Monthly archives: December, 2015

Prince Of Peace

Prince of Peace

Yep, I’m one of “those” people. Around the day after Halloween (or so), I get pretty excited about…Christmas. I’m proud to say our kids are the same way. I know, I know; some of you are doing a big eye roll about now. But those of you who are like me, you understand!

Christmas. The Holidays. This time of the year can bring to mind many reactions and emotions. They’re intended to be times of great joy. Celebrating the birth of Jesus. Catching up with extended family. Time off from work and school. Traditions had. Memories made.

Yet in reality, if we’re not careful, the Holidays can be one word. Exhausting.

Days of travel. The cancelled flights. The long drive with kids fighting.  The surprising unkind exchange of words with your spouse. Family drama. The awkwardness. Late night cupcake baking for your kids Christmas party. Shopping. For gifts that you can’t afford. Wrapping presents. Fighting with tangled Christmas lights. Keeping up with the neighbors. Family pictures. Christmas programs. Work Christmas parties. The trash and cleanup. The stress. Whew!

And, just like that, it’s over. Another Christmas is in the books. We almost feel a letdown. All our good intentions didn’t deliver what we had imagined. Peace evades our souls.

Somehow we get so wrapped up in the chaos that surrounds the season that we miss the season itself. It’s so easily done. We’ve all been guilty of it at some point in our lives.

I’m wondering. With there being such division and unrest within us and around us, maybe there’s a question that we should be asking ourselves? A shift in focus that would change so much. “How can we bring peace not just to our Christmas season, but to our own world? Peace to our home. Peace to our relationships?”

Have you seen the recent television commercial that features Microsoft employees and a children’s choir singing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me to employees at (get this) an Apple store?  It’s worth googling. I mean, this is almost as if the “light side” is reaching out to the “dark side”, right?

This season, don’t miss it. Give the gift of peace to someone’s soul. To your soul.  And, may we focus on the One Who gives peace like no other. Our greatest Gift. Our Prince of Peace.

 

“And his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father.

The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6


Never Lose Hope

reasons to love the season

“Hope for the best; expect the worst.” Have you bought into this advice like I have? I used to hear this a lot more years ago and made sure to apply it in just about everything. Or perhaps you heard a slightly different version with the alternate ending: “plan for the worst.” Seems like sound advice, right? Hoping for the best and planning for the worst—what could be wrong with that? We could easily convince ourselves or be convinced by well-meaning friends of ours to operate in such a pragmatic manner. Let’s not pretend—it is a very pragmatic way to live. It’s safe. It’s responsible. It even echoes the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.”

 

And it might just be some of the worst advice one could follow when it comes to people. Expect the worst of people while we feign hope in the best of them?? That is what hope ends up becoming—fake and empty—when our expectations are that low. Again, let’s not pretend. Expecting the worst of people when they continue to let us down is natural, safe, and somewhat responsible. It can be our way of being prepared…for potential hurt coming our way. This is not an attempt to advocate being in abusive relationships. I am speaking to more normal relationships here. My words are rather an encouragement to pursue something higher than mere safety, responsibility, and natural tendencies. Defense mechanisms such as checking out, low expectations, and walls of division are normal, natural parts of us. But we aren’t called to normalcy. We are called to supernatural living by pursuing God’s way of loving, which is the highest ideal. Judah Smith, pastor of The City Church in Seattle, says, “‘Love always hopes’ means love holds on to eventual development. This insinuates there is profound underdevelopment currently, but we anchor ourselves to God’s faithfulness and believe that God’s got them on a journey.”

 

Love manifested in hope can only originate from viewing God as the one “who fashions the hearts of them all” (Ps. 33:15). Ending his prayer, the psalmist gives us an example to follow this week: “Let Your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in You.”


Love Always Trusts

Love always trusts

So, who is in your “Circle of Trust”? Could you quickly come up with a list of names of people that you deem trustworthy? Do you have more than a handful of people in your life who you trust…sincerely trust…really?

In today’s society, the search for trustworthiness almost seems elusive. Most of the good stories of people being honest with integrity just don’t make the news headlines.  Instead, our Twitter accounts, Facebook newsfeeds and evening news are full of stories where trust that once flourished has been broken. The fraudulent investment advisor who stole money. The doctor who gave a false diagnosis for financial gain.  The teacher who took advantage of a student. The celebrities who are divorcing because of a cheating spouse. And what about scenarios closer to home?  The ones that you’re thinking of that are making you feel a heaviness just thinking of them. You went out on limb. You trusted. And you paid a price.

Trust. We long for it in our relationships; but somehow we struggle to experience it. Our past plays in our minds like an old time projector reminding us of the times when we’ve been let down. The cuts are deep. The scars are real. We’re hesitant to trust again.

Yet, lest we forever stay victims, maybe we need a reminder that we have let others down…we have hurt those around us even if it was done so unintentionally. We are all broken, flawed people who hurt each other at times and miss the mark.

We are indeed in need of a Saviour.  Our trustworthy Saviour.

As we enter this Christmas season, I can’t help but think how much we can learn from Mary as she illustrates an ability to trust God so beautifully.

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most high.

The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end. “How can this be,” Mary asked the angel, “Since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” – Luke 1:26-38

Here we see Mary found herself in a more than overwhelming situation. One she didn’t ask to be in. Can you identify? No doubt wondering what in the world God was doing behind the scenes; thinking that it just doesn’t make any sense. Feeling troubled. Being afraid. Ever been there?

Yet, her response is trust. Maybe a few of the words stayed in her mind and heart even more than the mind-blowing discovery that she would deliver Jesus. “The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid. For no word from God will ever fail.”  

Whatever you’re facing this season. Trust. Remember you’re not alone. Immanuel..God is with us. –Matthew 1:23


Love Always Protects

Friends

Shielded. Secure. Loved. Protected…you know it when you feel it. And there’s nothing quite like it.

If you’ve ever truly experienced feeling protected, you’ll never forget it.  Some of us may recall childhood memories when we experienced that kind of protection from our parents. For others, you may think of a more recent event when a spouse or a friend provided this kind of love to you.

I Corinthians 13:7 talks about what God’s type of love looks like. Just one of the many ways that love shows itself is that it always protects. The word “protect” has a Latin origin (protectus) which means “to cover in front”. Not just to cover (as if that’s not enough). But, to cover in front…it takes the brunt of things. It’s also described as a bulwark…a defensive wall. Not a word you hear every day, but I love the imagery!  I immediately think of the truth in the words to the old hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God  where it talks about how God is “a bulwark never failing”.

Love. It watches out for others.  It strengthens what is weak. Shields what is vulnerable. Forgives what is provoking. This kind of love has the ability to cover someone else’s faults and weaknesses.  “Love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12) This is the kind of love I need. The kind of love I want to give away.

For some of us, this is familiar. We’ve experienced it again and again.  We realize that in order for us to be able to give this kind of love away, we need to see that we are the ones who are in need; we have plenty of vulnerabilities and weaknesses ourselves. We need God’s type of love in a big way in our lives. Psalm 46 puts it this way:  “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.”

Our cliff-edge of doom, sea storm and earthquake may not be literal, but it sure can feel like it sometimes. Maybe a diagnosis of a serious illness for ourselves or someone we love. A seemingly impossible financial situation. A betrayal that was a sucker punch to our gut.

Whatever it is, rest assured…God is there. In all our weakness. Fighting for us. Protecting us.

Because that’s what love does.