Transformed Christmas

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Prepare Your Heart
Read Romans 12 & Luke 10:25-37

There is never a bad time of year to renew our minds. Honestly, the holiday season might be the best time to focus on getting our minds off of the pattern of this world and more focused on being transformed by the renewing of our minds. How do we renew our minds? We get in God’s Word.

The holidays can bring unwanted and unwarranted stress into our lives in which we need to be prepared. From long-lasting gatherings with family to holiday work parties, we find ourselves in settings that are not the norm to our day-to-day. Thoughts and interactions may not go the way we expect them to go but the Bible provides us a wonderful outline in the twelfth chapter of Romans as to what we can put our focus on during this season. Let this be a springboard for the future in every area of your life.

What does it look like to have a transformed mind?

  • don’t think more highly of yourself than you think of others (don’t be a disrespectful know-it-all)
  • think sensibly (put down that 3rd, 4th Christmas Cookie; don’t go into debt to give gifts)
  • love without hypocrisy (don’t plaster on a fake smile to talk nice to someone’s face then turn around and gossip about them -hold on, isn’t that “Maturity 101”? Oops, I better practice what I preach LOL)
  • detest evil
  • cling to what is good
  • show family affection and brotherly love
  • outdo one another in showing HONOR (NOT outgiving with expensive gifts unless that is what honor needs to look like in your specific situation)
  • be diligent
  • be fervent in spirit
  • serve the Lord (and those around you)
  • rejoice in hope (nothing, absolutely nothing is hopeless when Jesus is involved)
  • be patient in affliction (there will be a lot of people who have buried hurts that try to surface during the holidays – read all of the above if you’re tempted to judge them in that hurt)
  • be persistant in prayer (not prayer that is consumed with you thinking everyone else needs to change)
  • share with the saints in need
  • pursue hospitality
  • bless those who persecute you (and gossip about you, and say false things about you, and turn their backs on you – yeah, those people)
  • rejoice with those who rejoice (that will help with your struggle with those who persecute you)
  • weep with those who weep (don’t tell people they need to just “get over it”, cry with them have a little empathy)
  • live in Godly agreement (you don’t know everything but God does)
  • don’t be proud; associate with the humble (in other words, let some humble people rub off on you)
  • don’t be wise based on your own opinions (Proverbs 3:5)
  • don’t repay evil for evil
  • do what is deemed honorable by as many as possible
  • be at peace with everyone as much as it depends on you
  • don’t try to get revenge (ooooo, this doesn’t always look like criminal behavior, revenge comes in small packages too – like giving the cold shoulder, gossip, slander, etc)
  • feed your enemy
  • conquer evil with good
  • bear the weaknesses of those who have no strength (you sometimes have to dig a little and let others express their hearts to know when this is needed)
  • don’t live to please yourself (don’t apologize just to ease your own conscience; don’t exploit others in order to look good)
  • build up your neighbor (who’s your neighbor? Read Luke 10:25-37)

Only do what promotes peace this season – and every season for that matter, but start today. If peace will not come by a decision you’re making, reconsider that decision through prayer and ask the Lord to give you wisdom to make the adjustments toward the outcome of peace. If chaos, frustration, and confusion will likely be the end result – change your approach. Use the above “guidelines” to lead you into heavenly peace; brave grace by choosing to practice a renewing lifestyle according to Romans 12.


  • Continue reviewing this list throughout the season.
  • Where are your strengths and weaknesses in regard to renewing your mind in Christ Jesus?
  • How can you incorporate Romans 12 on a personal level in your day to day life?

We’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts or prayers in the comments below. We are excited to be part of your Christmas! To receive notifications and stay engaged with this Christmas devotional series, please follow us. And please share this with your friends and family!

Enjoy a Christmas Song

More on Grace

I found this from an old social media post. It's no less true today than it was the day I wrote it 8 years ago. It is probably even more relevant to current life circumstances. I pray it blesses you. 

For several months, God has been dealing with me in the area of grace. I have always loved the biblical principle, “for whom much grace is given, much grace will abound.” I will say, and I truly believe it, recently I have come to a new revelation and desire to understand how I can walk in the type of grace seen in the Word; it is not easy.

2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all the grace you need, you will abound in every good work.” It is very difficult to “abound in every good work,” when we are constantly at odds with others. We can fill our lives with “every good work,” going on about doing great things for God, yet never truly understand the concept of grace. We might even walk in His grace over our own lives, accepting it for ourselves but never accomplish the one true “good” work God desires for all of us – Love others as well as you love yourself, this is the second greatest command given by Jesus as He fulfilled His early ministry. yet, many of us do not walk in that love, again, we accept that love of God on our own lives, even to the extent of doing nice things for others, but we still seem to esteem ourselves above all others. This is not walking in grace.

