Advent Calendar 2015

Advent is the time in the church calendar when we wait for the coming of the Christ child. It is marked by the observation of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. Each Sunday of Advent the church observes a different theme of this journey: hope, peace, love and joy. Candles are lit as the light of the world (Christ) is drawing closer to us.

During this time, we are called not to run to the manger but to wait… that’s right…. wait… for Christmas. Sure some people have decorated their entire house on November 1 but Advent calls us to slow down, be more reflective and wait. It is through this intentionality that we begin to see and experience the message of hope, peace, love and joy in our own lives and the world around us

There is something freeing, however, in slowing down. We are able to take in all that is around us and see how God is moving in our lives in ways that we would have looked right over had we not taken a moment to be reflective and aware.

How are we using this time of Advent to prepare and to wait? Are we rushing from store to store buying mountains of gifts, trying to equate our love for someone by how big the price tag is?

Don’t we want Christmas to be something more than lights, too much food, elves on the shelf and Santa? Why can’t this time of Advent propel us into a deeper sense of the Divine around us and with us? Where are the places God is leading us to? These are the thoughts that we take with us during this journey to the manger.

Use this calendar each day of Advent to prepare yourself for the coming of Jesus into the world.

Each day has a scripture and something to pray for or to reflect on. Let us journey to together to find the Christ-child, the source of all hope, peace, joy and love this Advent.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

 

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Advent Calendar 2015 PDF

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Creative Commons LicenseAdvent Calendar 2015 by Rev. Evan M. Dolive, M.Div. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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The Gospel According to Haley K.

Let’s face it… humanity is pretty selfish.  We want more than the next person, we covet other’s wealth and fame and some people will stop at nothing to make sure they (or someone they love) is a better place or position regardless of the consequences.  Wars have been waged over land and resources, people have been killed over little league playing time and people rush out to buy the new Apple iPhone or iPad or any other device to make sure they stand at the pinnacle of humanity’s shallow standards.

This unfortunately has found its way in the church through a number of doors.

Because of this we fail to remember the call of Christ to become self-less.  

We are called as followers of Christ to be the hands and feet of God at all times to all people.  When are humanity kicks in and overshadows are call we can say, act and even do things we regret.

My sister, Haley, tweeted some nice pieces of self-less theology.

[tweet 583649994378383360 align=’center’] [tweet 583650032710131712 align=’center’]

Much like humanity, the church can be the best thing for society and the worst for people all at the same time.  I hope that for our world’s sake we focus on others over our own.  Haley is right… the world would be a much better place.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once wrote:

Do your little of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Let’s not forget our own call to serve God in the world and through this interactions with others we will then show them the light of Christ.  This the most effective evangelism ever conceived.

 

In Christ,
Rev. Evan

Tweet of the Week: Wait… What?

I know that a lot of people do not like the President’s policies or whatever, but this type of criticism is a new one for me.  I have heard people in passing joke about the fact that they think the President is the “Anti-Christ” (a word not even used in the book of Revelation but that is topic for another day) but never anything like this.

Happy Friday and happy tweeting!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Finding Religion In A Fortune Cookie?

Fortune Cookie Deep Faith

Can you find religion in the American made tradition of a fortune cookie?  After church we went out for Chinese by request from my now 5-year-old; I opened my fortune cookie and found this message.

Generally these fortunes aren’t really fortunes at all but often cliché sayings that are supposed to make you feel better for eating too many egg rolls.  They have become so silly that people have even started making games out of these feeble sayings.

This one, however, was different; maybe it was different because I needed to hear it.  We all need a reminder from time to time that our faith is something that is not static but ever-changing and growing.

We turn to it in our times of need and in our times of sorrow.

Can faith really drive out fear?  I think so if we remember that it is there to begin with.

This little piece of paper reminded me that while the future is always uncertain, my reaction to it is not.

