Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Gift

Leading up to Christmas, I only shared with people that we weren't "doing Christmas" if they asked such questions as, "Do you have all your Christmas shopping done?  or "Are you all ready for Christmas?"  In those instances, I would simply say, "This is our first year not to celebrate Christmas."  If someone simply said, "Merry Christmas," I would graciously respond with a simple, "Thank you."  I was in constant prayer that God would guide conversations and opportunities in His timing.

Well, I THOUGHT we'd be done after yesterday had passed but today we were bombarded with one question... "What did you get for Christmas."  So in turn, I responded again with, "We didn't do gifts this year."

As the questions have all left me even further happy with our decision... it has caused me to be in great thought.  My mind thinks about several issues surrounding this decision a lot.  And today, as I was pondering them again, I reflected on this past year, thought about the future year, and questioned whether or not I would continue to blog... or share what's going on in our life.

I had some good quiet time to think and reflect.  I asked myself why I blog.  I have done this many times before but had new motivation for the question again as one of the issues of our decision to skip Christmas came to light.  The issue is that I don't want people to think that I am spiritually better than others.  It was really brought to light that conviction and obedience can be seen as self righteousness or judgment.  And that is the LAST thing I want to reflect.

I also don't want to reflect a legalistic perception.  I was in an environment of legalism very early in life and I spoke boldly against it then (crazy to me now that that was in me even as a child).  So I am very aware of the difference between obedience for acceptance and obedience out of love and gratitude and a desire for transformation.  I have been in both boats.  It even has had an affect on my thoughts on parenting (as God parents us).

The other issue is a "Look at me" attitude.  I don't want people to think that I share things in our life to portray a "Look at me" kind of attitude.  I searched deep in my heart at motives.  And God was sweet... mercifully so.  I know that in my heart, that my constant intent is to give God glory... for anything good or blessed in my life comes only from Him.

Searching my heart for motive left me with this: God is so real and so manifests Himself in a way in my life that I can not contain it!  It is as simple as that.  It is as big as that.  It is as hopeful as that.  It is as transforming as that.  It is His power.  It is His grace.  It is His patience.  It is His presence.  It is His truth. It is His love.  It is His GIFT.  I just seek Him and strive to let Him have His way with me.  And when He shows Himself to me in such a REAL way, over and over and over, I LONG for everyone to know He is that real and active.  That is what motivates me... a desire to share how ALIVE God is and how intimate we can be with Him.

I am reading this amazing book that I totally recommend called, "The Beautiful Fight," by Gary Thomas.  His book, "Sacred Marriage," spoke to me earlier in my life as well.  I am reading the last three chapters today and they spoke to me so boldly and timely.  Thomas says, "If we focus only on God's forgiveness and speak of grace only as "pardon" we will diminish the Scripture's call for actual transformation; on the other hand, if we teach transformation apart from forgiveness, we'll inevitably lead our hearers into frustration and desperation....  Some people talk about grace in such a way that they appear to view God's commands as our enemy, as if Jesus came to save us from "them" rather than from judgment and disobedience.  God didn't stop commanding us when He sent Jesus; instead, He now gives us the power to obey these commands, as well as the will to surrender to them.  Not only are we set free from the guilt and shame of not living up to God's laws; we are given the power to finally walk in love and as transformed people to walk in obedience."  I think he puts that together beautifully.  It's not an "either or"... (grace verses obedience)... it's an "and". 

He also goes onto to say:  "Transformation will wear us out if it becomes our duty in order to be accepted by God; but transformation is a life-giving force when it becomes God's gift."  And that is what it is to me... a beautiful gift.  And I want more and more and more.

There was a time in my life when I wanted to walk away from my marriage.  It pains me today to even remember that time, to type the words.  I am so saddened to the core at the pain I caused my husband.  I am so saddened to the core at the selfishness that motivated me.  I could have given you a laundry list of reasons why I wanted "out".  I even tried to console my thoughts with, "Grace will cover me and I won't go to hell."  But I am so so so thankful that something echoed louder in my heart... it was a desire to be obedient.

