Advent Devotional 2: 12/7


Week 1: Advent Begins

There are some people who make this campus a better place, not only by the nature of their work and how they do it, but by the nature of the heart they bring to it each and every day. I privileged to know firsthand that Amanda Stallings is truly one of those people. She’s the recently new Associate Vice Chancellor of Alumni Relations here at TCU where she and her team supports and cares for over countless alumni throughout the world.  In addition to working at the school she loves, she is also an active member of University Christian Church, wife of Tom and mother of three amazing kids – Miley, Halle Anne and Ella.  Best wishes for the weekend ahead.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

The Power of Finding Silence

Recently, I received a diagnosis of chronic laryngitis and must remain silent for two months.  During this time of silence, I will communicate by listening. This experience is teaching me valuable lessons about patience and sincerity. Our heavenly father listens to us every moment of the day.  He listens to our struggles, our triumphs and our sins. How often have I truly listened?

When silent, you evaluate your inner self and look deeply into the hearts of those around you.  You realize grace and kindness. You realize suffering in others you had not previously noticed. You realize happiness that you had taken for granted.  As we experience Advent, I am grateful for all the blessings that I am able to experience and for the awareness of others during my time of silence. This season is a time to mend and embrace those special people in our lives.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the silence.  Thank you for the opportunity to listen to you and my fellow human beings. Thank you for this time to mend, to embrace the needs of others, to heal and to love. Be with those who are suffering, weeping, mourning, searching and those looking for peace.  Allow them silence so they can hear you working in their lives. 

Advent Devotional 1: 12/4

Week 1: Advent Begins

Good morning.  It’s that time of year again, as we enter into the Advent season we’ll be marking the weeks ahead by sharing heartful devotionals written by TCU students, faculty, staff, and campus ministers.  We’re grateful to be on the journey together, across a beautifully growing campus, but still connected as one horned frog family. Today’s devotional was written by yours truly, so we’ll skip the usual introduction, but look ahead to hearing from students, faculty and staff from throughout campus in the days ahead.

Luke 1: 30-32

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.

Making Space

Advent is here. From the moment Thanksgiving ended, my two young boys counted down to its official beginning with the same kind of joyful impatience that they reserve for counting the days until Christmas itself. “How many days until we can put up the tree?” “How many days until we can open our Advent calendars?” “How many days until the first candle is lit?” The questions just kept coming.  

Life outside our household didn’t seem that much different as the season kicked off with its usual breakneck speed. I watched this past weekend as around our neighborhood and on campus life already seemed filled with signs of the holidays. There were more concerts, pageants and festivals than I could count. The storefronts were as bustling as Market Square at lunchtime and grocery stores parking lots were as packed as I’m guessing the library will be this week.

On one hand, there are more opportunities to celebrate then there are hours in a week.  Life not just now, but many times can be quite full like this. This is especially true when we think about all that also comes with the semester’s end – one packed with finals, tests and even for some preparations for commencement and graduation. 

In the middle of all this where can we still find margin time in the weeks ahead? For me, margin time is slightly different than self-care or Sabbath. Like the spaces on the sides of a page, margin time is not only the physical time on a calendar although that’s part of it, but it’s also the emotional and spiritual space we make within ourselves as we encounter the world.  True, there always times where our margins are narrower, but it’s amazing what happens when we make space for wide margins both in between our schedules and even within them. 

Wide margins give us space to see God at work in our world. They encourage us to see the holy within others we encounter – not just within friends and family, but even within strangers and those who challenge us. Big margins nudge us to towards the hopefulness that Advent call us to – not because the world is simple and easy, but because in fact just like in the times of the Advent story, it’s not. Most importantly, it invites us to be awake and aware as we prepare for what, and who, is to come into this world born in a manger.

Let us pray.

