occasionally, and even loves God—but their love for Him is not reflected in the way they live, speak, or make daily decisions.

When we spot these Christians, let’s refrain from passing judgment and instead extend godly love toward them, praying that the Holy Spirit will convict them. We can also pray about how we can play a role in leading that person back to the truth. James 5:19 says, My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.”

Does Scripture Address the Idea of Fake Christians?

Scripture makes it clear that there are those who will call themselves Christians on earth, but when they reach eternity, their hearts and true intentions will be revealed.

Matthew 7:21-23 says, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’”

We also know that God despises a kind of Christianity in which a person is not committed to a godly lifestyle. “Straddling the fence” should never be an option for the true believer. Revelation 3:15-16 says, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

Remember Judas Iscariot? He was once considered an apostle of Jesus, but his true motives were soon revealed. When he betrayed Jesus, it was proven that he was more interested in what he could gain from Jesus rather than how he could serve him. It is believed that Judas had a financial intention behind betraying Jesus (see Matthew 26:14-15).

Sadly, there are still many Judas Iscariots within the church today—people who perform like a Christ-follower and may even be well-versed in “Christianese,” and yet their motives are purely for fleshly gain rather than spiritual gain.

How to Spot a Fake Christian

Let’s ask the following scriptural questions:

Does this person love this world and the things it offers them? 

1 John 2:25 says, Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.”

Does this person love other believers?

1 John 3:14 says, If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.”

Does this person bear fruits of the spirit, as addressed in Galatians 5:22-23?

Healthy fruits are an indication that a person is attached to the vine (John 15:5).

Does this person live according to the flesh or the spirit (Romans 8:13)?

Do they express works of the flesh as addressed in Galatians 5:19-21 (such as drunkenness, sexual immorality, divisions, etc.)? We are told, in this passage, that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” In addition, Jesus says in Mark 7:20-23, ’What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’”

Does this person possess a genuine fear of God? 

Proverbs 14:2 says, “He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises Him.”

Does this person teach a false gospel?

By false gospel I mean one that is “a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:3-5)?

Does this person’s faith rest “in the wisdom of men” or in “the power of God”? (1 Corinthians 2:5)

Lastly, does this person overflow with the love of God as addressed in 1 Corinthians 13:2? And is this a worldly kind of love that tolerates sin, or is it the godly type of love that extends compassion on everyone but holds righteous anger toward sin?

Again, let’s be slow to judge and refrain from tossing accusations toward someone who claims to be a believer. After all, godly love is the kind that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).

We can, however, use wisdom and discernment to take heed of red flags when we see them. But this does not give us the right to gossip about someone within a congregation. Instead, we can find reassurance in the truth laid out in, Ecclesiastes 12:14, which says, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” 

This isn’t to say we are not held accountable to speak up about obvious sin within the church (see 1 Corinthians 5:12). Let’s do this from a place of godly love rather than a “holier-than-thou” attitude like the Pharisee did in the parable found in Luke 18:9-13:

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!”

After all, the one whom you may deem as fake could be someone whose struggle with sin is merely more obvious than yours. So rather than pointing fingers, let’s invest most of our energy into our own faith journey, determined that we will be known as a passionate follower of Christ.

The godly love we extend toward believers and non-believers alike speaks volumes louder than our Christian title. In fact, the loyalty and devotion we express toward God and others could be the very thing that leads those “fake Christians” to Christ.

Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who wrote her debut novel when she was sixteen. She is now a multi-published author of both fiction and non-fiction inspirational yet authentic books for teens, including her latest release, LOVE YOUR SELFIE (October 2020, Ellie Claire). Tessa’s passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as a Literary Agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. She is guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, teaching at writing conferences, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is to connect with readers is on her mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.


This article is part of our larger resource library of Christian practices and disciplines important to the Christian faith. From speaking in tongues to tithing & baptism, we want to provide easy to read and understand articles that answer your questions about Christian living.

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Christianity

Christianity : 10 Ways to Sabotage Your Marriage (Without Realizing It)

She looked smoking hot and she knew it. Blonde. Curvaceous. Suede stilettos with a way-too-short leather skirt. Beckoning green eyes and a killer smile to match. She wanted everyone’s attention in the room and boy, she got it (including mine).

She floated through the crowd, giggling with one group and then another. Finally, she sauntered over toward a group of men—one of whom was my husband. Before she walked away, she patted his arm with her graceful, manicured hand—maybe a little too much.

Really?

She probably meant nothing by it, but after the party my husband and I talked about the situation, laughed a little and moved on. Although this happened years ago, I’m glad we chose to talk about it and reassure each other, rather than pretend like it didn’t happen. Recognizing and talking about things (or people) that might sabotage our marriage helps us protect it.

I wish we’d done that even more.

After 31 years of marriage, I’ve learned a lot of things not to do, both by observing others and by making a lot of mistakes, myself. And I’m still learning. With each anniversary, my appreciation grows for our beautiful, quirky and sometimes less-than-perfect relationship. I want to guard what we have and work to make it better.

I’m sure you do, too.

While nobody sets out to sabotage their marriage, it’s not that hard to do. And often, we may not realize that we’re doing any damage at all—until it’s too late. Here are ten ways to sabotage your marriage that I’ve learned to avoid

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Christianity

Top 15 Articles on Christianity and faith in 2021

What a year 2020 has been! There have been unique challenges and at times things have seemed bleak, but as with every day and every year, there is always hope in the Lord. Not surprisingly, most of our top articles of 2020 deal in some way with the COVID-19 crisis. We hope these articles are refreshing reminders of the way that God continues to work in the world and our lives no matter what is going on. We pray alongside you for new strides in 2021, and we thank God for all of the blessings of 2020 because even in hard times there are blessings to be seen. We can trust that God is in control of everything no matter what our circumstances look like. 