At that time, that was the ONLY reason I stayed in the marriage.  Abby was our only child then and so I also rationalized that she would be ok.  Being the child of a divorce... I also knew better to believe that thought (although God's grace and healing has mended those wounds as well).  My prayers turned from "Make Don blah blah blah... and help him to blah blah blah" to "Lord, I am broken and I am choosing to obey you... because I love you so so much... please Lord, please help us.  Change my heart.  Change what I see.  Change what I think.  Change how I feel.  Help me... I can not do this... please... help me."  I was inspired to seek God in a real way.

And you know what... HE DID!  I am so humbled when I think of this time.  God started changing my heart, changing my thoughts towards my husband, changing my thoughts on what marriage was for ("Sacred Marriage," had a lot to do with this!) and healing our marriage.  Our marriage is not perfect today.  We still have our moments.  We are male and female for one.  And we are both imperfect for two.
But here is what God did... those years ago.  He showed me that HE would be faithful to His word and He would transform me and change me... if I surrendered to Him.  He could not change me as long as I was fighting Him and bent on having my way.  I also have the continual reminder of the blessing of my obedience every day when I see my husband bring me coffee, or love our children, or have a tender moment with him.  God has shown me that with HIM as my focus, my marriage is better, deeper, and richer than ever before.  And I have to include this.  I was destructive with my marriage during that time.  I didn't want Don to love me anymore... that might have made it easier for me.  I was not unfaithful... but I said hurtful things.  And God showed me unconditional love... in the flesh...through my husband.  This brings me to tears today.  My husband may not meet my expectations all the time (as I do not meet his) but he loves me in a mighty way... he loves me in the flesh for God.  I could have missed that.  I could have missed our other children.  I could have missed another opportunity to give God glory for being alive in my life.  I could have missed God showing Himself to me through that time.  I could have missed life with an amazing man.  I would have missed so so much.

As I searched my heart today, I was shown boldly that I struggle with being harsh.  I hate it.  I hate I have that behavior in me.  I want it gone.  I also let expectations affect my behavior.  I want to surrender this too.  And there are many more... many more flaws and sins that I need to find, confess, and bury under the cross.  I never, ever want to come across as being spiritually arrived... I do always want to come across as seeking and growing.

So do I want to share anymore... my journey... our journey... our life?  Do I want to make my transforming and growing public at the possible expense of being thought of in a negative light?

I'll rewrite it from my journal entry today.  "When people see transformed lives, they are given hope, encouraged, and inspired.  I know I was today at church as two couples shared beautiful testimonies of what God has done and is doing in their lives.  They are left with hope, encouragement, and inspiration because they see God.  They see God alive, moving, and evident.  I want no praise or admiration for anything good in my life.  I share my life in hopes that God and Christ can be seen and one may be inspired to seek Him.  My life is a testimony to, "Look... see... HE IS REAL and ALIVE!"  Because if He wasn't, I'd be a mess.  My life would be a mess.  But I am not a mess and neither is my life.  I and my life are not perfect.  And my life is tainted with my flaws and sin.  But it is in the hands of God, it is learning to surrender more and more, and it is desiring to reflect Him more and more.  It is touched by Him, indwelled by Him, and being used by Him.  It is His. 

Until He tells me differently... I will continue to share it and continue to give Him praise and glory for it.  It is a gift.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I found this on another blog I frequent.  I thought it was pretty cool. 
 I think it would be super cute framed.
Trying to explain it to Taylor was pretty funny... :0)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Response to Christmas Post Comments

My sweet friends, I am so happy and grateful that you have been so bold to share your thoughts, responses, and comments on my Christmas post.  I also thank you for your reassurance of your love... I hope so!  While we are not celebrating Christmas anymore, we certainly have no plans to stop loving or being friends with those who do celebrate it.  If anyone decides they don't need my friendship anymore because we do not celebrate Christmas anymore, well, that is just simply sad. :0(

I am responding here because it would take me probably 5 or more "comments" to respond there!  It is no way an effort to argue or start a fight.  My blog has been a place where I share God's work in our life for years and several people have been asking about our not celebrating Christmas.  It was the time to make our conviction and choice a part of this blog as it would be something obviously "missing" as it was present for the years before.

