Last week I shared 5 of the things that upset me during the holidays, now it is time to finish up this list.
5) Happy holidays! Merry Christmas!! Happy Hanukkah!!! Whatever. There are a lot of people who feel that saying Merry Christmas is bad. That it will cause all of America to immediately switch into Bible-thumping, right-wing, conservatives with a judgmental attitude and a closed mind. And then there are those who feel that saying Happy Holidays will result in the decay of Christian America. Well, let me put it this way, in this case everyone is right and everyone is wrong. Saying Merry Christmas is no more going to convert someone to Christianity than buying them a necklace with a cross on it. And saying Happy Holidays will not usher in a demon that will destroy America. A little clue here, this is America, not Israel. We are not a Chosen People because of our country affiliation.
But everyone IS right because it is the time of year we celebrate Christmas, so you would be right in saying that. And it IS the holidays so you would be right in saying that as well. Bottom line, we just need to relax a little when it comes to wishing someone well during this time of year. The important thing is not the words we say, but that we are caring for others. Regardless of what we say to them, we show Christ in how we act, not by wishing someone Merry Christmas.
Mark 12:28-30 – And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ’Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…”
4) The Christmas Card. This weekend I spent part of my day with my kids trying to get the perfect Christmas card picture. At their ages (10 and 12), they either really love each other or really dislike each other. Fortunately they chose this weekend to get along very well. But then came the outfit. I knew I was in trouble when my daughter said, “Can I just wear what I normally wear and stick a bow on my head?” Sometimes I just wish they would care about something I cared about. But then I think…they might be saying the same thing about me. And that makes it all the easier to get the picture, knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around me. That my job is not only to teach them right, but make sure that they know that there will be glimpses of grace in the little things and that they should be understanding to that (and so should I).
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers,do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
3) Cold weather. I’m one of the summer children. Give me a beach, a surf board, and some sun tan lotion and I’m a very happy boy. But when the autumn leaves turn and the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, I become so deeply cold that I don’t feel I will ever warm up.
Romans 5:5 – Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
2) Food. I like food. Too much. It is at this time of year that I overeat. Yea, I am one of those guys who really likes to eat. All kinds of meat and sweet stuff and starches…yum. Just keep those green veggies off my plate, and I’m a very happy guy. But all those foods and overeating may feel good while it is going down, but later that afternoon, I am not feeling too well. So let’s see what the Bible has to say about this:
Proverbs 23: 20-21 – Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.
I’d rather focus on this verse, though, as I enjoy my food….
1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1) The fact that we take this holiday and turn it into a consumerist holiday. We overspend. We care too much about the stuff we give and get that Christ has been pushed to the periphery. I enjoy getting gifts, especially those electronic ones that allow me to avoid my issues by plugging in and tuning out. But we are called to be in this world, not of it. We cannot fully be in the world if we are tuned out to it. We also get our families and friends products that do not glorify God. If we follow only the reviews of the world, then we will be taking, at best, a shot in the dark as to whether something is acceptable. We need to work together as a Christian community to offer only products that will edify the body of Christ.
A few years ago, I started doing something a little different for my Christmas gifts. I started going through a Christian organization to get gifts that give to others. It has not only helped others to begin giving these kinds of gifts, but it has provided an opportunity to show Christ to people who may not know who He is.
So I am going to break this up into two sections of gift options. The first is from the non-profit organizations who are very trustworthy and are doing a good work for Christ. The second is from Christian bloggers who review products that are safe for our families.
Samaritan’s Purse. https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/gift_catalog/
This is the organization that I work through to get my holiday gifts for everyone. If you are looking for a great gift for under $15, you can teach a child to read and write or get baby chicks for a family. If you find that your family has extra disposable income and wants to make a huge donation, you can build a clean water well for a community for $1,000 or build a house for a destitute family for $7,500.
I have been purchasing my gifts through Samaritan’s Purse for over 4 years now and every year I get another person come to me, in tears, saying how much the gift has meant to them.
World Vision, http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/pages/gc-redirect
This is another amazing organization that I highly support. They offer a gift catalog that is very similar to Samaritan’s Purse, but with some different choices and price points. For example, for $25 you can provide counseling for a sexually exploited girl or for $500 you can purchase a dairy cow for a family.
Compassion International, http://www.compassion.com/
What better way to share the holidays with your family than with a new family member. They currently have over 1 million children sponsored and in the last year over 163,000 have given their life to Christ! AMEN! For $38 per month, you can enjoy giving love to a child around the world who may never have heard of the love of Christ. You can write to them, assist them with their studies by sending needed supplies, and get letters back from your sponsored child. This is a great one to get the kids involved with because they create an attachment with the child across the world and begin to learn about other cultures and that no matter what color, what culture, or even what religion we are, the love of Christ can always be shown to someone else.
Project AK-47, http://www.projectak47.com/
I learned about this organization at the Purple Door Festival a few years ago and was amazed about this world that I knew very little about and it touched my heart so much that both my kids sponsored a child through them. Around the world, children are being used by governments as cheap and disposable soldiers. The gun of choice for them is the AK-47. Project AK-47 will use indigenous missionaries to go into the areas and pull the kids out of these situations of exploitation and death. You can sponsor a child and will get in return a set of dog tags with your child’s name and information. Your donation goes to rescue the child, rehabilitate them, and then reintegrate them into society. The cost for this is only $7 per month!
CHRISTIAN BLOGGERS WITH FAMILY-FRIENDLY PRODUCT REVIEWS
Woven by Words, http://www.wovenbywords.com/
Mimi is one of my favorite product review bloggers. She not only blogs about products, but about her faith in Christ. She will review products that are good for the whole family. I personally know her and know that she lets her family try all the products she gets such as games or food or toys. If something goes on her site, you can rest assured that it will be good for your family. Join her on Twitter for her Twitter giveaways and parties or simply follow her blog to get some really great gift ideas.
Christian Clippers, http://christianclippers.com/
Hosted by Apryl, she and her family have this blog to show other Christians how easy it is to save money through the use of coupons. She breaks it down by grocery, discount, supercenter and has an entire section on products reviews and giveaways. With over 25,000 followers, Apryl has a reputation for giving great product information.
Plugged In, http://www.pluggedin.com/
This is hosted by Focus on the Family and is a great site for bringing to light the importance of being plugged in to what our kids are watching, listening to, and playing in their games.
These are just a few of the many, many, many non-profit organizations and Christian blog sites that are out there to help us navigate around this Christmas. So now we can take this holiday and make sure that Jesus is brought back into it.
God bless each and every one of you!