Testimony – I am Redeemed. I am Loved.

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testimonyOn this very day last year I publicly shared my testimony and wanted to share it on this blog as well.  I woke up that morning and immediately my mind wandered, just like it does most of the time.  I knew that day was coming; I had thought about that day for years.  I hadn’t planned to blog about the significance of that date but there I found myself writing.  I started writing just to let go of the baggage I carried but also so that one day my boys could read about their momma’s testimony and know how much I wanted to be their mommy.  On that day, I decided to share with whoever was reading whether it was just one person or 3,000 people what that day means to me.

I prayed and pleaded with God about what He wanted for my life.  I finally let go and let God speak to me.  This is what I heard, “My love, you think you’re finished with your story, but you have no clue.  There is one thing that you and I both know you think about secretly in the dark that I want you to bring to light.  HELP my children.”  He told me to deal with this, speak the word, and finish my story.

Today, I’m wishing a Happy 16th Birthday to my UNBORN BABY… due date January 5, 1998.

Why am I telling something so personal?  Believe me, I NEVER wanted to.  God convicted my heart one day and it hasn’t stopped yearning for these unborn babies.  I want to help the people who have made this decision to forgive themselves and I want to hopefully convince someone who is contemplating abortion that you don’t just “do it” and it’s over.  You have to deal with this for the rest of your life.  I have eleven years of school pictures I’ve missed out on and I want them to understand that this decision will affect them for the rest of their lives.  Here’s my story:

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children
come to me, and do not hinder them, for the
kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I found out a few days before I graduated from high school that I was pregnant.  I didn’t believe in killing a baby and I didn’t want to kill this baby.  A baby made out of sin, yes, but it was my baby. My boyfriend didn’t want me to keep the baby and even told me I didn’t have a choice, that I was having an abortion.  I begged him to let me keep the baby and even told him child support wasn’t needed.  I was already showing and attached to my baby.  I was almost at the limit to have an abortion which made it that much more difficult.  I was over three months.  I had been reading up on pregnancy and trying to eat healthier so my baby could grow big and strong in my womb.  I was willing to do this as a single mother and never ask one thing of him, but he didn’t care.

I had always believed that a baby is a human from conception and you could never convince me otherwise.  Others told me it was just an embryo and to think of it like it was a fish.  But I knew its heart was beating and God knew that baby before it was in my womb.  Regardless, I allowed myself to be taken to the abortion clinic.  I cried as we were walking up.  As I lay on that cold table with my feet in stirrups, looking at the doctor that was going to take this life out of me, I wondered if he had kids.  I wondered what he thought about what I was doing.  I wondered if he knew I didn’t want to do it, that I had been threatened and convinced otherwise.  When he stuck that ultrasound tool on me to see where the baby was and how far along I was he didn’t move the monitor where I couldn’t see.  I looked at that perfect baby floating around and moving in my womb.  I saw life.  In less than one minute, that life would no longer be in my womb, it would stop growing instantly and there would be no more creation inside of me.  It was already a human being growing, forming, so it could look like me and every other human being that God had created.  Two years from that moment, it would have been giggling and jabbering and writing all over the walls.  I saw creation and life, even through my sin.

I had an abortion that day, with a baby that was due in January of the following year, a baby that I think of everyday of my life and always will.  That baby was made out of sin, and so have a million more babies that have grown up to serve God in powerful ways.  I left that clinic that day, and I was no longer pregnant.  God cried that day and I cried with Him.  I was sick with myself.  We had just eliminated a problem that would have only been in the way of our future. This baby needed my womb to survive in a little while longer and it had been destroyed, without even knowing how to fight or cling to me for dear life.

That day I did something I would take back right now, only to see that child’s smile, only so I could have been a better person a lot sooner.  I look around my house, and sometimes my imagination runs wild enough to imagine that my now 16 yr old child would have been a Christian by now.  Maybe if it was a girl, we’d be getting pedicures together today or maybe if it was a boy, he’d be pitching the baseball to my husband.  Maybe this child of mine would have braces and be coming up to me right now to ask if their friend could spend the night.  Just maybe….  I wish this part of my life could be turned the other way around.  Maybe I would have considered abortion but in the end decided against it and had the baby.  Then I wouldn’t have to wonder who it was.  A boy or a girl?  My child would have a name and a personality and a LIFE.