We have disagreements with people about all kinds of things.  I do not take it personally... (major growth from the Lord alone!) but I have also learned that I can not nor do I need to please all people.  I ONLY strive to please the Lord... and love everyone else.  I can love others without agreeing with them.  I go to parties at friend's houses who are nonbelievers and where more than half the people are drunk.  However, we do not get drunk.  We remain who we are and remain true to our conviction even in the middle of that environment.  And our prayer is that our "difference" will be seen as a light and draw people to Christ... we have no desire to blend in with that world.  And when dirty jokes are being told, we leave the room.  We do not participate and we do not laugh.  We don't call them on the carpet in front of everyone either.  We are just an example of not participating... but we still can love them.

 I do feel very strongly we are called to be "different" from the world.  Jesus was different from all the sinners He taught.  He was the light.... and sinners were drawn to that light... to that truth.  He was in the middle of sinners but He never tried to blend in... He could do nothing but to stand out.  He presented truth in love and without apology.  When He was with sinners, He presented truth to them, forgave them, AND told them to sin no more.

Another thing I feel strongly about is that we are called to be obedient.  Just as I feel "grace" is highly misused... I feel that "freedom" is also greatly misused in the Christian faith, culture, community, church... whatever we Christians are or how you want to say it.  Over and over we are told that IF we are a child of God, we will be obedient. (Luke 15:10)  IF we "know" God, (1 John 1, 2) love God (1 John 4,5) we will keep His commandments.  Jesus even said "If you love me you will keep my commandments."

We are called to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh anymore.  This means there is change after you are a believer.  You come to Christ as you are but you leave the encounter with Him transformed.  And the transforming (dying to yourself, spiritual growth, spiritual walk, spiritual maturity) continues until you die.  We are told we were once part of darkness but now we are light.  Darkness and light are total opposites.  And we are total opposites because we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ... or we die to ourselves and allow Christ to live through us is a better way of putting it.  That is total opposite.  Change would be seen if we, in fact, died to ourselves.  Freedom in Christ does not mean do whatever you want to do.  It means freedom from law and freedom from the control of sin.  Paul strongly says:  "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but certain, fearful expectation of judgement, and fiery indignation which will devour adversaries."  Hebrews 10:26

We are called to be one body, in one faith, and one mind.  Paul says: "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel..." Philippians 1:27  This makes me think that Christians are to look very much alike, especially since we are all supposed to be reflecting ONE.. Christ. 

John says: "Do not love the world OR the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For ALL that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world." 1 John 2:15

Paul says: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Timothy 4:3,4

Paul says: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:3

Paul says: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principals of the world and not according to Christ."  Col 2:8

Paul says: "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves to lewdness, to work all uncleanliness with greediness." Ephesians 4: 17-19

Paul says: " Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with a nonbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: I will dwell in them And walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people."  Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty."  2 Corinthians 6: 14-18
And- "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 7:1

Not loving the "world" (culture, traditions, influences, sin) does not mean you don't love the sinners drowning in it.  Jude 20 tells us to have compassion and with others, "save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh."  It doesn't say jump in there with them.  "Hating EVEN the garment defiled by flesh."  This is a strong statement.  Sadly, the church today has softened sin.  But God HATES sin... can not associate with it, have anything to do with it... it is not soft.  And that is why there is Christ.

