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When someone dressed up like Santa knocked on the front door of the Covina, Calif. household that was filled with more than two dozen family members who were celebrating Christmas Eve, no one had a clue to the violence that would soon erupt. Bruce Pardo (dressed like Santa) had been simmering over his recent divorce and had decided this night he would take revenge on his ex-wife and her family. Before the evening concluded, nine of them would lose their lives, leaving 13 children orphaned.

From the beginning of man’s existence, we can see how the nature of fallen mankind tends to deal with the pain of life. Whether we experience rejection like Cain, failure like Adam and Eve, or deception like Esau, we often submerge our emotions, only to have them surface at some later point.

We all have to come face to face with deep turmoil at times. Often, an internal wrestling match threatens our ability to think clearly, act righteously, and live peaceably. Consider the potential fear Jesus dealt with as He faced the cross. Imagine Peter’s disappointment when Jesus was betrayed and arrested—it certainly was a different world than Peter had pictured. Although Jesus prayed his way through the fear, Peter tried to fight his way through.

As you navigate this year’s journey of ups and downs, realize there is before you both a towel and a sword! One (the towel) leads to a humbling position, putting others before yourself. This position may even make you vulnerable. The other option (the sword) assumes that only aggressive thoughts or actions will resolve the situation. One course of action is inspired by heaven. The other course of action is … well, you get the picture! Righteous confrontation is indeed warranted on occasion. But generally, these moments are best engaged after some time on your knees, accompanied by a basin of water and a towel!

“He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor.” -Proverbs 21:21 (NKJV)

served as the president of The Foursquare Church from 2009-2020.