The Freedom We Have in Christmas

I am a bit delayed in getting my holiday theme up. I had hoped to be able to do all the designing over the Thanksgiving weekend, but I wasn’t able to get it done. So please bear with me as you continue to see my Autumn decor. It’s that time of year again when people battle over the whole Christmas vs. Holiday issue again. Can I just say it’s getting quite exhausting? Lets just be practical about it shall we?

Christmas music by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

The world has various winter holidays and all kinds of religions celebrate their holidays in the same month, December. In a country like America, we are going to see a huge melting pot of these holidays around our towns and in advertisements as companies aim to get our money and compete with each other over the almighty dollar. Forget that the value of the dollar is decreasing, they still want it. So anyway, they don’t want to offend anyone and disrupt their paychecks. And who can blame them in this economy? We all would like to have the finances to have a nice holiday with our families. So they are trying to be polite to everyone of all beliefs by simply saying, Happy Holidays. It’s no big deal!

There are plenty of companies that sell nativity scenes, window clings with crosses on them, tree ornaments with baby Jesus on them, and so much more. They are not going to abolish Christ in Christmas. No matter how much some people do not choose Jesus as the reason for their season, the Christian tradition will go on so long as the families continue to hold fast to their heritage.

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty about the history of Christmas, there are plenty of sites out there that you can read.

But lets just stop and think about the Spirit of Christmas for a moment. If there is any time at all for Christians to be peaceful and joyous, it should be Christmas. No one is going to tell you that you can’t celebrate Christ in Christmas. Your faith is YOURS and how you celebrate is your freedom. But lets also not forget that the U.S. Constitution protects all people to have freedom in whatever religion they choose…and Jesus never commanded that you harm people or their businesses for not celebrating this holiday the same way you do. In fact, Jesus never commanded that we celebrate his birth. The historical tradition of Jesus is to celebrate his resurrection.

I think it’s incredibly courteous for companies to offer a generic holiday greeting and decor for their stores in light of how many religions are having celebrations during this time. I would much rather see that, than for them to be judgmental in excluding others while only including one.

Even the apostle Paul said not to judge people for the way they observe their holy days and also not to judge people who don’t.

I happen to have relatives and loved ones of all sorts of religious backgrounds. I have this extreme honor of being able to commune with these loved ones even though we celebrate differently. I love that we are all unique this way. I have Christian friends who don’t celebrate Christmas at all, who believe the tree in the living room is an abomination and I’m ok with that. That is their own personal conviction. I will not force them to give up their free will just to make me more confortable. I also have Christians friends who might as well have Santa’s workshop in their homes, their homes look like National Lampoon’s Christmas, and wear bells on their tennies all month long. Who am I to rip their freedom out from under them and tell them to stop celebrating Christmas the way they choose to?

Then I have some lovely Pagan friends who don’t celebrate the traditional Christmas, but rather their winter solictice in much different ways. Their ancestors were forced by threat to give up their religion and heritage. They were forced to convert against their wishes, against their freedom, and against their free will. This should never have happened!

Jesus never said to threaten people with their lives if they don’t choose him. In fact, Jesus said to depart in peace and wipe the dust from your shoes if they don’t recieve you. So anyone who tries to force Pagans, Jews, or Africans to celebrate Christ in their December celebrations are in direct violation of what Jesus tells them to do.

In addition to this, Jesus was not so tolerant of religious people using manipulation to get people to do things for their own pesonal gain and I am pretty sure Jesus would not want people to be manipulated into celebrating his birth in December if they don’t want to. So when Christians further their propaganda to manipulate stores into adding Christ Christmas music to the speakers during shopping hours, or “Merry Christmas” in their slogans, then they are, again, in violation of what Jesus teaches us to do. Manipulation is sorcery and part of the dark arts. Christians are NOT to have anything to do with the dark arts. All things in Christ are to be done with the utmost integrity, honor, and love.

It’s fabulous that people want to celebrate their faith in their winter holidays and I think it’s high time that we just live peacefully among each other and stop trying to insist on our own way. Love does not insist on its own way. If you celebrate Christmas with Christ, then do so…but please do not launch a war against others who don’t. That  is not the spirit of Christ. And when Christians insist on doing so, we create such a monstrous mess that is not going to attract people to us or the Jesus we claim to follow.

If you’re a Christian and you see our brethren and sisters launching such wars, remind them of grace. Stand up for the freedom we all have and put your feet down with abusive religious zealots who continue to make it all that much harder for us to be a light of grace and mercy in the world. If you wish to correct anyone, correct them..those who are hurting folks at Christmas time. Please ask them to stop. It’s just not the way of Christ to be so mean to people.

If you work in an environment where the managment asks you not to say “Merry Christmas” to their customers, then respect them. Please do not go against Jesus when he spoke through the writer of Hebrews and said to obey them that have the rule over you. He never said that we are to go against our ‘masters’ just to say “Merry Christmas”. Do not attempt to say that using the term, “Merry Christmas” is evangelism and push your “right” to free speech and freedom of religion over the wishes of your employer. That is not the way of Christ.

If your child goes to a public school, please do not coerce your children into pressing the school officials by ‘exercising’ the use of “Merry Christmas” in the school. Don’t you remember that Peter said that people can be won without the word, by the manner in which we live? It’s ok if the schools don’t use the term, Christmas, in their decor or holiday celebrations.