Now, we are called to be separate but not withdrawn.  We are given the great commission as the "to do" list after accepting salvation.  But just as Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity and did not take on the culture... we do not.  He did not bark and yell how everyone was wrong, but he was an example by being different and God used him in mighty ways!   And boy do we live in a modern day Babylon!
Many people stop going to church because they see nothing different once going.  Then they think we are all hypocrites.  Some even think they were better off before "accepting Jesus."  Being a christian does not stop at receiving salvation.  There is much, much more to that walk and intimate relationship with God and Christ and the Holy Spirit.

We are choosing not to celebrate Christmas for many, many reasons.  But we still love everyone who does.  We are not participating in a holiday but we are very much still active in the world.  We are going through December with no tree and no presents and no Santa... but we are not going without Christ.

We have made many other decisions that don't go along with our culture.  We do not wear booty shorts and clothing that our breasts hang out of, but we still love our friends who do.  And we are an example of dressing more modestly... out of our desire to be obedient to the Lord... that's it.  I am trying to be an example of and teach my girls their bodies are not sex objects to be used for their gain but they are temples of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  This is very counter cultural in our culture.  We turned off our cable two years ago.  We still love our friends who watch tv.  There is nothing wrong with "tv" just 80% of what's on it... including commercials.  We don't walk into people's houses who are watching tv and tell them they should not be watching something.  But we are an example of having that out of the house and several people have "tried" it due to seeing it in our family and love not having it.  Others often talk about trying it.  We don't listen to various popular secular songs because the lyrics are trash.  We have also changed some of our eating habits after learning how animals are treated and what is in the food (it's counter culture to not frequent McDonalds!) but we don't expect everyone else to do the same.  (It would be nice and might force some change... but we don't expect it.)

I could have a Buddha statue in my house on a bookshelf for a decoration because I think it's cute.  I may not worship it, but it doesn't change what it stands for.  Three generations from now, my great grandchildren may have no idea what it is... it was just in Grammy's house.  But when they find out what it is and what it stands for... they would have to make a decision... "Do I want it in my house or not."

That is what we have done with Christmas.  We have made the decision not to celebrate it for many reasons.  It will have NOTHING to do with the opportunities we have to reach people with the love of Christ, as we do this all year.  It will have NOTHING to do with the opportunities we have to serve people, as we do this all year.  It will have NOTHING to do with our love for people who do choose to celebrate it.  It will have EVERYTHING to do with our desire to please and obey our Father.  We will not remove ourselves from people who do not agree, if they remove themselves, then it is their choice. 
A rich man walked up to Jesus and said he wanted to follow him.  Jesus knew his heart, "loved him" anyway and told him to sell everything he had and follow him.  The man left sad.  Jesus did not say, "OK... I know you're only in it a little bit, and you don't really want to die to yourself... but come along anyway."  No.  Jesus told him what to do and the man chose not to do it AND JESUS LET HIM WALK AWAY. But verse 21 says, "Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him..."  I think that is an incredible example.  He loved him, but did not compromise for him.  If people decide to avoid me because I do not celebrate Christmas, then that is sad.  But I can love them anyway.

It's ironic to me that Christmas, in fact, is seen largely as a non-religious holiday by the world. According to USA today, 89% of people give gifts, 86% hang with friends, 80% put up a tree, and 58% encourage belief in Christ as Savior, 38% encourage belief in Santa Clause, and 28% read about Christ's birth in the Bible. 89% of agnostics celebrate Christmas as well as 55% who have no religious identity at all. Christmas, according to the world, is more about gifts and friends than Christ. It's more about being with family than about Christ. One author says, " It's solstice with friends. It's Saturnalia at the office party." It's ironic to me that Christmas started out having nothing to do with Christ and it's Christians who are trying to put Him there. It should be "Put Christ in Christmas" rather than "Keep Christ in Christmas."

The Christmas story is a story of the Roman Empire and it's relationship with the Roman Catholic Church to try and maintain political gains, influence, and power.  It was an effort to gain people for power and political gain and control.  There is no example of anyone celebrating Christ's birth in the Bible.  But there is a commandment and are examples of believers celebrating His death.