Here is our top 15 list covering Crosswalk’s most popular articles of 2020:

“A worldwide virus is not an unusual way for God to work. It’s quite possible—in fact it’s probable—that God intends to and is already accomplishing miracles in the wake of COVID-19. God values our transformation. Until we are uncomfortable, desperate, and despairing, we don’t often recognize and seek His power. When catastrophes happen, we must consider that God is at work and longing to bring about change in us. Since healthy change occurs collectively in body, mind, and soul, here are 10 simple ways the COVID-19 could improve your overall health and change your life for better:”

Sometimes it can be easy to only focus on the negatives…this article helps us see past those and focus on some positive aspects of this changing year, including the quarantine. It includes ideas for financial adjustments, getting outdoors, and opportunities for personal growth and redefining relationships.

“While it might be tempting to try and identify this virus with one of those plagues, I believe there are a couple of reasons not to. The first reason is that these seven plagues are identified as the completion of God’s wrath, and the plagues seem directed solely towards those who belong to the kingdom of the Antichrist. But this virus is not as discriminating. There seems to be no one who is immune to it. Saint and skeptic alike are affected by it.”

This article looks into why it’s unlikely that the coronavirus is one of the plagues in Revelation and also why it’s unlikely to be connected to end times. Jarrett also offers a thoughtful response on how Christians should react to the coronavirus. He encourages, “Live in such a way now that you glorify God. And, when this is over, your response to this virus and social disruption will continue to bear testimony to the goodness and love of God.”

“There are numerous reasons why the Word of God impresses upon Christians the necessity of meeting together. So unless you have a communicable illness, an emergency, a physical handicap, or are taking care of the poor/widow/orphan, it’s very wise and fulfilling to get to church.

If you’re home because you don’t want to get sick, then build others up by posting encouraging Scriptures on your social media. Exhort. Write out a prayer and share it. Send texts. Share your church’s broadcast with others. Post a favorite worship song. Go live and share some thoughts with your friends and family. Speak faith. Share a testimony.”

This article offers perspectives from both ‘team go-to-church’ and ‘team stay-home,’ it also offers suggestions for those who are sick or don’t want to get sick that you can still enjoy community and encourage others from home until you are able to meet again. This is still a hot topic today with people deciding whether it is wise to go or wise to stay home, this decision also depends on any state regulations or safety procedures your church has put in place such as limited occupancy, assigned seating, disinfecting areas afterward, asking people to wear masks when singing or during an entire service and so on.

“Instead of back-building worry and anxiety as we attempt to forecast an unknown future, Paul begs us to “Pray about everything in every way you know how!” (Ephesians 6:18 VOICE). Stop to consider what the situations of our daily lives might look like if we paused to pray into them and about them more feverishly. Whether you are starting a business meeting, church service, or family event you can use these prayers to join together to ask God for guidance and blessing.”

While this article was written before the mass exodus to work from home, it is still beneficial as we can always pray before any meeting (virtual or otherwise). Bucher includes five powerful opening prayers to help place your focus into perspective for peace and understanding. We should always ask God to bless our time together or settle us before a big meeting or conversation, it will help us take the focus off of ourselves or our nerves and instead place our focus on something more important.

“We all recognize that we have an enemy. We all know that Satan attacks. The question however is: how does he do it? What are the ways and methods the enemy uses to attack and try to get us off course? It is so very important to understand his methods because when you do, you can be on guard and ready to fight back. I believe Satan is really after three things in your life.

  • Your relationship—Your walk with God.
  • Your fellowship—Your communion with others in the body of Christ.
  • Your discipleship—Your commitment to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.”

Mr. Haynes Jr. does an excellent job of reminding us about our true enemy, Satan. He poses seven questions connected to doubt that Satan directs toward Christians, including ‘Did God Really Forgive You?’ and ‘Does God Really Love You?’ When we feel alone we can tend to think that no one is on our side and everyone is letting us down. However, we need to remember as Haynes Jr. points out, “…the Holy Spirit who is in you, is greater than Satan who is in the world. He will attack. But by God’s grace and strength, you will fight back and you will win.”

“Just as the people of God learned in the Book of Isaiah simply being a person of God or doing the right things does not mean you will be spared from earthly harm, illness, or suffering. This fallen world is filled with illness and suffering, and we can often find ourselves in the midst of harm.

Being grateful in the midst of trials does not mean that Christians are to be some sort of stoic never showing emotion or pain; it means when you are in pain, when you are down, when you are ill and when you are suffering you can go to Him in prayer, you can put your trust in His ultimate healing…”

Is there too much sin in the world and now God is punishing us? I think we need to stop and remember that this whole world is tainted with sin, including the people who live in it, as a result of the fall. And part of this fallen world includes disease and illness; it cannot be avoided. But God’s grace covers a multitude of sins because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and His grace aids us during this current crisis. It could mean God brings someone home, it could mean God heals someone, it could mean God protects you from harm, or it could mean God brings hope to your heart and peace to your mind. His grace covers all.

“Do you ever wonder why Scripture tells us to count it all joy when we face various trials and tribulations in life? (James 1:2-4) Joy is an odd response to hardship and suffering. And yet our faith promises us that God is committed to doing good when the enemy intends harm. (Genesis 50:20) God is committed to bringing life out of death. (Romans 4:17) God is committed to taking every bad thing that happens to us and using it to bless us. (Romans 8:28) Trials can be a boot camp of blessings if we allow God to have His way.”

