A Generous Gift

Just before I left for Christmas one of our elderly ladies stopped by the church building with some Christmas cards for the ministers. Her health is not all that great, she has pain and doesn’t drive very many places like that. So I thought it was sweet she would make a special trip to bring by her Christmas cards. But it gets even sweeter. When I opened it up there was a check inside made out for $2. That just melted my heart. I called her to thank her for her generosity and kindness. She said she knew it wasn’t a lot but it was all she could do. I feel so blessed to have friends like that.


Jack Bauer Interrogates Santa Claus

This one is priceless. I laughed nearly as hard as the Greatest Action Story Ever Told video.

The one thing that makes me hesitate posting this is some profanity at 1:37. To date I don’t think there has been a single instance of that in any way, shape, or form on the blog and that is on purpose. So mute it at 1:37 for 1 second if you would like to avoid it.

HT – Michael Kruse

Christmas Blog Sabbatical

Just a quick note that the blog will be pretty quiet over the next week. Feel free to browse the categories to the left or just spend some time with your family and friends. There may be an occassional post but no promises. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and many great reflections on God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.

Am I the Grinch?

I got my annual AFA “Would you boycott non-Christmas stores this holiday season” email today. I took the poll and said, “No” that I would not be willing to boycott stores that don’t use Christmas in their advertising. Turns out there were 22,471 “Yes” votes (98.7%) and 298 “No” votes (1.3%) at the time. Ouch. That made me feel like a Christmas Grinch. Can you believe that I would actually be willing to buy from a retailer that was out to make a profit and run their business in the way that seemed best to them. Obviously I would rather support a Christian organization more than a non-Christian one but it begs the question, “Is a business ‘Christian’ because they put Christmas in their advertising? or are they just marketing to the masses in order to make a buck? It also begs the follow up question of “How appropriate is it of Christian organizations to force pagan businesses to slap Christ on all their merchandise? Doesn’t that actually cheapen our savior to have pagans give lip service to him in order to get Christians off their backs?

In a post from 2006 I mentioned a few points I wanted to bring up again because I think they still apply to this situation today:
1) We don’t boycott stores the other 11 months out of the year when they don’t promote Christ. We waltz in and buy whatever we want without a second thought.
2) Does God want us to use our money to leverage others or twist their arm? I am not saying we should support immorality with our money.
3) I am just not certain why we expect pagan run businesses to act like Christians one month and then go back to business as usual the rest of the year. Are we really just asking them to be phony and hypocritical?
4) Is it a sin not to promote Christmas? Why not boycott stores with employees who steal or executives who abuse their workers, etc. It seems silly to me to limit boycotts to whether or not a company gives lipservice to our religion when they can totally live against God and Christ and we don’t bat an eye.

Regarding Statistics and online polls:
Another question this raised for me is what exactly do these numbers mean? I am sure to get an email in a week or so from the AFA that says “99% of American’s are willing to boycott stores that don’t use the word ‘Christmas.'” To be fair, I haven’t gotten that email and may never see one but it really wouldn’t surprise me at all. Any time you have an online poll asking people to respond you don’t have a random sample. You are most likely to get responses from people who feel strongly about the issue. Out of all their emails, forwards, and spam they have to filter through, click on the poll and take time to answer it. That takes some time. This is not random and appeals to a certain subset of the target population. What is more, who is on the AFA email list? The only way the results = “all Americans” is if the email list is representative of American demographics. I am sure it is not even close. So if I get the “99% of Americans would…” email in a week or two I will be disappointed. They should at least say, “99% of people on the AFA email list who responded to a solicitation to take a poll would…” because that would be accurate.

So who’s the Grinch here? People like me who think there is more to what is going on than whehter or not a business flashes the word “Christmas” around when in their heart they are an atheist…or Christians who arm twist and leverage pagan companies to use a word they don’t believe in anyway and basically force them to do it for the wrong reasons? I will end in saying the AFA does a lot of good things and things I agree with but this is one area they would be better to do without. It just makes Christians looks creepy and manipulative.

Should We Celebrate Easter?

