5 Ways You Can ‘Breathe’ This Christmas

Don’t just believe…breathe

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Even though Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, we sometimes forget to breathe. Mark Schultz penned it the best — “we’re running just to catch ourselves.” We may experience moments of rest, but at the end of the day, Christmas can end up becoming more stressful than helpful. As Christmas Day approaches, I want to share five ways we can all breathe.

5 Ways You Can Breathe During Christmas

As a Christian, I find myself reassuring our family that we make sure to “keep Christ in Christmas.” Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s impossible to focus on more than one aspect of Christmas. We can enjoy several aspects of Christmas that are outside of Christ, but we can only actually focus on one. Hopefully, we choose to focus on the mission of Christmas (Click here to read about what I mean).

When we learn to focus on Christ, we’ll learn how to breathe. Christmas will move from chaos to mission; from overwhelming to a blessing.

Based on Advent, here are five ways we can practically breathe during the Christmas season:

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Why We Have to Forgive Before Someone Asks

Jesus’ Forgiveness Model

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you been wronged by someone? Have you been hurt by someone’s words or actions? Jesus has an answer that can bring healing to a broken situation. Believe it or not, our healing starts with forgiveness.

Why We Have to Forgive Before Someone Asks

I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been hurt by people and I’ve hurt others. Both situations can be very painful, especially if the situation seems hopeless. I’ve found myself longing for others to forgive me. While other times, having to seek that closure by saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ Both of which can be so difficult.

How does a Christian navigate through these challenging moments?

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5 Ways Discipleship Begins BEFORE Salvation

Journeying with Jesus

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I always thought discipleship flowed out of a salvation. You learn about Jesus, experience grace, make a commitment to accept and serve Jesus, and then discipleship begins as we follow after Jesus.

Ways Discipleship Begins Before Belief

Then I read the gospels.

Jesus called his disciples, and they followed, but it says nothing about them believing. Absolutely nothing. That doesn’t necessarily prove that they didn’t; however, later in the story, we learn about their journey of belief. It wasn’t until much later in their journey of discipleship, did they fully understand and believe.

Everyone from Peter to Judas, portrayed signs of confusion and disbelief of who Jesus actually was. It’s not until the very end, when they witness the risen Saviour, and empowerment of the Spirit, that they reach a powerful turning point. And the transformation is amazing — Peter goes from denying he even knew Jesus, to preaching in front of thousands.

So what can we learn from the disciple’s journey? Let me give you 5 ways discipleship begins before salvation:

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Faith and Doubt [Guest Post]

Kathy Stock Shares Her Journey of Faith

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I’d like to thank Andrew for inviting me to participate on his blog. Andrew is a great writer and a passionate leader. I’ve read his interesting thoughts and teachings and have personally benefited from the discussions I’ve seen afterward between people on different sides of many different issues.

Faith and Doubt - Kathy Stock

I am a lover of conversation. As a flaming extrovert, I thrive off of the company of others. Drop me in a room full of strangers and I’ll leave with a long list of new friends.

This temperament of mine has served me well, especially as a musician and public speaker but it has its downside. I share a bit too easily, I care a bit too recklessly and I am dramatically affected by the thoughts and feelings of others.

Wearing my hungry heart on the outside of my sleeve has served me both well and negatively in ministry. I’ve been a Christian my whole life. I am told I came to know Jesus at the ripe ol’ age of two when I knelt beside my mother and wanted to do what my five-year-old sister did at church that day. So, at five and two, we surrendered our sin-laden lives to the Lord, knowing full well the gravity of that decision and went forth, sinning no more.

Just kidding.

We had no idea what we were doing!

Yet, I remained ingrained in Christ, and He in me, from then until now…sometimes fervently on fire for the gospel, sometimes gripping tightly with white knuckles while doubt all but swallows me whole.

Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. Click To TweetWhat I have learned is that faith isn’t a black and white issue. Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. It’s complicated and beautiful and terrifying and filled with unknowns.

I’ve done a lot of living for a thirty-three year old woman. I was married at twenty, a mother at twenty-two and again at twenty-six. I’m a published author. I have lived in two countries, three states, two provinces, and have changed addresses thirteen times in the last thirteen years.