This is our personal decision and we force it on no one just as we force none of our other decisions on anyone.  Just as we can not force Christ on anyone.  Everyone has their own personal walk with the Lord.  I share because I am called to share our life and what God is doing in it.  I share because I have a blog I have been writing for years that has also documented our own personal growth in this "Beautiful Life".  I share because several people were asking.  I do not judge others.  But I also will not compromise what I believe because everyone else is doing it.

Thank you again, for letting me share and for caring enough to comment.  Whether or not we celebrate Christmas or whether or not you agree doesn't have to have anything to do with our relationship.  I love you all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to look after orphans  and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27~

And that is all of that!

D and T returned last night from the LAST adoption trip to Latvia!  It is DONE!  I can not believe it has been just days over a year since we met... since we embraced her as "strangers" in the airport and quickly became family.  She became a United States citizen last night.  She has been our "daughter" since before the beginning of time!  Very cool.

She amazes me in so many ways... almost daily.  And what is even more amazing... there are thousands upon thousands out there... just like her... waiting to be found... waiting to be wanted... waiting to be loved.

I have a friend just days away from her precious baby son arriving from the Congo.  I have another friend waiting for her court date to go and meet her daughter in Ethiopia.  I have another friend in Latvia with her daughter now... just days away from returning... together.  I have other friends one week into the hosting of a sibling group of three children from Latvia... I can't wait to see what unfolds there.  I have another friend anxiously awaiting a court date for her daughter waiting for her in the Philippines.  I have another friend who just started her adoption journey for a little girl in Kazakhstan.  I have many more friends... and many more hopes for them!  I am a very lucky girl to have such friends. 

Life gets more and more beautiful when you let HIM live it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Psalm 119- the entire chapter... really
"I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws." vs. 7
"I will seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands." vs. 10
"I will rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches." vs. 14
"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.  I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me." vs. 18,19
"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." vs. 32
"Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." vs. 36,37

Here we go... Paganism, Rome, Saturnalia, and... "Christ Mass" or Christmas

I have to start off by saying a few Pre-Scripts!  This will be one of the boldest posts I have written.  It will also be one of the most careful.  And it will also be the most thought provoking!  It is also important.  And that is what I hope to do... cause you to think... to wonder... to question.  The rest... I leave to Him.

This will be our first year to not celebrate Christmas.  I thought it would be hard.  It, very surprisingly, is NOT.  It is, however, hard for Abby to grasp.  And that makes it one of the hardest sacrifices I have ever made out of obedience of conviction.

I also want to state, way early on, that I do not judge or look down on Christmas celebrators.  So please don't think that I think or will think any differently toward you.  This is something we have decided as a family.  I share it because I have been called to share what God is doing in our lives.  It is a joy beyond joy to share God's presence in our lives and give Him praise and glory.  It also humbles me that it has encouraged others.

As I have mentioned before, my life has changed dramatically this past year.  God became VERY real and personal by manifesting Himself through the Holy Spirit and it sparked a hunger in me for His word, truth, and His presence like I have never known before.  This opened up conversations and searches for me and I was given a cd on pagan holidays by a friend.  This cd opened pandora's box and led me into three to four months of researching things like, "Pagan roots in Christmas," "Why Christians don't celebrate Halloween," "Where Easter Sunday came from," "Where traditional holidays came from," and so forth.  I would print and read articles and that would lead me to more searches.  I simply have to say I was blown away... shocked... angered... and convicted.

Now I could just stop here.  I could just say, "google it".  But I won't.  There is much more to say.  There is a far greater issue at stake.  And it's not found in the popular crowd.  And it's not found in the tolerance crowd.  It's greatly found in the Christian crowd.  The problem is "conforming" instead of "transforming".  We, Christians, are called to be separate from the world.  We are told not to conform to the world's culture but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  That transforming leads to change.  We are called to be light in darkness.  Very early on, way before we were here on earth, Christianity did not conquer paganism... it blended with it... meshed with it... absorbed it... conformed to it's rituals and traditions and has sadly gotten very lost in it.  By getting us to conform, satan has taken away much opportunity from us to transform.  It is no accident. 

