Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution

Looking for a personal devotional you can use for Christmas? I offer this one for FREE… no limits, no lines, and no waiting for a package to arrive!

In 2012 following a year of great personal turmoil, I was led to write a devotional reflecting on the revolutionary nature of Christmas… one each day from December 1-25. I pray your reading of these brief reminders of The Christmas Revolution will bring you as much encouragement as the writing of them brought me.

You can download a single PDF (click HERE) or read them daily on this site by clicking the links below. Merry Christmas, the Lord has come! – DP

 

His Cross, My Victory

if His cross is the only victory I experience in this life
it is more than enough
to satisfy my deepest longings
now and for all eternity
none of my losses and defeats
no matter how painful or shameful to me
can withstand the boundless oceans of mercy
still flowing
from His triumph over the deadliest enemies of my soul
and from my inclusion in His victory

Because You Have Been a Warrior

Thank you veteran…
for leaving home and enduring hardships;
for serving a cause greater than yourself;
for seeking the welfare of the weak;
for risking your life for the sake of others;
for standing up for the freedom of all citizens
(no matter whether they value the sacrifice you made for them).
Because you have been a warrior,
I want you to know my Jesus…
who left His home (bankrupting heaven);
who charged into the battle for your soul;
who never hesitated, reconsidered, or flinched;
who came to rescue you from every terror;
who threw himself on top of your sins
(no matter whether you considered him a friend or a foe);
who fought for you;
who endured it all and sacrificed his life…
because he loves you…
who welcomes all soldiers
who give their full allegiance to him
(the best battlefield decision you will ever make)
as the invincible warrior,
as the only savior, and
as the absolute commander of their lives.


Originally written on Veterans Day 2016.

My Father (a consuming fire)

The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. Exodus 24:17

…when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Luke 15:20

Lord, You are my Father (and a consuming fire).

To draw near to You is to encounter the warmth of Your love, and the intense heat of Your wrath towards sin. I cannot draw near to You without retreating from sin in my heart. This is the delightful and deadly journey into Your presence, and any personal purity I experience is only a consequence of that journey… a continual casting away of the worthless and temporal in exchange for that timeless place before You.

It is an illusion and a lie to believe that intimacy with You is costly, when nothing compares to the unspeakable joy of being lost and found by my Father the King (who is also a consuming fire).

Thank you for rejoicing and running… towards me.

– a grateful son

Through Christ I Can

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

the abundant life is a constant internal supply
flowing from the One who said He came to give it
to the ones who would abandon their overloaded lives
in order to walk with Him daily
through a joyful union and a lingering submission
eyes on Him and cares fading
finding rest then fully resting
as He steps ahead of me into every moment
with me, through me, in me
He is enough

(John 10:10, Matthew 10:38-39, Matthew 11:28-30, 2 Corinthians 3:18)

What to Do When Someone Has a Meltdown

One evening during the summer of 2012, I was making a nine-hour drive home after a difficult visit with my father. Lying unconscious for days in a hospital room, he was not expected to live. No one knew when death would come, and I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to go. Two hours after I left, I got the call that he had died. I could not control my grief. I had to pull over and stop repeatedly because the tears clouded my vision. I prayed aloud and struggled to process what I was experiencing with the Lord, but my heart was broken and the sense of loss was unbearable. I was having a meltdown.

I spoke with family members and friends during that long evening in the car. Each conversation was like a lifeline in an ocean of emotional chaos. Then I got a call from a friend that God used to help me. I began to regain a sense of God’s presence and His peace. My grieving process had just begun, but my meltdown ended during that phone conversation. Why?

What is a Meltdown?

A meltdown occurs when someone is overwhelmed mentally and emotionally. Confronted with a situation beyond their control, persons in crisis can quickly become helpless or hopeless (or both). The crisis can arrive as a single catastrophic event, or it can form though a gradual series of separate events, building in pressure and intensity until a person “melts down.” Normal reasoning and coping skills are suspended. Decision-making becomes extremely difficult. The crisis “rocks the world” for the affected person, dominating every waking thought and provoking powerful emotions.

Meltdowns happen because of unbearable and unexpected life situations. A wife discovers her husband has been having an affair. A man receives a pink slip after thirty‑three years with the same employer. A friend receives a terminal cancer diagnosis. A neighbor’s son shoots and kills his father. A teenage daughter tells her parents she is pregnant. A man dies on the way home in a traffic accident, leaving a widow and three children. Although the causes of the crises may be very different, the initial ministry needs of the hurting are often the same.

Four Needs You Can Meet

When the call comes for you to come to the side of someone having a meltdown, you may not feel qualified to help. Turn first to the Lord who is the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 3:3-4). He has promised to supply you with everything you need to serve Him (2 Peter 1:3). He is sufficient! Trust Him to work through you to meet the needs you will encounter. During a meltdown, people need support, stability, truth, and prayer.

Support. Overwhelmed by a crisis, many people struggle to express themselves and to make decisions. They need a compassionate person who will “listen” to their story or their silence, assuring them that it’s okay to share (or not share). After the initial impact of the crisis, affected persons may need help navigating their next steps. Protect them from being forced or rushed to make a decision that can wait, while affirming their ability to make those decisions that cannot wait. Practical ministry – like providing cooked meals or mowing the yard – reduces the stress on someone who is already overloaded by a crisis.