I’m a musician who performs (unapologetically) secular music during the week and joyfully leads worship in a congregation I love on Sunday mornings (Spruce Hills).

I had cancer while my children were two and six years old and have been in remission for three and a half years.

I recently went back to school, where I sit in classrooms surrounded by other students who are closer to my son’s age than my own.

What has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus. Click To TweetLife has been more interesting than I can properly articulate in one blog post and I have had some high highs and some low lows along the way but what has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus.

Ironically, (and perhaps I’m over sharing here, in true Kathy form) I am writing this during an intense season of doubt.

Some do not believe that faith and doubt can co-exist but I am living, breathing evidence that they indeed can. I embody both. The disciples embodied both. John the Baptist embodied both, and he saw the sky open up and watched a dove appear out of nowhere, landing on Jesus and then heard God audibly say, “This is MY SON” and he STILL questioned who Jesus was from the darkness of his prison cell. If John the Baptist can doubt, and still be labeled by Jesus as one of the greatest human beings ever, certainly we can too (Luke 3:21-22; 7:18f).

This truth has brought an enormous amount of comfort to me as I navigate life, especially in my thirties. For the majority of my twenties, I lived in the Southern USA or the ‘Bible belt’ as it is sometimes referred.

I was so entrenched in church and church culture that I didn’t have one friend that wasn’t a Christian. I worked at church, sang at church, socialized at church…and the energy that I should have spent going out into the world and being Jesus to people was instead spent arguing about theology with other Christians.

My faith was very, very strong during that season but I wasn’t fulfilling the great commission. I wasn’t being Jesus.

When I was twenty-eight, my little family of four immigrated back to Newfoundland with nothing but the clothes on our backs and six suitcases in our hands. We settled swiftly and I quickly realized that I wasn’t in the ‘Bible belt’ anymore…and I was quite honestly relieved… so I set out to meet as many different people in as many different places as I could.

I began playing music at events and restaurants, eventually landing a permanent gig at a piano bar in downtown St. John’s (The Fifth Ticket).

After I finished chemotherapy and began my remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I set out to meet as many young adult cancer survivors as I could, and pour into their lives in a way I so desperately needed when I was sick. No hidden agenda, no bait and switch to evangelize…just living out love in the way that Jesus has asked us to and seeing what happens. Faith, usually, naturally comes up in conversation.

Through all of this, I have met so many different kinds of friends. People from varying spiritual, religious, socio-economic backgrounds, same sex couples, single parents, transgendered men and women…I’ve met ex-cons and CEOS, reconnected with people I knew from high school and been blown away by how we have all developed and evolved throughout the years.

There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story. Click To TweetAnd through all of these encounters I have learned one very valuable lesson: There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story.

Breaking through the Christian bubble that I had created for myself has opened my heart and mind up to a world of doubt and questions that challenge me on a daily basis.

They challenge how I raise my children and the words I speak behind the microphone on Sunday mornings…but it has also allowed me the powerful opportunity to be Christ to people who haven’t experienced Him in a real way. Not by preaching at or fighting with or segregating myself from them, but by doing life shoulder to shoulder with them and seeing what God does through relationship.

I’m finding the older I get, the less I can claim to know for sure but the more O.K. I am with not knowing.  As exhausting as it is, doubt is worth wrestling with.

There are many days when I wonder whether any of this is legitimate at all, but I rest in the words of John 6:68, when Jesus asked Peter if he was going to leave and Peter responded, “Lord, to what person could we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

When doubt creeps in...I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. Click To TweetWhen doubt creeps in, or bursts the door down, I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. When I am challenged by the non-sense that is grace, the arrogance that is self-sufficiency, the ridiculousness that is child-like faith, I cling with both hands to Jesus!

I recently heard someone say that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt.  The opposite of faith is certainty…because what do the certain need with faith? The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” and my hope is in Jesus (Hebrews 11:1).

There is no one else for me. None but Jesus.

What does it mean to Love Jesus?

10 Ways we Show How Much We Love Jesus

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s pretty simple: Jesus loves you.  The question is: do you love Him?  We might answer “yes” to that question fairly quickly, but do we stop and think about what it really means to show and express love for Jesus?

