Trees Without Christmas?

Now here is a sad statement of the day.

Everywhere we go, people are saying “Happy Holidays” for fear of intolerance or offending.  Or they are being pure spiritual wimps. Yet we are still selling Christmas trees.  I mean seriously, where are the militant atheists when you need them? Where are the political, historical scrubbers who try to erase any sign of religious freedom in our country?  Are they taking naps? This is a pretty serious oversight…

(Deep breath.)  Is anyone else chaffed by this duplicity in our culture?  If we are not going to SAY Christmas then why are we still SELLING Christmas?  I mean, let’s just drop the whole day altogether if we aren’t going to have the freedom to call it what it is.  Now hear me, I happen to love unbelievers and folks of other faiths.  I spent a large part of my life in that belief system.  But the last time I checked, neither they nor I were the authorities on what Christians could and could not do.  If I didn’t believe in Jesus, then I didn’t participate.  Today however, for non-believers to tell me what can and cannot be said around my Holy Day is ridiculous.  At the very least, if you want to make money off it, then you should have to at least call it the same name I do.

I don’t believe in Halloween, Santa or the Easter Bunny, but I don’t try to move legislation to silence those things.  Christmas is a religious holiday, part of our religious heritage.

Can you imagine trying to pull off this heresy in a Muslim culture?

So you know what we are doing as a family?  We are wishing every single store teller, Salvation Army ringer, and restaurant server, “Merry Christmas.”  No matter what they say, we are singing it out.  It is a simple act of faith, but a stand for God nonetheless.  No matter what their reactions are, we smile and bless them anyway. Why?

Because that’s what the angels said that glorious day.  Without fear, without shame, they declared the good news in a world just as hostile to the Messiah as ours is today.

“Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”  Merry Christmas.

Living the Gospel

As we continue to talk about Rest and the life of God in us, I want to share an excerpt about the power of the gospel.  The author’s definition of “gospel” is not just praying the prayer, but the death-to-life transformation that God has begun and will complete according to the promise through His Resurrected Son.

“In much of the popular writing on spiritual formation there is a tendency to convey a very stunted view of the gospel.  We get the idea that what unbelievers need is the gospel, and then, once they accept Christ as Savior, they move on to “needing  discipleship,” which consists of learning about Christ,  developing the fruit of the Spirit, learning how to have a quiet time, and so forth.

However, the picture that the New Testament gives is remarkably different.

We must remember the description  of the gospel as the power of God for the beginning, the middle, and the end of salvation.  Often we do not really understand all the vast implications and applications of the gospel. Only as we apply the gospel more and more deeply and radically —only as we think out all its truth — does it bear fruit and grow. The key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the persistent rediscovery of the gospel.

All our spiritual problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. This is true for us both as a community and as individuals.”

page 32 of Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered, James C. Wilhoit