My faith might be shaken or even shrink to the point of non-existence but there is something that will always call me back, something that will point to something greater than myself.  In a world of 10,000 emails, productivity software apps, deadlines and commitments, we can forget that the simplest thing is to have faith like a child.  We don’t have to have all the answers, run around with an “I love Jesus” t-shirt on or even attend a local congregation.  The faith that we have can be simple or it can be great; all that matters that we have that faith.

Every person as a part of their faith journey has some reason why they keep coming back to God even when facing adversity or doubt. There is something that calls us back into communion or relation with God that undeniable. There is a moment in every person’s life when the Divine was so real, so tangible, you felt as if you could almost reach out and touch God. Our hearts our filled, they are overwhelmed with God and God’s grace or mercy or love or forgiveness. That is that calls us back… that is where we find our wholeness and completeness. This faith drives out our doubt and fear; this faith is undeniable and the bed rock of our understanding of God.

Over time we can lost sight of it or think that we should be doing more, but more times than not we will return this place to recharge and reconnect.

So yes maybe you can find religion in a fortune cookie. The next time you stuff your face with Lo Mein and spring rolls and before you learn your lucky numbers and how to say “sugar” in Chinese, be sure to look for the message that awaits you, you never know what you might find.

Keep the faith.

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan


“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”– Saint Augustine, taken from The Confessions

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 Common English Bible

Rethinking “Faith Like A Child”

My latest for Sojourners


Being a parent is an awesome task. On one hand you have the responsibility of caring for another human being; on the other, children can push the limits of your sanity, sleep habits, and your willpower while you watch the same TV show for the 14th time in a week. Parenting is not easy. Don’t believe me? Google ‘parenting tips’ and watch the advice flow in. Most of it is not worth reading, but every now and then you can find a diamond in the rough. Every person who has ever been a parent (and some who have not) will have an opinion on everything from discipline to feeding schedules and car seat options.

One important task that parents have is passing on values and beliefs to the next generation. Since we are Christian, my wife and I are raising our family in the church. It’s wonderful to see the wheels turning in my daughter’s head as she is learning about the faith that I hold so dear. This past Christmas was especially wonderful because this was the first year that the story of the coming of Christ in the world as a baby in a manger prompted awe and wonder. I have to admit I envy her; she is hearing the stories of God, Jesus, and the disciples for the first time. What I wouldn’t give to be able to listen to what goes on in her mind when she hears about angels singing or God loving humanity without conditions.

We don’t give children enough credit. They are infinitely smarter than we think. Children figure out things that most adults have trouble comprehending. I truly believe that my daughter came out of the womb knowing how to operate an iPad. She gets that finger swiping and she can navigate the world of apps and photos with more precision and understanding that people 20 times her age.

In the Gospel of Mark, we find these words of Jesus: “ I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15–Common English Bible). This verse is referenced when someone speaks that followers of Christ should have “faith like a child.” Generally, this is defined as “simple faith” or “faith without question.” This, however, is a misguided understanding.

My daughter, although she is only 3, understands the notion of the Gospel at basic level. For example, while traversing the aisles of a grocery store, my daughter exclaimed the words every parent has heard: “Daddy I want one of those.” I looked in the direction she was pointing thinking I was going to see a candy display or something with her favorite cartoon character on it. I didn’t see any of those things. I asked for her to clarify and she again pointed to a display of brown paper bags that had been filled with canned goods to be purchased for the local homeless shelter. She said, “I want to get one of those bags for the people who can’t come to the store to buy things.” I learned later that my wife the week previously had explained the bags to her. No matter how she learned about the bags, there was no way in the world I was telling her ‘no.’ What kind of message would that send to a child with a budding faith and curiosity about the world around her? I knew in that moment that my 3-year-old daughter was acting on her faith in a way that most adults never get a glimpse of. She didn’t ask how the people who needed the food got into the situation they were in and neither would Jesus. She didn’t say too many people were receiving handouts and neither would Jesus. She didn’t care about who got the bag of food and neither would Jesus. Simply put, if we are called to be followers of Christ, then we should start doing some Christ-like things.

