God, since the beginning of time, has sought to create peace with His people. More often than not, God’s people refused to accept these peace offerings, and turned to something else more flashy and desirable. These offers of peace made from God to His people ultimately become realized in the story of baby Jesus and the manger. So, the question for us this Christmas season is the same as it was to the people of God long ago; are we going to miss the offering of peace? Are we going to see the story of baby Jesus as sufficiently peaceful for us, or not? Are we going to let another Christmas season pass us by, or will we grab onto this peace offering anew?

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There is a law in the universe that is every bit as predictable and real as the law of gravity. It’s the law of exposure. Whether or not you believe in it, you need to know that cancer research believes in it, that social media experts believe in it, and that the entire marketing community believes that it is inevitable. Simply stated – what we regularly expose ourselves to affects our bodies, our mental health, and our soul. We gradually become what we expose ourselves to. If it’s good stuff – that is, noble, true, right, pure, etc. – it will produce good fruit. If it’s not? Well… not so much.

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Getting back to the issue of anxiety – it is a taskmaster, a slavedriver that will crush you and suck the joy and happiness right out of your soul. But you already know that. Paul, who lived in a pressure-cooker learned how to find peace when life was bleak. And he was just an ordinary person – not a super human. The key seems to be finding a place to unload your anxiety. and puting up a firewall that keeps it there.

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The one thing that rocks our world and steals our peace more quickly and thoroughly than anything else – is chaos, ruptures, breakdowns in our relational world. Know who needs to fix that? We do. No one else – not even the posse of friends we tell about it – can heal our relational world. God, the originator of shalom – and His Son, who came to make peace and show us what forgiveness looks like – is very interested in things being right between you and others. The biggest barrier is always…are you ready for this? Our pride! We need to decide whether we want to win or reconcile.

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If you’ve been a person of faith for any length of time, you have without doubt gone through the cycle of thinking, “There’s God!” You sense His Presence, you feel assured that He’s with you – working in your circumstances – your Forgiver, source of strength and hope. And then one day you’re in a dry spot, you’re facing an unexpected challenge – you have a series of things that go really wrong. And then on one terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day – you think…”Where’s God?” You talk to Him – and your prayers bounce off the ceiling – or make nests in the rafters. You lose any sense that God is there – let alone helping you, watching over you, guiding you, and hearing your prayers. Know what helps – at least theoretically? You could go through every narrative in the Bible and write in the margins: “Where’s God? Oh, There’s God! Where’s God? Oh…There’s God! Where’s God?” It’s not because He can’t make up His mind; it’s because, a) a lot of His work is hidden, and b) our fear and anxiety and, at times, despair obscures Him. Where’s God? Always, always there – we just can’t see Him!

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