Segers does a fantastic job of reminding us of the blessings of God even in hard times; God can bless us with faith over fear, He reminds us of His power and peace, and how it is a blessing to be able to depend on God in any circumstance. God can also bless others through you, so be ready and open to be used by God as a way to deliver blessings to others.

“The Book of Judges shows the cycle that all societies go through. The first generation fights the battles. The second generation enjoys the spoils. The third generation gives it all away. Jesus fights the battles and as Christians we enjoyed the spoils. Fortunately, Jesus never needs the third option.

Many theologians believe the Rapture will occur before any one-world government is established.”

Dr. Roger Barrier writes regular articles for our ‘Ask Roger’ column, and again we see the popularity of a current crisis connected to end times concepts. Dr. Barrier points out 10 signs of a coming one world government, but he reassures Christians that it is Jesus who defeats His foes at the Battle of Armageddon. No matter what happens in this world, we know the ending. We know that God has won the battle and the war; God’s Son Jesus sacrificed His life so that death could be defeated for believers and one day at God’s appointed time this world will end and be redeemed for all time.

“Psalm 56:9 reminds us, “The very moment I call to you for a Father’s help the tide of the battle turns and my enemies flee. The one thing I know: God is on my side.” This Psalm stood true in biblical times, and it proves true in this day as well. Though there is great fear surrounding the threat of disease, we can rest assured that we have a Father in Heaven who is with us in all things. This truth is true especially today with the spread of the coronavirus.”

Logan shares three heartfelt prayers regarding the coronavirus; her prayers include a prayer for those who are ill, a prayer for those concerned with the spread, and a prayer for those treating the sick. She also includes Bible promises that encourage us to remember that true healing come from the Lord.

“The Psalms offer countless verses of real-life struggles and prayers for God’s peace and covering. No matter what we may be facing today, we can choose to set our hearts and minds on His truth, believing that He’s with us and giving us strength every step of the way.

Trust Him today. He knows all that concerns us, He understands, and He cares.”

It is easy to be overcome with anxiety in ‘normal times’ and it is even easier to be overcome with anxiety and worry during a time of personal or public crisis, such as the coronavirus crisis. Mrs. McDaniel offers us seven Scripture passages from the Psalms, each with a related prayer of encouragement. She reminds us that God gives us all we need, that He redeems and renews our life, and it is God who holds the final victory.

As Psalm 119:11 reminds us, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” And the truth is, we need the Word of the Lord far more than we need the news of the world. This quarantine is no surprise to God. And maybe, just maybe, He is allowing this season of uncertainty so that we will recenter our lives on His will, His way, and His Word.”

Waddle offers us 10 comforting Bible verses to memorize during the quarantine; she also offers words of encouragement and a prayer with each verse. These verses are not just for quarantines though, they are edifying and uplifting to memorize anytime. There is reason the Bible tells us to store God’s Word in our hearts; it so helpful in good times and bad to be able to recall Scripture to encourage ourselves or others in thought and conversation.

“There is not a person on this earth who hasn’t been impacted by the coronavirus, in one way or another, and right now, many people are anxious, on edge, and afraid. Some have even gone to the extreme, bunkering down and “panic purchasing” toilet paper, respiratory masks, and bottled water in preparation for the “end of the world.” Everyone will react to crisis and fear in different ways, but in trying and uncertain times like these, how should Christians respond? When the rest of the world is afraid and loses hope, how can Christians still bring the life and love of Jesus Christ to a sick and dying world?”

Ryan offers us 10 things Christians can do in faithful response to COVID-19. He reminds us not to surrender to fear, to choose compassion over convenience, and to be the church wherever you are and wherever you go. To accomplish this we need to pray and we need to place our hope and trust in the Lord at all times for all things.

“We want to trust God but there are times when peace eludes us. We’re worried and anxious. We don’t want to be brave this time. Then God reminds us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Courage is fear that prays and calls on God.”

Mrs. Thompson offers us five courageous prayers for the pandemic to help us transition from panic to peace. She encourages us to take our worries to the Lord, to believe and know God hears our prayers, to pray with anticipation, to exercise wisdom and discernment, and to seek opportunities to care for others. There is something amazing about simply taking the focus off of yourself and placing it on God through prayer and also placing it on others to be a blessing. When you shift that focus from self to things outside of you, your perspective changes and you can usually see more clearly.

“This is why Coronavirus is scary. It’s scary because it makes us look at our own mortality. If you know Jesus, you have no reason to fear that. That being said, my next-door neighbor is a virologist, and it’s always wise to be thorough in following proper precautions. Be wise. The Bible has a lot to say about “pestilence” and our response to it! The word translated “pestilence” is often translated as “plague” or “disaster” in new versions of the English Bible. God is calling us to Himself.”

This is our second Ask Dr. Roger piece that made it into the top 15 for 2020. Dr. Barrier answers three questions: if the coronavirus is a sign of the end time, what the Bible says about God and disease (and our response), and how we can find peace and protection in the midst of a storm. He also includes seven reasons God sends disease and trouble in the Bible and leaves us with the encouraging passage of Psalm 91. God is our true refuge.

“Although Scripture can be a bit enigmatic about the nature of heaven, Jesus does make one thing clear in the Gospel of Luke: even if we marry on this earth to an earthly spouse, we will not stay married to them in heaven. One may wonder how this question comes about. Of all the things to wonder about heaven, a spouse doesn’t necessarily top the list of questions one may think to ask. However, it seems reasonable that Christians may wonder about this. Many Christians have lost a spouse along the way and want to reunite with them in heaven.”

