By Pastor Dave Michener
FELLASHIP Weekly Online Meet Up Recap
This month, we’ve talked about returning back to God this Christmas—Coming home for the holidays. We’ve talked about Your Hometown—the place where it all started for you, and much like Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, not letting where we’re from determine where we’re going.
In our final installment before our Christmas break next week, I want to talk to you about Home Free—A home that’s free of chaos, albeit not free from conflict. A home that’s free of drama—but not caring and loving feelings. A home that’s free of control—but that’s still not a free-for-all (like in the days of Israel’s judges where “every person did that which was right in his or her own eyes.”
Would you like a home this holiday season that’s free from those things—and at the same time is a place of freedom? A space that’s a safe, warm place that you can’t wait to go to and stay there?
And while you can’t control the behavior of others in your home, and while you can’t control the circumstances and the medical reports, and the current financial situation that you may be facing, there are things that you can do.
After all—it’s the time we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the one who forgives us of all our sins, and gifts us with eternal life. He’s the Savior who according to Luke 2:14 is about giving “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
If Jesus can bring peace on earth, he can certainly bring a little peace to your turf.
For some of you, you’re saying that’s just not possible. You feel that your home is beyond repair. Perhaps that’s true. That your house is just a shell for hell on earth. I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors at your house, but God does. He sees you, and He’s waiting for you to trust Him with the improbable, and perhaps even the impossible. After all He’s the God of the virgin birth and resurrection, both impossible feats.
While Jesus can bring peace to your turf, he expects you to do your part, regardless of what other people are doing. It says in Romans 12:18, “As much as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.”
Do you have a “depends on you” plan to create an environment for Jesus to freely bring some peace to your turf?
10 Things You Can Do That Depend on You
1. RECOGNIZE who the real enemy is in the midst of relational conflict. It’s rarely ever the other person that you are engaging, but rather it’s Satan stirring things up, often leveraging our sinful cravings and desires, which blind us to what’s really going on even though we know that the wrestling is not really about “flesh and blood” but about the unseen. Unfortunately, we can get so caught up in wanting to “win” or prove that we’re right that we try to get our pound of flesh or shed a little blood relationally.
2. REACH out to reconcile strained relationships. –Go first. Make a move. Shoot a text or make a phone call. Send a card with a handwritten note or even a gift. Take the lead. Step up and initiate, and watch how God uses it.
3. RESPECT other people’s opinions by being respectful (by listening without arguing). This will mean that you won’t be able to volley opinions and play “point” and “counter-point”. As the saying goes, “Arguing may create a lot of heat, but it sheds very little light.” Respectfully engage. It doesn’t mean that you can’t discuss, but do the cost/benefit analysis of what the discussion will result in. Sometimes it’s wiser to “live to fight another day” by “choosing your battles.”
4. RESIST reacting by taking a breath (Hold your breath and counting 1-2-3 then breathing out slowly and deliberately. Not to be confused with huffing and puffing. Not only will this calm your spirit, but it will by you some time to think about what you should say, if anything, because you can’t speak while holding your breath.)
5. REDEEM conversations. Initiate meaningful, even spiritual conversations at meals and gatherings, by sharing what Christmas means to you, great memories of gifts or a lesson about giving supported by a personal story. Ask open-ended questions and then listen to other’s sharing.
6. REDIRECT potentially toxic or hostile or “pot-stirring” or negative critical comments or tones by stopping it as soon as possible, using phrases like, “Let’s press pause for a minute” or “With all due respect, I politely ask that we change the subject” or “Can I speak with you for a moment?” and then ask the person to step away for a personal interaction. If need be, just shut it down and accept the fall out. Whatever it is, it will only be a bruise on you as opposed to a potentially fatal wound to someone else. (i.e., Dad telling me, “I think you’ve said enough about that!” Then, when I asked him if he wanted me to leave, he said, “Don’t be stupid. I just wanted you to shut your mouth for a minute!”
7. REIGN in your spending. Stay within your spending plan (budget). If you don’t have a spending plan, then get one before the end of the day and then stick to it. This may cause some tension at home tonight, but it will be a lot damaging then the building stress of knowing you have a number of expenses racking up for which you have no idea how you are going to pay them without cutting out something very important or paying exuberant interest. Note: Make sure you give to God first this holiday season. After all, it’s His holiday.
8. REGULATE your food and alcohol intake. Moderation makes you feel better, not only emotionally, but physically. And the choice of what kinds of food and drink we indulge in may have a direct effect on our moods, and even indirectly on our sleep (which also affects our mood and ability to think clearly.)
9. REST & RECREATE. Lean into some level of discipline and self-care, even though the holidays tend to pull us out of our healthy routines. It’s hard to live at peace when you’re tired or empty. So, get enough sleep and do some things that refuel (re-create and recalibrate) you. You can either do them by yourself or include others.
10. READ your Bible and pray. Listen to what God has to say. Talk to Him. Even though it’s His holiday, we can have a tendency to ignore Him, even though He’s right there. Plus, if you want peace, then you need to embrace what it says in Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because He trusteth in Thee. KING JAMES VERSION
Work like it “depends on you” but pray like it “depends on God.” – Mark Batterson