There’s always reasons, they say, that life turns out the way it is.  What reason was there for this?   I had just killed my own child.  How could God ever love and forgive such a shameful act when I couldn’t even forgive myself?  My baby never had the chance to breathe one breath outside of my womb.  Babies fight for their lives every single day and parents grieve because their baby didn’t make it.  How could people be so selfish and how could I now be one of those people?  I never got to see what God could have made out of such a tragedy.

I was now going through the worst depression of my life.  The pain of holding my stomach and no longer eating for two and preparing for our future hit me hard every single day that my belly wasn’t growing.  I never felt those first kicks.  I never got that chance.  Being a mommy was all I wanted since I was 13.  I was 18 now and didn’t have a clue where my life was going.  I was so depressed that I just did not care about anything.  I tried so hard to move on.  I wasn’t happy and really never moved forward or tried to get my life back on the right path.  The depression kept me in the same cycle and I found myself pregnant again just 4 months after my first abortion.

Yes, I had gotten pregnant again.  I became angry all over again, total opposite of what I thought I would feel to have the chance to be a mommy again.  What I had imagined wasn’t what I was feeling at all.  This time I was mad that a new baby was in there when the other baby should have been in there.  I resented this pregnancy because I shouldn’t have been five weeks pregnant; I should have been seven or eight months pregnant.  I was so blurred and clouded with confusion, that I didn’t beg this time, I didn’t plead to keep this baby.  We’re supposed to learn from our mistakes.  I hadn’t learned from mine.  I lay on that same table with my legs up in stirrups, and I don’t mean to make light of this situation.  To me, I saw it for what it was.  There is no way I would have been pregnant if I had not had the first abortion.  I should be wobbling around with a huge belly and feeling the baby move and curl up inside me, feeling life.  Instead I felt nothing.  I didn’t deserve to be a mother.

By this time I truly felt that I didn’t deserve happiness or anyone to love.  Not after what I had done.  I deserved to be condemned to Hell, the place I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to be.

Through my abortions, I’ve learned that life can be redeemed, that I have been redeemed.  I’ve learned that God does forgive me and that He does still love me.  I’ve learned that I do deserve to be loved and I’ve learned that my friends still love me, despite my previous choices.  I’ve learned that abortion is not an easy answer and the problem isn’t gone within minutes.  I’ve learned that the effects of abortion are life-long.  I hurt every day and every year for the children I do not have in my arms.

I had always worried about judgment from others.  I no longer worry about that.  I’ve figured out that even the “perfect” people have baggage and they too have made mistakes.  But know this, I only share my testimony because I want people to know who I am, why I believe in a God I’ve never seen, and how I long to fulfill His purpose through me.  I know what abortion is and I know the effects they cause a woman.  Choose life for your child and don’t make the same mistakes I did.

-Shayna

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2013 In Review

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2013 annual report from WordPress.com:

These are the posts that received the most views:
1. Christian Response to Miley Cyrus VMA Performance
2. Thirty-One and Planned Parenthood
3. Christian Focus on Thanksgiving
4. Dating and Sexual Purity
5. What Should I Wear to Church?

New visitors came to the blog after searching these most popular terms:
judgmental christians
girl scouts and planned parenthood
companies that support planned parenthood

Top referring websites:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Faithfulbloggers.com

Visitors came from 91 different countries with most visitors coming from United States, Canada, and United Kingdom.

THANK YOU to all of our readers for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ!

A Jesus Lovers New Year’s Resolution

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newyear2It’s the end of another year and the majority of us are eagerly awaiting the chance for new beginnings and blessings.  We certainly never look at the new year as a time for added stress, pain, or sickness.  In our anticipation and hope of new things to come, we tend to make new year’s resolution – to lose weight, cut out caffeine, go to the gym, work less, sleep more, find a new job, etc.

The question I ask of you as we close out 2013…. What does Jesus want from you?  He very well may be calling you to cut calories, lose weight, and exercise.  He may be tugging at your heart to work less and be at home with your family more.  But what does He want from your heart?  How can your life glorify His name in this coming year?  What changes does God want from you that will ultimately lead you to a closer relationship to Jesus Christ?