What Does It Mean To Love Jesus

My wife and I had a long discussion one day about “dirty dishes and clothes on the floor.” Yes, you read that correctly.  Long story short – even if I don’t mind a few dirty dishes in the sink and some clothes on the floor, I’m able to show her how much I love her by cleaning those dishes and picking up the clothes.  I never stopped loving her, but these actions help express that love in a tangible way and keep me focused on serving my wife, rather than myself.

Don’t get sidetracked by my example… The point is, we may love Jesus, but do our everyday lives speak that same language?

I’m sure we could list a ton of different ways of showing Jesus how much we love Him, but I’ll offer ten.  If you have another, take a moment and include it in a comment at the bottom of the post. I’d love to hear from you!

1. We communicate daily with Him.

Praying and reading His Word (the Bible) is a daily activity that helps us communicate with Him.  But it’s more than asking for a wish-list.  The Spirit uses prayer and scripture, to help us better understand God’s voice.  If we do that daily, we show how much we love Jesus (Rom 12:12).

2. We follow His commands and lead.

It’s not popular to say we follow a “set of rules,” however, because we are saved by grace, we should want to express our gratitude by serving Him and following His lead in our lives.  We don’t follow His commands to receive salvation; we follow His commands because of our salvation (2 Cor 5:14f).We don’t follow His commands to receive salvation; we follow His commands because of our salvation. Click To Tweet

3. We worship God every day.

Our “worship experience” includes Sunday, can’t be limited to Sunday.  True worship is a life-long journey of expressing our love for Jesus every day.  It may not be in the form of singing, but our attitude towards life should echo our love for Jesus (John 4:21-24).

4. We live selflessly, not selfishly.

Our culture tells us WE are most important.  Scripture tells us, JESUS is most important.  The main idea – if we love Jesus, we will live selfless lives that focus on loving God and loving others, long before serving ourselves.  (Related post: Who’s More Important: Jesus or Me?)

5. We love and serve when others don’t deserve.

Even when others may wrong us, or take action that “deserves” punishment, the way we react to them is critical.  Because Jesus loves everyone, our reaction of extending that love (the same love that He gives us) makes a big statement on how much we, in fact, love Jesus (Mat 5:44; Luke 6:27).

6. We share in the joy and pain of others.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26, ESV).  Unity in both joy and suffering is vital in the journey of discipleship.  If we do this authentically, we really show how much we love Jesus.

7. We hold true to our integrity.

Being deceitful is a sure way to devalue your love for Jesus.  Being honest and having integrity, on the other hand, proves to God, and others, that the loving truth we believe in is worth living for (Prov 11:3; 28:6; 2 Cor 8:21; 1 Peter 3:16). Having integrity.. proves to God, & others, that the loving truth we believe in is worth living for. Click To Tweet

8. We belong to a local Church.

Saying we love Jesus, but hate the Church is like saying we love God, but hate His body. No matter how messed up we think the Church may be, we’re all just as messed up without Jesus.  Belonging to a local Church (ie. The hands and feet of Jesus) is vital if we are serious about loving Jesus.  (Related Post: We Don’t Have To Go To Church)

9. We support the local Church financially.

Tithing is a biblical principle, but not an absolute law under grace.  What does that mean?  It means tithing is not requirement of salvation and we are no longer restricted to give only ten percent.  In fact, Jesus reminds us that everything we have belongs to Him and we are to follow His lead as we make financial decisions (Luke 18:22).  Want to show that you love Jesus? Financially support His hands and feet (the Church) as they reach out into the community.  Without financial support, local ministry and leadership fall apart (Phil 4:10-20).Love Jesus? Financially support His hands & feet (the Church) as they reach out into the community. Click To Tweet

10. We generously give to those in need.

Over and above supporting the local Church and leadership, the early Church made sure all the needs around them were met. So much so, that some even sold their possessions to help others in need (Acts 2:45).  Talk about generously showing how much you love Jesus!

Your turn…

How do you show Jesus how much you love Him?  Comment below with ways to share your love for Jesus and feel free to elaborate and ask questions about the above ten!


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