There is an author, Jesse Hurlburt, who wrote a book called, "The Story of the Christian Church."  He talks about how when Constantine became Emporer of Rome, he became a "kinda" Christian.  He was concerned about his Roman Empire.  He greatly merged paganism with the Roman Catholic Church.  It was political.  It was power driven.  It was number driven.  "The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times.  The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship.  Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship." (Hurlburt)

Sound familiar?  How many churches do you know that are so worldly they are no different than a local social club... or even worse?  It's been one of my biggest complaints for a long time.  Many churches are too busy conforming to the world as much as they can, (in hopes to attract and gain people who want nothing to do with changing) without crossing a line... although many do cross many lines, to be transforming anyone.  And THAT is exactly what the enemy is so tickled about.  It's one of his greatest attacks on the church.  We are too meshed with darkness.  And by being so meshed into the world... we have lost the very power to transform it.  We have lost much of the light that makes us "different". 

Have you ever wondered why millions of non-Christians celebrate Christmas?  Do you know how many people step foot inside a church twice a year... Christmas and Easter.  Why?  Why bother?  Have you ever wondered where December 25 as Christmas Day came from?  It's certainly not in the Bible.  "Christmas" is not in the Bible either.  There is no "Christmas Story" in the Bible.  There is the birth of Jesus story.  But the word "Christmas" is not there.  The word came from the Roman Catholic Church who started "Christ Mass" and it evolved into "Christmas".   And there is no example of early Christians celebrating it.

"Christmas" is nowhere in Bible, but a "Christmas tree" is.  Trees were worshiped hundreds of years before Christ was even born.  They were cut down, brought inside homes, and decorated to be worshiped.
"Do not learn the way of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them.  For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.  They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols can not speak..." Jeremiah 10:1-5

This caught my interest for sure and led me to find that the religion of Mithraism celebrated the birth of their god, Mithras, on December 25th.  They used these trees.  It also was all tied to sun god worship and the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year... the day with the least amount of light.  December 25th, or the winter solstice, was also the day to celebrate the birth of other gods like Osiris, Horus, Hercules, Bacchus, Adonis, Jupiter, Tammuz.  Basically, this time of year was MAJOR sun god worship!  It was MAJOR pagan festival time.   And it was being celebrated way before Christ was even born.

This led me to learning about Saturnalia... yes, based on Saturn... also a god.  It was a HORRID Roman festival during the time of winter solstice that lasted for days!  Orgies were held under mistletoe and holly and ivy as they worshipped the gods of fertility.  Drunkenness was rampant.  Crime was allowed and overlooked.  It was HORRID.  Google it!  And THIS is THE pagan festival Rome blended, meshed, and conformed with Christianity and became Christmas.  Seriously.  THIS was enough for me.  I was totally saddened to the core of my being.  I had been ignorant... never asking where or why?  I was floored.

But then I searched the origins of the symbols and traditions of Christmas.  Further shocked.  Again.  Never asked why these things were used for Christmas... just did it because everyone else did.

Then I did the same on Santa.  Same result.

Then I researched "When was Christ really born" and found MUCH biblical, historical, and astronomical information on a fall birth... and some on a February birth... but ALL saying not a December birth.  Many Christians will agree they don't think His birthday is December 25... so why celebrate it then?  Because the world does. 