Here is a list of New Year’s resolutions all Christians need to work on in 2014:

Forgive more – As a forgiven sinner, you are required to forgive sinners.  Let go of other people’s mistakes and shortcomings, even if those decisions directly affected your life.  Satan will remind you of the pain others have inflicted on you but YOU are a forgiven sinner and are called to forgive the sins of others.  Remind yourself that you have not always been a Christian and that you too have hurt others.  We have all fallen short and we will all fail again.  Pray for those who have hurt you, that they are blessed by God and that those blessings change their lives.  “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

Pray always – It’s so simple to say “pray more” but the thought of praying all the time can seem very daunting.  Rest assured, if you miss an opportunity to pray, you must not give up!  Begin by praying every morning or evening and slowly add in other specific times in your day devoted to prayer.  You will soon notice how your prayers shift from specified times to daily conversations with God throughout your day.  Make sure you also add a few minutes of reflection time to listen to what God says to you about your prayers.  “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Quit worrying – We begin to worry when we feel as if we are not in control.  The truth is, very seldom do we have full control over anything.    When we allow worry to seep into our lives, we are saying to those around us that we are helpless and have no one to turn to.  But as Christians, we must have faith in God and faith in His plan.  Find the good in every situation and be thankful for what God has already blessed you with.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

Give more – Give more of your time, your money, and your effort.  Pray about this specifically and see where God wants you to give.  Does he want you to give more of your money to your church or a mission?  Does He want you to give more of your time and volunteer efforts?  Does He simply want you to give your family more quality time?  Whatever it is that He leads you to give, give wholeheartedly and give as if you are giving to the Lord.  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Go to church – Attending church should not be a Sunday morning visit when times are hard.  Church is a time for weekly reflection and an energy boost.  It’s a time for us to put aside the craziness of life and refocus on Christ and His will for our lives.  Church is a time for Christians to fellowship with other believers and together build the kingdom of God.  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Learn more – Read your Bible this year, start a devotional, or commit to reading that book your spouse has asked you to read.  If you’ve already read the Bible in its entirety, read it again to gain more knowledge.  You cannot go wrong opening your Bible and reading scripture!  But there is power when reading with other Christians and discussing life together.  “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15

Judge less – Learn how to judge righteously and ask God to show you when you’re sinfully judging.  Practice the art of judging the sin and not the sinner.  Find the good in every person and in every situation, even if it’s simply acknowledging that God will use that situation for His glory.  Remember that we have all sinned and fallen short in the eyes of God.  We will all stand on even ground before God one day; your sin is no less than any other man’s.  “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24

Be more gracious – Again, find the good in every person and in every situation.  Treat others with kindness and respect.  Even if we don’t think they deserve it, they really do.  Don’t assume the worst in others, even if their track record shows otherwise.  Give people the benefit of the doubt, always.  Complement those who frustrate you, and add a smile.  Work on changing your heart towards others and people will begin to seem far less threatening to you.  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Plant seeds – Write down a list of people who are non-believers and commit to praying for them over this next year.  Make it your goal to talk to them about Jesus Christ and his unending love for them.  Invite them to church, offer to pray for them, connect with them regularly and allow them the opportunity to see how Christ is working in your own life.  The outcome is amazing to see how God uses YOU and your everyday circumstances to change the lives of others.  You plant the seed and watch as God grows new believers.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Go on a mission – Your mission trip doesn’t necessarily need to be across the world to a third world country.  While that is definitely an incredible experience, your mission field can be right here in your hometown.  Your mission field is the path you drive to work and the places you run your errands.  To be on a mission for Christ is to tell others of Christ and bringing His Good News to non-believers.  Begin by asking strangers, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?”  Spend time everyday preparing for your mission work and ask God to show you where your work needs to be done.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28: 19-20

To put our focus on Christ rather than ourselves is ultimately what God wants for our lives.  He wants us to depend on Him.  When we do these things, our lives begin to take on a new meaning and good things begin to happen.  We will still suffer loss and heartache, setbacks and pain.  But life becomes bearable when we walk with our Savior and allow Him to lead the way.

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You might also like:
1. What Does the Bible Say About Pornography?
2. Dating and Sexual Purity
3. Should Christians Drink Alcohol?
4. How to Write a Testimony
5. Christians and Biblical Marriage

A Life Well Lived 2014 Day Planner and Prayer Journal Review and Giveaway

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I confess… I’m the housewife and mother who refuses to give up her day planner.  Yes, I like to flip the pages, write on the paper, use different color ink and / or highlighters.  Some technology gurus may even call this blasphemy and convince me I can do the same thing or even better with today’s technology!  I’m not even ashamed to admit that I spend quite a bit of time each December seeking out the best planner for our family.  My planner must be durable with plenty of room to write and ample space for a family of six and all of their appointments and activities.  I spend hours searching for the perfect planner and have even thrown some out and started over after the year has started because it simply didn’t fit the needs for our family.  Finding the perfect planner is a very important decision for us and one that I thoroughly enjoy accomplishing.

