How to Kill the Christmas Spirit

The message of Christmas is simple: God loved us, so He sent His son to us. We’re celebrating His birthday.

Ways to celebrate this gift to us are many, and bring peace and joy to us, knowing that God loves us. We can spend time with those we love. We can spend time with those that need love. We can give gifts to show our love.

And then there are horrible ways to honor this gift. Here’s a sample from today’s news:

Focus on the shopping. Shopping is war.

Shopping is war.

The battle is not just among the jostling crowds at the sale bins and cash registers in these pre-Christmas days; it is also between warring factions of our own brains, some economists and neuroscientists say.

Recent studies suggest that each buying decision plays out in the brain as a fight between a pleasure center seeking the bliss of acquisition and an aversion center seeking to avoid the pain of paying.

Waste money on consumerism. With so many needy people around the world, lining up a day before Christmas to overpay for a limited-edition set of sneakers is a complete waste of time and money. Before you spend $2000 trying to get something that moths and rust will destroy, try to imagine how many low-cost sneakers you could buy for the millions of people in this world that have no shoes.

Criticize Santa. Criticize parents for lying to their children instead of nurturing imagination in children.

Vandalize a nativity scene. It’s a sad commentary that churches have to outfit baby Jesus with a GPS to catch petty thieves trying to ruin Christmas for others.

It’s easy to kill the Christmas spirit, but in doing so, you miss the gift that was meant for you.

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Christian Carnival CCLIV

I could call this the “Day After Trying to Recover From What Might Have Been a Minor Flu Edition,” but I won’t. Christmas Season and Flu Season accompany each other every year, like Hansel and Gretel, or Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. I had just enough aches and pains to baby myself to prevent a flu… heck, enough of the excuses. Instead of posting the Christian Carnival last night, I took some Nyquil and went to bed at 8pm.

Feeling good today, and ready to roll. And whoa, there are a lot of submissions this week. Here’s the 254th Christian Carnival in reverse submittal order-

Vickie Sloderbeck presents How to Be a Sidetracked Mom posted at Sidetracked Moms. Apparently this takes instruction.
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Jeremy Pierce presents Bob Jones and Race posted at Parableman. A reflection on some Christians’ resistance to Bob Jones University’s repentance on the race issue.

Jody Neufeld presents Wanted: an Available Tool in the Hand of God posted at Jody’s Devotionals. Have you considered the story of the widow who gave her all and what that might mean in your life?

Henry Neufeld presents Stories in a Chronological Context posted at Participatory Bible Study Blog. Sometimes we behave as though the Bible consists of nothing but God’s interventions. Perhaps we ought to consider the time that passes between our favorite stories as well.

A Sower presents Solomon- God’s Greatest Disappointment? posted at A Sower’s Heart. What can we learn from Solomon’s life?

Minister Mamie L. Pack presents Open Confessions posted at The Life I Now Live. A beautiful study of a transparent life.

Tiffany Partin presents Five Bucks and a Piece of Tin Foil posted at Fathom Deep: Sounding the Depths of God. A simple gift, 2 opposite reactions. This is the season to offer help to those who really need it.

A. Lee presents Edvard Munch : the Man behind the Scream ~ Biography posted at e Art Fair .com. What does Munch have to do with Christianity, you might ask. Everything, I’d like to answer. Munch comes from a strictly religious upbringing and this influence has permeated his art.

In a post entitled God’s arrival in Jerusalem, Weekend Fisher traces an Old Testament prophecy of God’s arrival in Jerusalem back to when God’s arrival was first announced: “Prepare the way of the LORD”. These are among the words which Mark uses to open his gospel. WF considers the possibility that Mark considered Jesus to be the LORD spoken of in the prophecy. Read the article at Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength.

Vickie Sloderbeck presents Some Thoughts on Why I Homeschool My Children posted at Sidetracked Moms. Good thoughts on the benefits of homeschooling. Yeah, I know it’s a second entry from this blog, but if I can post the carnival a day late, then Vickie can have 2 posts.
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Drew Tatusko presents the great emergence from abundance posted at Notes From Off Center. God’s grace is a gift that extends beyond any contingencies in which the cause and effect of life finds all people. This includes death itself. Because God’s grace is not contingent on what happens in the world in which we live, God must deserve thanks at every point in time and history. A more fitting alternative is to say either that God simply must not exist, or at least the God who gives the gift of grace to all, for all, and forever must not be real.

