Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Merry Christmas friends!

Christmas Day is a great day for kids of all ages. This is the day that seems to take forever to get here and doesn’t last as long as we think it should. There will be times of reflection, food to be eaten, presents to unwrap, stories to share, prayers to be prayed, carols to be sung, and much, much more.

This year my kids have decided that they will show up in our room to make sure we’re awake at 7 AM. They’ll jump on our bed, with stockings in tow, and make their way through the fun little treasures within. Before we head downstairs for a special Jesus Birthday breakfast, unwrap some presents, and play, we’ll read the final chapter of Jotham’s Journey, by Arnold Ytreeide, the book we’ve been enjoying throughout the season of Advent. We can’t wait to see how it ends!

The funny thing to me about Christmas this year is that as much as it can seem like it’s the culmination of what we’ve all been waiting for, it’s really a lookout along the way where we pause, remember, and celebrate each year. The waiting and longing continue for the promise of God to be fulfilled in Messiah Jesus. As you wait, keep your hope alive as you walk in love, jump for joy, and pursue peace.

So at the lookout this year let’s celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Here’s a song to help you do that. Hit play, turn it up, and sing and dance with your family! If you’re looking to know more, click here to discover the story behind the song.


How do you promote peace?

advent_peace-641x320Yesterday’s post was a great lead-in to the topic of this post today. Peacemakers are not typically the ones who capture the headlines and become front page news. Those places are unfortunately reserved for the unrest and terror that is all too common around the world.

However, if you look closely and tune your ears to hear something different, you may begin to catch a glimpse of the peacemakers at work around you taking a stand to see that harmony is restored wherever their lives are stationed.

The wisdom of God found in the Scriptures when it comes to peace is quite simple. Consider what King Solomon wrote thousands of years ago:

Deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. – Proverbs 12:20 (NET)

Throughout the Bible, we find God intent on drawing lines like this to ensure that those who read it cannot be mistaken regarding how the godly are to live their lives. I love how these nuggets of wisdom not only give us direction regarding how we are to navigate relationships with each other and with God, but they also, at times, offer us promises. Some may see joy as a byproduct of promoting peace in the Scripture above, but I choose to see joy as a promise to those who wholeheartedly embrace peace as a way of life.

As we turn to the New Testament, the letters that were written by the Apostle Paul, we come across his encouragement to pursue peace. Paul was a peacemaker, and you’ll often see him “passing the peace” of God and the Lord Jesus Christ in the introductions to his letters.

Paul, messenger of Jesus Christ by God’s choice, to all faithful Christians at Ephesus (and other places where this letter is read): grace and peace be to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 1:1-2 (PHILLIPS)

Not always, but now more than ever before, I find myself completely encouraged when I read this part of Paul’s letters. The offer of peace is a simple way to remind us that God offers us peace and we should offer it to one another as well. Passing the peace brings unity and the promise of joy.

Writing, “Peace be with you” is one thing, but passing the peace in person has, unfortunately, become a thing of the past. It’s very rare to come across someone who offers peace as part of their greeting. You may see it being done as an element in a worship gathering, and that is still a foreign concept for most people. But no matter how awkward it may be, I’d like to challenge us to become a people of peace who pass the peace to one another as we shake hands and say, “hello.” I’d be curious to know how adding this to how we greet one another would alter the way we connect and relate.

At least twice in his letter to the Romans, Paul encourages his readers to be a people who pursue peace. Not only is it specific to being at peace with others who follow Jesus, but also pursuing peace with everyone.

So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another. – Romans 14:19 (NET)

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. – Romans 12:18 (NET)

So, how do we pursue peace? What does it look like in the midst of the mundane? How do we maintain peace on the mountaintops of life as well as the valleys we all walk through?

I’m not going to pretend to have the answers to these powerful and necessary questions apart from the encouragement to keep your eyes fixed on the life of Jesus as recorded in the gospel accounts. Paying attention to the way that he related to people and promoted peace is like no other. His example of putting off all of the attitudes that prevent peace from reigning and ruling in our hearts and then putting on faith, hope and love is always worth imitating.

I’m not a great peacemaker…especially when it comes to being a Dad. I have good intentions to establish my home and the relationships therein as peaceful, but that’s not always how it happens. However, when i take my own advice, as mentioned in the above paragraph, I find that peace is far more present then at any other time.

Jesus is quoted as saying,

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. – Matthew 5:9 (NET)

It’s obvious that peacemaking is to be a mark of those who are following Jesus and who long for their promised inheritance, his establishment of the kingdom of God when he returns to reign on earth as king.

In the next few days we’ll take a look at Jesus and what his title, Prince of Peace, means for him and for us.

P.S. – If you’re interested in reading a short article about a current day peacemaker, click here and be blown away by how one person crosses religious boundaries to extend peace.

Longing (take 2)

This past week I’ve been working on an activity centered around my longings as they relate to my relationship with God. As I’ve been processing and praying and listening, I’ve noticed one thing…the longings that are stirring in me these days are all satisfied as I choose to embrace being with Jesus. 

This is no surprise, really. It’s actually refreshing for me, because the one word that I feel God has  given to me this year is the word BE. I love how God is forever faithful and knows just how to draw me to himself in deeper ways when I need it most. This was his perfect timing at work.