The Judgmental Christian has been blessed with the opportunity to review and give away A Life Well Lived 2014 Day Planner and Prayer Journal.  I’ve been sitting here with the planner and journal for almost two hours now and am simply amazed at all this planner offers.  It is very apparent that much thought and hours of prayer were put into the planner and journal from the very first page.

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The focus of the new 2014 planner is Getting Life Right.  The planner begins with the testimony of Jesus’ perfect earthly life and His desire for us to “live a holy life in preparation of eternity with God.”  When the first words of a planner grasp my heart and make me yearn to be more like Christ, I know it’s going to be a winner!  This company is not only concerned about selling fabulous planners but making sure we are living according to scripture and getting our schedules aligned with God’s desire for our life.  The makers of A Life Well Lived want to see us dedicated to serving Christ and reaping the rewards God has in store for us.

The planner then opens to the Seven Steps to Discipleship that help us to seek and know God’s will for our lives.  There are daily action steps provided as well as corresponding scriptures to these steps that help guide us towards daily growth in our Christian walk.  I simply cannot think of a better way to start off this new year and again each day than to evaluate my relationship with Christ and then to begin putting into place those steps necessary that will help me reach the goal of becoming a better disciple for Christ.

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The planner is divided into 365 daily pages.  My initial thought was that maybe this was too much space, even for a girl who likes writing and doodling areas in my planner.  But upon closer look, the planner becomes more than just a calendar of events.   It’s your devotional, a prayer journal, and calendar all in one.  There are words of wisdom and daily scripture readings. There are daily suggestions that encourage growth in your spiritual discipleship.  A place is set aside for daily prayer concerns and praises, and directly across is additional writing space for your goals and tasks God has placed on your heart for the day.  And of course there is ample space for your daily appointments!

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Each new week has a different theme that assists in your Christian growth.  Some of my favorites include priorities, witnessing and ministry, debt and money management, family and home, accountability, humility, mentoring and leadership, spiritual disciplines, tithing and giving, contentment and peace, and forgiveness and salvation.  The daily scriptures, words of wisdom, and discipleship suggestions all work together with the weekly theme.

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Other remarkable features include:

  • Daily Bible readings that allow for the Bible to be read in one year
  • Seven Steps of Discipleship bookmark
  • Month-at-a-Glance pages as well as a Month-in-Review pages
  • A guide to help create a personal mission statement
  • Action steps for achieving financial goals and success
  • A reference guide for accomplishing goals in your life
  • A list of suggestions for Random Acts of Kindness
  • Daily Proclamation page

The mission statement of A Life Well Lived reads, “Our mission at A Life Well Lived is the Great Commission.  We exist to revive the Christian faith and rebuild the broken wall of discipleship by helping as many people as possible grow in their relationship with Christ in such a way that they are inspired to participate with us in Jesus’ final instruction.”  I believe they have done a remarkable job of growing disciples for Christ.  I am so very excited to begin the new year with a daily focus on God’s will for my life and organizing my life’s plans according to God’s will for my life.

You can purchase your own 2014 Day Planner and Prayer Journal combo pack for just $29.95.  Be sure to also follow A Life Well Lived on Facebook and Twitter for future promotions and special offers.

To enter the giveaway for your own A Life Well Lived Day Planner and Prayer Journal, enter HERE.

Keeping Christ in Christmas

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christmas1Gifts, holiday baking, shopping, Christmas trees, reindeer, Santa, decorating the house, Christmas parties, elf on a shelf…. Every year it seems that the focus of Christmas becomes more and more about gifts and shopping and less about the birth of our Savior. Most of us Christians, if we are honest, often get caught up in the secular excitement of the season and find it hard to balance the enjoyment of Christmas shopping and keeping the focus of Christmas on Christ. Romans 12:12 reminds us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.” How do we keep Christ in Christmas? What is the perfect medium to keeping the focus of Christmas on the birth of our Savior and still enjoy the great holiday shopping deals and buying gifts for others? Here are some fabulous suggestions from our readers and other great bloggers about how their families honor the holiness of our Savior’s birth.