Allen Scott presents Living in the Land of Denial posted at Journey Across the Sky. Many people live their lives in a state of denial. An altered state of reality you could say. A place where, in their opinion, everything is as it should be, but those around them hold to a different viewpoint.

Mike Weaver presents Will I Ever Finish? posted at COURAGE FOR TODAY. Lessons I have learned in my Christian walk with the Lord, this time about procrastination.

Mike Weaver presents Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue posted at COURAGE FOR TODAY. Lessons I have learned from my Christian walk with the Lord, this time about my grandmother’s Christmas tree.

Richard H. Anderson presents Date of the Crucifixion according to Luke posted at dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos Theophilos.

Raffi Shahinian presents 7 Christian Clichés…Re-appropriated posted at parables of a prodigal world. Bite-sized morsels of Christianity.

Gil presents Matachines posted at gilocafe. Soldiers of the Virgin dance in her honor.

Jennifer in OR presents Christmas Music: Annie Moses Band! posted at Diary of 1. Contemporary and Classical mix of Christmas music.

ChristianPF presents What the Bible says about this economic downturn posted at Christian Personal Finance Blog. A look at what the Bible says about the economy and what we should be doing now.

ChrisB presents A Concordance as a Devotional posted at Homeward Bound. Even the “begats” can teach us something important with just a little work.

MBB presents Christmas Shopping Credit Tips posted at Money Blue Book Blog.

Stephen Miracle presents Christmas Charity: Giving This Holiday Season posted at Inspirational Articles @ AltNoise.net. It might be harder to give this Christmas season, but it gives us the perfect opportunity to help those in need. It will no longer be automated action, but something actually coming from your heart.

FMF presents Free Money Finance: The Fuel to Feed the Fire posted at Free Money Finance. You can turn your financial life around if God is with you.

Rodney Olsen presents The Bishop of Harare posted at RodneyOlsen.net. Christians in Zimbabwe are suffering persecution. What would the church be doing to stand beside our brothers and sisters?

Henry T (Hank) Imler presents Objections to Calvinism Part 8 of 5 posted at Think Wink.. Does the New Testament discuss Limited Atonement?

Henry M Imler presents Seeking One’s Own Glory posted at Theology for the Masses. God’s glory, which is God’s own being, is God’s love.

Tom Fuerst presents Culture, Theology and Gender posted at Theology for the Masses. The traditional role of women in the home and church versus secular feminism.

Johnny and Kate Brooks presents Hey! You’ve got my nose! posted at Pure Christianity. Way back, we all came from the same family.

The 253rd edition from last week, the Advent (Conspiracy) Edition CCLIII, can be found at “Parables of a Prodigal World.”
http://www.parablesofaprodigalworld.com/2008/12/christian-carnival-ccliii-advent.html
You know you’re itching to submit an article. You can do so with the Christian Carnival Submission form http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_1551.html

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The Tradition of Regifting

The Houston Chronicle has a story about the “tradition” of regifting Christmas presents

Scrambling to find the perfect, last-minute Christmas gift?

Then put down that bottle of wine. And please — back away from the blender. Chances are the person you give them to will slap new bows on the boxes and pass them along to someone else.

Bottles of red and white, along with bath products and small kitchen appliances top the list of the most regifted items this holiday season, according to Money Management International, a Houston-based credit counseling agency, which suggests regifting as a way to save money.

It would appear the gift-recycling movement is growing in popularity and respectability. In fact, Thursday was National Regifting Day, according to regiftable.com. A recent survey conducted by the credit counseling agency concluded that regifting has increased in acceptability since 2005. The national survey of 1,049 respondents also found that more people consider regifting a fiscally shrewd move.

Most of us have no idea how blessed we are. After a trip to Kenya a few years ago, I left knowing that Americans are so much more materialistic than we ever realized. Our “stuff” is important to us, we keep up with the Joneses, we can’t wait to get our paws on the latest iPhone. In Kenya, they’d be ecstatic with a clean bottle of water.

When it comes to Christmas gifts, we are essentially giving a gift that says “I thought of you” or “I didn’t forget you.” The actual item isn’t as important anymore – I think we instinctively know we have enough. The things we want aren’t things we need. And so when we receive something, we have no qualms about wrapping it back up and giving it to somebody else.

Are you regifting items? Are you repacking stuff you don’t need because you and your family and friends already have enough? Then consider giving instead to those that would be happy with a clean bottle of water. Here in Houston, contributing or volunteering to Star of Hope or the Salvation Army is a good way to get started.