Holy one, we come to you as this Advent season begins anticipating all that lies ahead. Be with us when life is full and busy. Be with us when life is still and calm. Help us to make space and margin to encounter you in the world of those around us and most importantly in the faces of those we see. Nudge us to make room in our hearts for the abundant hope that comes through a newborn child we know as Christ.



“and they prepared for the Passover meal” Lenten Devotional 11

Mark 14:12-16 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12) On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13) So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14) and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15) He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16) So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

As one who grew up as an only child, I’m still amazed at watching my two boys grow up together. Like the stereotype, they are indeed each other‘s best friends and while they’re not worst enemies, each of them has most certainly developed the ability to turn brotherly annoyance into an art form.  This is particularly true over meal times, especially on nights like last night when family comes into town and we squeeze closer together around the dinner table. There’s something about the physical proximity of being that close to each other that makes it impossible not to push and poke. Yet at the same time sitting that close together last night they had the most joyful time – sharing secret stories, playing with their food together, and singing songs from Ms. Susan’s music class. It was amazing to watch what could happen over a simple meal together when just 15 minutes before they couldn’t stand each other.

As we mark this day that for many of us is known as Maundy Thursday, the day commemorating the gathering of Jesus and his Disciples for the last supper, I wonder how the Disciples experienced that meal together. Paintings over the centuries too often bear witness to idyllic scenes of the Disciples in seemingly perfect harmony. However I doubt life for them was ever that simple, especially after they entered into Jerusalem into what would be Jesus’s last days before his betrayal, condemnation and death by crucifixion. Were the Disciples weary? Maybe. Where they concerned? Maybe. Where they afraid? Most certainly. Yet they came together nonetheless for a Passover meal. They broke bread together, drank wine and were in community with one another. Not because they were in agreement and harmony about everything. Not because they were on the grandest mountaintop of their journey. But because they came together in community for something and someone greater.

That’s the beauty I find that happens when we come together around a table – whether that be a communion table, the dinner table, the work table or even the ones in our classrooms. We come together not because we’re always in harmony or agreement and not because of our days have always been easy and celebratory. Instead we come together because by God’s very design we were created to be in community with one another. Being in real, authentic community with one another doesn’t always mean consensus, but it can mean that we seek places collaboration rather than conflict. It can mean that instead of being quick to assume and accuse that we reach across the table whether it be to new face or old and see the face of God in one another.

As we approach Good Friday and Easter Sunday, a time when we mark what it means to be resurrected people thanks to resurrected Christ, how do we live out that resurrection in community with one another? We may be close to the end of our Lenten journey this season, but were never at the end of our journey as God’s people – always called to come together at the table, across our diversities and differences, always called to love.

God of prophets and peacemakers, as we move towards the resurrection and renew our commitment to live our lives reborn, challenge us to continually come together around a common table – not because we always have everything in common with one another, but in fact because we don’t. Help us to live as a resurrection people – Amen.

-Rev. Angela Kaufman, Minister to the University

“The Lord is the everlasting God” Lenten Devotional 11

Isaiah 40: 28-31 NIV

 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

As we enter into Holy Week there is much to be excited about and it can be easy to forget about the uncomfortable truth of the events that led up to Easter Sunday. I know I’m certainly guilty of jumping straight to the excitement of a Risen King and all the festivities that accompany a Sunday of celebration.

I would like to encourage you to slow down a little and use these final days of the Lenten season to sit with some of the things that make you uncomfortable. In our day to day lives we have so many distractions and resources to keep us moving from one mountain top to another, without any real attention paid to what happens in the valleys.  I know personally I tell myself to pick up my bootstraps and move on to what’s next so quickly sometimes, I don’t even allow myself to fully process the “why” behind the discomfort. Part of what makes the glory of the resurrection is the journey it took to get there and that applies to your life as well. Whether you find yourself on the mountain top or what feels like stranded in the wilderness, allow yourself to be present in that place. Give yourself a small break to sit in the discomfort with knowledge there is a resurrection waiting for you on the other side.