I found it so interesting that one word used to describe grace was the word, “clemency”. Clemency means to have the disposition to show forbearance, compassion, or forgiveness in judging or punishing; leniency; mercy. Those concepts are the basic foundational truths of the New Testament. We are called to receive God’s grace so that we are able to walk in grace and extend grace, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy toward all others. These things should be extended toward everyone, not just those we choose or think deserve it. Deciding who deserves our grace is the antithesis of the Christian doctrine.

Grace means relinquishing our right to be right not sometimes but at all times. In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul learned that God’s grace was sufficient for him, that God’s power was made perfect in weakness. I don’t think he was talking about weakness of the physical body because if you continue in the passage Paul says:

"I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, For when I am weak, then I am strong. I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it."  

He boasted in his weaknesses concerning his reaction to insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties dealing with those people who were wanting to defame the message he was bringing in the name of Christ. These were people who he was trying to reach for the sake of the Gospel yet they refused to hear him, continuing to walk in opposition to him – insulting him, persecuting him, to the point of death. Ha! Now that’s what I call grace! He turned the other cheek, so to say, to the point of looking like a fool!

Grace allows you to do that. It allows you to show a person so much compassion even when they are insulting you or hurting you. To the world you look like a fool, heck, even to most of your Christian friends you are looking pretty foolish in those moments. But God’s power is made perfect in those moments! Resting in that truth is a beautiful freedom. I would suggest anyone try it!

Although it would be much easier to remove the “thorn” (seen earlier in 2 Corinthians 12), grace abounds all the more when we allow ourselves to walk in it through those difficult experiences, loving people through His strength and not our own. An entire world was changed because one man walked this perfectly, and we are called to emulate Him – Jesus!

Grace and Courage to Enter

You can now hear this blogpost on Spotify to listen on the go! LISTEN HERE!

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4 
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  Ephesians 2:18

David’s desire in Psalm 27:4 is something I pray on a regular basis. There is a sense of wonderment when I consider that David did not have the culminating end point of a relationship with Jesus, he only had the promise of the coming Messiah. The level of passion and obedience it required to stay in right-standing with God without ever seeing Jesus is worthy of human envy. (Maybe that is why Saul hated him so.) Yet, the Lord dubbed David, “a man after God’s own heart.”

So many people are waiting on a man to give them permission to be set free, to let them know they are redeemed, counted worthy, and seen as righteous.

I was watching an episode of King of Queens called “Patrons Ain’t”. In the episode Doug and Carrie, the lead husband and wife duo, donate money to a school library in order to feel better about themselves. When Carrie notices they aren’t listed on a plaque as giving as much as they had, she wants to tell the director of the library. She and her husband bicker about how uncouth that would be – Doug not wanting to embarrass himself with something so petty. Somehow the situation becomes a “spiritual” matter and they find themselves sitting in front of a priest asking him his opinion with Carrie hoping for permission to be recognized. The priest finally encourages them to drop it and Doug feels justified.

This silly sitcom example reminded me that we have a great high priest named Jesus and we don’t have to go to a priest for advice or to know what God would have for us. When Jesus died and rose again the veil that hung in the temple was torn from top to bottom. That meant that everyone could have access to God through the Holy Spirit and no longer through a priest or an infallible man. It meant we could come straight to God with our requests and our needs. It meant we could receive Him as our ultimate sacrifice and we would not need to put on a performance or prove ourselves to receive His grace and blessing.

When I watched the King of Queens episode it reminded me of how often we feel the need to seek out validation or agreement from people who may or may not always have our best interest at heart; even really nice, Christian people; even our family members who are believers. We have to have confidence in who we are in Christ more than we have confidence in someone else. We already know that the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, we know what is right, but I believe that we trust the opinion of the people around us more than we trust the still small voice of the Spirit. And I certainly believe that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors, but when the counselors are not in agreement with THE Counselor, we must have the courage to enter into obedience with the plan of God over what others might think they know is best. God gave us permission to fully trust Him when He gave His Son to die on that cross.

Today have the boldness to enter in to a conversation with your Heavenly Father. If you are facing a holy discontentment, or maybe an unsettling in your soul that you just can’t quite put your finger on, stop asking everyone else what they think, and just ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what He’d like to show you. He is always faithful. Even when we can’t see the end from the beginning, we know He will complete what He started. We are His temple and He wants to show us where to take it!

Grace and Peace,


Grace for Decisions

John 8:1-12

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  At dawn He went to the temple complex  again, and all the people were coming to Him.  He sat down  and began to teach them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees  brought a woman caught in adultery,  making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery.  In the law Moses  commanded us to stone such women.  So what do You say? ” They asked this to trap Him,  in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin  among you  should be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,”  she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,”  said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”  Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am  the light  of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” 

This story in John is one that has rocked me several times in my lifetime. If you are old enough, you will remember the hit by Rebecca St. James (oldest sister of for KING & COUNTRY) by the title, “Go And Sin No More.” It was a great 90s hit that you should check out. I will never forget the first time I heard the song inspired by John 8. I was standing at my desk in the offices of Honeymoon Hill Contractors. The simple idea that I was not condemned was so foreign to my heart at that time because some of the decisions I made were so worth condemnation. Although it was a very important concept to grasp at the time, and remains the central and most significant portion of this biblical story, it has deeper lessons in it than forgiveness.

