How to Gain the Christmas Spirit

The best way to give wings to the Christmas Spirit is to give gifts to people who need them. My wife and I exchanged few gifts this year, opting instead to give to charities instead. Instead of giving somebody a trinket they didn’t need, we’d ask them what their favorite charity was. Then we’d give to that charity, to people in need. We hope many lives were brightened this year.

Giving a gift to those in need is precisely what God did for us 2000 years ago. We are, each one of us, people in need. We want mercy on us for the lies and cheats and naughty or evil thoughts we’ve had. Instead, we deserve justice. Instead, we received a gift of forgiveness. It all began when God came down out of heaven with a baby in His arms. Merry Christmas.

Here’s what happens when you give a gift to those who need it. Fair warning; you may need a tissue to wipe away a tear or two. Try cheering for those who need encouragement.

They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that? The other team’s fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, “Go Tornadoes!” Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by name.

“I never in my life thought I’d hear people cheering for us to hit their kids,” recalls Gainesville’s QB and middle linebacker, Isaiah. “I wouldn’t expect another parent to tell somebody to hit their kids. But they wanted us to!”

And even though Faith walloped them 33-14, the Gainesville kids were so happy that after the game they gave head coach Mark Williams a sideline squirt-bottle shower like he’d just won state. Gotta be the first Gatorade bath in history for an 0-9 coach.

But then you saw the 12 uniformed officers escorting the 14 Gainesville players off the field and two and two started to make four. They lined the players up in groups of five—handcuffs ready in their back pockets—and marched them to the team bus. That’s because Gainesville is a maximum-security correctional facility 75 miles north of Dallas. Every game it plays is on the road.

This all started when Faith’s head coach, Kris Hogan, wanted to do something kind for the Gainesville team. Faith had never played Gainesville, but he already knew the score. After all, Faith was 7-2 going into the game, Gainesville 0-8 with 2 TDs all year. Faith has 70 kids, 11 coaches, the latest equipment and involved parents. Gainesville has a lot of kids with convictions for drugs, assault and robbery—many of whose families had disowned them—wearing seven-year-old shoulder pads and ancient helmets.

So Hogan had this idea. What if half of our fans—for one night only—cheered for the other team? He sent out an email asking the Faithful to do just that. “Here’s the message I want you to send:” Hogan wrote. “You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth.”

Some people were naturally confused. One Faith player walked into Hogan’s office and asked, “Coach, why are we doing this?”

And Hogan said, “Imagine if you didn’t have a home life. Imagine if everybody had pretty much given up on you. Now imagine what it would mean for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you.”

Next thing you know, the Gainesville Tornadoes were turning around on their bench to see something they never had before. Hundreds of fans. And actual cheerleaders!

“I thought maybe they were confused,” said Alex, a Gainesville lineman (only first names are released by the prison). “They started yelling ‘DEE-fense!’ when their team had the ball. I said, ‘What? Why they cheerin’ for us?'”

It was a strange experience for boys who most people cross the street to avoid. “We can tell people are a little afraid of us when we come to the games,” says Gerald, a lineman who will wind up doing more than three years. “You can see it in their eyes. They’re lookin’ at us like we’re criminals. But these people, they were yellin’ for us! By our names!”

Maybe it figures that Gainesville played better than it had all season, scoring the game’s last two touchdowns. Of course, this might be because Hogan put his third-string nose guard at safety and his third-string cornerback at defensive end. Still.

After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field to pray and that’s when Isaiah surprised everybody by asking to lead. “We had no idea what the kid was going to say,” remembers Coach Hogan. But Isaiah said this: “Lord, I don’t know how this happened, so I don’t know how to say thank You, but I never would’ve known there was so many people in the world that cared about us.”

And it was a good thing everybody’s heads were bowed because they might’ve seen Hogan wiping away tears.

As the Tornadoes walked back to their bus under guard, they each were handed a bag for the ride home—a burger, some fries, a soda, some candy, a Bible and an encouraging letter from a Faith player.