Bolinger covers what the Bible says about marriage in heaven, the context and meaning of Luke 20, if we will still be married and if we will love our spouse in heaven, and how to live with eternity in mind. For those who are married your spouse is likely the closest person to you in your life and the person who knows you the best. For those who are not currently married, they can imagine this scenario with their best friend or closest family member. We all have people we love and it is natural to wonder what kind of relationship will we have with those we know in heaven. It’s important to remember, as Bolinger points out, that God gives us many good gifts on this earth, but His greatest gift to us is Himself. Living in the presence of God is something that can be hard to fully grasp in our earthly lives, but it is something we can trust in and hope for. God is the One our hearts truly long for.

“I’m so glad they are using their God-given talent to give praise to His name. Just listen and be reminded of why this song is such a special one in all of our hearts. We are blessed by the King of all kings and His love reigns down on us all.”

We hope you have enjoyed reading our top 15 Crosswalk articles of 2020, and we hope they have brought you encouragement, understanding, and peace over the last 12 months. We look forward to bringing you new content to explore God’s Word and refresh your soul with hope in the months to come.

Liz Auld is the managing editor for Salem Web Network; she edits and writes content across the editorial sites (Crosswalk.com, Biblestudytools.com, iBelieve.com, Christianity.com). She has a B.A. in Religious Studies and has taken post-graduate classes in Theology and Global Studies. She enjoys reading books from a variety of genres, trying new recipes, and visiting family. 

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5 Things Parents Should Know about Disney and Pixar’s Soul


Imagine you just received news that your lifelong dream is finally coming true—but after one unfortunate misstep into a New York City manhole, you landed yourself in the Great Beyond, a bridge of sorts before the afterlife. That’s what happened to Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), Soul’s loveable protagonist.

Joe spends his days as a middle school band teacher, but all he wants out of life is to become a professional jazz musician. When it seems like his dream is finally in his grasp, all of a sudden he finds himself in the ethereal Great Before, becoming a mentor to a not-yet-born, stubborn soul named 22, who was not ready to come to Earth yet.

Now, in his desperate attempts to switch places with 22 (Tina Fey) to get back to his old life on Earth, Joe is faced with questioning the purpose of his life, if his dream was really enough to fulfill him, and what life is really about.

Soul is Disney/Pixar’s newest film. True to their strengths, this colorful children’s movie is just as much for the parents as it is for kids. Crosswalk was able to gain extra insight into the film in an interview with its director Pete Docter, and its producer Dana Murray.

Here are 5 things parents should know about the movie Soul.

1. Soul Will Give Your Family Fun Opportunities to Talk about God

Soul asks the question “What makes you, you?”—and it will be so much fun to imagine with your kids how they think God specially made them.

The setting splits its time between modern-day New York City and the abstract space of the Great Before, where babies are imagined to go into little factories and come out with personalities, dispositions, and interests in life. Once they find their “spark,” they receive their Earth Pass and float down to home to begin their lives.

Director Pete Docter shares his inspiration for this movie: “It started with my son—he’s 23 now—but the instant he was born, he already had a personality,” says Docter. “Where did that come from? I thought your personality developed through your interaction with the world. And yet, it was pretty clear that we’re all born with a very unique, specific sense of who we are.”

These scenes will give you and your kids a chance to imagine together what God included when he made them unique, if they think God really has a factory or something else, what ingredients they think God used to make them so funny or smart.

Although this movie does not take a specifically Christian stance on what a soul is or isn’t, parents can take this time to remind their kids that God made the whole world, they are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that God lovingly created them for a purpose.

2. Soul Will Help Your Kids Discover Their “Spark”

According to Soul, someone’s “spark” is the thing that makes their life worth living. 22 is a soul that has been around since almost the beginning of time, and yet has not yet been able to find her spark.

She’s had all sorts of famous mentors try to help her throughout the ages: Aristotle, Gandhi, and Abraham Lincoln to name a few. But over the years, she has become cynical that life is worth living at all, and so she rebels against every mentor’s attempts to prove otherwise—until Joe.

Through the hilarious and cosmic events that unfold, 22 and Joe find themselves back on Earth (albeit, not in the form you’d expect). 22 gets to experience all the lovely things life has offer—and Joe learns that his spark isn’t what he thought it was.

Parents can use this movie as an opportunity to find out what lights their kids up and makes them excited about life.

Dana Murray shared that her own young kids got to watch her film, and that “…the conversations that I hope were happening were happening. And I think the things that they really connect to are…their spark, like they’re just trying to figure out ‘what are the things that I really love doing and what am I interested in?’”

With such a strong visual to hold onto, parents can ask their kids those more abstract questions, and get to know what their kids value in a way they may have not been able to before.

As parents are reminded about the beauty that life holds in the form of family, purpose, and everyday meaning, they can teach their kids to look for it too, and learn more about God in the process.

3. Soul Boasts Strong, Diverse Characters

It is much too rare of a sight to have a mainstream movie focus on a black family. But especially in the year 2020, it’s refreshing to have audiences get to see warm, sacred spaces to the black community, like the jazz club and barbershop.

And of course, gorgeous, soulful jazz music is a staple to this film—a distinctly African American contribution to the world of music.

Co-director Kemp Powers was instrumental in making the African American culture showcased in the film as authentic as possible. Says Peter Docter, “Having Kemp on board was a huge help in that regard, and the cultural consultants and musicians we’ve worked with brought us so much knowledge—we wouldn’t have been able to make the film without their help and support.”

Not only are the black men given a chance to transcend stereotypes, but the women are too. Joe Gardener’s mother, Libba, and world-renowned jazz musician who Joe lands a shot to play with, Dorothea Williams, are strong but comforting pillars in Joe’s life. They are confident, energetic, and loving—a wonderful snapshot of vibrant black culture.