Gracious and loving God, as we live into this Holy Week help us to be present in the uncomfortable and embrace all that it holds for us.  Amen.

-Mallory Nason, Assistant Director in the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life

“You are the light of the world” Lenten Devotional 10

Matthew 5:14-15

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

It seems as if a hallmark of growing up in church is learning and singing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” If you didn’t grow up in church or didn’t sing this song – that’s ok. It just means your parents don’t have embarrassing photos or videos of you singing at your church’s annual children’s choir recital!

From time to time, God reminds me of that sweet song. Usually there is no reason in particular for me singing it. It’ll just pop into my head. Recently, God used that song to help me examine my heart. I asked myself: How am I letting my light shine? Do people know that I love Jesus without me even having to say so? How have I been hiding the promise of unconditional love, eternal salvation, and a life of purpose?

How cool is it that in Matthew 5:14-15, Jesus calls us, “light of the world.” What an honor! That is how highly He thinks of His children. Jesus is our light of the world and yet because we are in Him, He gives us that same ability to spread His light and love to a world that so desperately needs it.

He then compares us to, “a town built on a hill.” Meaning, a town on a hill is exposed to the world in ways that are both good and daunting. For example, we can either choose to be a refuge for the weary or we can crumble under attacks from other cities. Instead of being an apprehensive member of this town on a hill, let God use your light for His kingdom. Maybe that looks like inviting a friend to church. Maybe it means sending someone an encouraging note or volunteering your time when you really just wanted that extra hour to sleep in. Or maybe it’s something as simple as picking up trash on the sidewalk (yes, I think God can even use something as simple as picking up trash to further His kingdom!). Whatever it is, I urge you to NOT hide your light! Be bold and let God use you in the mundane, in the extraordinary, and in everything in between.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love. Help us steadfastly remember your commandment to be a light in this dark world. We ask for your help and guidance as we answer this call. Please open our eyes to opportunities where we can radiate your love and use us as vessels to grow your kingdom. We love you. Amen.

-Brooke Morrissy, Senior Journalism Major

“Do whatever he tells you” Lenten Devotional 9

John 2:4-5

4) “Jesus said to her, “O woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come”. 5) His mother said to the servants, “do whatever he tells you”

For many of us, this can be a hard passage to read at first. How often do we read scripture and enforce our own experience onto that of Christ’s? Read the words of Christ in this passage from John again, can you see how easy it is to hear them as callous?  We might ask ourselves “did Jesus just sass his mother?” Yet if you have read the remainder of the Gospels I think you’ll find this interpretation as problematic. As Christians we are called to read the words of Christ faithfully, and trust that he wouldn’t be rude or disrespectful, and must try to find any such interpretation as an error on our end, and not that of Christ. So how then do we read this passage?

Perhaps the proper interpretation takes into account both the fact that Jesus was fully human and fully God.  In his dominion over all Christ knew that this was to be his first miracle, he knew the wine had run dry, and he knew what Mary would ask of him. Yet in his humanity he felt the deep concern of Mary. In her compassion she wanted the couple who were to be wed to fully enjoy this occasion, and knew the wine running out would be cause for concern. So what Christ does for his mother is what he does for all of us. Christ gave her the opportunity to ask for his intercession.

Christ feels the pain of his mother, and knows what she is to ask, but in letting her ask for help he lets her express concern and feel the love of her son.

Christ feels all of the pain that we feel, and knows exactly what we are going through. And yet we turn to him in prayer, raising our own needs to him, praying for his intercessions. So this Lenten season turn to Christ with all of your concerns and ask for his intercession, for he knows what you are going through, but it is in the pouring out of your prayers that you show love to this world and admit your love for Christ.

Good and gracious God, we come before you today as a Christian people hurt by our very humanity. We pray for your intercession, we pray that you help us to show love, and that you remind all of us of the joy that comes from living a life for you.

