Tag Archive | Christmas

Do You Make Jesus Look Stupid?

IMG_20131214_090959_409I’m stepping out on a limb here because something has bothered me a lot lately with social media.

Christians are making statements and polarizing themselves over things that are inconsequential. Oh, I know, you believe your views are important and I respect that, but please, hear me out here.

Does your firm stance and insulting words about whether someone is Republican or Democrat show the winsomeness of Christ?

Or whether you believe in Creation or Evolution?

Or, whether everyone should say “Merry Christmas?”

I’m not saying that these things are unimportant. What I want to propose though is that the militant stand that many take might be doing more to alienate those from the truth of the gospel and the holiness of this time of year than attract them to it.

Insulting someone to try to win them to your point of view is the equivalent of throwing manure on them rather than the sweet aroma of baking Christmas cookies. It doesn’t work.

Our opponents are fellow image bearers of Christ, whether we agree with their political, cultural or theological positions on things.

I have my perspective and stand on issues too, and some I feel strongly about. However, the reason I initially went to pursue a degree in Christian counseling was because I saw too often that the words and behaviors of many Christians were a stumbling block to unbelievers.

Granted, we are all in the process of sanctification–and I am at times as guilty as anyone of being obnoxious about things I believe strongly in. However, I believe as Christians we need to have an extra filter on our conversations on-line. The filter of the question: “Will this bring honor to Christ and make Him desirable for others to pursue?”

Yes, I know Christianity is objectionable to many. But consider this. Is it because of the truths of the Bible itself,or could it be due to the way those who claim to be Christians behave and respond to the world around them?

I’m not going to tell you what to believe about how you educate your child, whether or not you should vaccinate or if you should be for or against Obamacare. I respect the fact that there are people on both sides of the aisle of these issues. And that’s okay. (No. Really. It is.). God can be honored and glorified in many of the diverse opinions we hold depending on the manner in which we hold them.

Does that make sense? I believe God can be glorified in the family that chooses public school as well as  those who homeschool (or private). God leads and guides us all in different ways because He desires to shine His light in all the dark corners of the world. When we can love others in spite of their views on abortion (gasp!) or how they vote, we elevate their dignity as humans created in the image of God above our own agendas. Do we have to negate what we believe in to do that? NO! But we can love and listen and even disagree without disrespecting those who hold opposing views. We can stand for truth, certainly, but let us do it with grace.

Ultimately our goal is to win the world to Jesus, but if  the world sees us as fighting about minor issues as to what color of skin Jesus or Santa had or get militant about boycotting stores that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” then how does that draw them closer to the very Savior we proclaim to worship and adore? When we do things like this we are slamming the door of the inn in their face and tell them they can’t belong with us because of some corporate policy dictated to them by a handful of people removed from the day to day interaction at a cash register.

Go ahead and say Merry Christmas in response to a benign greeting. Sometimes those employees are obeying orders but can respond to your comment with their own Merry Christmas when you open the door instead of being hostile. And the sweetness of Christ will prevail instead of more animosity.

This goes beyond Christmas – but the war seems to be more heated than ever at this season. Christianity is not supposed to intentionally alienate people from the truths of the Gospel. The gospel can do that on it’s own but those who believe in Him should not. We hold our faith as a precious and beautiful gift of grace that is meant to be shared, not horded.


A Door County Christmas (Book Review)

I have to admit, I did not read this book at Christmas-time. I read it after. And I loved it! A Door County Christmas is a compilation project that highlights the work of four authors: Eileen Key, Becky Melby, Rachael Phillips and Cynthia Ruchti.  The cool thing is that while these four stories are all stand-alones, they all share a common link to an eccentric innkeeper, Lola Peterson, who has gifted someone in each with a Christmas Cactus that will bloom when love does.

Not all of Lola’s targets for “happily-ever-after” are fully on board or even really care if love, or a cactus, blooms.

Cynthia Ruchti’s tale The Heart’s Harbor involves a young woman, Amanda, seeking a brief respite from her life and failed romance.  Unsuspecting of Lola’s intentions, Amanda, who starts out as a guest,  is quickly left to manage the inn. With the help of Lola’s son, Jordon, together they face a series of challenges as they gear up for the annual and much anticipated Christmas Tea. Will love bloom by then? It’s a spritely adventure and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rachael Phillips story Ride with Me into Christmas takes a look at a widow, Joanna, as she struggles to not only keep the cactus alive, but to deal with her new neighbor (also a widower). Eventually a mutual love of bicycling bring the two together, in spite of opposition. Will they be together come tea time? It’s a sweet story of love between 50-somethings – and utterly delightful.

Eileen Key tells a unique tale in My Heart Be Still with a look at the enduring love of two octogenarians and their own matchmaking efforts even when their home might be sold out from underneath them by the closest kin, a greedy woman who desperately wants the house gone. What will this spunky older couple do to keep their home and perhaps develop a more friendly family?  A sweet and at times, silly, story.

The final novella, by author Becky Melby is Christmas Crazy and involves an interesting mystery man, a rundown theater company, and Jillian, who is somehow supposed to pull everything together for a glorious rebirth. Can she trust dark Latin eyes and do the job? Will love bloom in her heart?

A delightful grouping of stories against the glistening backdrop of Door County, Wisconsin, one of the State’s most coveted get-a-way locations. If you can’t make the trip in reality, then enjoy it here. You’ll be glad you did.

A Log Cabin Christmas Collection (Book Review)

Experience Christmas through the eyes of adventuresome settlers who relied on log cabins built from trees on their own land to see them through the cruel forces of winter. Discover how rough-hewed shelters become a home in which faith, hope, and love can flourish. Marvel in the blessings of Christmas celebrations without the trappings of modern commercialism where the true meaning of the day shines through. And treasure this exclusive collection of nine Christmas romances penned by some of Christian fiction’s best-selling authors.

A Log Cabin Christmas Collection is an anthology that contains nine novellas with Christmas and a log cabin as their common theme. The creativity and uniqueness of each story is heartwarming and compelling. This book has topped the best seller lists and deserves to do so. If you want cozy romances that take place in pioneer America, then this book will be a great one to cozy on up to on a winters day.

The stories contained in this book and authors that have partaken of this project are:

Snow Angel by Margeret Brownley

The Christmas Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter,

Christmas Traps and Trimmings by Kelly Eileen Hake,

A Star in the Night by Liz Johnson,

The Courting Quilt by Jane Kirkpatrick,

Under his Wings by Liz Tolsma,

The Dogtrot Christmas by Michelle Ule,

A Grand County Christmas by Debra Ullrick

Christmas Service by Erica Vetsh.

There is not one dud in the bunch and it has been a New York Times bestseller for good reason. All the stories will leave your heart just a little warmer this holiday season.

JOY to the World

I have a daughter named Joy, who was born in December. She would have been “Joy” if she had been born in July.  She is a delight and lives up to her name.  She is six now and is beginning to understand that “Joy to the World” is not a song about her. But did you know that it’s not a song about Christmas either?  Isaac Watts wrote the words of “Joy to the World” as a hymn glorifying Christ’s triumphant return at the end of the age. It is based on Psalm 98. (Wikipedia)  Can you see his inspiration in this psalm?


Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!

His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.

He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!

With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!

Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. (Psa 98:1-9 ESV)

As you ponder a babe in the manger this week, don’t forget that He grew up and died on a cross to satisfy the law’s need for a perfect sacrifice for our sins. This was why He came. He rose again and ascended to heaven. He is alive and preparing a home for us and at any time, He could return! This is true joy for those of us who call Him our King! Let us not be like the sleeping town of Bethlehem, totally unaware and unprepared for a more wonderful advent!

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Memory Lane

Christmas memories accumulate like snowflakes, or ornaments on a tree. This year was the first that all three children decorated the tree by themselves. Every year they get an ornament, and I write their name and the year on it. It was fun this year to hear my 10,8 and almost 6 year old exclaim as they would hang their own treasures on the tree: “Oh, I remember this one!” and “Look! I was __(age) when I got this!”

The funniest part actually came before the ornaments, when my daughter said “Can we hang the garlic now?” (She meant garland). No vampires for our Christmas!

I remember the year after we moved, and we brought in our artificial tree from storage only to find that mice had made a home in the box and peed all over our tree. Oh, did that ever stink!  I figured it would be a tree-less Christmas until my hubby came up with the bright idea of soaking the tree in buckets of pine-sol in the bathtub. Yup, a disinfected tree that really did smell like pine!

I remember the Christmas after my daughter was born six years ago. We had been at Children’s Hospital for a week. I got to bring my precious daughter to church on Christmas Eve. I was overjoyed at this marvelous gift from God who let us keep her after her medical nightmare.  That was also the year we were blessed to be a part of the “Family Tree” at church and were given a gift card that was extravagantly more than expected.

Or how about the year when I got the tree up and my little girl managed to not only tip it over but break it in the middle? Irreparable. Had to get a new one. Totally would have expected one of my boys to have done this.

Or the year I invited a friend and her four boys over to bake and decorate Christmas cookies with us. Seven children and two adults in 7oo sq ft of space! One boy said “Wow, this is a lot of work!” It was also a lot of fun.

The kids look forward to Santa Claus coming at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. He didn’t make it last year. Something about falling out of a tree and breaking a leg. Thankfully my kids know the truth about Jolly Ole’ St. Nick and weren’t too terribly disappointed. Before you scold me on that, just realize, they still enjoy the tale and the imagination of it all even though if you ask them “What do you want Santa to bring you?” they will give you a blank stare.

2010 is a lean year. Usually there are gifts already piling up under the tree.  I put gifts under the tree as they arrive and get wrapped. We have no place to hide them. It adds to our enjoyment to see the colorful packages under the tree. So far there’s nothing there and the kids are beginning to get a bit worried! There will be something there by the end of this week, not a huge amount but something none-the-less.

My favorite part of the holiday is this: We slow down. We leisurely enjoy Christmas Eve with our church family, and celebrate the magic and wonder of Jesus coming to earth as an infant. We see the lights around town and go home to bed. In the morning we wake up when we are ready, and eventually we make a big breakfast. By 10 or 11 am we might sit and talk again about Christmas and what it means and then open gifts. Maybe later in the day we will visit with family – but generally the best times are just us celebrating our Savior together.

“Every heart that knows His name, lift your voice and sing

To the praise of God with us, this child Redeemer, King

There’s never been a greater love since the world began,

God the Father sent His Son and we held Him in our hand.

He wrapped His love in flesh and blood and took the form of man.”

(Bryan Duncan, “Form of Man”)