Representation matters—especially in the shaping of young minds—and every step forward is worth celebrating.

4. Soul Will Probably Confuse Your Kids

And, it might confuse you at times, too. This movie goes after extremely complex themes and its characters and settings can get quite abstract.

The movie wants to leave its audiences asking questions about the meaning of life, the human experience, what it means to be you, whether or not your life’s purpose should be your sole quest in life, and what it means to be truly fulfilled.

And the setting takes you through places like the Great Beyond (seemingly anything post-death), the Great Before (where souls get their personalities and their spark), The Zone (where people’s souls go when they get really into music or a sport, etc.), and The Astral Plane (where “Lost Souls” go and can be rescued by a group called “Mystics without Borders”)… and it seems like at least some of the characters can traverse these planes of existence at will.

It gets kind of trippy.

So, don’t be surprised if your kids walk out of the movie with 100 questions, and you feel like you can only answer two of them

5. …But, Soul Will Still Entertain the Whole Family

Even if the only two questions you can confidently answer end up being about the names of characters or what instrument Joe played, your whole family will still have a great time.

There are many moments that will make everyone laugh, and a few that might make the adults happy-cry. The movie is colorful and engaging, and all of the characters are highly likable.

In the case that Soul leaves you with more questions than answers, rest assured that they’re the fun kind of questions that help you get to know yourself and your family better.

And what better time to ask your family questions about what really matters to them, than the beautiful season of Christmas?

Soul will premiere on Disney+ on December 25th, 2020. Learn more about it here.

Photo Credit: Disney Australia

Kelly-Jayne McGlynn loves her role as Family Editor for Crosswalk. She sees the act of expression, whether through writing or art, as a way to co-create with God and experience him deeper. Check out her handmade earring Instagram and Etsy for more of her thoughts on connecting with God through creative endeavors.





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What to Do When Politics and Family Collide at Christmas


Thanksgiving this year looked different. And I bet for you—like for me and for a lot of us— Christmas will too. The reasons are plentiful.

We are still navigating a global pandemic and the risks involved with gathering in large numbers with family members whose health is in jeopardy. We are walking through the financial fallout of COVID-19 and what that meant for the job security we thought we had, but now doesn’t feel as secure as we would like.

And lastly, but certainly not least, those who are gathering are anxious about the relational turmoil they are walking into, turmoil created by and sustained by the political unrest that was in no way resolved following Election Day, and in some ways remains unresolved.

The tricky thing about family, is that you can’t choose them. And while we may share a genetic line with them, oftentimes, there’s not much more we do share than that.

…Especially in political persuasions.

And when politics is a major player in the news cycle, and extended time with family is in the cards, this can lead to a lot of angst as we envision what this holiday season might look like.

If that’s you, I’ve got good news and bad news.

The bad news? Tension around politics isn’t going anywhere. The good news? Political conversation gone wrong doesn’t have to be the way your family story unfolds this Christmas, putting a perfectly disastrous 2020 bow on the year.

There’s another way.

When Conversations Turn Political…Run and Hide?

A lot of us, for fear that dialogue will take a heated turn when politics comes up, have learned the delicate dance of avoiding all political conversation. It’s better to pretend it doesn’t exist, we reason.

But let’s be honest. Avoidance is hardly a healthy strategy, and I am not sure it’s yielding the results we want.

Not talking politics hasn’t made the political climate better. If anything, our neglecting it has led to an atrophying of our civil discourse muscle. Then when conflict does arise, and we can’t avoid it, we’ve forgotten HOW to address our dissensions in a healthy way.

Because healthy conversation over disagreements isn’t something we happen into. And it’s not like riding a bike where, even if it’s been years since you practiced, you pick it right back up.

Because politics is personal our emotions get involved. And when politics gets emotional, one of the primary emotions we feel is rage, with a large helping of fear.

If we want civil conversations around politics we can’t just jump right in and hope for the best. We need to determine what the best is in when it comes to dialoguing around these turbulent ideas, and then we need to practice the best.

Strategy Over Reaction

So what does a healthy conversation around legitimately different and conflicting political ideals look like? There isn’t a formula.

In fact, I would say, a conversation with one person on the same topic might ask different things of us depending on the emotional temperature in the room when it’s talked about, the baggage this topic (or relationship) might have, the tone of the conversation leading up to it.

In other words, it’s complicated. And that’s good to keep in mind. Pay attention to more than just the “issue” being brought up before determining how to respond.

Ask questions like:

  • Is this headed towards a conversation or an argument?
  • Is this person looking for a dialogue, or a chance to monologue? What about me?
  • Is my posture one of humility or aggression? What about the other person’s?
  • Am I trying to understand and learn something, or trying to convince and convict someone?
  • In other words, what’s my objective in this conversation? Have I made the goal to win in a debate, or to be curious about a position and person I may not understand?

How we answer these questions before getting into a heated conversation will determine how this conversation goes.

When it comes to political discourse we need a healthy dose of self-awareness, introspection and humility. When we approach the person and the topic this way, we just may be surprised how the entire tone of the conversation changes.

Give Peace a Chance

We’ve all been in those situations where we thought things were in nice, neutral territory, only to find ourselves caught in the middle of a heated and lively argument we had no intention of starting.

While avoidance of difficult topics this Christmas may not be a great idea, neither is wading into combative conversations just for the heck of it so we can see how it goes.

Which means there must be a better way.

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus walks through a list of blessings, given in a time and to a people who would have considered all of the groups Jesus said were blessed as anything but.

Among his list of blessed people were peacemakers. Keep in mind, Jesus was living in a Roman occupied land speaking to people an oppressive empire kept marginalized and sidelined.

