Friday, December 30, 2022

The Peace of Christmas

I recognize that everyone reading this is may not be a Christian, and even all Christians may not view the gospels the way I do. But this Christmas, I think it’s appropriate to look to the story of Jesus’ birth with at least curiosity, whether one is a believer or not.

I think it's almost impossible to read the Christmas story and not see the value of peace. Our culture is good at many things, but creating periods of quiet is not one of them. We have long to-do lists, wait impatiently in traffic, struggle to keep our heads above water, and struggle to find hope in our political leaders as we are faced with almost insurmountable challenges. 

There is a painting that I have always admired, which hangs in the National Gallery in London. It was painted in the 1620s by Philippe de Champaigne and is titled “The Dream of St. Joseph.” Joseph and Mary are shown at home during Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus. Joseph has come home from work at the end of a long day and is asleep on a chair, with his carpentry tools and sandals strewn at his feet. It’s a simple room, with a rough rug under his feet. Mary, awake and sitting at a table in the background, watches as an angel flies over Joseph to deliver a message: that he should not dismiss Mary because of her pregnancy. It’s not a scene of trumpet-blaring glory, but a humble and important moment. Deep wisdom comes in the quiet times.

Friday, December 23, 2022

What To Do When You're Afraid

I have found that when I find myself transfixed by fear, whether that is facing a direct threat or a yet to be manifested threat (which honestly can be far worse in my opinion) the result is the same, my heart and mind is flooded with fear. My next response is crucial, as well as possibly life-changing. I can become overwhelmed with the situation resulting in despair, panic, and fear plunging me even further into darkness OR I can practice what God has commanded me to do in His Word. 

God knows that we will during the course of our life be faced with times or seasons of fear. No matter the source of the fear my response needs to be the same. Quick note: This is one of those behaviors that require some work beforehand, in this case remembering that God clearly teaches that I don't have to face any challenge alone, and that not only will He be with us, but that He will equip us in those moments with the following gifts. "He has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT).

But if you're like me, that is easier said than done. How do we put these truths into action versus being overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, and maybe even panic? My first response is to recall the following truth:  " . . . Listen to the Lord who created you. . . . ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1, NLT). So my first response is to refocus my thoughts on the reality of God's love and presence which will allow me to start working through the four steps below:

Friday, December 16, 2022

Bad Habits (How We Can Reprogram Our Brains)

I remember the awe (and fear if I'm being honest) that I felt when first walking into my college psychology class. It was the first classroom I had ever experienced that was based in a group lecture environment. (I think it held around 200 students or so) And instead of the clinical desk / chairs / blackboard setup we found ourselves in a theatre type room with elevated seating directing our focus below. Our professor soon made his entrance,  casually dressed, smoking a cigarette, and carefully positioned his briefcase on the podium in the center of the stage. But the next part of the class was what really grabbed my attention, and it was the topic that our professor wrote on the giant blackboard - "How to Break a Bad Habit". I found his teaching on this subject revolutionary. 

Friday, December 09, 2022

The Peace of God


“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." Isaiah 26:3

"The Lord gives strength to his people, and the Lord blesses his people with peace." Psalm 29:11

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Friday, December 02, 2022

Pride (What Is It Good For - Say It Again . . . )

For everyone who grew up in the greatest era of music the world has ever known, the 60's and the 70's, the title of this blog should be sang using the music of the song, "War". [Credit: Edwin Starr (1970)]

Okay, now that the little bit of musical housekeeping is out of the way, a confession is in order. The majority of topics and truths that I have addressed over the years in this blog, for the most part, apply to my own life. The speak directly to my personal failings in my attempts to be a better husband, father, employee, friend, family member and Christ follower. They are choices, and sins, motivated by my prideful nature, that thankfully God has faithfully been working to remove from my character over the years. I truly shudder to think about all of the ways that I have disappointed Him, damaging the Kingdom of God, but even worse, openly rebelling against Him, all under the banner of my pride. 

All of my sins choices were a direct result of loving my own choices more than I wanted to obey His commandments in my life. This blog is a well of experience in how not to live your life, and how not to obey the One who loves you the most. This is not something I am in anyway proud of but I believe that sometimes bringing the darkness into the light diminishes the power of sin over our own lives. That is why the title of this blog simply says, "broken person | Jesus is fixing". 

I am, to a great extent, a product of the culture of my youth, where drawing attention to oneself was never frowned upon, but the opposite was also true, that sharing the darkest parts of one's character was never acceptable as well.