Then I went to scripture.  Because I was SOLD that I was no more to be a part of what I felt was the biggest lie ever pulled over on mankind.  I was about to give up my second favorite holiday (Thanksgiving being my number one).  And this what I saw:

1. I saw that God is very specific about how he does not want to be associated with idols and other gods.
2. I saw how God struck 3,000 dead when they came to worship Him with a golden calf.  Moses had just been given the Ten Commandments and the people (Israelites) waiting at the bottom of the mountain saw Him, saw His presence, and they made a golden calf to offer Him in worship.  THEIR HEART was to worship Him.  Their HEART was in it for Him.  BUT HE WAS NOT PLEASED.  This convicted me greatly.
3. I saw one of the most prominent images of Christmas (tree) spoken against in Jeremiah... the ONLY thing close to "Christmas" being in the Bible.  Actually, there is scripture in Revelation eluding to the largest Christmas celebration being during the reign of the anti-Christ. 
4. I saw how God is HOLY and can not be associated with sin.  I saw a holiday that places the celebration of the birth of His son right in the middle of many other pagan gods.
5. I saw numerous instances when the Lord said, "They worship me in vain."  God does not accept all worship.  It doesn't not matter how we want to worship God... it matters how God wants to be worshipped.  Over and over again, people worshipped how they wanted to and God was not pleased. 
6. I saw numerous accounts of where we are told not to follow the "traditions of men".
7. We are told to remember and observe his death on the cross (for THAT is what brings life to us) and that is all.  We are given examples of the early church observing this... and that is all.  It is one of the most sacred and intimate parts of worship.
8. I also saw, after learning how the biblical feasts in the Old Testament (God's Holy Days with specific dates!) correlate directly to Christ in the New Testament, that winter is silent.  There is NOTHING during winter.  Winter was the time for rest.  ("Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts")

In addition to this... I see clearly what Christmas has become.  It has become an idol.  There is no other way to put it.  People spend money they don't have on things they don't need.  Christmas is now in the stores before Halloween (another horrid holiday) is even out... begging you to buy... spend... purchase... get more.  It is concealed in glitter, bows, beautiful colors, and other distracting and appealing makeup.  But it is consumerism.  It is greed.  It is discontent.  It is excess.  It is waste.  And the money Americans alone spend on one Christmas day... could solve the world's clean water problem... several times over.  One country.  One day.  One major world problem that kills children every four seconds.  THAT is distraction from the enemy. 

Then there is the argument that "so much good happens during the Christmas season". "People are in the Christmas spirit."  Here is my answer.  If we were centered on WHO we should be centered on... we would be in THAT spirit, the HOLY SPIRIT, all year long and would not need a pagan holiday to get us in the mood.  We would be doing what many do just during this season... all year long.  We would be making a major impact on this dark world.  We would be drawing people to Christ like bees to honey!THAT is another ploy and distraction of the enemy.  THAT is an excuse.  Many people who do not know or live for Christ do great things during this season and we all get lumped together.  "Christmas" gets the glory... not God.  Wow.

I was reading a book the other day.  There was a man who had been struggling with pornography.  He had been praying for God to help him with this sin.  And he had a dream.  A naked and beautiful woman was standing right by his bed... taunting him, tempting him, seducing him.  He could not understand why he was having the dream and cried out for God.  In that instance, the beautiful naked woman turned into a horrible ugly demon... right by his bed... seducing him.  His eyes were finally opened to what was REALLY alluring him... seducing him... tricking him... beckoning for him.  He never struggled with that sin again.  His eyes were opened and he saw it for what it was.  Satan.

This is how Christmas looks to me now.  I know that is a strong statement.  It was the same with Halloween... it all just changed before my eyes.  I see past the lights and paper and bows.  I see it all as a HUGE distraction (and lie) that occupies our entire winter.  I see it as a way Satan has lumped Jesus in with other pagan gods.  What greater way to belittle the one and true God... the I AM.  Sometimes I see a pretty tree and my heart has a moment of missing my tree... but that is what it is... missing the tree.  It is the feeling I miss... and it has nothing to do with Jesus. 

