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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Where’s God in the Storm?

What God might be teaching us

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Our climate is changing, and storms and natural disasters are becoming stronger and more frequent. Many are trying to understand why. I hear some Christians speaking of the ‘last days’ and God’s ‘message’ to us. I hear scientists screaming about global warming. I hear others who are simply confused and fearful of what’s to come. While we can present options, I’m not sure if we can definitively understand why this is happening. One thing I know for sure, however, is that we can trust God every step of the way.

Where's God in the Storm

One of the scariest things in the world is uncertainty. Many of us can face some wild things, but when we’re not sure of the outcome, everything changes. It’s the tension between status quo and something new. The more distance between those two realities, the scarier the experience.

But it doesn’t matter our situation, God is looking for us to trust Him. The truth is, when things are out of control and unimaginable, we don’t have a choice.

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Why Do We Fear?

God (Peace) versus Evil (Fear)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Christians talk about peace on a regular basis, but I’m not sure if all Christians understand the impact of fear.  There’s a reason why scripture tells us we don’t have to fear.  Complete trust in God is really a complete rejection of fear.  When we avoid fear, we understand peace a little better. When we allow God to be our ‘Shepherd,’ we have nothing to fear because we put our lives in His hands.

why do we fear

So why do we still fear?

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Christian Love is striving for Peace and Holiness

Guidelines to help engage in a healthy balance

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“All you need is love.” – John Lennon

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Peace begins with a smile…” – Mother Teresa

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” – Nan

The world is striving for some level of love and peace.  You don’t have to be a Christian to notice or experience that truth.  Christian love, however, has another component – holiness.

In order to grow as believers, we have to choose the path of discipline.  Discipline takes hard work, dedication and, most importantly, loving support from fellow believers.

When describing that loving support, the Hebrews writer put it this way:

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, ESV).

Christian love requires two things: PEACE and HOLINESS.

Recent Conversations…

With political conversations on the rise (ie. the Trump and Hillary saga), social debates (ie. abortion and gender issues) and otherwise challenging days, the desire for love and peace has never been greater.

I love talking with people about these current issues.  How we respond to them will determine if we really want to pursue both PEACE and HOLINESS.  Yes, these topics can seem much bigger than our personal contexts, but they affect us all in our journey of discipline and growth.

Quite often we attempt to pursue peace in terms of what we think is right and forget about holiness (what God defines as right).  And in the middle of these controversial moments, we have to react and respond as we live in this tension.

So, can we pursue both peace and holiness effectively?

Peace

We talk about peace in many contexts.  We want world peace.  We want freedom of religion.  We want freedom of speech.  We want…well, you can fill in the blank.

We usually understand peace to be a “peace at any cost.”  “The price for peace is never too great,” some would say.  Where does this leave us?  At war.  It leaves us pursuing personal peace, and causing dissention somewhere else.

Christian peace, isn’t a peace “at all costs.”  Christian peace is only within the limits of what is right and holy.1

Holiness

Holiness is being set apart to pursue God’s spiritual agenda for us.  When pursing love, this is the difference between being a believer and an unbeliever.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the difference between a Christian pursing peace and love and everyone else doing the same.  The Hebrews writer couldn’t be clearer here.  Jesus is seen when we match our striving for peace with holiness.

I think it’s also fair to say, that if we don’t pair them together, Jesus isn’t seen.

The Challenge…

No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, when we engage with others, we have to make sure we react and respond with PEACE and HOLINESS.  That’s what Christian love looks like.

So what should we do? This is a balance that will look quite different for each situation, but maybe these guidelines will help.

  1. Choose personal discipline

There’s no way we’ll be able to balance peace and holiness in the moments of life’s chaos if we’re not already on the journey of growth (Hebrews 12:3-13).

  1. Exchange shoes

Sometimes we blind ourselves by our own opinions.  When attempting to love each other, put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  It might be a cliché, but I think it’s key if we actually want to understand the tension (Hebrews 12:14).

  1. Actively Love

Love is not just a feeling, it’s an action.  It’s not good enough to passively understand Christian love; we have to actively engage in it.  That means we can’t simply say, “I feel bad…” we have to take action and embody peace and holiness (Hebrews 12:15).

As Jesus said;

“…everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Your turn…

How have you seen peace and holiness at work?  How do you work through that tension? Comment below with an example…

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

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