Category Archives: christmas

Peace or Adrenaline?

adrenalineWhich word best describes the consistent state of your soul this Christmas: peace or adrenaline?

Are you living a life of “untroubled, undisturbed composure and well-being” (New Testament Greek definition of “peace”) or are you in a constantly stressed, adrenaline-laced, fight or flight posture?

Most of us would align with the latter. It is the bane of our 21st century Western Civilization existence to ride the endless roller coaster of adrenaline spikes and crashes.

It’s actually kind of funny when you think about it, because we are seldom engaged in activities that truly warrant that kind of response. We don’t often have to physically run from predators to save our lives. We don’t have to hunt and overpower smaller prey if we want to eat dinner tonight. We aren’t surrounded by constant dangers that startle us and send our hearts into panicked palpitations.

Except that we are.

Although the comforts of our modern life have never been greater, the pressures and stresses of life have risen alongside them, and we are awash in an unstable sea of pressures, insecurities, and demands that are beyond our control. We need two scoops of adrenaline with our morning coffee just to survive.

Fortunately, it is into this kind of world that the Christmas story still speaks. The angelic announcement to the watchful shepherds still resonates: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14).

How do we kick the adrenaline and access that peace? It begins by accepting Jesus’ gift of life so that our existential worries can melt away in the light of a greater hope and destiny. Second, we choose to love and forgive. And finally, we hearken to the words of Scripture that remind us that we are not alone amid the chaos: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Winning, losing, and the Christmas story

boxersSometimes in life it is difficult to tell who is winning and who is losing.

Consider Joseph’s stint in slavery, the three Hebrews’ stroll in a fiery furnace, and our Lord’s own trial and crucifixion. Each of these events shouted defeat for God’s purposes, and yet each of these defeats became a doorway to a greater victory.

Sometimes defeated moments of extreme anti-climax are actually tipping points.

From all natural perspectives the birth of Jesus Christ was the greatest anti-climax in human history.

  • His entrance in to the world was not with the splendor of a world ruler bent on global conquest.
  • His arrival wasn’t marked by dignity and fanfare.
  • No one would have peeked into the stable and thought, “Surely, a king has just been born!”
  • Rather His nursery smelled like cow manure…his crib was a feeding trough…and his only attendants, shepherds.
  • Everything about His birth was a giant anti-climax.

Yet in that disappointing moment something else was happening and all of heaven knew that the most glorious of victories had just been unleashed. Immanuel, God with us, had come near.

What looked like anti-climax was the tipping point for the universe.

Christmas reminds us that things aren’t always as they appear. Don’t be too quick to judge and label the defeated moments in your life. God might see them as portals to a greater victory.

And the answer is…

jesus on crossJesus.

That’s it. He is the answer.

To what question(s), you ask?

All of them.

  • What does God look like?
  • How do I know God loves me?
  • How do I relate with God?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Why am I here?
  • Why am I such a mixture of brilliance and brokenness?
  • Where will I go when I die?
  • How am I supposed to live?
  • Who should I pattern my life after?
  • Is there anyone who truly loves me as I am, but who will help me become more than I am?

Jesus. He is the answer.

“The Son (Jesus) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being…” (Hebrews 1:3)

“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” (Colossians 2:9-10)

The word “fullness” from that passage was used to refer to a fishing net filled with fish or a house filled with a sweet perfume. Isn’t that beautiful imagery? In Christ we overflow with purpose.

The original Christmas heralded His birth, and every Christmas since has offered us another chance to receive His life. Let’s receive it. Let’s turn to Him and cling to him and find our fullest expression of life in Him.

Peace or Adrenaline?

screaming on roller coasterWhich word best describes the consistent state of your soul: peace or adrenaline?

Are you living a life of “untroubled, undisturbed composure and well-being” (New Testament Greek definition of “peace”) or are you in a constantly stressed, adrenaline-laced, fight or flight posture?

Most of us would align with the latter. It’s the bane of our 21st century Western Civilization existence to ride the endless roller coaster of adrenaline spikes and crashes.

And it’s actually kind of funny when you think about it, because we’re seldom engaged in activities that truly warrant that kind of response. We don’t have to physically run from predators to save our lives. We don’t have to hunt and overpower smaller prey if we want to eat dinner tonight. We’re not surrounded by constant dangers that startle us and send our hearts into panicked palpitations.

Except that we are.

Although the comforts of our modern life have never been greater, the pressures and stresses of life have risen alongside them, and we are awash in an unstable sea of pressures, insecurities, and demands that are beyond our control.

We need two scoops of adrenaline with our morning coffee just to survive.

Fortunately, it’s into this kind of world that the Christmas story still speaks: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

How do we kick the adrenaline and access that peace?

  • It begins by accepting Jesus’ gift of eternal life so that our existential worries can melt away.
  • Second, we choose to love and forgive even when we are wronged. A forgiving soul is like Teflon to the stickiness of fear and anxiety.
  • Finally, we hearken to the words of the late Dallas Willard who wrote, “Because He who loves me is Love, I live beyond harm in His hands. There is nothing that can happen to me that will not (eventually) turn out to my good. Nothing.”[1]

We really can “be still” and know that HE is God. (Psalm 46:10)

 

 

[1] Willard, Dallas, The Renovation of the Heart, Navpress, Colorado Springs, CO, 2002, 135

The Christmas Anti-Climax

victory picSometimes in life it is difficult to tell who is winning and who is losing.

Consider Joseph’s stint in slavery, the three Hebrews’ stroll in a fiery furnace, and our Lord’s own trial and crucifixion. Each of these events shouted defeat for God’s purposes, and yet each of these defeats became a doorway to a greater victory.

Sometimes defeated moments of extreme anti-climax are actually a tipping point.

From all natural perspectives the birth of Christ was the greatest anti-climax in human history.

  • His entrance into the world was not with the splendor of a world ruler bent on global conquest.
  • His arrival wasn’t marked by dignity and fanfare.
  • No one would have peeked into the stable and thought, “Surely, a king has just been born!”
  • Rather His nursery smelled like cow manure…His crib was a feeding trough…and His only nurse maids, shepherds.
  • Everything about His birth was a giant anti-climax.

Yet in that disappointing moment something else was happening and all of heaven knew that the most glorious of victories had just been unleashed. Immanuel, God with us, had come near.

What looked like anti-climax was the tipping point for the universe.

Christmas reminds us that things aren’t always as they appear. Don’t be too quick to judge and label the defeated moments in your life. God might see them as portals to a greater victory.