By Paul Koch

When I was a child, I disliked clothes shopping. You remember the days when mom would hold up outfit after outfit and have you try them on one after another to try to get the perfect size (which was usually just a little too big so that you had room to grow). Getting new clothes back then was necessary, but it wasn’t all that memorable. However, these days, getting new clothes is a lot of fun. While it’s been a while since I’ve bought a new suit, there is an awesome feeling when you wear a new outfit. The clothes can actually make you feel better. Perhaps they make you feel more accomplished or more respectable. You can buy clothes that make you feel more free or spontaneous. Clothes go far beyond being practical and protective. They can make a statement or even help you achieve your goals. There is truth in that old saying that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that clothes are the driving force in your life, but they aren’t impartial to who you are or what you want to be, or at least they can be.

By Cindy Koch

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

By Joel A. Hess

Every year, a little bit of my love for Christmas dies. I don’t want it to. I hold on tightly in November. I turn up the tunes and decorate my office right after Thanksgiving. Each year, the tree goes up faster and with less ceremony. Each year, I pause less with each ornament. Each year, the season goes by faster. I barely have time to be anxious, excited, or even mournful.

By Paul Koch

There is nothing worse than the feeling that comes over you when reality beats back your wish dreams. When you imagine what something would be like—how it would look, act, or feel—and then you experience it in real life and finally take it all in only to find that it’s not what you imagined. In that moment, your expectations, your ideal is shattered. And in a way, a big part of what our Lord does as he walks the earth is tear down the images and dreams people had concerning the Messiah. Everyone was waiting for the Messiah, eager to receive the Anointed One, and they all had their own detailed understanding of just how he would act and what sort of things he would accomplish. Would he be compassionate, kind, and forgiving? Would he be a critical judge and immovable threat? A liberator of the people of God? A deliverer from oppression or a political king? Everyone took the title of Messiah and filled it with their own wish dreams, and everything went along wonderfully until it crashed into reality.

By Cindy Koch

Wandering around in the darkness, I wish I knew the way to go. Every once in a while, I see a glimmer of light and I run towards it. I know what the light looks like, but I don’t always see where to follow. The tiny spark is sometimes so very far away. In the cold dark night, the light may seem to go out, and I can’t see it at all. Where do I look to find this light?

By Paul Koch

I’m not going to lie, I have always wanted to get a response to my preaching like John the Baptist had. I’m serious. Just once I wanted to preach the Word of God and have someone cry out in distress and longing, “What shall I do?” Not all the time, mind you. I would settle for just once. Just once I would love to have someone respond in a very real way seeking to change something about the way he conducted himself because of the preaching that I was called to do. Some visible reminder that the Word proclaimed actually sunk that deep into her, that she is then moved to do something in response. Sometimes I see people shed a tear or two, sometimes there are the smiles and the nodding of heads. I had a guy back in Georgia who would occasionally give me an audible, “Amen!” when I was preaching. But imagine how cool it would be if there was a person or two, or a whole congregation, that said, “We want to do things differently! We want to live differently! What shall we do?”