Advent is the season leading up to Christmas and begins four Sundays before Christmas. Advent means “coming” and during these weeks, we devote special time remembering the coming of our Lord. We are blessed to know what God’s salvation looks like and have reason to celebrate. Here are several unique ways to observe advent:

The Ultimate Advent Bucket List for the Whole Family
Toilet Paper Roll Advent Calendar
30 Advent Ideas
Christmas with Advent

Christmas Bible lessons are a great way to dig deeper into the meaning of Christmas. Together as a family over a meal or individually, our hearts need to concentrate and be reminded on the reason for Christmas. Spend time reading and in prayer and allow Christ to reveal Himself more fully to you during this season.

Simple Christmas Bible Lessons
A Martyr’s Christmas Study
Printable Advent Devotional

Create specific trees to help teach the life of Christ. Have the kids build a Jesus Tree and introduce a new name for Jesus every night or a tree that chronicles the different Bible stories leading up to the birth of Christ. Having fun and learning at the same time, it’s a win-win for everyone.

The Names of Jesus
Jesse Tree
From the Jesse Tree to the Jesus Tree
Jesus Tree Readings

Christmas cards… are you more excited to send them or receive them? Be mindful about the cards you send as well as the cards you receive. Pray for the families that you send your cards to and pray for those who send you cards. Here are some crafty methods to paying for those families throughout the coming year:

Prayer Wheel
Statement Wall
Prayer Box

Make a birthday cake for Jesus and rejoice with a birthday party. After all, we are celebrating the day of our Savior’s birth and this is definitely a reason to celebrate! Don’t forget to light the candles and sing Happy Birthday, Jesus.

Happy Birthday, Jesus Cake
A Birthday Cake for Jesus

Get creative when your family retells the story of Jesus’ birth. Act it out together, make it a game, or tell the story over a period of time. Here are some fun and imaginative ways to tell the story of the nativity:

Nativity in a Box
12 Ways to Make the Christmas Story Come Alive for Kids
5 Creative Ways to Teach the Christmas Nativity Story
Creative Ways to Teach the Kids the True Meaning of Christmas
Teaching Through the Nativity

Many families have adopted the idea of giving their children three gifts for Christmas. Each gift symbolizes the three gifts Jesus received – frankincense, gold, and myrrh. This is an easy way to minimalize Christmas spending and still keeping the focus of gift-giving on Christ.

The 3-Gift Christmas
Three Gift Tradition

Keep gift giving simple. Your gifts to others do not need to be elaborate and they truly do not need to drain your bank account. Spend more time in prayer about your gifts and their meaning to the recipient and less amount of time on giving the “best” or most extravagant gift.

Homemade Christmas Gifts
Keep Christmas Gift Giving Under Control

Does your family celebrate the season in a unique fashion? Do you have special family traditions that you want to share with our readers? Leave a comment and share with us your family’s special traditions!

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You might also like:
1. Does X-Mas Take the Christ out of Christmas?
2. Does Santa Belong in our Christmas Celebrations?

Does Santa Belong in our Christmas Celebrations?

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Many of us grew up believing Santa Claus magically whisked down our chimneys and left us gifts below the twinkling lights of our Christmas trees. Some of us have even carried on that tradition with our own children. There are also plenty of families who have opted out of the Santa Claus myth altogether refusing to lie to their children. Some families also remove Santa Claus from their families traditions because they fear this mystical character takes the focus away from the celebratory birth of our Savior, which is a valid concern.

So who is Santa Claus? The legend of Santa Claus begins with Saint Nicholas, a man who dedicated his life to serving God and giving generously to the poor. Saint Nicholas was born in a village in Patara, which is the village now known as Demre, Turkey. His wealthy parents died when he was a young child leaving him their full inheritance. Saint Nicholas obeyed Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:21, “Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” His compassion and dedication to serving God eventually earned him the title of Bishop of Myra.

During this time, many Christians were being persecuted under the Roman Emperor Diocletian and Bishop Nicholas, along with other clergy and Christians, suffered greatly for his faith. He was exiled and persecuted but persevered through the persecution and was ultimately released. Saint Nicholas continued a life of serving God and others and doing good deeds to those who least expected it. He did all of these things without recognition and did so with a humble heart and a focus on Christ.

There are stories upon stories told over the years of Saint Nicholas charitably giving to others – the poor, innocent children, and even sailors. One extraordinary story tells of a poor ancient merchant who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters to be married. Without a dowry, the daughters were destined to be sold into slavery or prostitution. On three different nights, bags of gold were secretly left through an open window and found in a stocking or shoe that sat near the fireplace. These gifts of gold saved the lives of the merchant’s daughters.