And yet, here Jesus was, telling the people gathered on a hill, overlooking a Galilean sea, that blessed were the peacemakers because they would be called children of God.

It’s poetic sounding, but is it possible, especially when it comes to politics?

I think it is. Because Jesus isn’t asking us to keep peace—by ignoring the conflict we are in the middle of, or by bullying the opposing ideas into submission. He is inviting us to make it.

Or, as Jeremy Courtney, founder of Preemptive Love says, to seek it. In other words, to make peace involves two parties willing to pursue it.

And when it comes to politics, that isn’t always the case. So when that happens, our job is to seek it, to offer a bid for peace, to pursue relationship over conflicting positions.

And if the other person is still wanting to engage in an argument? You refuse the invitation. Seeking peace means doing your part to preserve the humanity in yourself and the other person no matter what divides us.

But if the other party isn’t interested, you aren’t held responsible. As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Do you part, but you can only do what you can do.

Love’s Bottom Line

The truth is, we are living in complicated times. We are convinced of our rightness and other people’s wrongness, but when we look at the example Jesus set for how a follower of His lives, conviction isn’t the marker.

Debating ability isn’t either.

Love is.

And love, in a time of conflicting opinions and hardened views and dissenting positions is tricky. But it isn’t impossible. Love is the goal.

Love in our differences, not overlooking them. Love for our uniqueness, not in spite of it. Love that doesn’t gloss over our real disagreements but neither does it see them as a reason to isolate from more challenging relationships.

Christmas this year will be different, for any number of reasons, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we fear it might when coming together with family we don’t see eye to eye with.

Civil conversation can happen.

Peace is possible.

And love, no matter how challenging, will always be the way forward.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/tommaso79

Sarah Bauer Anderson knows tensions in both politics and religion. As the daughter of a former Republican presidential candidate, Gary Bauer, she has spent her entire life learning to live in the tension both politics and religion create, striving to learn how to best navigate the complicated issues and emotional conversations around these weightier topics. In her new book, The Space Between Us: How Jesus Teaches Us to Live Together When Politics and Religion Pull Us Apart (Rodney Anderson LLC, September 8, 2020), Sarah offers introspective, thought-provoking insights on how faith provides a guiding light in navigating these tense conversations around society’s more divisive issues. 





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The Real Christmas Carol (2020)


Most people have seen one or more versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Hands down, it is among my favorite Christmas tales: the story of Ebenezer Scrooge having his conscience reawakened through the apparition of his former partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future.

I like the characters.

I like the Victorian-era Christmas charm, complete with frosted windows, mistletoe and plum pudding.

I love the streets of Old London.

But when I first read the novel itself, after viewing various versions of the movie, I was shocked. Scrooge was not the buffoonish, almost cartoon-like character some of the movies made him out to be.

He was genuinely evil. Cruel. Malicious. He was a dark and sinister man. The story actually reads more like a Stephen King novel.

When you study the era itself that Dickens wrote about you realize that it was dark and evil as well (He published A Christmas Carol in 1843 as a social statement against harsh child labor practices.).

Historian Lisa Toland wrote a fascinating essay on the reality behind the story.

She explains that almost 75% of London’s population was considered working class, many of them children laboring in the factories. In fact, every member of a family had to work in order to survive. Dickens himself worked as a young boy to support his family while his parents were in debtors’ prison.

The time was known as the “Hungry Forties” because there was a depression along with a time of poor harvests. The London skyline was little more than smokestacks putting out clouds of sooty grit that covered rooftops and the cheeks of the young chimney sweeps.

It was the coal-dependent nature of these factories that created the famed London Fog. It wasn’t fog at all, but a combination of smoke, soot and grit. The streets were covered in rainwater, the contents of chamber pots and animal waste. Rats were abundant.

Small, often emaciated children sold flowers and matches while the wealthy class’ horse-drawn carriages swept past. London’s poor were forced into shrinking housing districts. Multiple families lived in single rooms in rundown buildings.

That was Dickens’ London.

And people had turned a blind eye because supposedly there were “services.” When two men ask Scrooge for money, he replies: “Are there no prisons? And the Union workhouses? Are they still open? … The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor, then?” Without context, there is much that we fail to understand.

What makes Scrooge’s comments so biting is that the Poor Law and its accompanying workhouses were despised by the poor. The driving principle was to make the conditions in those places worse than how they would have lived and worked had they had a job. And in trying to determine who did deserve to go there, the group that fell through the cracks was children. The father or mother would be sent to the workhouse, leaving the children alone to beg in the streets. 

Or worse.

If you died while laboring in a workhouse, your body was automatically turned over for dissection. You wouldn’t even receive a burial. The conditions were so bad and people there were treated so poorly, that many of London’s poor chose to beg on the streets or enter into prostitution in order to avoid the workhouses.

From that darkness, Dickens gave us a tale of redemption.

The story of someone being saved.

There is another story we tend to romanticize.

We’ve all seen the Christmas cards that go out: pictures of Mary in flowing robes, gentle animals gazing lovingly down on the baby who is always blue-eyed, blonde and, while supposedly newborn, has the look and weight of a six-month-old.

That’s not the way it was.

Mary and Joseph were desperate to find a place for her to give birth and couldn’t find one. They ended up in an outdoor livestock area. Unclean, unkempt, unwelcome. Tradition – dating back to Justin Martyr in the second century – says it was probably some kind of cave. Smelly, damp, cold.

They had to use a feeding trough as a bassinette. The word “manger” is very warm and fuzzy, but don’t romanticize it. A manger was a feeding trough for the animals. 

This was a desperately stark and sad scene.

And lonely.