That stuff you’re regifting that will eventually be regifted instead would be happily received by a family or individual that has little. Consider giving to those that need. Instead of giving somebody a gift they don’t need and maybe don’t even want, consider donating to a charity in their name instead.

God has blessed up far more than we realized. Let’s give thanks by giving to those that need.

A Big To-Do

Todo ListI have a lengthy todo list. It’s quite detailed; on my diet, I even include meals and snacks so I can check of my allotted portion as I go along. I almost go so far as toput “brush my teeth” on my todo list. I would put “wake-up” on my todo list, but apparently by the time I noticed it was on my todo list, I’d already be awake.

And I get satisfaction checking items off my list. Schedule meeting? Check. Eat breakfast fruit serving? Check. Look up fireworks schedule? Check. Check items off my todo list? Check.

But when the list gets long, I end up having to reschedule things over and over. Rent “Old Yeller?” Er, not this week. Maybe next Monday. Make dentist appointment? Nope, it’s a holiday week. Sometimes, like “Rent Old Yeller”, an item is rescheduled over and over again. That one may have been on my list for 2 years now.

So I start deleting items. The satisfaction of checking off an item is missing. It’s acknowledging defeat; my time is limited and there are some things I’ll never do. Rent Old Yeller? I’m not sure why it’s on there anymore. Delete. Fortunately, my brain capacity is even smaller than my PDA, so an hour after I delete it, I won’t even remmber it was on there. That’s sort of why I have a todo list in the first place.

Do you do something daily that gives you satisfaction?

Holiday Culture Wars

Beliefnet has setup a “Holiday Culture Wars Blog” that makes for some interesting reading. From a Christian perspective, they’ve highlighted television shows with sexually-explicit lyrics set to Christmas music, obscene art that is “rife with Christmas-themed debauchery,” and how Christmas has become so secularized to the point where atheists “unhesitatingly wish everyone a Merry Christmas.”

Disclaimer: First, Beliefnet is not a Christian website, it’s designed for all beliefs, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Atheism. Also, the “Holiday Culture Wars Blog” isn’t actually a blog, either; there’s no discussion, no author listed, no RSS feed, no nothing. It’s more of a running series of news articles. Still, it makes for interesting reading.

Christ is Missing

A manger scene without baby Jesus?

ST. ALBANS, W.Va. – Christ is missing from Christmas in this small town. The community’s holiday display has a manger with shepherds, a guiding star, camels and a palm tree, but no baby Jesus, Mary or Joseph.

The parks superintendent said Jesus was left out because of concerns about the separation of church and state.

Ah yes, camels and palm trees, the reason for the season.

Boycotting "Winter Holiday" Again

I’m boycotting “Winter Holiday” again. If you want to celebrate some sort of pagan winter thingy, you just go right ahead. But if a retailer can’t acknowledge that I’m celebrating Christmas, then I’m not going to shop there. I did this last year, too.

Some changes from last year, though – Wal-Mart firmly has the Christmas spirit this year. They recognize other religions and holidays, that’s great. But they learned a lesson last year, and this year they’re celebrating Christmas.

I’m not shopping at Best Buy this year. “We are going to continue to use the term holiday because there are several holidays throughout that time period, and we certainly need to be respectful of all of them,” said Dawn Bryant, a spokeswoman at Best Buy Co. Inc., whose advertising omits any reference to Christmas.. If their advertising omits Christmas, then I’m going to omit Best Buy.

Here is a summary of who’s recognizing Christmas this year:

Target – They’ve changed their tune since last year and now are offering mention Christmas and Hanukkah.

Sears has a “Merry Christmas” signat the entrance to its stores nationwide.

Walgreens released the following response: “Next year, you can be assured our advertising will better incorporate ‘Christmas,’ and our holiday trees will be called Christmas trees. Unfortunately, all of this year’s December ads are already printed, so it’s too late to make changes for this season.” It’s too late for me to shop there this yeat, too, so if Christmas comes back, so will I.

Lowe’s is also recognizing Christmas this year.

Here’s the Grinch List:

Office Max, K-Mart, Home Depot, Best Buy, L.L. Bean, Zales, Kmart, Outback Steakhouse, Lexus, Old Navy, Kroger, Cingular, Pier 1, Red Lobster, Office Depot, Gillette, Applebee’s, Burlington Coat, Nordstrom, Dell, Walgreens and Milton-Bradley.