Saint Nicholas’ legacy has been carried on over the centuries by Roman Catholics as well as Christians and has expanded throughout many different countries. Many believing his model for serving Christ and his unselfish giving are worthy qualities to be remembered during this season. Whether you celebrate the Christmas season with the tradition of Saint Nicholas or not, we must all agree he was a great God-honoring man who served Christ with his whole heart. He gave up wealth and even his own freedom answering Christ’s call to serve others. Is there any real harm by bringing this man’s legacy into your Christmas traditions? It’s definitely not a sin to do so! After all, we remember many other remarkable people who have also served Christ and lived Godly examples of what it means to be a Christian.

I also want to add that if your reason for not allowing Santa Claus in your family’s traditions is because of the potential “lie” being told to your children, think carefully about fairytales and other fictional characters allowed in your children’s lives. Remember that while we may fully understand that princesses and superheroes are make-believe, our children may not understand this. I say this to make sure you are staying consistent with your beliefs about not lying to your children.

And for those who choose to carry on the legacy of giving anonymously as Old Saint Nicholas did for years, do so with a humble heart and not for recognition. When you’re children are old enough to understand the faith and history of St. Nick, teach them how to be meek and reverent when serving others as Christ served the church. There is also the option to carry on the tradition of Saint Nicholas and being truthful from the beginning of your child’s lives.

While Saint Nicholas was a great man of noble character and performed many wonderful good deeds, the Christmas season is not about Santa Claus or any other holiday character. It’s about Jesus. However you choose to celebrate, the focus of the season needs to be put on Christ and Christ alone. We can do many things throughout the year and even mimic the lives of other wonderful Christians, but we must always give thanks to Christ and ultimately desire Him to be our one true Guide.

We must also remember to be respectful towards others regardless of how they choose to celebrate Christmas. Let us not judge others for their choices to include or not include the tradition of Saint Nicholas. We are only called to judge others’ sins, and remembering the legacy of Saint Nicholas is not a sin and it’s definitely not worthy of our strife. Make your life a living example of how Christ lived and served and ask God for others to see His light through you.

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You might also like:
1. Does X-Mas Take the Christ out of Christmas?
2. Keeping Christ in Christmas

Does X-Mas Take the Christ out of Christmas?

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jesusIs there really any truth to the saying that when someone writes “X-Mas” that they are intending to keep “Christ” out of Christmas?  Is it true when people write “X-Mas” that they are claiming to be non-religious and yet still celebrating a religious holiday?  Should Christians be offended when we see others shortening the name of our Savior and taking the word “Christ” out of Christmas?

I admit I’ve always been a bit insulted when I see the shortened version of Christmas.  I’ve always justified my offense with the statement that Christ gave us His ALL, including His life, why would anyone save time and shorten His name?  Surely the Savior deserves His full name to be written out during this precious time of remembrance!  This year I decided to dig a bit deeper and search for the truth behind this issue.

I confess… I was definitely surprised!

The “X-Mas” abbreviation is neither recent nor disrespectful as many people believe.  The usage of “X-Mas” has been in use for centuries, possibly as far back as the very beginning of Christianity.  Its Greek origins can even be traced back to the Roman alphabet.  The Greek word for “Christ” is “chi” and the Greek letter for “chi” is represented by the symbol “X” in the modern Roman alphabet.

The fact remains – the X-Mas abbreviation was NOT created to slight Christianity or fashioned for the purpose of demeaning Christ in any manner.  While the abbreviation is definitely an old form of writing from a very different language, it may still cause offense to those who do not know the history of the abbreviation.

Study the facts and be ready to share when you see someone who feels insulted by this abbreviation.  Extend grace to those who choose to shorten the word “Christmas” because they may have absolutely no intention of keeping the “Christ” out of Christmas and were just quick to write the word down.

And most importantly, the method in which someone writes the word “Christmas” is NOT an appropriate time to judge anyone.  Even if you are still offended by the use of “X-Mas”, this is not a sin and we are not called to judge anyone based on their mode of writing.  We do not know their hearts or their intent when abbreviating the word Christmas and therefore we are not to cast judgment based on something so futile.  What we can do is extend grace to those who may offend us and remind ourselves that the abbreviated form has been used for centuries and really does have origins in Christ.