Children’s faiths are alive and strong, and the church needs to recognize this instead of repeating corny “children’s sermons” that are usually well intentioned but often developmentally inappropriate. The church’s story is being heard and lived out in front of our eyes through the hands and feet of some of the smallest members of the church. Why are we amazed that more children are asking to give money or toys to others instead of receiving for themselves? This is something that should be an extension of our own faith; sometimes it takes the innocence of a child to reorient our thinking about what truly matters.

Having faith like a child does not mean that we take everything at face value, but it does mean that we have the ‘go-get-em’ attitude. Children’s faiths are constantly being shaped and formed by the people around them and by the answers they get to important questions. If we cannot articulate our faith in a way that a child can understand, then we have a failure in communication.

I want to have a child’s faith; I want the stories of the Bible to be more than just words on a page or the same old story. I want to be emboldened in my faith to step out and be the hands and feet of Christ in the world around me. And if I can do that, I know that I will have a partner in ministry with me.

Let’s not lose that sense of wonder that children possess.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan Dolive

14 Books In 2014

My new year’s resolution is one that I think many people make: to read more.

I enjoy reading and I even have a Kindle.

I have an ever growing list of books that I want to read, should read and have been recommended to me but by consequence of having a full time job, preaching on Sundays, a wife and two kids, time is scarce.

So this year I am going to make a goal to read 14 books in the year 2014.  I know to some avid readers out there 14 is the standard quota for a week but I am taking baby steps here.

I hope to write reviews on the books I read during this challenge and you never know maybe I will surpass my goal of 14.

If you have any recommendations for me feel free to comment below!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
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Picture: “Books HD” by Abeee via flickr. used under the Creative Commons License 2.0.

Guilty Or Innocent: One Fact We Might Be Missing…

There was one constant this week at work while I visited patients– and no, it wasn’t the fact that people mistaken me as a Doctor or a Nurse.  This week over 50% of the rooms I entered had the George Zimmerman trial on the TV.  CNN, MSNBC and other major news outlets have been running what seems like 24 hours coverage of courtroom drama; the lead story for most of the news stations and more than likely on talk radio (on both sides of the aisle) has been a run down of the evidence, the objections and word for word break down for the testimony given.  Social media has been flooded with hashtags, posts, reflections and petitions for both Trayvon and George Zimmerman.

Talking heads and media commentators have weighed the evidence and tried to ascertain what verdict the all female jury will return with.  They have debated the use of “cracker” as a derogatory word and have talked ad nauseum, often in circles, about this case.  At times, it can be too much to handle or absorb.

But through it all, there is one piece of information, in my opinion, that the ratings-hungry news organizations have missed or overlooked; whether the jury comes back with a guilty or innocent verdict, a 17 year old boy, Trayvon Martin, is dead.

Trayvon Martin via Wikipedia

While it is right to seek after justice, is it possible during the process to miss the point?  Has the media and the populace become so enamored with the trial and the ultimate verdict that Trayvon has been pushed to the side?  Is this the effect of the 24 hour news cycle with its constant updates, critiques and up to the minute details?

Trayvon was brought up during the trial.  But in my view it was more indirectly, as if he was a part of some grand motion picture of the legal system of Florida.  He was described as a thug high on marijuana as well as a 17 year old kid just trying to keep out of the rain and get back home.

What happened that February night was a travesty for all parties involved. No parent should ever have to bury their child and George Zimmerman now has to live the rest of his life knowing that he took another human being’s life.

At the center of the Creation story found in the Book of Genesis is the notion that all of creation is made by the hands of God.  But it is humanity that takes a special place in the order of creation.  God created humanity in God’s likeness and image.  Genesis 1:26-27 reads:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth. ‘ God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them,male and female God created them.” (Common English Bible, 2011)

These two verses serve as a reminder that no human being is an accident and that every human being is a product of a living God. It was God who formed from the dirt Adam and then breathed the very breath of God into his nostrils. These two events are not the by product of a passive God; these events signify that God has an intimate relationship with ALL of humanity, no matter what side of the “train tracks” you are from.

