Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Very Merry Franklin Christmas

It all started one cold day in December 2003 as Christmas time was wrapping up. As newlyweds, we found ourselves in a debate on Santa Claus and with a credit card balance; the two things we eventually both came to hate. We didn’t know it yet, but we had just participated in our last Christmas. I can’t remember a thing we bought or received that year. What I remembered the most was that conversation and the marvelous way in which it led us.


Our dearest family friend, Jerry, was visiting with us in our condo as he did most nights. And as most nights, our conversation was headed to God’s Word and the superficial nature of our own religion. Jerry, who had put up his Christmas tree in October, was done; he was over it. Apparently, as his merry tree, all beautiful and glittery, sparkled through the past two months, he began to see the idolatry all around him. I’m not sure if he was even aware at that moment of the idolatry we would truly come to see. And then, I hit my other half with, “Well, I don’t think if we have kids we should tell them there is a Santa.” What?! (This would be one of our two greatest debates ever as a couple…the other was on eternal security.) Of course, we went through the whole, “but it’s just for fun.” But, it is a lie. “I believed in Santa and I’m OK.” But, it is a lie.

Over the next few days I would spend hours in front of my computer, reading article after article on the history of Christmas. Nate would come home for work and there I would be with more information about why Christians shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. To think, I was one or two classes away from a minor in religion…from a Christian school, and I missed this. How could that be?

It wouldn’t be long after Christmas that we announced to our family and friends that would be our last year participating in Christmas festivities. We received many reactions. We received anger. We received discussions of persuasion. We received sadness. The one thing we didn’t receive was support over our convictions. Of course, by the time Christmas would roll around the next year, we just learned to close ourselves off and stay away from the things we abhorred so greatly.

Over the years, I would have to say we have softened up quite a bit. We discuss Christian liberty and man’s tradition and how we can make it all work for our family. We still don’t celebrate Christmas. We still can’t find a reason to…each time we try to come up with our own way of doing it we go back to…but it is a lie. Each and everything you believe about Christmas, is a lie. And when is it OK to lie? Santa isn’t real. Jesus is not the reason for the season. In reality, the very thing God hates the most is the reason for the season…idolatry. Are we not desecrating our churches just the way Israel desecrated the temple? Of course, we are not worshipping pagan gods with our pagan trees, but things used to worship pagan gods are in our churches. Each time I read the accounts of Israel in the Old Testament it resounds over and over…we are doing the same thing.

Sometimes, it all boils down to the fact that people feel sorry for our kids. But I see a different picture. I see my two beautiful children sitting at the breakfast table the day before Thanksgiving awaiting their waffles. They are listening to Momma talk about Thanksgiving and as I walk to the table carrying my own plate, I ask Lily, “What are you thankful for Lily?” I am awaiting the for sure answer, “Baby dolls,” or “horses,” or “play-doh.” But no, I hear, “God. And Mommy, JJ is thankful for Jesus.” Don’t feel sorry for my kids, they’re in His hands.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Daughters of Virtue

I see beautiful, amazing, and godly young women all around me. I see the faithfulness of God in the lives of the daughters of friends who have raised them in the admonition of the Lord. I see modest young women, intelligent young women, and women much more prepared than I too be mothers and wives. I think of one such young lady, and I’m inclined to call her a “girl” because of the girls I’m accustomed to seeing in the world are just that…“girls” unprepared for the world. She is but nineteen or twenty and her beauty is amazing. Her inner beauty radiates from the inside out through her smile. Her eyes sparkle and you are drawn to her…because you know she is different. And as time goes on and you know this young lady you realize why she is different. Her father and mother have instilled her with godly principles and ideas of biblical womanhood. She is modest in her dress and speech, her diligence in work can be seen from afar, and her humility is plain.

I cannot help but think of my own self at that age. I think of the friends that walked with me through life and how if they saw me now, they could very much recognize me physically. But with a little time, they would find me not only changed but almost unrecognizable from the girl they once knew. Some could say it was the nature of life and that marriage and children took their natural course in my life. However, if they stay just a little longer, they will see it is so much more. My thinking has changed and my heart is completely new. I have truly become a new creature in Christ. I have been truly born from above. (John 1:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Had I walked the earth during Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees would have scolded Him for looking at me, speaking to me, and touching me. I would have sat at His feet and known that I was broken and in need of a Physician. I would have felt unworthy of being in His presence. However, with His great love, He would have touched my face and said, “Go, and sin no more.” (John 8, Psalm 99:5)

I can look back on my spiritual transformation and marvel at the work of God in my life. But then I take a step back and realize something about my own daughters. If we, like the parents above, instill in them a biblical worldview and godly principles, how will they ever know their need for Christ? If there is not a time in their lives where they can’t remember not knowing Christ, how will they keep from becoming like the Pharisees? Lord willing, we will in no way neglect our calling to raise our children in the admonition of the Lord. But, if each of my daughters never walk a road with sinners, how will she know that she sits just as unworthily at Jesus’ feet as I?