Ronan Keane is the executive editor of the Activated magazine.
One of the miracles of Christmas is that even in a modern society, where you often find yourself seemingly besieged by rampant materialism, the true meaning of Christmas is never entirely lost. Even nonbelievers are moved by the symbolism of an innocent child who represents humanity’s hope and who came to earth to invite each person to reach out to God and to one another. I cannot imagine a more beautiful story.
I recently saw this quote and loved its description of a family: “Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”
But families aren’t static. In fact, in our lives, one of the main things that changes as we go through the seasons of life is our relationships with family. As my three-year-old son recently said, “First, you are a boy, then you turn into a dad, then you turn into a grandpa.” Oh, for the simplicity of a child.
Have you noticed that it’s rare to find someone who honestly feels that their life is in good balance: their work, their family life, their spiritual life, their daily chores, and their personal needs?
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
In computer science and mathematics, Garbage In, Garbage Out describes the concept that flawed or nonsense input data produces nonsense output or “garbage.” In other words, inaccurate or faulty information at the start will inevitably lead to inaccurate or faulty results.
The great American evangelist Dwight L. Moody had a pithy phrase to describe character: Character is what you are in the dark.
As Christians, we all want to grow in spiritual maturity and Christlikeness. We want to become all we can be with Christ’s help, to put aside sin and who we are in our worst moments, and replace that with behavior that demonstrates the fruits of the spirit—love, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and so on.1
Have you ever wondered why it seems that some prayers aren’t answered? Have you even ever, like me, wondered why it seems that it’s your prayers, specifically, that aren’t answered?
Having been a believer all my life, I’ve prayed for many, many things, and I’ve also often experienced the disappointment of my prayers not being answered—at least, not in the way that I’d expected or hoped.
In one of his psalms, King David wrote, speaking to God, “To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.”1 I’ve always found that to be a beautiful description of God’s ability to be everywhere and see everything.
I recently reread the touching story of a wealthy man and his son who loved to collect works of art. (The story appears in several sermons and books, but the original author is unknown.) It goes like this:
We may not all have the same definition of success, but who doesn’t want to be successful? And rightly so. The desire for comfort and security and the yearning for meaning and fulfillment in life are inborn and universal. Why then do so many people seem to settle for less? Why don’t they pursue their goals more actively? There are several reasons, but I think this excerpt from an article I came across exposes one of the most common: