Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Yule tide is upon us again, a time of gifts, merriment, and stress. The American Psychology Association found that 8/10 Americans anticipate stress over the holidays (apa.org). Not that we need a study to tell us this. Sadly too much stress makes us moody and argumentative. There is one pointless argument I hear every year, and I’m asking you to help me end it.

Here’s a familiar scenario:

On a snowy street corner a smiling stranger wishes a passerby “Merry Christmas” only to be met with an icy “Happy Holidays” as the stranger sneers and rolls their eyes in disgust. Our hero's smile vanishes and is replaced, for the rest of the day, with resentment towards the “secularization” of their beloved Christmas. This is a sad scenario, but to be honest I have never met a person who got angry that I wished them a Merry Christmas. I’m certain it happens, but it has never happened to me.

I have seen Christians get angry about being wished a “Happy Holiday.” No year goes by that I don’t hear rants, sermons, and tantrums about how the word "Holiday". Whether it is a politician, an advertisement, or a relative someone will provide an excuse to complain that “Christmas” is being replaced by “Holiday.” This complaint is not helpful. It does not spark encouraging discussions or begin any argument worth having. I would rather hear a pagan solstice hymn than another complaint about how folks are greeting one another incorrectly.

By all means please keep the true meaning of Christmas alive. This is the perfect season to remember that Jesus said, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:39) Now if we can respond lovingly when evil people hit us, I’m confidant that we can respond lovingly when nice people wish us a “Happy Holiday.”

Here’s a neat idea if you feel strongly about wishing Merry Christmas, “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil 2:14) Correcting people about their greeting is argumentative. Talking to other Christians about it is complaining. Please turn the other cheek, wish the Holiday Heretic a Merry Christmas, and praise God for the opportunity to love them. We’re not winning any hearts by carrying this argument any further.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Open Letter To Parents Who Deal With Rebellious Minds

Dear parent,

I understand that you're having problems with your teenager. He or she isn't Christian or isn't what you raised them to be. You find their beliefs, or lack thereof, disappointing and disrespectful. Their new outlook threatens what you hold sacred. How do you react? You can show them who's boss; you can fire back against their rebellion with restrictions and criticisms. Please don't; I don't think that will help.

Parent, I need you to calm down before you hurt yourself and hurt your kid. Remember, your relationship with your child is much more important than any disappointment you feel. Your adolescent is becoming an adult. You cannot discipline someone into having faith. A stronger approach is needed. Adolescents aren't children anymore, you're going to have to show them how adults act. Treat them like an intelligent adult you are trying to win for Christ, not like a misbehaving child. Their ideas hurt you, but please remember that your relationship with your child is more important than how they are making you feel at the moment. Treat them with love and maturity. Continue to express your faith while respecting theirs, and you'll win their respect. If you insult their beliefs, demean them, or punish them for their unbelief you will lose both their trust and respect. If they don't trust you, they are not going ask you for help when their schema fails them. Your teenager, is only a teenager. God willing, you still have decades left in which to love them into God's kingdom. If you focus on winning arguments instead of winning souls you will lose both. Romans 2:4 asks “. . . do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” May God's kindness work in and through you to lead your beloved closer to God.

Your brother,


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

RE: Psalm 22

This is about Christ’s ultimate sacrifice; he suffered God’s rejection so that we never would. God does not forsake us, but even faithful Christians sometimes feel that he has. Mother Teresa started humanitarian centers in over 100 countries, however she also wrote extensively about not feeling God’s presence. I believe this powered her attempts to “Share in Christ’s Sufferings.” Sadly, those attempts did not alleviate her doubts.

Faith cannot be worked up; it is God’s gift for us to receive or to reject. To share in Christ’s sufferings we only need to live life, which is full of suffering. Jesus suffered as you do. If he had not become a man, he would never have experienced suffering. Jesus chose to become a man to share our pain. Whatever pain you are experience, Jesus experiences it with you. He became a man so he could be close to you, to intimately share in your life. He is close to you. The pain you feel now is not the end. You are not alone.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:17