Don and I became convicted on the commercialism and consumerism of Christmas a few years ago.  We changed how we celebrated it greatly.  Gifts were greatly reduced and giving was greatly increased... giving to the needy... not our friends who have more than they need anyway!  But I also was convicted a few months ago that we need to become a family of purpose and be "giving" and "serving" each month as a family.  We would pick something (World Vision, Children's Hope Chest, local food bank, ect...) and pray for that organization each day, learn about it, volunteer and give to that as a family.  I see this ALL as the foundation to what we have just been convicted to do, give up the holiday of Christmas.  I see God preparing our hearts years ago and it just blows me away.

We are celebrating winter.  We are celebrating this season of rest God created.  We are celebrating the birth, death and resurrection of Christ every day of ours by dying to ourselves and letting His resurrected life live through us.  We are celebrating and loving Him by seeking Him, being with Him, obeying Him, and seeking His will... not ours.  We are learning to walk in the Holy Spirit... and none other.

If you want to read some articles about this, is one of the most inclusive ones I have found.  It is 27 pages and so I highly recommend printing it.  There is also another good one at  But as I mentioned early, just googling questions will give you MANY links to many articles. 

It is not my intention to offend anyone with anything in this post.  I pray you know my heart.  My heart is SOLD OUT to live for Christ, to continue to learn how to die to myself (daily), and to give Him glory and praise for everything in my life.  It is also to share what He is doing in our lives.   This is a huge thing we are doing, according to the world's view... but really it's not that big.  We are not celebrating Christmas but we will ALWAYS celebrate CHRISTWe will always love others, we will always give, and we will strive to ALWAYS be in HIS SPIRIT... letting His light shine all year long.

I love you all very, very much.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.  The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. " Psalm 40:5

It is simply beautiful, ornate, detailed, and awing... the way the Lord orchestrates our lives... if you let Him.  The more I learn to rest in Him, trust Him, rely on Him, obey Him and surrender to Him... the more He can take control and... well... show off!  And be glorified!

It is so divine that He impressed upon my heart the word "rest" for this winter.  See, I was searching for Him and, well, a theme for the winter since we won't be celebrating Christmas.  Yes.  You read that right.  We are not celebrating Christmas.  More on that to come.  So I kept hearing Him tell me "rest" over and over and over again.  Boy... He was trying to prepare me for sure... as well as give me the instruction I need to get through this winter.  When I see Him do this sort of thing, the intimacy I feel with Him grows so much.

We have just weathered a storm with Abby and her illness.  I want to post fully on that later.  But in a nutshell, she had almost 80 seizures in two weeks.  Needless to say, it was very emotional.  But I have to say that God was here... there... everywhere in this past storm and I am so thankful for the encounter.  I am blown away and strengthened by it in the depth of my quiet places.

I have been sick twice.  And I have listened to my Father and stayed in bed... rested.  Marc is getting sick for the second time and I am praying protection over Abby with everything in me.  I guess we are just going to have to stay at home all winter.  Seriously.  It's really ridiculous!

Taylor and Don are in Latvia for the LAST trip of this adoption.  When she enters into the United States this time with her daddy, she'll become a U.S. citizen.  Very cool.  She amazes me.  She is so special.

My husband had a big birthday this month.  We came home from the hospital with Abby on his birthday.  We'll have a "do over" for that milestone soon!

We also just had our 11th wedding anniversary.  I totally forgot it.  That's how fried my brain is.  I was writing in my prayer journal that morning and wrote the date and said to myself, "I think today is some one's birthday."  Just five minutes later, Don walks into the room and sits on the end of the bed and says, "Happy Anniversary honey."  I almost sucked my tongue down my throat.  I was stunned.  Have I really lost my mind that badly.  I am still heart broken... but do feel better as he confessed he had just remembered it the day before.

I feel turned inside out sometimes.  But I think that's how I need to be.  For now, I am going to blog again, a little.  I HAVE to share and give glory to God for HIS presence in this past storm.  And there are a few other things on my heart to share.  Thank you for waiting... for checking in on me... and encouraging me to take a break as long as I came back!