Other fun facts about “X-Mas”:

  • Chi is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός which translates in English to Christ.
  • The –mas in the word Christmas is a Latin-originated Old English term for “mass”.
  • The expression X-Mas was very popular for religious scribes, who are believed to have started the abbreviation for Christmas.
  • The XP symbol is derived from the Greek letter “X” (Chi) and “P” (Rho).  This christogram is formed by overlaying the two letters to create a monogram.  Although the XP monogram is not exactly a Christian cross, the Chi-Rho letters do resemble a cross.
  • The Chi-Rho symbol was used by Greek scribes to mark respected or significant passages.
  • The wreath around the Chi-Rho symbol signifies the victory over the resurrection over death.

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Should Christians Shop on Thanksgiving Day?

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thanksDoes anyone else have a growing concern about our gradually fading Thanksgiving holiday?  Is anyone else offended that stores nationwide have already announced their Christmas shopping ads and broadcasted their earlier-than-ever Thanksgiving DAY opening times?  What was once a full day completely focused on giving thanks, relaxing, and spending time with family has now become just another day for holiday shopping.  I can only imagine this holiday will soon begin to feel like any other day as we put our selfish wants in front of the need to set aside time for rest and give thanks.

While Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, it is still a national holiday set aside for giving thanks.  This is the most perfect opportunity for Christians to stand up for what is simply “right”.  We are commanded to give thanks daily as written in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” There is no better opportunity for Christians to be bold and claim this ONE day a year when our entire nation sets aside to give thanks in all circumstances.  I believe it is our duty to continue this worldly tradition, if nothing else just the simple opportunity to show others the importance of being thankful in all circumstances.

What would be the negative effects if Christians surrendered to the early holiday shopping hours and disregarded a day of thanks and rest?  We would be those shoppers who told the world we care more about great holiday deals than we do about spending time with family.  We would be the shoppers who took employees away from their families and made them spend the day on their feet dealing with crowds and selfish people.  We would be the Christian shoppers who missed an opportunity to be Christ in this world by simply ignoring a national holiday for giving thanks.

So what should Christians do about the early store hours and the growing desire to skip Thanksgiving and shop all day?  Is it wrong to take advantage of some good deals?  What if we are spending time with family WHILE shopping?  What’s so bad about feasting with family, taking a long nap, and hitting the stores before midnight?

This is a question that only you can answer and it needs to be based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Does God really want you to honor this day by spending time with family?  Do you have a problem making time for family and need someone to make you take a day of rest?  Do you NEED this day to reflect on the past year?  How often do you truly give thanks in all circumstances?  Would Christians really make a difference if we all held tight to the tradition of setting aside just one day for Thanksgiving?

I believe the Thanksgiving holiday is a gift.  It’s a gift to our family – a paid holiday, a day we see family we may not always make time for, a day when we reflect on the previous year and give thanks to God for all things (including the happy times as well as the not-so-happy times), and a gift of just one day devoted to good food and rest.  A gift to be appreciated from our Father, as started in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above”.

Why would we not want to take advantage of this great holiday?  Why do we want to tell the world that shopping is more important than a holiday?  Would we be okay if our employers took this paid holiday away and made us take vacation days since we aren’t using the day as a time to give thanks, the very intention of the holiday?  What would Christians think if shopping hours and great holiday deals took over Christmas day?  Would we regret allowing Thanksgiving Day to slip through our fingers?

Spend time in prayer and ask God what He wants from you.  Ask Him how he wants you to spend your Thanksgiving holiday.

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What does the Bible Say About Pornography?

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james115The term “pornography” is not mentioned in the Bible because books, movies, cellphones, computers, magazines, and televisions did not exist in biblical times.  However, God did know the sinful thoughts of man and gave us plenty of warning about sexual sins.  He gave us very solid moral teachings that can be found throughout the Bible about the many different types of inappropriate sexual behaviors.  Forbidden sexual acts specifically mentioned in the Bible as sin include homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9), sex with animals (Exodus 22:19), incest (Leviticus 18:6-18), idolatry (Deuteronomy 5:21), fornication and sex outside of marriage (Matthew 15:19), orgies (Galatians 5:19-21), adultery (Exodus 20:14), and even rape (Deuteronomy 22:25).  The penalty for these sins, as stated in the Bible, is death.

Romans 8:5-8 tells us, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”  God wants our minds and hearts to be pure of sinful thoughts and feelings.  He wants us to keep our focus on heavenly things and ignore the sins of the flesh that crave our attention.  When we view pornography, when our attention is focused on lust and adultery, we cannot do the will of God.  We must be “transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

Christians also need to remember that our bodies are not our own.  1 Corinthians 3:16 reads, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”  As believers, the Holy Spirit lives in our bodies.  He is there to help us discern right from wrong; He is our conscious who speaks to us in times of need.  Our bodies are meant for the dwelling of our Lord, not for immoral sexual pleasures.  I dare say that it breaks our Father’s heart when we disrespect and use the good and perfect body God created in His very own image.