Isn’t the whole point of celebrating Christmas, as Christians, to spread joy and glad tidings? Are we not to be peaceful among one another during this time of year (and all year long)? So let your light shine among mankind in the way you love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. If you want freedom to have a nativity in your front yard, then be peaceful about a pagan having a wreath on their front door. If you want freedom in your business to say Merry Christmas, then allow the other businesses to have freedom to say Happy Holidays. We will reap what we sow and if we sow threats of not shopping at some stores over something as trivial as this, then don’t be surprised when people boycott your business too. It’s sad that so many innocent children would suffer with no holiday ham or turkey because their parents businesses suffered financial loss due to some overzealous Christians who launched an outright war against them for saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas!

Have we, as Christians, become so petty and selfish? Are we reverting back to the old ways of manipluating people into a false conversion under cyber bullying to hurt their financial stability? Come on my dear brothers and sisters…that is not the way of Christ.

 And before I go for today, may I remind you that there are plenty of Christmas photos at Pix-O-Sphere  that you can use in your blogging this month? And if you have other holiday images to share from various December celebrations, please feel free to upload and share. It’s free to join.

Are you afraid you’ll have trouble with communicating about your faith or holiday celebrations with friends and family on facebook? Sadly this time of year continues to have hostile words over this controversial issue. But you can customize your Facebook settings to give yourself some more privacy without having to unfriend people.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Happy Hannakuh, Have a Great Kwanzaa, and a Blessed Yule!

Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

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Raising Children to Grow in Grace, not Through Fear

When a book’s sale gains momentum in the homeschool community, and then proceeds to flood the hallways of churches, being passed from mother to mother then lets take a moment to find out why.

Most parents really want to turn out good kids. We want our children to grow up to be successful people. But at what price?

Have the days of an old fashioned swat turned into justification for brutality that takes the lives of small children?

Why are so many parents quick to jump on this path of violence? Are their children THAT “evil” that they feel that whipping them with plumbing supply line from Home Depot the ONLY way to correct their behavior?

Many parents rush to the defense of the authors of such teachings, but why are we allowing ourselves to be told that whipping a child with plumbing supply line won’t cause internal damage? Really? Has anyone read about the internal damage that took the life of Lydia Schatz? Have they seen the photos of her sister’s body…who managed to live through it? Have they read about the lost life of precious Hana Grace-Rose? Have they ever spoken to someone who was raised with this kind of teaching?

Oh these are just isolated cases, maybe? At what point do we, as parents, re-evaluate our parenting methods? It’s not easy to question the ‘authority’ of people you admire, love, or who you have publicly defended many times over…it’s not easy to be humble about something we have had so much pride in.

Will you listen to a mother who had a change of heart and stopped supporting their books? I used to read their books. They were given to me by a mother in a former church. We were both young mothers at the time and she said this to me, “You may not agree with everything in this book, so use your own best judgement.” I honestly tried to follow the advice in their books. It didn’t work.

The so called discipline and training methods they write about only created more fear in my children and it caused a wall to go up between us. My relationship with my children was withering away. Was this the price for turning out “obedient” children? Is it really true obedience when it’s done by threat of violence? If you follow the Pearl’s advice, have a heart to heart talk with your children. Ask them what they fear will happen if they disobey? If they say they’re afraid to be spanked, that is a RED FLAG for a parent that there is a problem. The children aren’t the problem, the parents are.

My dear friends, we need to use our God given brains and think for ourselves. Children aren’t cut from the same cookie cutters. Not all children respond to identical methods that other people have used.  It wasn’t too long ago that parents all over the world spoke out about Amazon selling a book on their site that caused harm to children by teaching how to get away with molesting them. Amazon is selling this book that teaches how to whip your children…the book claims it will not cause internal damage. (Did you see the link I shared above? It DOES cause internal damage, read here.) If you don’t believe me, go ahead and buy the book..USED. There’s no reason to keep lining the pockets of the Pearl’s with money that further spreads such twisted teachings.

We hold tobacco companies accountable for cancer. They have to put a warning on their packages now. We have organizations that educate us on the consequences of smoking, but what do we do about a book that teaches child abuse? Just because they have some Bible verses thrown in there (out of context) doesn’t make it right teaching.

There are plenty of other grace filled parenting books to read for inspiration in raising our children to be compassionate and responsible people.

How many more children need to die in order for us to open our eyes? How much longer before we collectively speak out against twisted scriptures that take the name of God in vain to justify whipping children?

I assure you, that my heart in this matter is not simply based on a few articles on the Internet. I live in the same county where Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz pleaded guilty. I know their oldest daughter. I have seen how their entire family was torn apart, how deeply wounded their circles of friends have been. I know the damage in Elizabeth’s own heart through the letters she has written to me.

In addition to this, I know the view of ‘Christianity’ that the Pearl’s teach. I came out of a church where the type of ‘biblical’ literalism is taught. I know how it messes with our ability to think clearly. Do we really think that God ‘needs’ us fallible, human parents to keep our kids on the straight and narrow? Can he not guide our children much better than we can? I’m not advocating leaving our children to learn every lesson in life on their own. We do have a part in raising our children, but not when the methods used are with threats, manipulation, and fear. That is no way to raise a child.

Do we really want to raise our kids to be afraid of us? Being afraid is not the same as respect. Sowing fear into our children will not reap trust. Sowing control will not reap spiritual growth. We need to wake up and realize that grace and love does not involve fear.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. {ESV}

Please consider these books instead:

Boundaries with Kids

The 5 Love Languages for Children

Books by Sally Clarkson

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