The Blessing of a Helpless Baby

Even before he could say a word, Jesus was transforming lives. This month, Christians from around the world will be celebrating Advent and Christmas. As believers, we rejoice in the coming of our Lord and Savior, marveling at the humble arrival of the King of Kings. Jesus not only came to earth as one of us, but he arrived as a helpless baby. It goes against all human logic for God to lower himself in that way. Yet, Jesus became one of us in every way to open the door for us to be like him. During this time of year, we have an opportunity to meditate on the fact that, by the Spirit, Jesus had a profound impact on those around him without being able to talk. It was not only Christ’s ministry that changed lives, but it was also his... Read the article

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Showing Up

One of the most important things you can do to reflect the image of Christ is show up. I have attended many awkward events. Some of them could be considered cringeworthy. I was an honored guest at a Quinceañera (a celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday), where I was one of only a handful of attendees who spoke English. Sadly, I have yet to learn Spanish, so for two hours, I did a lot polite smiling and muttering, “Lo siento, no hablo Español” (Sorry, I don’t speak Spanish). I went to a football game where the player I came to see looked like he was being used by the other team as a practice dummy. I still shake my head when I think about how badly the game went for him — 2 fumbles, 3 dropped passes, and a net 0 yards gained... Read the article

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Models of Christ

We do not need to be sinless to be examples of Christ. Paul was bold. The outspoken apostle confronted his opposition seemingly fearlessly and continued to preach the gospel, despite very real threats to his life. He publicly chastised Peter when the leader of the disciples was caught turning his back on Gentile Christians to show favoritism to Jewish Christians (Galatians 2). Paul was not afraid to speak Christ’s truth to dignitaries and rulers, and he demanded to be brought to stand before Caesar himself. Yet I believe Paul was at his boldest when he wrote: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV) Paul was so confident in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit working in him that he held... Read the article

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Follow Their Passions

Recently, my wife Afrika Afeni Mills had her book Open Windows, Open Minds published. She affectionately referred to it as her “book baby,” because it truly was a labor of love. Despite the tremendous endurance it takes to bring a book into existence, I saw something inside Afrika come alive as she spent myriad hours writing, editing, and researching. My wife has been a teacher, coach, literacy director, director of diversity equity and inclusion, and a bunch of other things in between. However, I have never seen her more professionally satisfied than she is now. For me, it is wonderful and inspiring to see. While Afrika is good at lots of things, her book represents the intersection of several of her passions. She believed that God... Read the article

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Show and Tell

Let’s make Jesus real to our young people and get them involved in mission. I recently went on a trip to Israel. The experience was life changing and I am still processing all that I learned and felt. Walking in the places that Jesus walked and standing where he stood deepened my appreciation for who he is and what he did. The journey made him more real and made the Bible come alive. For example, the photo shows me touching the rock that the resurrected Christ sat upon when he restored Peter (John 21). Prior to that point, I imagined the story very differently. However, being there brought a reality to the story. No longer do I have to imagine the scene. While I still have to imagine the people in the story, the setting is no... Read the article

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Fear

Trigger warning: this article discusses the 9/11 tragedy. Please do not read further if it could exacerbate any pre-existing trauma. On September 11, 2001, I was working for Boston Public Schools (BPS), and our central office was at the heart of the downtown area. My job was to coordinate the district’s afterschool programs, among other tasks. When the four planes crashed, taking the Twin Towers and part of the Pentagon with them, a new kind of fear gripped my heart. It felt like reality was unraveling, because the unthinkable was happening. My wife is from New York, and we had close family who worked in the area — family we could not reach. Also, there were rumors that another plane was headed to Boston with a mission to hit a... Read the article

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In Their Own Language

To communicate God’s love effectively, it’s vital to know the language of the generation we are striving to reach. What questions do they need answered? In June, we celebrate Pentecost, a day when we remember the public launch of the church. The church began in a way that signaled that all people were invited into the fellowship of believers. When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now... Read the article

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Intimidating Encounters

It can be intimidating working with young people. Here are some tips to keep you focused on them. While I was in college, my work-study job was at the South Boston (the locals call it Southie) Boys and Girls Club, and it was my pleasure to work there for four years. My first day was a “baptism by fire.” I was placed in the gym with my co-worker Craig and about 50 eight and nine-year old kids. While I was trying to find my way among the chaos, a kid walked up and stood right in front of me. He was just shy of four feet tall, skinny as a rail, with a Boston Bruins baseball hat pulled down so far he had to crane his neck back to look at me. He said, “Who are you?” I said, “I’m Dishon. Who are you?” “I’m Michael. You... Read the article

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The God of the Open Tomb

Telling our youth about God’s willingness to bend reality for us gives them a taste of how good and glorious our God is. When I was the director of New Heights Summer Camp, it seemed like we got a significant rainstorm every year. The storms were rarely dangerous — more inconvenient than anything else. Once every decade or so a major storm would hit the area and cause flooding. Those larger storms were not to be taken lightly because they were far more disruptive and potentially dangerous. One summer, we got several alerts that one of those big storms was headed our way. It was only the second or third day of our seven-day camp, and I was concerned about the impact of the thunderstorm. Looking at the size of the storm and the... Read the article

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Never Alone

When I was younger, I was an athlete and pretty cocky. In my sophomore year in high school, I played on the junior varsity basketball team (JV) and was a substitute on the varsity team. I was not humble and had little respect for my JV coach. In my mind, I was already on the varsity team and my JV coach did not have much to teach me. As a point guard, part of my job was to pass the ball to create opportunities for my teammates, but I was far more oriented towards making plays on my own. During one practice, my JV coach, trying to get me to pass more, said, “Dishon, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team!’” I waited until he turned his head, and said just loud enough for him to hear, “But, there is a ‘me’!” I ran a lot of laps that... Read the article

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