Pornography and lust destroys human relationships!  It dictates the satisfaction of your heart and only leaves you wanting more.  Pornography robs your joy and steals your heart.  It leaves broken hearts and shattered marriages, broken and molested children, addicted adults, wrecked and shamed teenagers.  God didn’t intend for those things to attract our hearts.  He wants us to hold true to His teachings and wants us to experience sex and love fully when married.

It is true that Christ died for our sins.  While we have freedom and redemption in Christ, we do not have freedom to sin.  As fully committed Christians who have given our life over to Christ, we must strive to live a life like Christ.  While we can never truly achieve this goal because Christ was the perfect and sinless man, we can make it our goal every day to attempt to live sin-free.  Fighting sin and temptation is part of walking with Christ.  Taking those temptations and handing them over to Christ and then leaning on Him for strength is part of walking with Christ.  Christianity is about avoiding sin and keeping our minds and hearts pure.

Christianity is also about forgiveness.  Jesus dies for us, while we were sinners.  He chose to walk this earth and take the brutal punishment of death on a cross so that we would be forgiven of our sins and live a life eternally in heaven.  Forgiveness is not a license to sin.  Once we commit our lives to Christ, we make a stand for Christ and adhere to immoral sexual behaviors.  We must strive to fight sin at all costs.  Fight the urge to look at pictures, to gawk and lust after a stranger or famous person, fight the urge to stop at the bar or adult club on your way home, and fight the desire to befriend members of the opposite sex.  Satan wants nothing more than to find your weakness; he will take hold of it and make it his goal to ruin your walk with Christ.  Give God the glory and fight temptation!

Turn your back on all kinds of pornography.  Ask a fellow Christian of the same sex to hold you accountable.  Keep your hearts and mind focused on the things of Christ and fight the temptation of satan.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind. Then you will be able to test and approve
what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect
will. For by the grace given me I say to every one
of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than
you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober
judgment, in accordance with the faith God has
distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:2-3

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DRESSing Respectably

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modestyThe homecoming season is upon us and dress shopping is well underway for many teenage girls. It saddens me that what was once an opportunity to get all dressed-up and feel beautiful and fancy for an evening as now turned into a competition to who can wear the most provocative and “sexy” dress possible.  When did this change take place?  And why aren’t more parents taking a stand and commanding their daughters to turn away from this new trend and requiring their daughters to dress more appropriately?  Whatever happened to dressing modestly and demanding respect from boys?

What I want teenage girls (and their mommas) to understand is that wearing fancy dresses that are strapless, enhance and display your cleavage, or barely cover your backside, does NOT demand respect from your date.  As a matter of fact, when a boy sees so much bare skin around your shoulders, breasts, and legs, their minds automatically begin to undress you.  It’s too easy for them to mentally remove your clothes when you’re already half-dressed.  Surely this isn’t what you want from your date?  “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  If your body is a temple for God, would He be pleased that you are showing so much of your skin to someone other than your spouse?  Would the Lord God be pleased that your chosen dress for the evening was done with the intent to be “sexy” and to “tempt” teenage boys?

As Christians, we have two choices when dress shopping – we can pick a dress that is modest and pleasing in the eyes of our Lord OR choose to look sexy and invite temptation (also known as sin).  As a Christian, it is your duty to be fully clothed at all times, even for school dances like Homecoming and Prom.  If you want your date to treat you respectfully, you must help him keep his eyes on your face and his mind clear of sin.  Don’t be the temptation that allows our teenage boys to stumble.  Mommas, help your daughters be the princesses they’ve always wanted to be.

Finding a dress that is modest and beautiful is not difficult.  I’ve personally seen dresses that have straps, cover your breasts, are longer than two inches below your bottom, and do not reveal every curve of your teenager’s body.  Those dresses are out there!  Be in prayer for God to lead you to the right dress, to the right store, and to give you and your daughter wisdom and guidance when dress shopping.  Be honest with your daughter about choosing a dress; remind her that her body is a temple for the Holy Spirit and that they should adorn themselves with respectable clothing.  Teach them to want to be pleasing in the eyes of the Lord and to demand admiration and reverence from their dates.  Teach them to take a stand for Christ!

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