Few times in the year present more pressure and stress than the week before Christmas and Easter. In fact, the demands feel so overwhelming that we often lose our own center in Jesus. So allow me to offer, in a few words, three reminders that may help you this week: Jesus wants you more than your leadership. You were called. Chosen. You didn’t initiate your discipleship. He did. Why? First, to be with you, to enjoy loving union with you. Any work we do for him is to flow from that place. The Eastern Orthodox church, historically, has placed a healthy emphasis on breathing and prayer as a tangible way to abide in Jesus. Close your eyes for a few seconds now. Inhale and exhale slowly, and allow his love to wash over you. Jesus is building his church – not you. Jesus said: I will build my church and the gates of hell. Read more.
It is hard to be a Christian at Christmas, especially if you are a pastor or leader. These are at least five mistakes that we often make: We skimp on our time with Jesus in our work for Jesus. We speak of profound spiritual realities, but our hearts slowly shrink because we have so much to do. We become perfectionistic. We forget that to be human is to make mistakes. Eugene Peterson says it well: “Perfectionism is a perversion of the Christian way. To impose it on either oneself or another…is decidedly not the way of Jesus.” We do more than God asks. When we do more than God asks, we open the door for all kinds of disorder and chaos. We engage in faulty thinking. Mark Twain once said, “It isn’t what you don’t know that hurts you; it is what you know that isn’t so.” We forget our greatest gift is who. Read more.
Why do so many Christians make lousy human beings? Why are so many of us judgmental, unaware, and defensive? Part of the answer lies in a failure to biblically integrate emotional health and spiritual maturity. A vast industry exists around emotional intelligence that ignores spirituality. A vast amount of information also exists that defines a “mature” Christian. Rarely are the two integrated. The following are 11 signs of an emotionally mature Christian: You anchor your life in the love of Jesus. You don’t divide your life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments. Instead, you rather enjoy communion with Him in all areas of your life – work, recreation, church, and parenting. Towards that end, you regularly practice spiritual disciplines (e.g. meditation on Scripture, silence, solitude, community, confession, worship) to position yourself to practice His presence all throughout the day. You break the power of the past. You can identify how issues from your family of origin (e.g. character flaws, ways of. Read more.
The song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is an English Christmas carol. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone then wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It had two levels of meaning: first, the surface meaning of being a fun song and secondly, a hidden meaning known only to members of the Church. The “True Love” in the song, for example, is not a smitten boy or girlfriend but Jesus, because truly Love was born on Christmas Day. Geri wrote this for our small group that meets in our home for greater integration of EHS in their own lives. I hope you enjoy it. On the First Day of EHS…My True Love Sent to Me One Gift to Explore My Iceberg Journal or share with a trusted companion today: What are you mad about? What are you sad about? What. Read more.
Christmas is when we remember the staggering reality that God entered human history as a baby. It is also about receiving the new things the living Jesus wants to do in us now. Let me invite you to ponder the painting, The Visitation, by He Qi and his capturing of the great story in Luke 1:39-56. First, notice Mary’s right arm protecting her womb. She knows God is birthing a precious gift inside her. She thus makes a three-month visit to Elizabeth’s house after she becomes pregnant, seeking support and encouragement for this new thing God is doing in her that is about to change the trajectory of her life. What new thing might God be birthing in you that you need to protect? Who might be a companion, a peer, a godly friend, or a spiritual director who might be able to be an Elizabeth to you as you. Read more.
God invites us to practice the presence of people within an awareness of His presence. That is no small task, especially at this time of year. How then can we do this? By intentionally practicing His presence first. No greater teacher can offer us insight on how to do this better than Brother Lawrence, a 16th century Carmelite from Paris. I reread The Practice of the Presence of God every couple of years to remind myself of his simple, timeless wisdom. Here are a few of his gems for you to prayerfully consider this Christmas: I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence…which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, a habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God. The time of business does not differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of the kitchen, while several persons. Read more.