The Bible tells us that Mary wrapped the baby in cloths. That was common for the day. Long strips of cloth were used to wrap the baby tight and keep their legs and arms straight and secure. The process is called swaddling.

It tells us something of the lonely nature of Mary’s motherhood that Luke records that she was the one who wrapped Jesus up after His birth. In other words, there was no midwife or relative helping, which would have been the norm.

And she was young. Very young.

Engagement usually took place immediately after entering puberty, so Mary may have just entered her teens—13, 14 or, at the most, 15.

And from that darkness, we are given another picture of redemption.

Another story about being saved.

Another story that can be romanticized, but that was very, very real.

Real in a way that drives us to our knees to marvel at God come to Earth to save… us.

James Emery White

Sources     

Lisa Toland, “The Darker Side of ‘A Christmas Carol,’” Christianity Today, December 2, 2009, read online.

*Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in 2010. It is a favorite of the Church & Culture Team, and we thought you would enjoy reading it again this year.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.

Image courtesy: Disney Pictures





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What Is an Archangel and What Is His Role in the End Times?


What Are Angels?

Angels are part of the universe God created.  They exercise moral judgment. We see this because some of them sinned and fell from their positions (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). They speak to people (Matthew 28:5; Acts 12:6-11) and sing praise to the Lord (Revelation 4:11; 5:11). We do not have any idea of how many angels God created. 

Man cannot usually see angels unless God gives us a special ability to see them (Numbers 22:31; 2 Kings:17; Luke 2:13). They are engaged in guarding and protecting man (Psalm 34:7; 91:11; Heb. 1:14) and joining with Christians in worship to God (Hebrews 12:22), but they are still invisible. From time to time, angels took on a bodily form to appear to various people in Scripture (Matthew 28:5; Hebrews 13:2).

The Word of God indicates there is a rank and order among the angels. One angel, Michael, is called an archangel (Jude 9), a title that indicates rule or authority over other angles. He is called “one of the chief princes” in Daniel 10:13. In Revelation 12:7-8, Michael is the leader of the angelic army. 

Do Angels Have a Role in the End Times?

Revelation 12 presents a grand history of the church in the form of a vision of a woman, her son, and a great red dragon. The woman stands for the church, through which God brought his Son, the Savior, into the world. The dragon is the devil, who opposed the child’s birth and persecuted the church after Christ has ascended in power. Verses 1–6 introduced the players in this holy war, showing how God overcame the devil through the birth and the saving ministry of Christ.

Starting in verse 7, the vision continues by showing the devil’s ongoing warfare against believers. Satan suffered a terrible defeat in the coming of Christ so that his activities are curtailed. Nonetheless, he continues to rage with the resources he has left in the spiritual warfare that marks this age between Christ’s first and second comings.

The theme of this vision, starting in Revelation 12:7, is the defeat suffered by the devil because of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. According to Revelation 12:7, not only does spiritual warfare take place on the earth between Christ and his people and Satan and his servants, but there is also warfare in the spiritual realm of angels.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/mbolina





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9 Ways Grandparents Can Share Christmas This Year, Even from Far Away


The closer and closer we get to the Christmas holiday, the more you hear folks discussing the best way to celebrate this COVID Christmas. Assure your grandchildren that though the holiday may look a bit different this year, they will not miss the celebration.

It is hard to substitute something new for a tried and true tradition. However, if the grandparents can have a positive attitude, grandchildren will follow along and consider 2020 Christmas a fun adventure.

Here are 9 creative ideas to stay close to your grandchildren during this Christmas of distancing.

1. Secret Gag Gifts

 We heard an announcement from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, that the royal Christmas would be different, breaking a 33-year-old tradition. For years the family and extended family has gathered at Windsor Castle. This year, however, because of COVID-19, the family will stay away, all for various reasons but mostly to protect the Queen.

For years every member of the royal family has had a secret family member for which to bring a gag gift, something that would make them all laugh.

Sometime during the week of Christmas, the giver wraps the gift and sneaks down to the dining room and places it on the table. Then Christmas Eve the family gathers to open presents and enjoy a jovial evening.

I don’t know how the Queen’s family will carry this on this year, but the practice of secret gifts could be adapted to families who must celebrate apart. Just start early enough to mail the gift to its recipient, or arrange with a different family member to get it to your assigned person. Then gather on an internet platform to open gifts and laugh together.

2. Virtual Charades

Another of the royals’ traditions is that the Queen really enjoys a game of charades on Christmas Eve. This, too, could be played by multiple families who are spread out all over the world.

Let one person organize the game and create the phrases to be identified. Use the chat feature of an internet platform to let them know their subject to act out. This is a great game for all ages.

3. 12 Days of Christmas

This would be a fun year to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Just what does that mean? For the 12 days of Christmas, you give a small gift beginning with one gift on the first day ending with 12 gifts on the last day. The gifts may be purchased or handmade or maybe even just a written note or two.

Grandparents, this is a great opportunity to help your grandchildren pass the time until Christmas day, even if you don’t live in the same town. You could collect your gifts ahead of time, wrap them, put a number on them, and mail them in one big box to the parents.

Ask the parents to find a good place to serve as the “mailbox” and make sure they are delivered. If you prefer, you could mail them to the children separately. The biggest flaw in this plan is that holiday delivery may interfere with the presents arriving on the right day.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of assembling and wrapping presents, you may want to call your grandchildren daily and have jokes ready for them each day. You could do one on the first day, two on the second, and so forth. Just make sure your jokes are appropriate for the ages of the grandchildren.

4. Record Reactions to Gifts

Nothing is more fun than watching someone open a gift you have chosen just for him or her. When you can’t be together in person, make a video of each recipient opening gifts and share them with the giver.