Stability. Most of us live in a world that is “safe” and that can be understood. During a crisis, an individual’s perception of the world around them can collapse. It is no longer a safe place. The trajectory of life has changed and the future becomes unclear and uncertain. However, your physical presence will often be an “anchor” in the storm. How long should you stay? The answer depends on whether the crisis is still unfolding, and whether the person has someone else who helps provide a stable environment. I have stayed overnight in hospital waiting rooms knowing family members were facing an end‑of‑life decision, unwilling to leave them alone. On other occasions, I have waited in someone’s home for hours until a relative or special friend arrived who provided a sense of safety and stability for the person in crisis.

Truth. Meltdowns cause people to become extremely vulnerable to deception and manipulation. We are engaged in a spiritual war, and we have an enemy that lies and attempts to blind us to the truth. Doubts and questions can form that undermine faith. You may be asked, “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” Don’t argue or try to defend God. I often reply, “I don’t know that I can adequately answer your question, but I do know this: He loves you and He is here and He has sent me to help you get through this time.” Christians are exposed to the same kind of troubles in this world as everyone else, with a major difference: He has not left us alone in our trouble (John 14:18)! Read verses from the Bible that assure God’s presence and activity during times of crisis (e.g., Psalm 34:18).

Prayer. A. W. Tozer is credited with saying, “Sometimes when we get overwhelmed we forget how big God is.” Prayer is a way of regaining our perspective during a crisis. During a meltdown, all we can see is our problem, but when we pray that can change! By gently leading overwhelmed people to pray, we put them in touch with the One who is greater than any problem.

On that dark night in 2012, what did my friend do that made a difference? He met needs I had for support, stability, truth, and prayer! When I answered his call, I could hear the deep concern in his voice. He listened. He assured me I was going to get through this. He gently pointed me to the Lord and reminded me of His care for me. He prayed with me. Although I would grieve for months to come, my friend’s act of compassion that night on the road helped me get through the initial tsunami of emotions associated with a meltdown.

For further reading:

Wright, H. Norman. The Complete Guide to Crisis & Trauma Counseling: What to Do and Say When It Matters Most! Rev. ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2014.

Wright, H. Norman. What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2014.


(Written to encourage deacons, this article was originally published as What to Do When Someone Has a Meltdownin the Summer 2018 issue of Deacon Magazine, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources.)

5 Ways to Pray Today

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Your daily prayer life is the greatest privilege you have as a child of God. One of the reasons Jesus died for you is so that you would have unhindered access and unfiltered fellowship with the Father! He wants you to be with Him… but what do you do when you finally get “there” — alone with Him?

Enjoy Him first… He is your first love.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Prayer is so much more than presenting a “want list” or reciting religious phrases: prayer is first a relationship. Prayer involves interaction between the heart of a believer and the greatest love in his or her life: Jesus Christ. When we are in love, we want to spend all of our time involved with the object of our love. Prayer is like that. Application: Take a moment and speak to the Lord, silently expressing your love to Jesus!

Ask Him for “open doors” as you walk in the world today.

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message.” (Col. 4:3) Paul uses the analogy of an “open door” to describe an opportunity to tell others about Jesus Christ. The “open door” would be a set of circumstances arranged by God allowing Paul to share the gospel. Notice too that when Paul asked his readers to pray for an “open door” he was in prison. Imagine that! He could have asked for his freedom, yet he asked instead for the opportunity to share Christ. Application: In all of your relationships (co-workers, family and friends), where do you encounter firmly closed “doors” when it comes to talking about Christ? Perhaps the person will not listen, does not have the time, or lives too far away. Ask God to open one of those doors.

Ask Him to bless other believers with dramatic spiritual successes.

Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (2 Thess. 3:1) Paul is using a military word picture that escapes a casual reading of this verse. The message should run swiftly (like a warrior into battle) with great success (like a great military victory). Throughout the history of the church, there have been dramatic outpourings of God’s saving power. Paul is implying that happens as God’s people pray for a mighty work of God in their day. Application: List the most dramatic news events taking place today around the world. Can you imagine the kind of spiritual event that would cause mass media to place a mighty move of God on that list? Ask God to move powerfully in your community!

Ask Him to send compassionate workers to minister to a broken generation.

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2) Jesus viewed the crowds that followed him as “sheep without a shepherd” — there were simply too many for Him to personally interact with each one. He knew that a “harvest” of devoted followers would result IF loving workers would go out and build relationships in the crowd. His root motivation was compassion. Where there is human need in our church, our community, or our world, then Jesus directs us to pray for workers to go and address those needs. Of course, it would be silly to pray this prayer without being willing to go ourselves! Application: Where are the specific “harvest” fields around your church today? What groups of people need ministry in and outside the church? Ask God to raise up a new generation of impassioned servants.

Ask Him to help Christians in trouble – no matter where they are in the world.

…join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (Rom. 15:30) Prayer enables us to join with laborers around the world as they struggle with sin and evil. Paul specifically requests prayer for several items (see Rom. 15:31-32), but he describes the act of praying as joining him “in my struggle“. When we pray with others regarding their problems and needs, we become real participants in their life and work. Application: Have you ever had to face a major crisis alone? What does it mean to you when someone prays for you when you are in trouble? Who do you need to help in prayer today?

Daily prayer is vital. Lives are at stake. Eternity is on the line. Will you set your heart to meet with God each day?


Want to go deeper? The model prayer taught by Jesus is the best outline to guide your time alone with God.