The Gainesville coach saw Hogan, grabbed him hard by the shoulders and said, “You’ll never know what your people did for these kids tonight. You’ll never, ever know.”

And as the bus pulled away, all the Gainesville players crammed to one side and pressed their hands to the window, staring at these people they’d never met before, watching their waves and smiles disappearing into the night.

Anyway, with the economy six feet under and Christmas running on about three and a half reindeer, it’s nice to know that one of the best presents you can give is still absolutely free.

Hope.

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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.

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.

More "Christmas," Less "Holiday"

As some of you know, I’m boycotting “Winter Holiday” again this year. I’m not even sure what that holiday is, but I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of pagan / atheist thing. Whatever it is, I want none of it.

For me, it’s Christmas. And for many, it’s Christmas. Why is so terrible to acknowledge that? It doesn’t bother me if somebody wishes me a Happy Honukah or Really Good Ramadan. I don’t celebrate those holidays, but I recognize others do. So why has there been such a push to eliminate “Christmas” from our vocabulary?

I’m going to list some stores in a minute that are anti-Christmas or Christmas-neutral, but I want to pass on kudos to Hobby Lobby first. Not only are they wishing people a “Merry Christmas,” but they do it with big advertisements in USA Today. They do it for Easter, too. And if you’re seeking, they even steer you to a Christian ministry that can tell you more about a relationship with Jesus. Here’s Hobby Lobby’s Christmas 2005 message.

Last year, Dillard’s and Macy’s removed all references to Christmas from their stores. Word got around, and Christians didn’t shop there as much. This year, Macy’s has a full-page “Merry Christmas” ad. Sure, it’s really for a commercial Christmas, but I’d rather have that than a secular “Happy Holidays” anyday.

Lowe’s took a little heat this year for selling “Holiday Trees.” Is there another major holiday celebrating with trees this year that I don’t know about? Lowe’s finally decided to dump all their “holiday trees” and only offer “Christmas trees.” Yeehaw.

Worldnet Daily reports that Wal-Mart promoted other holidays by name, including Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, but not Christmas. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for a national boycott. Wal-mart has apologized and redesigned its website, though they still encourage employees to say “Happy Holidays.” Other retailers hiding Christmas behind the “Happy Holidays” sign include Kmart, Sears, Home Depot, Target, Kroger, Office Max, Walgreens, Staples, J.C. Penney, Dell and Best Buy.

Have you run into any “Christmas aversion” this year while shopping?

Wishing the ACLU a Merry Christmas

Kevin McCullough at Crosswalk is organizing a Christmas Card campaign to cheer up those folks at the ACLU:

Go get as “Christmas” a Christmas card as you can find… something that says.. “Joy To The World”, “For Unto Us A Child Is Born”, but at least “Merry Christmas”, put some of your own thoughts into it, sign it respectfully and zip it off in the mail to

ACLU
“Wishing You Merry Christmas”
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

* via Michelle Malkin

Merry Christmas. It's Okay to Say It.â„¢

The Alliance Defense Fund wants you to know that it’s ok to say, “Merry Christmas.”

Christmas is a cherished time of year when Americans come together and celebrate something bigger than ourselves, something that has united us for generations. An event that is the center of all history—the birth of Jesus Christ.

Surveys show that 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas. Yet, due to political correctness, disinformation, and even the threat of lawsuits from the ACLU and its allies, religious expression at Christmastime is increasingly absent from the public square. Slowly, this holy day is being turned into a secular “solstice season.”

The Alliance Defense Fund works year-round to preserve and protect our religious liberties, including the right to…

…sing Christmas carols at school
…pass out candy canes to classmates
…call it “Christmas vacation”
…sponsor a nativity scene on public property
…say “Merry Christmas”

ADF wants all Americans to know the Truth—that they have the freedom to celebrate Christmas publicly, joyfully, and without fear—for generations to come! We are launching our annual national Christmas Project™ to spread the message, “Merry Christmas. It’s okay to say it.™” Will you join with us?

Count me in. I’m boycotting that stupid “Winter Holiday” thing for the umpteenth year. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Again. 🙂

Tip from Jesus Politics.