-Jack Schroeter, Junior Communication Studies Major

“Don’t use your mouth to tell lies.” Lenten Devotional 8

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. Don’t use your mouth to tell lies; don’t ever say things that are not true.”

Proverbs 4:23-24 NCV

This Lenten season has given me the opportunity to be reflective of how we have been challenged to discern facts from lies. No better place to take up this challenge than on our campus which is a place of intellectual thought, the marketplace of ideas, a place of discovery and rediscovery. Knowledge and facts are developed on our campus through research, the advancement of technology and new methodologies. However, with information coming from so many sources, we often become unconscious consumers of information without developing a critical filter to discern the truth.

Growing up in Children’s Church, I remember the song, “O Be Careful Little Eyes” in which the lyrics remind us to be careful what we see, what we hear, what we do, where we go, and what we say. I’d like to add another stanza that would be “to be careful little mind what you think” because how we think impacts how we process what we hear, decide where we go, what we do and say – to speak lies or the truth. We must be careful with how we think because indeed “our thoughts run our life”

I write this devotional from Jackson, Mississippi while on the TCU Justice Journey during our spring break and on the wall at the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center where I sit is a quote from Ida B. Wells-Barnett, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”  There is only one light of truth, God’s truth, God’s light and only God’s light of truth can set us free. As we think about what is true, know that truth and redemption is found in God’s love for us.

Many of us are still allowing our minds to listen to lies and think in old ways, but this only holds us back from living in God’s truth. As we aim for and seek God’s truth, we must take responsibility of our thinking by making our critical filter God’s love and grace, allow God to influence our thoughts, so that God will “run our life”.

Gracious and loving God, open our minds to your truth this day and every day to come.  May your love and grace be the filter through which we see, understand, and engage all things.  Amen.

-Dr. Mark Kamimura-Jimenez, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

“Obedience through suffering” Lenten Devotional 7

Hebrews 5:8-9

“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.”

I’ve recently heard it said that when we are broken over and over again, we find the parts of ourselves that are indestructible. This past semester has been the most challenging for me spiritually, academically, and emotionally. I experienced pain in a way that I never anticipated I would experience it. I was broken. With the help of my minister and some on-campus resources, I was able to work through the pain to find strength where I had previously seen only brokenness. I saw in myself the parts of me that are indestructible- the parts of me that would be utterly lost if not for the strength given to me by God.

As a result of my experience, I have learned to be a better advocate and I have learned to see my own pain and the pain of others as a transformative part of our stories but not the end of our stories. With strength from God, I learned faithfulness and obedience that I may not have ever learned if it were not for this painful experience. I had been cast out into the wilderness as Jesus was, and I got to see what the wilderness had to teach me. Wilderness tends to be an unforgiving place, yet every time I find myself there, I learn a little more about who I am.

In today’s scripture, Paul tells his readers that Jesus learned obedience through suffering. If we are called to be like Jesus, let’s see how we can do the same. I imagine that as you read about my story, you thought of your own pain and wilderness. Take a good long look at that pain. Feel it. Don’t dull it. I encourage you to let it teach you what parts of you are indestructible. Think of it as the work of the resurrection. Know that the resurrection cannot have happened without the crucifixion. Don’t dull the joy of resurrection by dulling the pain of the crucifixion. Know your pain. Let it teach you faithfulness and obedience and knowledge of the parts of you that are indestructible. When you find this gift of God in yourself, you are able to take a step into God’s presence and life-giving light and resurrection.

O God, my Rock, help me to see and hear and feel. Give me strength to know my pain and to not let it define me. Make my experiences transformational, purposeful and joyful. Remind me that where I see brokenness you see your beloved. Thank you for this gift of everyday resurrection. Amen.

