Advent #3: Sometimes Christmas Is Hard

Christmas is a wonderful time of year!

But sometimes the joy of the season is not always what you’re feeling.

Maybe you’ve recently lost a loved one.

Maybe the season brings up hard memories.

Maybe you’re alone this Christmas.

Maybe some other situation has left you in a difficult place.

Join me at my house this week as we talk about the best thing you can do in those hard moments.

(Technical difficulties? Here’s the YouTube link)

Did you hear that?

You are ADORED by God.

You are loved. You are appreciated. You are enjoyed.

My friend, He is with you.

Even if it feels like you’ve got nothing else going for this Advent, cling to that truth.

It’s what Christmas is all about. Immanuel. God with us.

If you know someone who might find this helpful, please pass it along to them.

Make sure they know they can find hope in the manger.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

May you know the hope in the One who has come.

See you next week.

Peder

Confirmation, Belief, and Unbelief

This past we celebrated Ethan’s Confirmation of Faith.

In our church, this is a time where students who have attended a weekly time of worship, teaching and small group time for three years say they are ready and desire to make profession of their faith in Jesus Christ.

There are many things they have to do to reach this milestone and proclaim their faith in front of their family, peers, and church.

Though most students come to this time and want to be confirmed, the honest part is their faith is not perfect. Some actually will say they have grown but are still unsure of where they are at. After leading Taylor’s group and now Ethan’s, I’ve come to realize how an honest view of where you’re at in your faith is actually beautiful.

Ethan
Let’s be real: our faith is not based on just emotion or feeling though they are involved.

So many parts make up the faith that God has given us.

It’s God first and foremost that makes belief in Him possible. We love Him because he first loved us.

Yet when we mixed in the world and it’s allures and distractions it can get messy.

So why is it beautiful?

Because to hear these young lads ask questions means it’s important to them and they want to know. They are seeking Jesus.

Jesus said, “Seek Me and you will find Me.” WILL find me. Not MAYBE but WILL.

I think of the father who’s son was possessed by an evil spirit. The disciples tried to cast it out and they couldn’t. So the father goes directly to Jesus and asks Jesus to heal his son of his sickness. Jesus then asks the father THE question.

“Do you believe?” Jesus asked.

This father in his humility, fear, and desire to help his boy said, “Yes I believe. Help my unbelief.”

That’s being honest. That’s real. That’s beautiful.

I think that’s why Jesus then healed this man’s son–to help his unbelief. To show the father his honesty was covered in grace.

Jesus would understand the heart of a parent yes? And let us not forget, he loved that son.

Maybe He wanted to teach the disciples to judge less for an “As Is” situation and meet the person where He was.

Jesus sees the heart. We can trust Him with what He sees in our heart…even if we have our times of unbelief.

Ask for help in your unbelief. Meet Jesus in it. Seek Him you will find Him.

It’s okay.

If that’s where you are right now, I wrote a song about this very thing. It’s called “Yes, I Believe.” Maybe you’ll find it helpful. Here’s the link.

I’m grateful for the courage of my son and his friends to be honest and care enough to say “I believe” in front of each other and yet still ask hard questions.

Have you struggled with a season of unbelief or wrestled with hard questions? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

God is good all the time.
Peder

When Choosing the Hard Way is Worth It

I’m a coach. It’s actually what I went to school for. I thought I was going to be a teacher and a coach. Yet for the last 20 years I have been a musician/songwriter/worship leader for a vocation. Can’t make it up. :)

It’s crazy how being a coach is kinda like being a worship leader/pastor. In both roles you get to pour into other peoples’ lives and try to do what ever you can to help them be successful. I love both of these roles.

I am a coach of girl’s varsity basketball at a Christian school. Doing that while being on the road doing concerts is a crazy experience, but my staff, family, and the school are very helpful to make it work. My daughter Allison plays for the team and so that is a deeper blessing to do this.

Entering this season we had a total of eight girls for the whole varsity team: two juniors, five freshmen, and an eighth grader. Only four of them played varsity last year.

We’re not big and not super fast. We have no real superstars. On the first day of practice, we all understood that every girl was going to have to learn nearly every position and be willing to do things she had not done before.

We would also need to be the most in-shape team we’ve ever been because with so few players, if we were going to win games, we would have to run the floor better than anyone.

One of the hardest things was learning to practice offense and defense. We had no one to play against. You need ten; we had eight. The assistant coaches would admirably stand in but it’s not the same.

We literally would learn during games because finally we had competition. Our timeouts during games were more about teaching and learning than motivation and adjustments.

The deck was stacked against these girls.

They are young, small in size, and small in numbers. Injuries would have to be non-existent, they’d have to learn on the fly during games, and they’d have to learn to play as five girls on the floor knowing what every position does in case they needed to play it.

It would take these girls self-discipline, mental toughness, physical stress, and, most of all, a will to not quit or say it’s not worth it.

We started our season on November 18th. We ended our season on March 7th.

The result? 20-4 Regular season and conference tournament champions!

Conference Champions! The joy of accomplishing the hard thing!

Conference Champions! The joy of accomplishing the hard thing!

Pretty fun I must tell you. When I heard them cheer, it was actually like all the tense air of the long practices, bumps and bruises, and mental fatigue just disappeared like fog being burned away by the sun.

What does this have to do with us? Let’s get excited about doing hard things this spring.

Our world is about shortcuts. It’s why the escalator is packed with people but the staircase is empty.

We’re looking for easier ways to get things done with less investment, less effort, and less risk.

“Get cash instantly.”
“Lose 20 pounds in one week!”
“Become a millionaire overnight!”
“Have it delivered tomorrow.”
“Quick assembly.”

Conveniences aren’t always a bad thing.

But there are experiences we’re missing out on because we’re looking for the easiest way rather than doing whatever it takes to do it right. Sometimes doing it right is hard.

“Indolence wants it all and gets nothing; the energetic have something to show for their lives.” Proverbs 13:4 The Message

I want to have something to show for my life. I bet you do too.

What is something hard you want to do?

Write a book? Run a marathon? Forgive? Make something from scratch? Invite the difficult co-worker to your church?

I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments. It’s my way of cheering for you.

Who knows, even with the odds stacked against you, you might still come out conference champions.

God is good all the time!

Peder