During the next few days (or maybe weeks) we need to remember the story of creation.  As the verdict is returned and the news organizations postulate why the jury went one way or the other, may we remember that all life is precious and all people are children of God.

George Zimmerman, guilty or innocent, is a child of God.

Trayvon Martin, no matter his past or alleged wrong doings, is a child of God.

May we remember where we all come from not just during a high profile case, but forever.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Guest Post: The Problem of Human Trafficking is Too Big-Why Bother Trying to Help?

Kimberly Rae is a best selling author, blogger and world traveler.  She blogs about a variety of topics but one that is close to her heart is human trafficking.  She was kind enough to blog about my letter to Victoria’s Secret and I am happy to have her as the first guest author on this blog.  If you would like to be a guest contributor, click here for more info.

Below is her guest post; be sure to check out her site- www.kimberlyrae.com


The Problem of Human Trafficking is Too Big-Why Bother Trying to Help?

A 15-year-old girl and her 14-year-old cousin got permission to walk down to a local Wendy’s late one night to get a couple of Frosties.  While they were walking, a car drove up, and by the end of that night, these two girls had become just a tiny, tiny addition to the thousands of minors trafficked in the United States of the America, the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Now those two girls have been rescued and are home again.  The older girl tells her story in a video on the website www.truckersagainsttrafficking.com, a video that will hopefully be part of required training for men joining the trucking industry in the future.

Why?  Because things will never change unless people care enough to act.  I think many of us look at the huge statistics and decide, why bother?  There are 20 million slaves in the world today. It’s a problem too big, one person can never make a dent in it.

That’s true to an extent.  Each of us on our own are pretty powerless to change the huge statistics.  None of us can expect to do the impossible.

However . . . we can make a difference in one life.  It may not seem much, but if that one person was your daughter, or your friend, or yourself, wouldn’t you want someone to “bother”–to put forth the effort to make a difference even if they couldn’t save everybody?

I would.  As I place myself in those young girls’ shoes, being forced to sell myself to strangers, staying because of threats against my family or my own life, I know I would desperately want to escape but likely not have the courage.  Or the resources.

But if someone came along, someone who didn’t just look through me but really saw me, if they cared enough to ask one or two important questions, then make just one phone call–a call that would deliver me and give me back a future, I would reach out for the freedom offered me.  I would grasp hold of the possibility of a future and a hope.

Isn’t that, after all, what Jesus gives us? (Jer. 29:11)

And wouldn’t He rejoice to see us doing that for others?

That’s what happened recently when those girls who’d been trapped for 10 years in a home in Cleveland were rescued. All across our country, girls (and some boys too) are being taken, trapped, and forced to sell themselves against their will. A major part of this happens within the trucking industry. Girls are taken to truck stops, where they are forced to go from truck to truck, offering their “company.” They even have a name. Lot lizards.

But things are changing. Thanks to Truckers Against Trafficking, men are finding out that many of the girls they see do not want to be there, no matter how they pretend. Truckers are making phone calls to the human trafficking hotline—1-888-373-7888—and girls are being rescued.

One man called in his suspicions and, without endangering himself, caused the rescue of 9 young girls and broke down a 13-state trafficking ring.  Just one person!  Just one phone call.

Helen Keller once said,
“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

If this can be said and lived by a woman who could not hear or see, shouldn’t we be inspired that we can do our part, too?

So let’s stop looking at the massive need, the big statistics, or our own limitations.  Instead, let’s become aware, and be ready to respond if God places someone before who is in need. Our actions and reactions may make all the difference in the world to someone who right now is trapped, and desperately wants to be free.

Go with God,
go for God,
go because God goes with you.

For of Him, and to Him, and through Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.  Amen.
Romans 11:36



Author Photo More Square

Kimberly Rae has lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia. Her Christian suspense/romance novels on international human trafficking (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future) are all Amazon bestsellers. Rae is currently working on a new series on trafficking for teens. Find out more at www.kimberlyrae.com or like Kimberly’s facebook page, Human Trafficking Stolen Woman, to get updates on the fight against human trafficking.

