God With Us

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, “God with us”). – Matthew 1:23

IMG_4601The mission of this blog is to explore the presence of God in the present. I believe we are able to do that because He is still present in our present. He is still Immanuel. He is still with us.

The meaning of Immanuel is exactly the reminder I need by the time December 24th rolls around. At this point I’m just about always running empty on the Christmas spirit, especially this year. It’s been a wild 12 months. I’ve turned in my notice to 3 different jobs this year (I’ll be starting a new one in January). I’ve moved away from the only place I’ve ever truly called home. I’ve married my best friend and begun the wonderful and challenging journey of being a husband. As excited and thankful as I am for where I’ve come over the past year I’m just as exhausted and confused about how to handle where I’m going. When I’m burnt out and ready to kick the Christmas tree over, I keep reminding myself of His promise that has remained true year after year. God with me. 

I know the same is true for many of you reading this. When we spend our days looking down only at our phones and what our own hands are working on we all lose sight of what’s going on around us. So look around. Look at the way He reveals himself in music and movies. In Lexus commercials and in lumps of coal. In socks and underwear. In all of the chaos and confusion and commercialization He’s there, with each of you, if you are willing to look. God with you.

The presence of Immanuel was never meant to be a short term present. It’s not like the stop-motion cartoons we love which come around once a year or the 24/7 Christmas music stations which temporarily takeover the radio dial. Just because His physical manifestation went away, that doesn’t mean He’s actually gone anywhere. His spirit is like Christmas lights hung year round, ready to be turned back on at a moment’s notice. When the stockings come down and the ornaments go back in the attic, remember His name. Open up the book and read it out loud: Immanuel. God with us. 

Immanuel. In the present, as in the past, and so in the future. God with me. God with you. God with us. 

Thanks for joining me on this journey through the 12 Blogs Of Christmas. Follow along for the next part of the POP GOD journey in 2015. Merry Christmas. 



The Most Sacred Gift You Can Give At Christmas

FullSizeRender-10If you want to get that special someone in your life something really sacred for Christmas this year, buy them socks and underwear.

Hear me out on this.

I used to hate getting socks and underwear for Christmas. Each year my mom buys me a few fresh pairs of each.

It’s not a glamorous or exciting gift. It’s not a gift that is ever on my wish list.

But I desperately need them. Continue reading

What Exactly Is The Spirit Of Christmas?

GUEST POST: Today’s contributor to The 12 Blogs Of Christmas is my friend Savannah Jane Duncan. Savannah is a High School Senior and a former student in the youth group I led who’s taken up blogging as her Senior Project. She writes about her journey growing up on her site One Girl Without A Plan. You’ll want to follow along with her blog and her Facebook Page because she’s got a bright future ahead of her. Enjoy her contribution to POP GOD:

How-the-grinch-stole-christmas-2000-03The spirit of Christmas is a thing, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that it is! I am a seventeen year old senior in high school and I can attest to the spirit of Christmas playing a HUGE role in my life.

Well, what exactly IS the Christmas spirit?

To me, it’s the Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola feeling that you get in your belly when you know that a jolly, fat man with presents is coming to your house. The sugar plums that fill your head as you dream of what will be under the tree when you awake. The excitement that comes when you peek out your window to see Rudolph’s nose (or the red light of a near by cell tower) blinking in the distance. That feeling is genuinely one of a kind.

I asked some adults if that feeling ever comes back and they said, “No.”


The Shocking Truth About Christmas Desserts

1466216_955777582595_1461134808_nI admit it – I have a dangerous sweet tooth at Christmas.

Cap’n Crunch Christmas Crunch. Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes. Candy Cane Hershey Kisses. Starbucks Peppermint Mocha.

When Christmas comes around my appetite and my dessert budget get a little out of control.

There’s something about seasonal sweets which makes my mouth water. For some reason a cookie shaped like an ornament seems like it tastes than your standard circular cookie.