For those of you not from the Churches of Christ you might wonder why even ask such a question. For those of you who are familiar with the CofC you know exactly why I would ask such a question. We have traditionally backlashed so severely from denominationalism that we have drawn some lines where they need not be drawn. In the process we have dropped perfectly good biblical words like testimony and witness. We have also rejected some things that very much needed to be rejected (the sinner’s prayer, laity/clergy distinctions, etc). We have also put to the side the liturgical calendar that much of the rest of Christianity puts a lot of focus and emphasis on. Because of our tendency to shy away from these things we often find ourselves in awkward situations in the church. Do we have a sermon about the birth of Christ during Christmas or a sermon on the resurrection at Easter? I think the answer is quite simple – yes. We have to be relevant and when 99% of people in the congregation are thinking about those things in our home it makes us seem tremendously out of touch to preach on something else on those days.

What scripture can we turn to for help with this? Romans 14 lays out Paul’s thoughts on these matters completely. He says that it is not wrong to hold some days as special and it is not wrong not to. But whatever you decide, make sure you give it your best! And don’t look down on those who think different than you. So in the church we have to decide what we think about these matters and not look down on other churches or Christian groups who do practice these things. If we have people in the church who recognize lent, let’s not bash or smash them. Let’s honor them and appreciate them. If people don’t think we ought to touch Christmas with a ten foot pole, then don’t trash talk them or disrespect them. Do whatever it takes to show them love and respect even though you differ on these matters.

Ben Witherington on Paganism and Christmas

Thanks to Ben Witherington for this fantastic post debunking the pagan origins of Christmas. Here is the link.

If You are Going to be Silly You Might as Well Do it Right

Here are some pictures of me playing elvis at our church Christmas party. We have different members sing each year. This year I got asked to sing “Here Comes Santa Claus” as Elvis. If I can get some video maybe I will post that later. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment. Thank you…thank you very much.




What Was Your Favorite Thing About Christmas?

I was almost surprised at how much I didn’t care about commercialism/materialism this Christmas. As appreciative as I was of everything I received I really enjoyed time with family and friends the most. Stores cannot sell the best gifts. You cannot go out and buy a gift card that guarantees more time with a loved one or a new friendship made. You cannot put a price on or orchestrate such a wonderful gift. God has richly blessed us with others, including the gift of his son Jesus Christ. That is what I was most appreciative about Christmas this year. How was your Christmas?

I Have Been Elfed!

If you haven’t seen Elfyourself.com you have really missed out. It is only available for a couple of more days. Here is a link to a clip of myself, my wife, brother-in-law, and dog-in-law all dancing as elves. Enjoy!

The Elf Meets the Grinch

Four years ago my roommate at Harding Graduate School and fellow author of our parody “Days of Elisha“, won a radio call in contest for free tickets to a screening of the movie “Elf“. He didn’t have time to pick up his tickets. So he asked me if I would get them. I went downtown to the radio station and got there just before they closed. They were locking the doors and I barely made it in to get the two tickets. Realizing they were closing down that office for the night and noticing the HUGE stack of left over Elf tickets I asked what was going to happen to them. They were going to throw them away. Picturing all those families on campus at Harding that would love to take their kids to a free movie I asked if I could have the rest of them. They gave me several dozen tickets. I was ecstatic! It was like Christmas day as I went door to door giving out dozens of tickets to every person I could find: men, women, children, faculty, staff…anyone I could find. They were all very excited too! I had such a great feeling that evening feeling that I had done something really good. I was going to get a good night’s rest having done such a noble deed.

When Paul got home that night from his date he told me some bad news. Apparently in these contests they give out far more tickets than there are seats in the theater and it is on a first come first served basis! He got there a few minutes early and didn’t get it! I was stunned. I imagined all the countless families that probably got let down and after the struggle of getting all those kids ready had toted them downtown to see a movie on a cold night only to be turned away. Apparently my nightmare was true and none of those families made it in the movie but to those parent’s credit no one ever said a word to me about it.

So if any of you who got turned away from that movie are reading this here is a short clip that is sure to make you smile!