What A Difference 3.8 Million People Make

Two months ago today I clicked publish on a post about Victoria’s Secret Spring Break Collection called “Bright Young Things.”   The aim of the letter was to let Victoria’s Secret know (as well as whomever would listen) that I disliked their marketing to a younger demographics and how they set up an unattainable standard of sexuality and beauty.

To date the letter has been read/viewed on this site nearly 3.8 million times from all around the world.  The letter is still be read today and shared over the internet.

To date the letter has been shared on Facebook over 765,000 times, on Twitter over 5100 times, almost 100 times on LinkedIn and over 550 times on Google Plus.

I want to take this time to say thank you for everything!

Because of the exposure I received, I have begun to contribute to a few websites- the Good Men Project, Sojourners and RadicalParents.com.  I am humbled and honored to contribute to these great sites.  I will try to post my articles here whenever I can.

I have been completely overwhelmed by all of this and I all of you to thank.  Without you sharing, liking, emailing and commenting- none of this would have ever happened.

I still have not had an official response from Victoria’s Secret (and I do not expect to), but another clothing company did.

About month ago Fruit of the Loom contacted me to let me know that they had seen my letter online.  They liked it and wanted to send my daughter “age appropriate” underwear.   They sent my daughter 10 pairs!  She was so excited to get them in the mail.

Fruit of the Loom

I want to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to Fruit of the Loom.  Thank you for generosity and for thinking of my daughter! (The items pictured can be found here and here.)

Thank you again!  Keep reading, sharing and liking!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Disney Princesses, Merida’s Makeover, and Empowering Girls

My latest piece for Sojourners


Having a 3-year-old daughter opens your eyes to a world that you did not know existed, the world of princesses. Disney has cornered the princess market; there are currently 11 official Disney princesses, and if you are brave enough to travel to Disney World/Land or even a Disney store, you will soon find out that there is a plethora of accessories — dresses, placemats, and cups (just to name a few).

Disney has come under fire in the past for focusing only on Caucasian women — Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and others. But over time, non-white princesses were introduced, like Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine, and Tiana.

Disney’s latest princess was Merida from the film Brave broke most of the Disney princess rules. She didn’t like pretty gowns, she liked to shoot bows and arrows, and her crowning glory was frizzy, wild red hair. Some people believed that Disney had finally broken the mold of the “damsel in distress” model of princesses that has been a dominant theme throughout many of the films. The trend actually started with Pocahontas and Mulan; maybe the theme of strong women role models would continue. Brave was a cute film with a wonderful message. Merida had a round face and was rough and tumble with her triplet brothers. She didn’t want fancy dresses or even want to be a princess; Merida just wanted to be Merida. She was the example of girls being girls, no matter how they look.

However, in a recent update, Disney decided to take the idea of Merida in Brave and throw it out the window. Merida, for her official induction into the Disney princess cohort, got a bit of a makeover. Merida 2.0 was taller, skinnier in the waist and had a slimmer face. Her famous bow-and-arrow set are missing, and her iconic wild hair has been tamed.

After the uproar that followed, Disney quietly pulled the newer version of Merida.

But my question for Disney stands: Why? What was so wrong with Merida that it warranted the change?

Disney made a statement with the creation of Merida, and it inspired girls around the world to live into who they wanted to be, not what society wanted them to be. Merida’s makeover told girls that, yes you can be who you want to be, but at some point you are going to have to fit in.

Brave’s director called the change “atrocious” in an interview with the Marin Independent Journal.

She continued: “When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It’s horrible! Merida was created to break that mold — to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.”

Girls today need characters and princesses that are strong and powerful and reflect the society of today. I know that no one princess or character on Disney will ever be 100 percent inclusive of all people, but Disney at least needs to try.

Maybe sexualized images are more marketable, but that is not the point — empowering our girls is. I’m pleased that Disney has reversed its decision to alter one of their best examples of an empowered girl. I hope the trend of strong princesses started by this character continues.