Understanding forgiveness and the unmerited favor that we are given through Christ Jesus, as John 8 so beautifully depicts, is the foundational layer of God’s story with mankind. But what’s the lesson here in the day to day, when we have heeded the command, “GO! Sin no more,” and we are living in a place where overwhelming sin decisions are replaced with new decisions: “Should we buy a mini-van because the old one blew up? Should we send our kids back to school or find an alternative method during these crazy Covid times?” At this point, the only sin we think we are struggling with is cussing at the computer screen because the answer is not clearly given anywhere – there’s no website with all the answers. In reality, and an entirely different lesson altogether, our sin issue in those moments is worry (which is another thing we are told we can do away with if we just focus on Jesus).

But, I see something else in John 8. Jesus gave the woman the command first to “GO” and then, “Sin no more.” That’s not where He stopped though, and many times that’s where we stop that story. And if you’re not in a place where sin is chief in your life, you might skim past the story that years earlier changed what you knew as a shame-filled life thinking that you’ve learned all you need to know from this passage.

In the moments preceding the command to Go and stop sinning, Jesus asked the woman, “Where are those who condemn you, those who bring condemnation to you?” The woman looked around and could not find even one of them. Her accusers had fled the scene because the one who crushed the Accuser showed up. The accusations and condemnation could not mingle in Jesus’ presence because there is NO CONDEMNATION in Him. No shame. No accusation. No guilt. It left the scene of the crime. All of it came under the authority of Christ Jesus in a single moment for that woman!

But the lessons keep pouring out.

Accusation comes in the most subtle ways. From the beginning of John 8, the entire set-up started by a group of people trying to bring accusation to the Giver of Grace. They just could not accept the truth that Jesus was the Son of God. So they decided to ask baiting questions. But Jesus turned that around on them in just as subtle of ways and said, “Well by all means, the person among you who has not ever sinned, feel free to let her have it!” Jesus didn’t bring accusation; He simply spoke truth. What happened immediately after He turned that woman around toward grace is the part that was ironically illuminated to me when I read John 8:12. Read what it says:

“Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am  the light  of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” 

I AM the light of the world. I illuminate your world. I light up those things that are dark so you can have life. If you follow me, believe me, trust what I say is true, you won’t ever walk in the dark again.

You see, when we receive His grace we don’t have to live a life full of questioning God’s plan; we don’t have to strive to make the right decisions. We don’t have to walk around moaning that we don’t know what to do. We can GO, we can stop worrying, we can believe that He is leading us into good things and that He will bless the decisions we will have to make as we walk through this life. He told us in John 16:13-14, “When the Spirit of truth  comes, He will guide you into all the truth.  For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears His Father say. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.”

Many of my friends are being faced with big decisions about their children’s education over the next several weeks. Parents who never even let it cross their minds that a day could, let alone would, come where they might have to decide to send their child to school or homeschool are being faced with that decision. The information provided to help them make that decision is overwhelmingly complicated, and it doesn’t seem that anyone has great advice. And just like this decision, so many decisions we are faced with in life can feel like the right answer will never come, that we are just taking a shot in the dark and hoping for the best!

But as I considered how to encourage so many of my friends asking for advice about their children’s future I learned a new lesson from this passage: God gave me the ability to make good decisions because I choose to follow Him. He gave me permission to decide with help from the Holy Spirit, and to do so with confidence because He has brought light to what might feel like a shot in the dark; He gave me the Holy Spirit to guide me in all truth. He isn’t trying to conceal the truth from me. Just like He brought light to the darkness of sin in my life by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to persuade me that I can live free from condemnation, He continues to illuminate the dark areas where I feel overwhelmed and incapable of making a good decision. He says, “I am giving you EVERYTHING you need that pertains to this life; you will NEVER walk in darkness again, I promise.”

Friends, whatever you are faced with today I want to first encourage you to GO! Go, and stop worrying that you aren’t capable of making a good decision for the life of your family. Go; stop condemning yourself for past decisions that may not have turned out the way you expected. There is redemption. He was there when you made that decision, because neither height nor depth nor the accusation of the enemy or the condemnation of others, can separate you from His love. And He is here for this decision to lead and guide you into all truth.

The real decision that needs to be made is simple: Do you believe Him?

Braving Grace means believing Him when He tells you that you are capable, you are smart, you know what’s best for your family. Braving Grace means you believe that He entrusted you with the decisions that affect your life, and then acting on that.

So be encouraged to make good decisions this week. Be encouraged to walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit. He is there to lead you in all grace and truth. And please share with us where you could start Braving Grace. We’d love to walk part of your journey with you.

Go! Brave Grace!