Not only can they experience the joy their gift brings, but it also gives the recipient the opportunity to thank the giver in a timely manner. If you prefer, you could set a time with everyone in the family and virtually share a gift opening session. Be sure writing thank you notes is part of the evening.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/RamilF

5. An Interactive Nativity Story

Gather virtually around the manger scene. Let each person take one character from the scene and tell the family and share:

1. Why he chose that person
2. Why the person wanted to go see Jesus
3. What he had to do to make it possible to make the trip
4. What is the most special thing about Jesus in the manger

You will probably find that everyone has a favorite person to talk about and different reasons for choosing that person.

In our nativity my favorite person is the man who has a basket over his arm, his hat in the other hand and that arm up across his forehead like he has a headache. We call him “Man with a Headache!”

I think he had so many things to attend to at home to be able to make the trip that it gave him a headache. He had to make sure the animals would be fed, the children had what they needed, and that his wife understood how to keep things going in his absence. Even though she really wanted him to go see Jesus, she probably had a headache, too!

6. Read a Bedtime Story to Your Grandchildren

This could be done virtually as well or if you prefer to record it, Mom and Dad can play it at bedtime. Having Grandma and Grandpa “there” at bedtime will be a special treat for the children. There are many wonderful Christmas books to choose from or you could read them part of the Christmas story every night and discuss it.

Close by singing a song together and praying for your grandchildren.

7. Recite a Christmas Story Together

Depending on the ages of your family members, have each member memorize a line from the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke. Have all family  Then on Christmas Eve, Grandpa and Grandma can lead as everyone recites it together.

Not only will this increase your faith from hearing the Word about Jesus, it will help your family bond over the magic of Christmas.

8. Puzzle Competition

Send each family in your extended group the same puzzle. Instruct them exactly when to start the puzzle, not before.

Write down the exact time the puzzle is complete and send to the grandparents. Have a prize for the family who wins.

9. Guess Which Present Is for Which Family Member

This year may be the year we have to mail or drop off presents even for those who live in town. Think creatively how you can make it fun despite your absence.

Before mailing your Christmas presents, choose a specific wrapping paper for each recipient and leave off the gift tags. Those who receive the gifts must decide which gift is for which person. For example, if you have a football player in the family, find some Christmas football paper.

If someone plays a musical instrument, you can probably find that paper too. Almost every family has Disney fans or those who love Superheroes.

Many options exist for gathering “together” while we have to be apart. If you must social distance this year, be encouraged in knowing we won’t have to do this forever. Hopefully, next year this will be forgotten as we joyfully prepare large family gatherings.

The most important thing we can remember during this unprecedented Christmas season is the One whose birth we are celebrating. No matter whether we are alone in our homes, with just our immediate families, or gathered with a good friend or two, you can celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Take time to sing carols and praise songs. Lead your grandchildren in singing a happy birthday song to Jesus. Maybe help them bake Jesus a cake and set Him a place at the table. 

Most of all, take time to tell Him that you love Him and thank Him for the sacrifice He made for you. Acknowledge your trust in Him and promise to make it part of your practice in the new year to tell others about Him.

Let your Christmas gift to Him be your diligence in spreading the word about God’s saving grace to others. Fill your home and your hearts with His love and enjoy the spirit of Christmas this month and all year long.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/YakobchukOlena

Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of writing and learn to use their writing to make a difference. Linda recently released Articles, Articles, Articles! and is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and 19 books including the new Quick Guides for Personalities. She loves every opportunity to share her testimony, especially through her writing. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!





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Christianity

10 Signs Your Marriage Is Built on Christ


9. Ephesians 5 Is Cherished as Wisdom, Not a Weapon


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Ephesians 5 is a classic text to turn to when seeking biblical wisdom about marriage. However, it also has a tendency to unsettle those who do not understand that the word of God can be trusted with all areas of life. Truths like, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy,… In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:24-28)

This passage refuses to tiptoe around words like submission and sacrifice. It says sacrifice and submission are how you get to be a part of the great dance reflecting the relationship between Christ and the church. It is a divine design and those who have a marriage dedicated to Jesus have done the hard work these words require to find the great beauty in an Ephesians 5 marriage. As Tim Keller says in The Meaning of Marriage, “the tender, serving authority of a husband’s headship and the strong, gracious gift of a wife’s submission restore us to who we were meant to be at creation.”

10. Differences Are Celebrated

At the beginning of a relationship, opposites may attract, but at some point, those differences that once seemed irresistible feel more like irritations. A couple committed to Christ will remember that neither of them is perfect and that the divergent parts of their personalities are providential. In What Did You Expect?: Redeeming The Realities Of MarriagePaul David Tripp points out that, “One way God establishes beauty is by putting things that are different next to each other. Isn’t this exactly what God does in marriage? He puts very different people next to each other. This is how he establishes the beauty of a marriage. The moon would not be so striking if it hung in a white sky; in the same way, the striking beauty of a marriage is when two very different people learn to celebrate and benefit from their differences and to be protected from their weaknesses by being sheltered by the other’s strength.”

What a privilege it is to live in a marriage that reflects a living God to a dying world. A marriage built on Christ does not forget what it is about, who it is for, and is always pointing at the Savior of the world, the perfect groom—Jesus.

Photo Credit: © MoMo Productions

Chara Donahue is a co-author of the Bible study 1, 2 & 3 John: Experiencing Transformation and is working on her next book. She enjoys serving as a biblical counselor, speaking to women, and savoring coffee when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University, is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths, and is the founder and editor of Anchored Voices. She is also the host of the podcast The Bible Never Said That, which you can listen to on LifeAudio.com. Get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter.





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