-Kelsey Cobbs, Senior Religion Major

“I believe; help my unbelief!” Lenten Devotional 6

Mark 9:23-24 ESV “‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’

To fully understand the power of this short passage, we need to understand the context. The father in this story brings his son to Jesus to heal him from a demon that has possessed the little boy for years. The father has asked the disciples and many church leaders to help him, but the boy has never been healed. The father comes to Jesus weak in faith, but begs him “if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Jesus then proclaims everything is possible for anyone who believes and proceeds to cast out the demon that has been held within the child. But for me, the power in this story comes from the father’s response before Jesus heals his son.

“I believe, help my unbelief!”

For years, the father has seen his son hurting and held captive by this evil spirit and he has been hopeless to see anyone or anything help him. He was at a place struggling to believe this circumstance would ever change. I have been in a similar situation before. When I moved to Ft. Worth for graduate school, I had a hard time with settling into this new place. I had moved all the way from Washington state, I just returned back to the US after a 3 month trip abroad with my church community back home and quickly moved to Texas where I didn’t know anyone. My first 3 months here, I desperately missed home and had a really difficult time believing the Lord brought me to Texas for anything good. I knew the Lord was faithful and I knew He was good, I just was having a really hard time believing that truth in this new season and in this new place. DAILY this was my prayer, “I believe, help my unbelief”. Even now I still struggle with the doubts of being in Ft. Worth, but the Lord has been transforming my perspective every day to see why He wants me here.

I am sure you have experienced similar seasons. Seasons that are plagued with doubt or darkness and it is a struggle to see where the Lord is working, or believe He is working at all. During those moments, I think most of us are ashamed to admit we have doubts in God because that feels wrong. We become quick to withdraw and rely on our own strength to get ourselves out of it, but that is opposite of what the Lord desires from us. In this passage, He shows up and heals the boy even when the father admits his doubts. We follow a God who is gracious enough to meet us exactly where we are at and still move in the midst of our doubts and unbelief in who He is. Where in your life are you having a hard time believing the truths about the Lord? Have you expressed your unbelief to Him? This week I challenge you to step into raw honesty about your doubts in who the Lord is. He will not withhold things from you because of it, He promises to show up with even the faith the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). I encourage you this week to believe that He is working even in the midst of your doubts.

“Father, thank you for being a God who doesn’t withhold your goodness from us even when we doubt in who you are. Will you challenge us to be honest with where we have little fight in who you are? Lord, we believe, help our unbelief.”

-Taylor Christenson, Graduate Assistant in the Wellness Center.

“Do not be conformed to this world” Lenten Devotional 5


Romans 12:1-2 (NRSV)

“1) I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In this passage of his letter to the Christians in Rome, the Apostle Paul urges his fellow believers to live into the beauty and goodness of life made possible by the grace (“mercies”) of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He invites them (and us) to perceive a new mode of worship—which he describes as embodied, communal and transformative.

Imagine, with Paul, that you are the gift worthy to be offered to God. Imagine that your body is holy—that is, a site of sacred presence. How would this awareness change your experience of this day? Would you tend to your deepest needs? Would you carry yourself with a greater grasp of your dignity? Would you accept God’s acceptance in order to live more attentive to the day’s opportunities for sharing that loving acceptance with others?

Paul’s message speaks to individuals, but also addresses the church as a community. He likens their gathering to gifts worthy to be elevated, as on an altar in worship, pleasing to the Holy One. Living in loving community can be a challenge, but the struggle produces spiritual fruit, especially when the community’s self-understanding is grounded in God’s redeeming love.

The secular world tends to view bodies otherwise—as sites to cultivate for commercial gain, as objects to exploit, as disposable sources of pleasure or production. Paul beckons Christians to discern themselves and all persons from a truer perspective—as ones who bear the divine image and have an inherent dignity to be honored, in order to love and serve the God whose image we all bear.

Remind me, O God, that bodies—in all their diversity—are sites of your redeeming presence. Help me to live in a deep awareness of the ways in which this day may be an act of renewing worship.

-Dr. Jan Jaynes Quesada, Instructor II in the TCU Religion Department