Family Fun

Our family always looks forward to putting our Christmas tree up together.  This year Jordan decided to do a few short videos to preserve the progress.

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“War on Christmas”?

The lights are starting to flicker. Decorations are starting to appear. The shopping has begun. Favorite movies commemorating family, joy, and tradition are being advertised.  December is upon us!

Happy holidays!  Or, um, Merry X-mas!  Wait, what?  How about we enjoy a rich dark cup of coffee in a nondescript, red-paper-cup!

wpid-Photo-20151110062811890First: That whole Starbucks cup thing was, at best, a total misrepresentation of Christianity. At worst it was a holiday hoax perpetrated by anti-christian media.   Maybe, and I know I’m going out on a limb here, maybe Starbucks just has an incredible advertising and marketing team.

christmas-18Second: In the original language of the New Testament, Greek, the word for “Christ” is a word that begins with the Greek letter that is pretty much the exact same letter as the English letter X.  So originally, Xmas was simply an abbreviation of the word Christmas.  It was not a grand conspiracy to take Christ out of Christmas.

game-planThird: How about we develop a game-plan for having a wonderful, joyful, incredible, family holiday season?

Here are some suggestions to get you started…

  1. Forget about any supposed “war on Christmas”.  Just celebrate with your family.  Read the original story and rehearse the significance of Jesus’ birth together.
  2. Go ahead and wish people a very Merry Christmas. Even people whose nick-name may very well be “scrooge”.
  3. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  This is a great time of the year to share God’s love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  4. Pray that Christians in general will focus on things that matter.  Pray that we would be peaceful warriors in the culture war!

Christmas in Heaven

Golden-Christmas-ornaments-christmas-22229833-904-768I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like heaven’s stars
Reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
please wipe away that tear
for I am spending CHRISTMAS
WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can’t compare
with the CHRISTMAS CHOIR up here.

I have no words to tell you
of the JOY their voices bring
for it is beyond description
to HEAR THE ANGELS SING.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending CHRISTMAS
WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I can’t tell you of the SPLENDOR
or the PEACE here in this place
Can you just imagine CHRISTMAS
WITH OUR SAVIOR face to face?

I’ll ask him to lift your spirit
as I tell him of your love
so then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful
and let your spirit sing
for I am spending CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN
and I’m walking WITH THE KING.

By Wanda Bencke

(Lysandra Kay Bencke was my thirteen year old handicapped daughter. On Christmas day 1997, Lysandra had a seizure and was in a coma for five days before she died. During those five days I wrote the poem “Christmas in Heaven”. I sent it out in a belated Christmas cards to friends and relatives that year. They also sent it on to other friends and relatives, thus the poem and the story behind it have been changed. )

Ferguson & Friday

8316fdf799cf77f5891fbddc5177c47eIt’s true.  I typically start listening to Christmas music in October.  I start thinking about putting up a tree in early November.  I can’t help it.  This time of the year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with gratitude, great food, a sense of anticipation, deer hunting, gift wrapping, and snow (yes, SNOW) it is my favorite time of the year.

This year, at least for now, I have a heavy heart.  I’m writing this on the eve of Thanksgiving Day.  The past two nights have openly displayed the raw depravity of man’s heart.  How?  Ferguson.

Listen, we in America are conditioned to accept rioting and looting on Thanksgiving weekend.  It’s called “Black Friday.”  You know, that day when people are lured into stores so they can trample anyone and everyone in order to get the stuff you want. (Sorry, I meant to say, “take care of their Christmas list.”)

My heart is heavy watching buildings burn.

My heart is heavy listening to the “race” narrative.

My heart is heavy feeling the simple reality of sin unleashed as it destroys all in its path. (Ferguson or Friday)

In the background Christmas music is playing… “And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men.” Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.”

This world is a mess.  We human beings are a mess.  Why?  Because of our sin (Romans 3:23; 5:12).  If we don’t understand that, then we will not understand this: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

Christmas: Sorrow & Hope

christmas-candles-wallpaper-290x290Tis’ the season to be jolly, right? While the entire world seems to glitter in tinsel, some people will be sitting in caves of sorrow during the holidays. It’s easy to forget that grief does not take a vacation at Christmas.

Chances are someone you know has lost a loved one in the past year. This Christmas will be the first one since their death. Everything will be different. All the celebrations will actually prompt mourning. And the family gathering won’t quite be complete. It’s a challenge to muster up seasonal vibes when all you can think about or feel is the loss and grief from the past year or more.

The challenge? Make sure that we mourn with those who mourn – even during the holidays.

Stop for a moment and think of those who might feel as if they have less reason to rejoice than others. And when the Lord has brought them to mind, think about how you might remember, include, bless, or serve them in some way.

Remember, what began in a manger culminated in a cross where Jesus “destroy[ed] the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). One day God will put an end to all pain, suffering, loss and tears.

Our great hope is that Christ will come again, not as a helpless baby in a manger, but as a magnificent king on a throne! A king who will be close enough, and gentle enough, to wipe every tear from our eyes. He will personally put an end to everything that has brought his people pain. He will “raise the sons of earth” by transforming “our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21) to live with him forever on a gloriously renewed earth.