Here’s the shocking truth about Christmas desserts: these holiday treats really aren’t that different from their non-Christmas counterparts. Continue reading

POP GOD POPcast: Episode 25 – Christmastravaganza With Kate Doriot


slide.001Welcome to Episode 25 of the POP GOD POPcast – a podcast interview series exploring the presence of God in pop culture.

To celebrate the 12 Blogs Of Christmas it’s the first ever POP GOD Christmastravaganza – a celebration of all things Christmas music! My wife Kate Doriot joins me to talk about our Christmas music memories, new Christmas songs for 2014 and everything in between. We break down the best and the worst holiday tunes of all time, explore the history of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and discover the surprising origins of a holiday gem. Is “Baby It’s Cold Outside” the creepiest Christmas song? Why do bad songs happen to good people? When is the appropriate time to listen to Christmas music? We answer all those questions and more on this merry music Christmastravaganza!

Listen to the podcast here:

Or Download on iTunes Or Listen on Podbean

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, rate it, leave a comment, listen to all the other episodes, share it on Twitter and Facebook and anywhere else. I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

I love sharing stories of people seeking God in the present tense. Let me hear your feedback. Leave me a comment and let me know how to improve things, what you’d like to hear discussed, and give me your ideas as to who you’d like to see on the next episode of the POPcast. Continue reading

How To Avoid A Home Alone Christmas

MV5BMTUzMzg4MTg2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDM4OTk4._V1_SX640_SY720_“Home Alone” is one of the great under-the-radar Christmas movies.

Much like “Die Hard” or “The Family Stone”, “Home Alone” isn’t overwhelmingly holiday-themed. What we really remember about the movie are Kevin’s hijinks fighting off the Wet Bandits, his adventures roaming about town on his own and quotes like, “Keep the change, ya filthy animals.”

But I think the story of “Home Alone” makes a great metaphor for the Advent season. Continue reading

Why Buddy The Elf Is My Role Model



GUEST POST: Today’s contributor to The 12 Blogs Of Christmas is my friend Michaela Pollock. Michaela is a Senior at Georgia College & State University with a real heart for inspiring and encouraging others. I’m excited to introduce you to her today. Enjoy her contribution to POP GOD:

To this day I remember the first time I watched the movie Elf and fell in love with the touch of claymation, the adorable elf outfits, and how simple joy is represented through the entire story.

I received the movie Elf from my Aunt Diane, who my dad often says I am just alike, so there had to have been some kindred spirits working there when she bought it for me. I watched it that day with my extended family and about immediately it became my favorite movie.

You may think, “Why is a Christmas movie your favorite movie?!” I have heard this, and dealt with all the funny faces. But, if you know me, you’re not shocked a Christmas movie is my favorite movie.

I would like to pride myself as being the female version of Buddy the Elf if I could, so I think we could learn a thing or two from Buddy and the movie itself. Continue reading

Instructions Not Included



Did you ever have one of those perfect Christmas mornings?

You know the one I’m talking about: all the presents laid out, the toys you begged all year for set up and already working like Santa snuck in overnight.

If you ever had a Christmas like this, you can guarantee the hours before you awoke were spent by your parents earning their place on the naughty list as they screamed and cursed trying to put your gifts together.

Those toys never seem to be as easy to put together as the instructions make them out to be.

God forbid the instructions were not included. Can you imagine what a disaster that might have been?

Yet that’s just what happened for one family as they were preparing for Christmas. The first Christmas, that is.  Continue reading

Monday Morning Music: Joel The Lump Of Coal

Mondays can feel like a big lump of coal in your stocking.

You spend the weekend full of the holiday spirit – picking out a tree, wrapping presents, enjoying a glass of egg nog and the yearly viewing of Emmet Otter.

Then that alarm hits Monday morning, waking you up from that wonderful Christmas dream and bringing you back into the reality of the workweek.

Ugh. For all the joy and merriment of the Christmas season, we still have lumps of coal to deal with in our lives.

Maybe you could use some Monday Morning Music to get you back in the spirit.

What if there was something more to these lumps in our stockings? What if the things we think are meant to upset  us have a deeper meaning buried inside? Continue reading